Tech

Rodecaster Pro Review: The Podcasting Gamechanger

Well here it is, the all-Aussie podcast gamechanger – the Rodecaster pro – a new all-in-one mixing desk for the simplest and most advanced podcast producers.

I’ve been podcasting for almost a decade, and in that time the amount of money I’ve spent on “gear” is almost embarrassing.  That’s a secret that will stay between me and the good people at Turramurra Music.

Back in the day I bought a Behringer 8 track mixer, a USB interface and an AudioTechnica microphone along with a RØDE mic-arm.

When I moved into my new house, and built my man cave with purpose built studio, I went all out – got a Mackie iPad controlled mixer and some stunning Shure SM7B microphones.  Damn it was a hot bit of kit.

In both instances, I also needed my Computer, that USB interface and a good internet to get things happening, after all, I was doing a talk-back style show so had to record calls from my Skype through the mixer and back into Audition.

Out on the road, I’ve primarily opted for an iPhone connected RØDE iXY or Shure Motiv.  Great sound, but you come back with raw audio and need to insert all the imaging elements like intros and stings.

Finally, just a month or so ago, I went analogue again, and got another Behringer mixer for the EFTM office, but this time got a headphone amp so we could all have headphones. Needless to say, its never been perfect.  Level issues, headphones don’t work, needing a PC attached for recording – it’s good, but hardly great.

Plus, I’ve had a trusty iPad (Original) with me running some software for my stings and Intros.

All that is background to say – holy crap, RØDE have done it.

The Rodecaster Pro is:

  • Mixer
  • Recorder
  • Compressor
  • Headphone Amp
  • Hotkeys
  • USB Interface
  • Everything you’ll ever need as a podcaster.

Seriously.  It’s impressive. And it’s all that out of the box too.

I’m unsure I’ll be able to get to it all here.  Let me try break it down for you.

Microphones

You’ve got 4 XLR inputs.  Each has a class-A preamp built in, and a huge range of software to make you sound sweet and smooth.

Using the touch-screen interface you can customise the sound of each microphone with broadcast quality sound.

This includes a range of dynamics, as well as compression, limiters and noise gating.

Look I’ll be honest, this stuff is beyond me, so I’ll be watching how-to videos till the cows come home to get the best from my sound.  What I will tell you is the RØDE Procaster Mics we use REALLY sound great now.  We invested in some headset mics from Sennheiser just a few weeks ago (!) and frankly, they sound thin so we’ve got some tweaking to do if we want consistent sound across both mics.

USB

Around back is a USB-C port, which when plugged into your PC gives you control of the hotkeys (more on that later), but can also be your audio in and out.  So you can play content from your PC and have fader level control on the desk.

Likewise, you can record directly into Audition or other, or, use the Rodecaster as the desk for a live broadcast online.

3.5mm TRRS Input

A simply little “Aux” port allows you to plug in a Phone or Tablet using a 3.5mm connection.  This is great if you have sounds or stings on another device, though, with the other features I’m about to run through, this does seem redundant.

Bluetooth

Man-oh-man.  Pair your phone.  Make calls.  Take calls.

Seriously. So easy.

You could take calls live on air from your mobile if you wanted, easy as pie.

This will make recording interviews an absolute breeze – utterly sensational. Plus, get this, you can record those interviews to the MicroSD card, out to your PC via USB – OR – Direct to a hotkey for playback later.

Podcasts are about to start sounding very very different.

Hotkeys

Ok, so the Bluetooth was a gamechanger, this is just to put the boot into anyone else thinking about a product like this.

These eight “sound effects pads” or Hotkeys as I know then from radio, are for your stings, sound effects, intros or pre-recorded content.

To load them up, you plug your PC or Mac into the USB-C port, use the free to download Rodecaster Pro software and simply drag and drop audio files onto the hotkeys.

You can then change colours, label them for your record, and choose if the replay, play or latch.  Latch is the way to go because you can stop them and also restart them with ease.

I cannot begin to tell you what a big deal this is.  And it works so smoothly.

Recording

Yeah, so, no PC required. No Zoom to feed the output to. There’s a MicroSD slot in the back.

Insert a card, the screen shows a green MicroSD image, and the hours/minutes of record time available.

When ready, just hit REC, the show begins.

A large timer shows your record time, and there’s also a MARKER button to add markings to the audio file.  I tested this in Audition and the markers carried through, making those cheeky edits a breeze.

If you’re like us and host your podcasts on a platform like Whooshkaa who offer mid-roll advertising, you can mark your mid-roll so its easy to find the time-code when you are uploading.

Power

Mains power is required, so it’s not exactly a portable studio. Though RØDE did send me one in a Rodecaster Pro Backpack. If this isn’t a retail product, it damn well should be – it’s coming to Vegas with me for CES.

What would I improve?

It’s a first attempt.  They’ve nailed it.    Good news is, hardware wise, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Multitrack output?

Recording on a Zoom will give you a wav file for each input/channel.  I can imagine some people love that.  That kind of passion would best be described as a post production nark.  You’ve got full fader controls of each channel – you should be monitoring and mixing live while recording.  But, I can imagine people requesting it, so perhaps its worth considering if it’s possible as a Firmware option.

Hotkey “Shows”

I run two podcasts, I would normally have way more than 8 audio production elements each, but leaving that aside, I’d love to be able to “Save” my show, so I can just connect to my PC, choose my show and presto, the mixer is ready.  At the moment, I’m going to have to drag and drop all eight files one by one twice a week before each recording.

Edit Hotkey Audio

Taking a lead from a Shortcut machine or VoxPro, if RØDE see this as a pre-record beast, you need to at least be able to trim the top and tail of the recordings made to the hotkeys.  This means getting rid of dead space before and after a pre-recorded interview.

Markers import to Whooshkaa

This may be a stretch, but imagine if podcast hosts like Whooshkaa could read the markers, and give you mid-roll options.  Though thinking about it, I’d think that’s more feedback for Whooshkaa to do than RØDE.

Take my money.

It’s really simple.  If you podcast professionally, this is for you.  I’m not just talking people like EFTM or The Daily Talk Show. Mamma Mia, 9Honey, all these media organisations using Zoom recorders and post production, cut time – improve audio quality.  It’s a no brainer.

$949 RRP in Australia $599 USD.  You’ll find it in Aussie retailers for $849.  It’s more than I’d hoped, but in reality, it’s also a bloody steal.

Oh, and it’s Made in Australia.  Bravo RØDE, Bravo.

Web: RØDE

[schema type=”review” rev_name=”RØDE Rodecaster Pro” rev_body=”An all-in one professional sound recording and mixing studio for your podcast. It’s an absolute must-have” author=”Trevor Long” pubdate=”2018-12-13″ user_review=”5″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”5″ ]

Rodecaster Pro Review: The Podcasting Gamechanger
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