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″ ]

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Rodecaster Pro Review: The Podcasting Gamechanger
12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Deanna

    December 15, 2018 at 2:49 am

    WOW, I want one!

  2. Charles Christian

    December 15, 2018 at 3:23 am

    Excellent review of this device. Damn, I’m going to have to get myself one. Hello Santa – I’ve been a good boy this year. Homest!

  3. Jordan Harbinger

    December 15, 2018 at 7:13 am

    Doesn’t have multitrack output or recording? Immediate deal-breaker for anyone who does this professionally and cares about great sound (especially when guests are remote). Feature set looks nice and all but single-track is something straight out of the 90s broadcast-radio era. Even old rack-mount TASCAM recorders had stereo (dual-track) recording.

  4. Rick

    December 16, 2018 at 5:32 am

    To be sure, the concept is awesome, but it is certainly not “Everything you’ll ever need as a podcaster”. It’s missing one item, which is a deal breaker for many serious podcasters like me. Multitrack recording is mentioned as “a post production nark”? Seriously? That’s insulting to a huge segment of the podcast community. A lot of professional podcasters rely on post production editing to polish a show, and multitrack recording is more than just a luxury for that process, it’s almost critical. Sure you and some others may just record, stream and publish on the fly, but it depends on the podcast and, to some extent, the podcaster. To say “you should be monitoring and mixing live while recording” is condescending, shortsighted and incorrect. There are important reasons NOT to mix live for some productions. Once again, it depends on the podcast. No, it’s not the perfect podcast machine. It is certainly very, very close, but Rode did not “nail it”. Without multitrack recording, it’s not a bulls eye. It’s a near miss.

  5. Bo

    December 17, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    Class A pre-amps! Wow, this must be really good copy paste from the pr-text on the website!
    Honestly: nothing this unit does is new in the market, except for the bluetooth. Taking a call nevertheless is also possible with a cable the price of two coffees.
    Then: it’s worse than competitors because it doesn’t record in separate tracks, so you can’t correct anything after recording. That’s not game changing, thats a deal breaker. And the processing of the micsound… makes you sound exactly like the next guy that buys this thing.
    Consider the Zoom H6, saves you over 50%. Or their LiveTrack. Saves you about 30% moneywise, and gives you 2x the amount of pre-amps. Probably class A, though this classification has nothing to do with quality.

    • Trevor Long

      December 17, 2018 at 8:55 pm

      You’re officially a Goose. A H6 is rubbish compared to this. I’ve got one and by the way, its NOT 50% of the price. For what it offers, it’s no value at all. Staggering

      • Bo

        December 17, 2018 at 11:35 pm

        Let’s try not to get personal.

        In your piece you admit that you’re out of your water here. Seen the equipment you sum up, and the photo’s of your studio, I conclude that you’re what I would call an ‘enthousiast’, and I must say that I feel sorry that you wasted so much money on equipment that didn’t do for you what you hoped.

        If this Rodecaster does do that for you, then indeed, this is 5/5 for you.

        But take this into account: not everyone makes shows like you do. If you require multi-tracking, so you can focus on the content of your show instead of part-timing as a technician, the Rodecaster is not for you. I suspect that 98% of the podcasts produced nowadays require multi-tracking (or could improve using it). It’s such a mystery that Rode didn’t include it in this Rodecaster, and potentially makes it the next piece of gear in your long list of stuff you wasted money on.

        If you want microphone inputs of great quality, don’t trust on ‘Class A’-pre amps. This is a typology more than a classification; it says nothing about the quality. Also this typology is used in HiFi more than in pro products; quite fairly it’s bull shit lingo.

        So do you trust a company that has built pretty mediocre pre-amps so far (in their podcaster-microphones) with this? Or maybe rather Zoom, who have proven to make better pre-amps year after year. Trust me: the H6 is a pro recorder, able to drive Phantom powered and demanding dynamic microphones. No, wait, don’t trust me, just ask around, google, or use your ears. When a recorder includes hefty signal processing, I have questions about the quality of the thing. Is it giving you more options, or is it hiding something?

        It’s like with photography – the smartphones now make impressive pictures, when you consider the small lenses and sensors they have. But then there’s the Canon dslr with the really great glass and it’s RAW-files; anyone can see that pictures taken with that are much better than the heavy processed photo’s out of a smartphone. I’m not being snobbish here; the €650 price setting for the RodeCaster gives it quite some impressive competition; it doesn’t make it a bargain or anything.

        In the video you sound boomy, and just like the stereotypical American DJ’s on the radio. If that is what you’re looking for: fine (btw: try pop filters for your mic’s, i hear plosives a lot). If you want to sound more like yourself, I wonder if the Rodecaster is for you.

        But even if you forget this pre-amp thing: why would you want bluetooth in this? Bluetooth creates delay, and even if you can live with that: plug in a cable in the headphone jack of your phone (or dongle, thanks apple), and stick the other end in your recorder. Problem solved. The mic of the phone is used to let the caller hear your voice(s). Problem solved, costs €4,95. And no delay.

        Keeping all that in mind, I don’t see the 5/5.

        • Trevor Long

          December 18, 2018 at 4:56 pm

          Again, you’re failing to see the wider market. No, not everyone creates the shows I do, but nor do the majority want to deal with post production editing. This device offers more all-in-one than any simple solution I’ve seen or used, in radio too.

          And as for Bluetooth, again, if you dont’ see it, you wouldn’t use it – but loads of people would love a simpler way to do pre records. This is it.

          • Bo

            December 18, 2018 at 8:11 pm

            When you don’t do post production editing, you’re pretending to be live radio. That’s a lot of fun, but podcast is not that. I’m a fan of stuff that makes editing and mastering simpler (and it’s not that complicated anymore), but I seriously doubt that skipping the whole process all together is going to make it better. The analogy with YouTube springs to mind: yes, there are semi-live YouTube channels, but the majority of the popular channels have heavy editing and post production. Those are seldom straight out of the camera.

            But if your point is that this is a toy for enthousiasts that wanna play with this kind of thing, not entering the competition on podcast distributers, like you have these fun home DJ mixers, and that there’s a wider market for that, yes, you might be right. But not, as you write in this piece, if you podcast professionally.

  6. Jeff Lackey

    December 19, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Trevor, please don’t take this personally; for all of us who are podcasters and have the passion to do the work and put in the time to give our listener a good product, consistently, we should treat each other like family.

    That said, we’ve been doing a podcast – not for profit, just for our listeners – for several years. Two hosts, occasional call in guest interviews. And I discovered about 3 months in that putting one host on one channel and another host on another channel made for a much higher quality podcast (I mix back to a mono mix after editing to avoid listeners having the ping pong effect of one voice from one speaker and the other from the other speaker.) The reason: I can edit out a cough or a sniff or a bump or one of the hosts starting to talk over the other one or anything else on one track (or one half of a stereo track if I can pan one mic to one side and the other mic to the other side) without effecting the other vocal. Before when we recorded both mics to a single stereo track (without panning, i.e. both sides of the track had both vocals) there was no way to edit out any sounds from one host without also doing the same edit to the others. I’m currently editing our latest episode and I just edited out my co-hosts accidentally bumping his mic, and I edited out my saying something over him that I didn’t intend to do live. Again – we’re pretty popular but amateurs, only in the thousands of downloads per episode, but I could never go back to not being able to edit one host independently of the other, and I’m far from a post production freak (heck, I still use Audacity to edit even though I have Reaper.)

    I was going to buy this unit immediately, but saw I would be unable to edit individual vocal tracks and also can’t even pan each mic to one side of the stereo track. I think that’s a deal breaker for a LOT of us (we’ve been discussing this unit in a large podcaster group I’m in, all amateurs, and the only ones who don’t edit individual mics are a couple who record their podcasts on their iPhone!)

    Thanks for the review!

    • Trevor Long

      December 19, 2018 at 8:47 am

      Totally fine. What I would challenge is that your audience notices or appreciates the difference. Podcasters in the overwhelming majority (99%) are volunteers, or doing it for very very little return. Your time and effort spent taking out a cough or splutter creates an artificial program. People cough and talk over each other in real life. Better to spend that energy educating hosts and guests about appropriate techniques, and live mixing a solid output to save you an enormous amount of time in post. That said, I think in time you’ll see this product meet your needs:)

      • Jeff Lackey

        December 19, 2018 at 9:07 am

        Trevor, I don’t think the two are exclusive, i.e. teaching techniques vs. editing. We go out of our way to not create a sterile podcast, e.g. we don’t edit out every “think word” like um or uh, or well um. We try to not use them, but it’s also part of being human. In fact, the nature of our podcast and audience is quite personal. and we have a lot of listeners who have become like family to us. But they also know we’re not live. In fact, we’ve had listeners with us since day one who we’ve met at conventions and events who have told us they like how much more professional our podcasts sound now (and mention we don’t seem to bump the mike or cough or sniff or whatever anymore, and think it’s funny when I tell them we’ve reduced that but we edit the worst out.

        I do hope they add the feature in some form. Because I love this concept. BTW – We use Rodes Procaster mics, which need a bit of boost, any idea how much boost the pres in this provide? (I do love being able to hit a button that adjusts for my specific mic!)

        Thanks again for taking the time to review this for everyone.

        Cheers
        jeff

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