Rodecaster Pro review: a podcast studio you can carry on your back

Rode is one of those brands that I can not seem to get away from at trade fairs like CES and MWC. The company manufactures some extremely popular directional microphones, which I see mounted on cameras of video producers with large and bold RØDE letters that adorn their sides. As a result, I began to associate Rode with professional audio recording even before I had tried any of his equipment, relying on the collective wisdom of the multitude of professional content creators. Having spent the last few weeks reviewing the Rodecaster Pro, I would say that wisdom is right.

The Rodecaster Pro is intended to be a complete podcasting studio in a portable format: it combines four XLR mic inputs, Bluetooth and USB connections for mobile devices, four headphone monitoring outputs and eight programmable pads for playing jingles and effects Sound. It is an extremely ambitious audio kit. To clarify the point, the company sent me the revision device in a customized backpack, which also fit two large Procaster microphones, its sturdy supports and some extremely thick and long XLR cables. Without those extras, the Rodecaster Pro costs $ 599; With them, you are pushing past $ 1,000. So, for whom is this study in a backpack? That is a good question.


Verge Score

rodecaster pro review a podcast studio you can carry on your back

Good Stuff

  • Super portable configuration for high quality audio recordings and transmissions
  • Versatility of inputs, jingles and controls
  • Durable, difficult resistant construction

Bad things

  • Big jump in the price of amateur podcast equipment
  • Effects on board and processing options are limited
  • It's not a complete studio setup

The vast majority of technology Consumers is made for one user at a time. Some gadgets can be shared, such as iPads, but it is difficult to think of many devices that are designed for the actual use of the group. The Rodecaster Pro is one of those rare exceptions. It is designed to withstand a large amount of punitive use, with large chewable pads, rugged sliders and sturdy knobs, but it absolutely will not get the most out of it if you use it alone.

Although it is marketed to attract the attention of podcasters, the Rodecaster Pro feels like an exaggeration for that task. It is too powerful (and expensive) to be considered as a logical upgrade from a more basic USB podcasting microphone configuration. It is definitely an update: the internal circuits of this machine, combined with those Procaster microphones of $ 229, lead to truly high fidelity recordings. However, podcasts give you plenty of leeway to perfect a post-production recording: you can inject musical interludes, rebalance and isolate voices, and make a small amount of improvements to the captured audio, which makes some of the capabilities of Rodecaster Pro are superfluous.

At the same time, it does not appear as completely as an adequate study, so it occupies a kind of uncomfortable intermediate terrain. Verge's audio director Andrew Marino, who also has experience with the Rodecaster Pro, notes that his built-in effects options are limited (compression is a binary on-off option), and considers the Rodecaster is more suitable for live multipersons than anything else. It is when you record live, especially in a remote location, that this portable broadcast production station shines.

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The size of the Rodecaster Pro is comparable to that of a notebook, and its configuration is almost as simple. Each control dial, slider and keyboard are sensitively labeled, and I could connect all the connections and put them into operation without needing to consult a manual. Rode still provides a large card with advice and guidance, in any case.

With the recently released version 1.1.0 of the Rodecaster Pro firmware, Rode added two neat improvements: one is a color label for each microphone channel, so that it has a visual indication that you are adjusting in the menu of configuration on the touch screen at the top, and the other is multitrack recording when connected to a computer. I mention this because, with equipment of this type, it is not immediately obvious how much support you will get after the initial purchase, but Rode is implementing significant new features and is treating the Rodecaster Pro as a flagship product. I also really appreciate the responsiveness and the ability to read the touch screen: the screens are an aspect often neglected in the audio equipment, and it is good that Rode has countered that trend.

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A microSD card slot on the back allows you to make a full stereo recording without the need for a computer. There is also a bidirectional USB-C connector that will accept input from your Mac or PC (at the same time you send the audio to your favorite editing software such as Audacity, Adobe Audition or Hindenburg). Whether you connect via USB or Bluetooth to your phone, the Rodecaster Pro makes it easy to record high-quality interviews with someone at a distance. With its eight programmable jingle pads, you can also do a lot of production on the fly, underlining the credentials of Rodecaster as a great base station for live shows.

The optimal scenarios for using the Rodecaster Pro are not too numerous, but once you get close to one, you will really appreciate its existence. Let's say that you are part of a daily podcast with a couple of your friends, that you like to receive calls from expert guests and that you really do not want to spend a lot of time in the subsequent processing. Get one of these and you can mute and isolate mic channels on the fly, add jingles and intro music, and maintain a reliable quality level that makes the extra work almost unnecessary. All this becomes doubly true for live transmissions, where the immediate quality and polish provided by the Rodecaster Pro becomes more evident.

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The more creative team reviews we do, the more obvious it becomes to me the more focused the creative is. The devices are more than the consumer ones. A smartphone can do everything decently, but it can not match the video stabilization of a DJI Osmo Pocket or the audio recording of something like the Shure MV88 + kit. When you want to increase the quality ceiling of your creative efforts, you necessarily have to buy hardware that suits those activities. The Rodecaster Pro is one of those teams that will make some people's lives infinitely easier and meaningless for the rest of us.

More than anything, I would highlight the Pro part of the Rodecaster Pro name. The attractive color code, large pads and accessible design allude to Rode's desire to make professional teams more friendly to aspiring fans to take the next step. But make no mistake about it: the Rodecaster Pro is a step towards the production and transmission of professional audio. You must be sure that it is exactly what you want before making that jump.

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