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Rode Rodecaster Pro Review | The Ultimate All-In-One Podcasting Device

The Rode Rodecaster Pro is a pretty unique piece of audio gear, because it’s designed entirely with podcasting in mind. That’s exciting for the medium as a whole, because it shows that podcasting is a market worth investing in. It’s also exciting because Rode already do very well in the musician and voice over worlds. They won’t have just decided to make a product like this on a whim.

When one turned up on our doorstep near the beginning of the year (completely by surprise, thanks Rode!) it was immediately obvious that a lot of thought and research had gone into this design.

Our initial review was largely positive, but did highlight a few areas where there was room for improvement.

However, Rode, to their credit, seem to have been very receptive to the feedback they've had from the podcast community. There have been a number of firmware updates since the device was originally released. Now seemed like a good time to revisit this review, and give you a more up-to-date picture of the Rodecaster. So let's dive in.

What is the Rode Rodecaster Pro?

The Rodecaster is described by Rode as “the world’s first fully integrated podcast production studio”. But what does that actually mean?

Well, if you took a mixer, cleaned it up, and made it much less complicated looking, then merged it with a digital recorder, that should give you a basic idea of what the Rodecaster is and does.

Mixers are handy things for plugging in multiple mics, doing live shows, and recording Skype calls. But mixers can’t work in isolation, and they can’t save or store audio. The Rode Rodecaster can, so right away it’s going to simplify a lot of lives by swapping multiple pieces of kit and cables for one single unit. You don’t even necessarily need a computer to record with the Rodecaster.

What can the Rode Rodecaster Pro do?

The Rodecaster has a few different talents. For one, it gives you the capability to record phone calls. Whether or not this is a selling point will depend entirely on your niche. If your audience and guests are not overly technical, and unlikely to own mics of their own, then chatting to them over the phone might be the most practical option.

Let Alitu Take Care of Producing Your Podcast

Alitu is a tool that takes your recording, polishes it up, adds your music, and publishes the episode, all automatically.

Learn More about Alitu

Although you don’t need a computer to run the Rodecaster, you can easily connect to one in order to record Skype or online interviews too. You can also use the computer connection to record into your favourite DAW, as opposed to the device's own memory card. It gives you the capability to add in your own jingles and sound effects so you have access to them whilst recording at the touch of a button. This is a nice feature if you're running a live show, or like to record “as live.”

How many mics can I plug in?

You can plug in up to four XLR mics at once, so you can have four people in the room together recording a podcast. Each mic can be uniquely set up via the control panel, where there’s a few different options and presets. We'll take a look at these in more detail further on.

Can I Record in Multitrack?

You can now record multiple tracks either into a DAW (like Adobe Audition) on your computer, or directly onto the Rodecaster's SD card.  rodecaster settings

Recording on separate channels can give you a lot more flexibility in post-production. Most podcasters consider it an essential feature of any audio recording tool or device these days.

Recording Audio

You can independently control the settings of each mic that's plugged in. Each input has its own gain slider, ‘mute' button, and ‘solo' button. There's a few processing options you can toggle on and off too.

  • Compressor – to help level out the overall volume
  • High-Pass Filter – to minimise the effects of low rumbling noises or mic pops
  • De-Esser – to create a less sibilant recording
  • Noise Gate – to reduce unwanted background noise
  • Ducking – to automatically lower the volume of music underneath speech
  • Aural Exciter & Big Bottom – humorously named EQ presets that change the tone of your voice

Personally, these are things I prefer to do in post-production. But they're a nice feature if you don't know much about audio production, or prefer to spend as little time as possible doing it. Here's a sound sample of me recording with the Rode Procaster into the Rodecaster, and calling Colin on the phone and Skype. Try saying that sentence out loud . . .

Rodecaster Live Broadcasting Features

If you're an avid live broadcaster or budding radio DJ, you'll love a couple of features recently added to the Rodecaster recording arsenal.

Firstly, you can preview any pre-recorded audio file you're about to play. Doing so doesn't interrupt your broadcast or recording session. The preview is also set to a unity gain level, so it doesn't matter the position of the fader – you'll get an accurate reflection of how loud the clip is before you actually play it.

Secondly, you can get a caller on the line and communicate with them off-air. This can streamline your content as all the awkward “hello, can you hear me?” stuff isn't broadcast to your listeners. Speaking to callers off-air means you can check (and fix) any audio issues before bringing them onto the show.

Sound Pads & Show Settings

There's 8 large sound pad buttons on the Rodecaster. You can use these to play effects or other audio clips. This could be anything from transitions and stringers, to entire pre-recorded interviews. You have the capability to pause clips, and you'll also see the remaining time of the sound that's going to end soonest. This is ideal for talking over outro music and knowing how long you have left.

You can customise and configure your sound library from the device itself, or by using Rode's companion app.

You can store up to 8 banks of sounds, which is ideal if you run multiple podcasts, or share your Rodecaster with another podcaster.

You can also save all your sounds and settings for ease of setup. You can even export them for use on a completely different Rodecaster if need be.

Headphones & Monitors

Another big plus for the Rodecaster is the options for monitoring your recordings.

There's four headphone jacks on the back of the unit, and you can control their volumes independently. This means that even if one person was particularly hard of hearing, they could have their headphone volume turned up high without it affecting anyone else. With other devices, you'd need an additional piece of equipment like a headphone amp or splitter for this, which in-turn, takes up more room and adds more cables and wires to your setup.

The headphone jacks are 1/4″ TRS, so if you prefer to use a set of earbuds you'll just need to pick up a little adapter, which you can get for about $2 on Amazon. There's 1/4″ Left and Right outputs to connect to studio monitors or speakers too, and these also have their own independent volume control.

Connections

Aside from the inputs and outputs mentioned already, there's two more worth mentioning. The USB connection is what you would use for recording Skype calls or anything else from a computer. It has its own level-control fader, solo button, and mute button.

There's a 3.5mm TRRS jack which enables you to hook your phone up to the Rodecaster and record calls that way. Again, it has a level-control fader, solo button, and mute button.

You can also connect your phone via Bluetooth, and it has the same 3 channel controls as the above.

Files

You can access your recordings directly from the SD card, or by connecting the Rodecaster to your computer via USB.

The USB route is known as “Podcast Transfer”, and it appears on your Mac or PC in a ‘Read Only' format. This means you can drag the files onto your computer for production, but you can't accidentally delete them. It's a nice little safety net.

Once you pull your recordings onto your desktop, you can use a DAW like Audacity or Adobe Audition, or a ‘podcast maker' tool like Alitu to polish them up ready for the world to hear.

What Else Do I Need?

You'll still need at least one microphone to podcast with the Rodecaster. When you connect a Rode mic (such as the Procaster) the unit automatically recognises it on the control panel. Presumably the preamps will be designed to optimise the sound of any Rode mic you connect. Aside from that, depending on which mic you use you might want to get a boom arm. Headphones are always a good idea too.

There's no memory card included, so you'll need one of those.

It uses a micro SD card. You will also need access to mains power to use the Rodecaster.

Who would use the Rode Rodecaster Pro?

While Rode's target market here is most definitely “podcasters,” that's still a big group of people with many different needs, wants, and budgets.

You Might Want One If . . .

  • You want the capability to easily record phone and Skype interviews.
  • Your guests are unlikely to have decent mics of their own, meaning you'll do a lot of interviews over the phone.
  • You want the least amount of equipment, cables, and connections possible in your setup.
  • You want to record live shows, or record your episodes “as-live” with effects and music played in real time.
  • You want to record up to four people locally, and also bring in a Skype or phone guest.
  • You want your equipment to be as simple as possible, without limiting yourself in any way.
  • You want a portable setup that you can easily take on the road with you.

You Might NOT Want One If . . .

  • You already have a well-tuned workflow and setup in your studio.
  • You're on a tight budget. The Rodecaster will set you back $600 – and you'll still need to buy mics on top of that. If you have very little money to spend, check out What's the minimum equipment I need to podcast?
  • You record solo/monologue episodes, in which case, the Rodecaster is overkill for your needs.

Summary: The Rode Rodecaster Pro

The Rode Rodecaster Pro is a truly unique device, and a provides a great “all-in-one” solution for many podcasters.

It was an impressive device when it launched, and now it's even better with all Rode's updates over the past few months.

The only thing it can't do for your podcast is make you a cup of tea before you hit record. I'm sure Rode will add that in before long though.

Of course, it has to be said – the Rodecaster isn't cheap. The price of $600 (not including mics) means it's a non-starter for most. That's not a criticism of the price, but there are a lot of podcasters who simply don't have that sort of budget. If you're just starting out, then you don't need to spend nearly as much as that to get up and running. Again, take a look at the minimum equipment needed to podcast for more on that.

If you've been podcasting for a while now and know you're not going to suddenly quit tomorrow though, then maybe the Rodecaster's many features will be appealing enough to you that you can justify the price. Certainly if you're someone who does a lot of live broadcasting, it will be a complete gamechanger.

If you're able to muster the funds, it'll definitely simplify your setup, your workflow, and give you loads of flexibility around how you record your show. These things can save you a lot of time in the long run, and time is the one thing that you can't put a price on!

Need More Help?

If you need some more tailored advice for your own setup, or want help with any other aspect of podcasting, then take a look at The Podcast Host Academy That’s where you’ll find access to all of our video courses, tutorials, ebooks, and downloadable resources. On top of that we run regular live Q&A sessions and an active community forum of like-minded folks. It's the perfect one-stop place to build and grow a thriving podcast!

Discussion:

18 Comments

  1. Jamie on 27th March 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I also had issues getting the Rodecaster Pro to record multitrack in Audition, but I really dislike ASIO4all. At least, the computers I have at the moment don’t like it, so I was struggling.

    As an alternative, for recording only I now use Audacity. Select Windows WASAPI and you can choose your 14 channels, export multiple to wav then open them up in Audition for editing – it works a treat, all without needing ASIO and still getting the power of multitrack editing in Audition.

  2. Padre on 5th April 2019 at 9:36 pm

    When recording to the SD card, what type of file does it produce? WAV? MP3? Other?

  3. KIm on 16th April 2019 at 6:43 am

    Can it connect directly to my camera?

  4. Marc on 20th August 2019 at 7:33 am

    Check your links, they point to the rode podcaster microphones instead.

  5. Phillip H. Blanton on 20th August 2019 at 5:33 pm

    It’s just an audio mixer / recorder. It doesn’t handle video switching.

  6. Carl Munson on 26th August 2019 at 11:34 am

    Hi Colin, does the Rodecaster cut the studio monitors when mics are live? A lot of people in the industry seem to recommend mixers that don’t do this. I like the Allen & Heath’s XB-10 because it takes care of this (-:

  7. Heidi on 19th September 2019 at 5:51 pm

    I’m totally new to audio. After I’ve recorded onto a MicroSD card and then opened as a raw file in audacity, I’m hooped. The sound comes out as a screeching. I realize that this is because the audio-file is 8-bit and needs to be an .mp4, but how do I make that conversion? Everything I’ve tried hasn’t worked. In lay man speech – how do I open what I’ve recorded with my RodeCaster Pro onto my MicroSD in audactiy so that I can actually hear what I’ve recorded (you know, with intelligible speech)?

    Thanks a bunch!

    • Lindsay Harris Friel on 19th September 2019 at 7:06 pm

      Have you checked with Audacity? https://www.audacityteam.org/contact/

    • Matthew Boudreau on 22nd September 2019 at 11:18 am

      You mentioned opening as a raw file in audacity. Raw files are typically pure data, which means any audio you would hear is an expression of that data (a screech). I’m not entirely familiar with Audacity in particular, but my best guess based on the audio tools that I use would be to open it not as a raw file, but as the container file that it is, as indicated by the extension (.mp4, .wav) within your DAW.

  8. Craig on 16th October 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Looks like I might have to bite the bullet for this bit of kit (he says with a sheepish glance at his long-suffering wife!) simply because I’m struggling to bring in a Skype guest with 2 local co-hosts to a Zoom H6. I also own a Scarlett interface, so any advice before I fork out the cash would be welcome!

  9. Bill Hibbler on 16th October 2019 at 9:15 pm

    “Hi Colin, does the Rodecaster cut the studio monitors when mics are live? A lot of people in the industry seem to recommend mixers that don’t do this. I like the Allen & Heath’s XB-10 because it takes care of this (-:”

    It doesn’t cut the monitors automatically but there’s a volume knob for that next to the four individual headphone monitor volume knobs.

  10. Bill Hibbler on 16th October 2019 at 9:24 pm

    I’ve had my Rodecater for about two months and love it. It may cost $600 but, for me, it replaced a $350 Mackie mixer, two $75 Short Stop cough switches, a $900 digital hybrid for bringing in phone calls and two $900 Aphex 230 effects units, an ipad for effects and clips, not to mention lots of extra cables. The Rode includes all the effects the Aphex 230 provides, except a parametric EQ and it does so for all four mic inputs. In my previous rig, I needed one Aphex unit per mic. Now it doesn’t not give me the precise control I got with the 230, everything in the Rodecaster is simply on or off but to have everything in one extremely portable unit was too much too resist. Not to mention having mix minus setup for each channel without complicated patching between channels. I love it! If I could add one thing it would be more tone controls than simply a button to select low, medium or high voice.

  11. SweetBaby on 17th October 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Can this system be used without being plugged but instead by battery or is there a way to make it even more portable lets say I wanted to go to the beach?

  12. David Berman on 13th November 2019 at 12:49 am

    I’m plunging into podcasting and have a serious interest in the Rodecaster Pro. But it is a non-starter for me until Rode enables mp3 files, not just WAV files. I would think this would be a relatively simple thing to add, and I don’t want to go through the process of converting Rodecater Pro’s WAV files to mp3. In general, especially for the spoken word, WAV files are “so yesterday.”

    • Matthew Boudreau on 13th November 2019 at 2:31 pm

      The Rodecaster records WAV natively, as do most recorders. You could use it with an Mp3 recording app on your computer or your phone.

      I can see from a consumer perspective how it seems like WAV files are anachronistic. But WAV, AIFF and other uncompressed formats are alive, well and improving into the realm of 32-bit and 192000 Hz recording with no loss of data or quality. Mp3 format is destructive and loses audio information every time it is resaved as an Mp3, leading to digital artifacts and data loss. In studio environments, we tend to use WAV and only convert mp3 for the final product to ensure maximum quality of the end product.

  13. Dino on 14th November 2019 at 12:59 am

    Hi there, nice article! Where are samplers stored? It seems this device has its own internal memory but it doesn’t say anything about that…. What is its size? As they Rode guy explain, you can save your samplers from your PC to this device but he never mentions if you need a SD card….

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Written by:

Matthew McLean

Matthew is an audio drama writer and producer who enjoys talking about podcasts. He makes the tea at The Podcast Host, and is a loyal servant of adopted house rabbits.

October 8th 2019