The Rodecaster Pro seems a fine mixer for podcasters. We haven’t used it; but have watched the video reviews and been in contact with Rode about its specs.
The fact that the Rodecaster will cut audio to monitor speakers means it is just a hair away from being a fine mixing desk for budget broadcasters. We contacted Rode saying that if they can figure a way to switch on-air lights on and off then they will wipe the floor with hobby broadcasters, including the lucrative community radio set.
The USB – or one of the 3 headphone outs for guests – can be used as an output to a computer or transmitter. But do your own checks before buying. There is a dedicated headphone output for the show host which allows them to pre-listen to any channel.
One thing we don’t like about the Rodecaster Pro though is the coloured pads used to fire jingles and such like.
It’s like an old-style cart / jingle machine except you don’t know for sure what you’ll get when you press the buttons – unless you have a brilliant memory. If you set it up and use it then you will know what’s what. But for a guest host, or use in a studio where different presenters come in to host shows, then the buttons will be near useless. Smaller buttons and a place to note down what each one will playout would be great.
In the back is a Micro SD slot. The card is used to record the mixer’s output – making this a neat self-contained unit.
The Rodecaster Pro is in essence a seven channel mixer. Four mics, USB input; mini-jack input and Bluetooth input. The eighth fader is locked to the pad player. There are no trim pots for the faders though.
Apart from the Bluetooth option to connect the mixer to anything Bluetooth (such as a phone); the phone connecting mini jack socket at the back can be used for any line input – such as the audio from the music playout app on your computer.
The unit also includes technology that prevents the phone caller hearing an echo of themselves when they speak. So in that respect it is just like the technology talk radio stations use. Great for live or recorded interviews.
There’s no dump button though, which would provide a slight delay to give show hosts in live broadcast situations a chance to prevent obscenities going to air (but for the price that would be too much to ask).
There are 4 XLR mic channels with pre-amps and software audio processing for each channel altered via the menu on the touchscreen.
The show host can also listen to any and all channels off-air; just like a broadcast console, using buttons below each audio fader.
There are four headphone channels with individual volume controls meaning guests can have the volume of the main output to their liking.
The current price for the Rodecaster Pro is US$599 (around NZ$1100) and its portability and built-in recording option, along with software audio compression, makes this a versatile and worthwhile consideration.
No doubt Rode is hard at work developing this mixer and I wouldn’t be surprised if one for budget broadcasters was in the works somewhere (Rode would be silly to miss that market).
Having said that; even the current mixer aimed at podcasters will serve any budget radio station very well indeed.