The RODECaster Pro from RODE is a podcast recording device and more. There are situations where it is a good fit, however, we’ve seen podcasters buy this device only to have it complicate their life (and their editor’s life) and offer no benefit over a USB microphone at a fraction of the cost. At the time of writing, the RODECaster retails for $599 USD.
While it can be tempting to run out and purchase the most expensive device you can find, with hopes of making your podcast sound as great as possible, that’s not the correct approach. Read on to learn more about why you likely don’t need a RODECaster Pro and how to properly choose your podcast equipment.
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What the RODECaster Pro Does
The RODECaster is labeled by RODE as “the world’s first full integrated podcast production studio”. It acts as a recorder, mixer, headphone amplifier, phone interface, and more. It doesn’t include any microphones, so the cost to get going is even higher than just the RODECaster itself.
Why You Don’t Need a RODECaster
We’ll get to the situations where a RODECaster may be suitable, but first let’s look at the reasons you may not need one.
1) It’s overkill
Put simply, the RODECaster has a ton of features the average podcaster just doesn’t need. Most podcasts are either recorded solo by the host with a single mic, or online via Zoom or Squadcast. In that case, a simple USB microphone like the Blue Yeti will help you accomplish the same results as a RODECaster would, at a far lower pricepoint, with a much simpler setup.
2) Unnecessary settings and processing
In our experience, a podcaster who drops $600 on a shiny new RODECaster can’t wait to try it out and play around with the settings. The problem here is that most podcasters are not audio engineers. Especially if you plan to hire an editor anyway, it would be their job to add appropriate audio processing. If this is added poorly from the RODECaster, your editor will be limited in what they can do, and the audio may even be damaged. A common issue we’ve seen with RODECaster recordings is an aggressive audio gate setting out of the box. At least we think it’s a default setting (RODE couldn’t supply us with a user manual, more on that later).
Why We Don’t Like the RODECaster Pro
You may be wondering why we would bother writing an article like this. Why are we hating on the RODECaster!? In an effort to be fair, rather than lump these into the category of why you shouldn’t buy a RODECaster, we’ll admit that these may blur into reasons that affect the editor. Although, a happy editor means a happy podcaster.
1) Lack of Support
One of our biggest pet peeves about the RODECaster is the lack of support from RODE. After running into the above problems multiple times with clients having damaged recordings, poorly set audio processing, and more, we thought it’d be a great idea to check out the user manual! Many of our clients turn to us for help during setup and recording, or we receive their audio and discover a poorly set audio gate is chopping off words and syllables, or some other problem that needs troubleshooting.
Heading to the RODECaster support page will show you that no downloadable user manual is available from RODE, just a QuickStart guide. We contacted RODE support and they told us there’s no manual available “due to constant firmware updates and feature changes, this would need updated far too frequently”. So aside from a few basic tutorial videos on their site, this thing is a mystery to us unless we buy one just to have on hand to walk clients through settings.
And again, considering this machine is overkill for most podcasters, it simply becomes a headache.
2) Obnoxiously Large Files
One of the RODECaster’s export methods sends a giant multi-channel WAV file with all 14 recorded tracks. In all cases we’ve seen, the podcaster uses only 1 or 2 of these tracks. The remainder simply take up space, creating a giant file containing essentially nothing. It takes the podcaster a long time to upload, and the editor has to then download this giant file and split out and remove the unnecessary tracks before working. It ends up being a waste of time that may add to the editing price.
While this is not a direct flaw of the RODECaster itself, this situation arises so often that it seems fitting to place this here. We regularly encounter podcasters who purchased the RODECaster seemingly without understanding much about what they were buying or why it would be needed. They just think “I want to podcast, this thing podcasts, so I must buy it.”
Then, when it turns out that a simple, much cheaper USB microphone would have been more than enough, it’s too late. At this point they’re frustrated and have wasted hours trying to get it to work.
Alternatives To the RODECaster
The RODECaster is a neat device which we think is most ideal for a podcast using 3 or more microphones in a single room, and maybe even doing live broadcasts.
Here are some common podcasting situations where we think an alternative method would be better:
- Solo host recording alone
- Solo host recording with remote guest
- Two people recording in the same room
For the solo methods, a USB microphone such as the Blue Yeti is perfectly adequate. Online recording platforms such as Squadcast take care of the recording for interviews, and retrieving the files is easy. Plug in your USB mic and you’re all set. For solo recording, Audacity or GarageBand are perfect and free.
For two people recording in the same room, we like a Zoom handy recorder with inputs for external microphones. A USB mixer or audio interface connected to a laptop would be adequate as well. We’re also excited to check out the Zoom PodTrak P4 which is coming soon with a lower pricepoint. Zoom has also announced their PodTrak P8 which is larger and more along the lines of the RODECaster. Both the Zoom units had user manuals published on their website prior to the products even being available for purchase.
So are there situations where a RODECaster would be the best fit? Absolutely. However, most times we’ve come across them being used, it was simply purchased by a podcaster who thought that spending more would give them the best results. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only do they end up wasting money, but their life and their editor’s life becomes more difficult, and they may even end up with poor results.
Need help with your podcast recording setup? Contact us today! You can also check out this article about making your guests sound great.
This article contains affiliate links and we may earn a small commission should you choose to click through and make a purchase. These same links are featured in other blog posts of ours. This opinion piece is NOT intended to encourage the purchase of any specific product or service, we’ve simply listed options. Alternatives to Squadcast.fm include Ringr, Zencastr, and Zoom.us. Alternatives to the Blue Yeti USB include the Audio Technica AT2020 USB and RODE NT-USB.