The RODECaster Pro from RODE is a podcast recording device and more. There are situations where it is a great fit. However, we’ve seen podcasters buy this device only to have it complicate their life (and their editor’s life). In those cases, it offered little benefit over a USB microphone that’s a fraction of the cost.
We know it’s tempting to run out and purchase the most expensive device on the market. Read on to learn if a RODECaster Pro is right for you, and how to properly choose your podcast equipment.
Note: This article refers to the original RODECaster Pro. For details on the newer model, check out our article on the RODECaster Pro 2.
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What the RODECaster Pro Does
The RODECaster Pro 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 higher than just the RODECaster Pro itself.
Why You Don’t Need a RODECaster Pro
First, let’s look at the reasons you may not need a RODECaster Pro.
1) It’s overkill
The RODECaster Pro has a ton of features the average podcaster may not 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 acceptable results at a far lower pricepoint. Plus, it’s a much less complex 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. Your podcast audio editor is best equipped to add appropriate audio processing. If this is added poorly from the RODECaster, your editor will be limited in what they can do. The audio may even be permanently damaged.
What We Don’t Like About the RODECaster Pro
You may be wondering why we would bother writing an article like this. Why are we hating on the RODECaster!? We’re not hating on the RODECaster at all, simply pointing out that it’s an ideal fit for some situations, and not for others. We’ve seen many people run out and buy one when it simply wasn’t needed. There are, of course, plenty of situations where the RODECaster Pro is an excellent choice.
In an effort to be fair, 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. Many of our clients turn to us for help during setup and recording, or we receive their recorded audio and discover problems. We thought it’d be a great idea to check out the user manual!
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. Considering this machine is overkill for many podcasters, it simply becomes an expensive headache.
UPDATE: We’re glad to see RODE has made improvements in this area with the RODECaster Pro Learning Hub. It took a while, but they now have a decent area on their website which runs through various settings and configuration instructions for the RODECaster.
2) 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. The editor has to then download this giant file and remove the unnecessary tracks before working. It ends up being a waste of time that may add to the editing price.
UPDATE: RODE Has made some improvements in this area with their Companion App, though it’s still a somewhat complex process and tricky for podcasters who aren’t tech-savvy, which is the focus of this article. So while the export process may now be more flexible, it doesn’t change the fact that the type of podcaster who really only needed a USB microphone still only needs a USB microphone.
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.
Alternatives To the RODECaster
The RODECaster is a neat device and is definitely useful for the right applications, such as a podcast using several microphones in a single room, doing live broadcasts, and higher-budget podcasts.
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 suitable 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 happy about the Zoom PodTrak P4 which has a lower pricepoint. Zoom also offers their PodTrak P8, which is larger and more along the lines of the RODECaster. Tascam has entered the arena as well with their Mixcast 4.
So are there situations where a RODECaster Pro would be the best fit? Absolutely! However, we’ve come across them being used in some cases where it was purchased by a podcaster who thought that spending more would equal more listeners. The result is wasted time and money. It’s a great device, so if you feel it suits your situation – it’s likely a great purchase!
The RODECaster Pro is a great device for the right situations and has been praised greatly online. This article offers an alternative perspective and honest advice for podcasters who are shopping for equipment and looking to better understand what’s the right fit for them.
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 Shure MV7, Audio Technica AT2020 USB and RODE NT-USB.