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). It offers little benefit over a USB microphone that’s a fraction of the cost. At the time of writing, the RODECaster retails for $599 USD.
As seasoned professionals in the industry, we know it’s tempting to run out and purchase the most expensive device on the market. But, 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
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, and at a far lower pricepoint. Plus, it’s 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. You should be working with an editor anyway, and 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. The audio may even be permanently 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, 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.
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. 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.
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.
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 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. All the Zoom units have wonderful user manuals published on their website, thankfully!
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 purchased by a podcaster who thought that spending more would equal more listeners. The result is wasted time and money.
We hope this article helped you understand more about if a RODECaster is a good fit for your podcast setup. If you are overwhelmed with the work required to keep your podcast going, schedule a call with us today. We can help edit your podcast so you can focus on what you do best.
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.