We've got more Rodes than the Roman Empire here at The Podcast Host HQ. It's been a while since we reviewed one, because I always get their names mixed up. But a run-through of the Rode Podcaster is long overdue. So let's get to it.
What is the Rode Podcaster?
The Rode Podcaster is a USB microphone. Essentially, it's a mirror version of the Rode Procaster, which is an XLR model.
To run the Procaster, you need additional equipment (such as a mixer or digital recorder). The Podcaster, however, you can plug into your computer directly.
How Does It Work?
Putting the confusingly similar names aside for now, the big attraction of USB mics is in their simplicity. You just plug them in, and hit record. This can mean there's less margin for error.
The Rode Podcaster has a Cardioid polar pattern. It focuses on sound directly in front of it, whilst isolating sounds coming from the sides and back. This makes it an optimal design for recording one person, or one source.
That's all you really need to know here, but if you did want a deeper dive into mic polar patterns, then fill your boots!
Build of the Rode Podcaster
Generally, microphone manufacturers build Dynamic or Condenser mics. The Rode Podcaster falls into the former category.
A simple way to sum up a typical Dynamic mic, is that they can be slightly less nuanced, as a trade-off for being more forgiving of sub-optimal recording conditions.
There's a 3.5mm headphone jack on the neck of the mic. This enables you to monitor your audio in real-time. You can hear exactly what's recording.
There's a little volume dial right above the jack. This only alters the volume of the audio playing through the headphones. It doesn't affect the volume of the audio recording.
Using The Rode Podcaster
You actually do need more than just a computer to run the Rode Podcaster “properly”. You'll want something to hold the mic for you, reduce shock, and keep it out of your way while you're not using it. You need to mount it on a boom arm.
Depending on where you buy your gear, it's common to see the Rode Podcaster packaged up with the Rode PSA1 boom arm. These bundles tend to cost a bit more though than if you bought the mic on its own and opted for a cheaper (but still suitable) mount.
If you're buying the Rode Podcaster without any add-ons, brand new on Amazon, you'll get it for around $225 or £125.
You can get it on there with the Rode PSA1 boom arm for $330 or £217.
Here's a sound sample of the Rode Podcaster, recorded into Audacity on a Mac. We didn't apply any cleaning or post-processing: this is the untouched sound.
Summary: The Rode Podcaster
The Rode Podcaster is undoubtedly one of the best USB mics on the market, in terms of its sound quality, look, feel, and build.
However, it's hard to imagine many scenarios where a podcaster might spend this amount of money on a USB mic. When folks are able to justify spending three figure sums on their show, then it's likely they'd opt for an XLR-based setup. Perhaps with the Rode Procaster instead.
For USB options, I always find it hard to see past the Samson Q2U. It may not sound quite as good as the Podcaster. But, it costs a bit less, and can also serve as an XLR mic.
So, though I struggle to find fault with the Rode Podcaster, I also struggle to come up with reasons why someone might buy one. It's a great mic, but it's likely that other factors will lead you to choose an alternative.