Podcasters and other content creators understand the difficulties of capturing clear audio. You need the right environment, workflow, and tools. The equipment can add up quickly.
RØDE addressed this problem with the RODECaster Pro, a unique audio mixing deck with a focus on podcasting. You can record multiple people, add audio enhancements, and even background music in real time (or with minimal post-production processing). It’s an all-in-one audio platform with radio station features.
Recently, the Australian audio maker announced the successor to their successful podcasting platform: the RØDECaster Pro II. This new piece of equipment is aimed at all creators – podcasters, streamers, music producers, and anyone who works with audio. It comes with several changes that will improve your audio, however you publish.
In this RODECaster Pro 2 review, we offer our thoughts on this dynamic portable audio mixer console. We’ll break down what’s new, what we like, and what we don’t like.
Features of the RODECaster Pro 2
The RØDECaster Pro II is a true upgrade to its predecessor. It offers all of the powerful advanced features of the original RODECaster as well as some new ones, all in a smaller package. However, according to RØDE, the Pro 2 has been “built from the ground up” and is “a completely new beast.”
To start our RØDECaster Pro II review, let’s go over the console’s top features.
The most obvious difference here is the smaller footprint. The RODECaster Pro 2 is two inches smaller than its predecessor. You lose two physical fader strips so it occupies less desk space. However, RØDE added an all new contextual rotary control and moved to combo ports on the back rather than just straight XLR connections like the original. This means you can add instruments, synthesizers and other devices without needing adapters.
The unit includes a high performance quad-core audio engine and is now powered by USB-C. It can connect to two computers or mobile devices at once for dual operations. The 5.5-inch high-definition touchscreen display with haptic feedback and rotary encoder is bigger and easier to manipulate than the original Rodecaster. Plus, it offers a simple interface that’s easy to learn.
The RØDECaster Pro II comes with improved sound quality as well due to its inclusion of four Neutrik combo microphone input that also connect to instruments for direct recording or line-level devices . These feature the company’s “ultra-low-noise, high-gain Revolution Preamps.” According to Rode, these were built specifically for the RODECaster Pro 2.
There are four high-power headphone outputs and balanced ¼-inch line outputs. Each has its own level control. The original RODECaster had a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the front of the device as well, but the Pro removes the front jack. This is a minor inconvenience if you have a shorter cable, but not insurmountable.
The Pro 2 offers nine individually assignable channels with six broadcast-quality physical faders (down from eight in the original RODECaster) and three virtual faders. There is a studio-quality compressor, noise gates, high-pass filter, de-esser, and three-band equalizer for each channel.
You’ll find the biggest improvement in the sound pads – now called SMART pads. Previously, the pads were used for playing audio clips on demand. They are now fully customizable with bank switching (eight banks of eight pads for a total of 64 unique actions available). There’s 512MB of internal memory to store short effects, music, or even pre-recorded show segments.
You can use the SMART pads to trigger sound effects, automate fading, perform MIDI commands, switch videos, and more. (The closest comparison device is Elgato’s Stream Deck.) There are 64 unique actions available to choose from and assign to the SMART pads.
The mixer and sound pads are configured so that they can be saved as presets. You won’t have to assign new effects to each pad or assign sounds to each channel every time you record. It’s all saved so you can adjust things just how you like them.
There are far more options to customize processing and automation in the on-board software as compared to the original RODECaster. It offers studio-grade APHEX® audio processing and on-board effects for complete control and professional sound.
In the past, some users of the original RODECaster Pro complained about the limited options for internal audio processing. Effects like the compressor and EQ presets only had an on/off function. The new RODECaster Pro 2 offers some more granular control over these settings, as well as additional effects, like the noise gates, high-pass filter, pitching shifting, reverb, and echo.
A surprising addition: funny voice effects. Podcasters probably won’t get much use out of these vocal effects, but given the popularity of apps like Voicemod, someone will use this nice feature.
Interestingly, the new device’s preamps have a lower noise floor and higher gain than the original model (-131.5dBV EIN, 76dB gain). RØDE claims that this eliminates the need for products like the Cloudlifter to boost the signal-to-noise ratio of microphones like the Shure SM7b before going into the mixer. It can drive even the most gain-hungry microphones.
Recordings, at 24-bit 48kHz, are made either to your computer via USB-C port (a Type C to Type A cable is supplied) or to a MicroSD card (not supplied). There are two recording options: 1) a stereo recording of the master bus signal, and 2) multi-track recording. Multitrack recording creates a 14-channel polyWAV, capturing each input source to different channels. (The SMART pads are their own channels.) If your DAW can’t handle polyWAVs, the RØDE Companion app can split them out to regular WAVs.
When recording to your computer, the RODECaster Pro 2 appears as any other audio interface in your DAW system (like Adobe Audition or Audacity). However, there are separate drivers: one for stereo operation and one for multitrack. The multi-track recording driver has only inputs at the moment, so you need a DAW that can address different input and output devices to record multitrack. (RØDE claims to be developing more robust drivers soon, so this won’t be an issue for long.)
Additional features worth mentioning
Here are a few more benefits we came across in our Rødecaster Pro 2 review:
- There’s onboard storage to keep you from losing your recordings.
- Advanced Bluetooth connectivity allows for high-quality phone calls (for conducting remote interviews or Zoom meetings for example).
- Back channeling option and mute buttons allow users to talk to each other without adding it to the recording or live stream. This is great for production managers who need to give cues but don’t want their personal audio captured.
- The ability to record directly to a memory card, Micro SD card, or SSD via USB.
- Comes with generic dynamic and condenser mic presets, as well as specific presents for RØDE mic models and the Electro–Voice RE-20.
- Turn on phantom power for your condenser microphone (although this should not be necessary if you’re using the right mic preset).
- Pause a recording at any time by holding the record button for two seconds.
Looking for a great podcasting mic? We always recommend the Shure SM7B. Check out our full Shure SM7B review.
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RØDE has promised to continue to provide regular firmware updates to the RØDECaster Pro II over time (just like they did for the original RODECaster Pro). Their goal is to provide additional functionality, additional features, and software compatibility. You can update the device by connecting it to the web via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, or by connecting it to a PC that’s connected to the web.
Sadly, RØDE will not be updating the original RODECaster Pro with future firmware releases. So new software functionality will only be available on the Pro II.
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What We Like About the RODECaster Pro 2
The original RODECaster was noted for its simplicity. It was designed strictly for podcasters, so its learning curve was basically flat. You could learn all of its operations in a few recordings. The RODEcaster Pro 2, however, is clearly targeted for all types of content creators, so there are a bit more features to learn.
Nevertheless, the first thing we noticed in our RØDECaster Pro 2 review is that it’s still a simple device. Navigating its options is easy with the touchscreen and tactile rotary encoder. It doesn’t take long before you feel comfortable operating it with your hands and manipulating it mid-recording. Learning the Pro 2 will take a little more time, but we think it’s worth the effort.
One thing we like about the RODECaster Pro 2 is the ability to customize your workflow. If you spend some time customizing the unit and setting up your presets, you can create better sound during your recording session and save a lot of time during editing.
For example, if you set one of the pads to a mixer action, like a fade out, you can insert that effect into the original recording directly, rather than editing it in later. Your recording will feel more like a performance, but this time saved lets you focus on your content and your audience.
Our favorite benefit of the RØDECaster Pro II is that it replaces multiple pieces of audio equipment – an amp, a mixer, and a stream deck. Now that’s all combined into a single device that doesn’t eat up all that much desktop space and will connect to any external mic, even a wireless one. Plus, it’s easier to manage one piece of equipment when you’re starting out.
Rodecaster Pro 2 Review Final Thoughts
The RODECaster Pro 2 packs all of the important bits of an audio control room into a convenient package, making it ideal for streamers, podcasters, musicians, YouTubers, audio engineers, and anyone who needs strong audio quality for their content and wants to save time in post – production. It’s a highly flexible unit with a range of high-quality effects, making it an impressive “crossover” product for podcasting audio.
Some critics feel that these changes are only minor updates that don’t merit the Pro 2’s $699 price tag ($100 more than its predecessor). We admit that it’s a bit pricey, so we wouldn’t recommend it for new podcasters. But as your show grows and you begin to produce more dynamic content, it should definitely be on your list. And if you’re aiming for high production quality in your video and audio content, we think the RØDECaster Pro II is worth the price and a great tool to up your podcasting game.
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Thanks for checking out our Rødecaster Pro 2 review. Have you picked up the Pro 2 yet? What are your thoughts?
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