Rode Podcaster: The Review.

Gadgets, Music, Podcasts, Tools, Useful Things by Chris Coyier

I’m not exactly shy around microphones. I’ve been in many studio recording sessions, there has been a microphone in every Mac I’ve owned since I’ve been 12, and I even own a small arsenal of 57’s, 58’s, and a decent condenser for band activities. At the same time, I’m no expert. I couldn’t tell you what the right microphone is for an acoustic bass in a small theater with echo issues on a humid summer evening like the pros could. That kind of microphone trivia comes across as comically absurd to me, kinda like in City Slickers when Mitch challenges Barry what the perfect ice cream is to follow a meal of frank and beans: “Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla. Don’t waste my time.”

What I do know is good products and good deals, and the Rode Podcaster is both. The Podcaster is a USB microphone, meaning a single cable from the mic to USB port is all it takes. Being a condenser, it needs to be powered, but the power from the USB bus is enough, it needs no separate power source. My iMac instantly recognized the device.

Notice how it is both a sound input device as well as an output device. The Podcaster has a headphone jack directly on the microphone, which allows you to listen to yourself in real time without the delay that plagues other USB microphones.

Being a condenser mic brings about some issues people should be aware of before purchasing. As a rule, condensers are extremely sensitive. If you are sitting in your home office recording and your neighbor is mowing his lawn, that is going to be a problem. If you have a mostly-quiet environment, you should have no trouble. Most condensers are side address, meaning they point upwards and you speak (sing, play, etc.) into the side of them. Don’t make that mistake with the Podcaster, it is a frontal address microphone, meaning you speak into the “top” of it. Condensers, as well as regular microphones, are subject to handling noise, meaning it is going to pick up some low rumbling sounds if you are holding it in your hands or passing it around. Condensers are often put in shock mounts to avoid this (pictured in this post, but the Podcaster does not come with a shock mount). Some condensers pick up sound from many feet away, but the Podcaster’s range is much smaller. Speaking close to the head is your best bet. Regardless, the pickup pattern is still cardioid.

If you have read this far, maybe you’ll be interested in actually hearing the Podcaster in action! Check out the first FreshArrival audio review below:

Recording that in GarageBand was a fairly simple affair.

For around $200 street price, the Podcaster is an amazingly good deal. There are bigger, better, fancier microphones out there (obviously), but the Podcaster is more than capable of producing very high quality professional sound for a fairly low investment.

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