The Rodecasater Duo makes extra sense for most individuals.

A few years in the past, you may need described Rode as an organization that makes microphones. In the present day, it’s positioning itself extra as a one-stop-shop for creator instruments. The unique Rodecaster Pro podcast mixer was the primary large step on this evolution. That features the brand new, gaming-focused “Rode X” sub-brand and merchandise just like the Streamer X capture card. The corporate, in fact, nonetheless makes a microphone or two. However, with the brand new, smaller, extra inexpensive and really succesful Rodecaster Duo stream mixer, this transfer towards common creators is principally official.

The unique Rodecaster Professional was the primary mixing desk particularly designed for podcasters to essentially catch individuals’s consideration. The build-quality, value, ease of use and easy workflow struck a chord with professionals and amateurs alike. The Rodecaster Pro II ($699) went in a barely totally different path, introducing the flexibility to route totally different audio sources to totally different locations, an important device for sport streamers. The pads have been upgraded from easy audio triggers to multi-purpose sensible pads that can be utilized for MIDI, vocal results and extra. The second model additionally got here in with a smaller footprint, eradicating two bodily faders and making them “digital.”

The Rodecaster Duo ($499) is arguably simply the Rodcaster Professional II “mini.” The performance is similar to its greater sibling, nevertheless it comes with 4 bodily faders (down from six); six pads (down from eight) and two XLR ports for microphones or devices (down from 4). You even have management over seven mixing channels at anybody time, however adjusting three of them is finished by way of digital faders. Importantly, you get to configure which inputs stay on bodily faders and that are assigned to digital controls within the companion software program.

Picture by James Trew / Engadget

Two different small adjustments embrace the removing of the “file” button, which is now digital/on the show, and there’s additionally a headphone port on the entrance edge. This final change solves considered one of my most important nitpicks with Rodecaster Professional II, which solely had headphone ports across the again. The port on the entrance is 3.5mm moderately than 1/4 -inch and is suitable with headset/TRRS mics, including one other enter successfully — one which’s significantly helpful for sport streamers.

One of many greatest upgrades from the unique Rodecaster Professional is the addition of a second USB-C port across the again which may hook up with a second PC. This can be a large boon for streamers who need to preserve their gaming rig separate from their streaming one, and the brand new routing desk means that you can ship no matter inputs you prefer to both USB connection. This identical port additionally can be utilized for connecting a cellphone, which is ideal for introducing callers or for streaming by way of cellular apps. You would at all times join a cellphone by way of Bluetooth on the unique mannequin, which was helpful however now you have got a number of choices (and by way of cable is a lot better high quality).

The truth that there are solely two XLR combo jacks speaks strongly to who that is for. Whereas the Rodecaster Professional and its sequel have been initially constructed for in-person, multi-guest, podcasts, it’s additionally a really succesful device for solo creators which has helped gas its recognition. And with an rising variety of instruments like Zencastr or Adobe Podcast, the necessity to host fellow flesh-sacks in the identical room is now not required for high-quality audio from all audio system. As such, the Rodecaster Duo makes loads of sense for a broad stroke of creators from podcasters to streamers and even music producers and video editors (each the Duo and the II Professional are MIDI enabled).

Be beneath no illusions, the Duo — and its greater sibling — are simply as “professional” pleasant as the primary Rodecaster, however they each lean into the creator house a bit greater than the unique. This level is made most clearly by the very existence of the Duo. The smaller footprint is a transparent admission that this was made to stay on a desk full time alongside your different day by day instruments.

The Rodecaster Duo's touchscreen display showing the mixer levels.

Picture by James Trew / Engadget

The Rodecaster II Professional was already a bit extra manageable than the primary mannequin, however after a number of weeks with the Duo, the distinction is stark. It may stay nested beneath my monitor and simply moved into place after I go stay. Earlier than the Duo, I had the Professional II on my desk in the same setup, however I used to be often transferring it out of the best way to create space for different issues that it grew to become a little bit of a burden and I ended up unplugging it till present time. With the Duo it’s clear this is usually a day by day driver with little-to-no want to arrange round it.

The variety of instruments for creators and streamers is increasing exponentially, and with which are extra direct rivals to the Rodecaster sequence. In truth, simply days after the Rodecaster Duo was introduced, Boss unveiled its personal tackle the class with the Gigcaster 8 ($699) and Gigcaster 5 ($459). Each supply very related options to Rode’s merchandise in a typically smaller footprint. The Gigcaster 8 is a close to 1:1 when it comes to performance to the Professional II, whereas the Gigcaster 5 sacrifices the bodily set off pads to make approach for 2 extra bodily faders — six complete — over the Duo’s 4 to create a good smaller footprint. Although it has a slight concentrate on musicians by way of some sound presets and results, and doesn’t fairly match the general construct high quality and polish because the Rode.

Rode’s audio chops are additionally to not be underestimated. The pre-amps and headphone outputs on the Duo are capital-L loud and squeaky clear with a really low noise ground. When the merchandise have been introduced, Rode went out of its method to present how effectively it may energy the notoriously quiet (and insanely common) SM7B microphone. Whenever you’re giving a shout out to a rival firm’s product to reveal a function, you higher be assured that the function you’re touting does the products. And certainly it does. The quantity of unpolluted acquire to drive microphones such because the aforementioned Shure traditional is spectacular and a step up from the already-decent Rodecaster Professional earlier than it.

The Rodecaster Duo pictured on a desk with a keyboard and headphones.

Picture by James Trew / Engadget

In brief, the Rodecaster Duo looks like a product that Rode perhaps didn’t initially assume was the principle occasion. It’s the smaller, extra inexpensive model of its flagship mixer in spite of everything. It seems that that is possible the one that the majority solo creators will really need. Even professionals may need to contemplate the Duo over the Professional II in the event that they don’t completely want the capability to run 4 microphones in tandem.

It’s value mentioning that in the event you’re contemplating transferring over to the Duo from one thing just like the GoXLR or the Razer Audio Mixer know that Rode’s tackle a routing desk is slightly totally different to what you may be used to. The Duo’s companion software program is mostly fairly good, nevertheless it doesn’t use the standard “desk” format many streamers might be used to. As a substitute it’s slightly bit convoluted, however when you get the hold of it, it’s fairly highly effective. That is significantly helpful in the event you’re within the enterprise of recording audio from a number of sources. I typically simply use the routing choices so I can file both one or either side of a cellphone name or on-line assembly relying on my wants, nevertheless it’s additionally good for feeding PC audio — together with Zoom calls or YouTube movies and many others. — into, effectively, wherever you need it to go, together with your cellphone.

In the event you do any form of stay audio manufacturing or recording, particularly podcasts, the Rodecaster Duo is a simple promote. For streamers, it’s additionally a really succesful system, one which’s additionally simple to suggest, however with a small asterisk. Streaming setups and their related platforms are sometimes slightly extra to their host’s tastes and preferences. As such, the Duo’s suitability will depend upon what you’re used to and the specifics of what you need to do. However for many creators, the Duo is the higher choice over the Professional II on the very least.

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