Audio interfaces can be intimidating. There are plenty of people out there who want to be able to get quality audio while recording a podcast, livestreaming on Twitch, or recording a guitar track without having to spend thousands of dollars on equipment that you practically need to be an audio engineer to know how to use.
That’s where RØDE comes in. They launched their original RØDECaster Pro back in 2018 as an audio processing and mixing solution geared specifically at podcasters. It was popular enough that other content creators were interested as well. Now, the company has released the RØDECaster Pro 2, which is designed with features to accommodate podcasters, streamers, musicians, voice over performers, and a variety of other content creators. RØDE sent one to High Ground Gaming for our fair and unbiased review. Strap in, because there is a lot to cover.
Zoom In: Specs
- Designed for podcasters, streamers, musicians, and content creators
- Low-noise, high gain Revolution preamps
- 4 Neutrik combo inputs
- 9 assignable channels
- 6 physical faders and 3 virtual faders
- High performance quad-core audio engine
- APHEX audio processing and on-board effects
- 8 programmable SMART Pads
- Dual USB Type-C interfaces
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Multitrack or stereo recording to a MicroSD, USB storage device or computer
- 4 headphone outputs
- 5.5” touchscreen
- RØDE Central software
- Price: $699.99
Unboxing and Build Quality
Inside the box, you will find the RØDECaster Pro 2 itself, a power cable with a USB Type-C input, and an extra Type-C to Type-C cable for connecting the board to a computer or mobile device. There are no printed instructions in the box, although there is a QR code that leads to the app, which also contains instructions.
The board itself is impeccably built. It has a metal faceplate, and the faders, dials and buttons all look and feel like components that belong on a professional piece of equipment. The touchscreen interface is responsive and boasts a bright, detailed picture quality. Many of the features that the screen offers are controlled via a smart rotary dial right beside it.
There are six physical faders that each have color-coded profile buttons, as well as listen and mute buttons. Then there are eight color-coded SMART Pads and two arrow buttons. These are large rubber buttons that simply need to be tapped to activated with various assigned sounds and effects.
Connectivity and Channels
There are a lot of connectivity options on the RØDECaster Pro 2. There are four Neutrik combo inputs that can be used for both XLR and TRS inputs. These are where users would connect their microphones, instruments, or other line-in equipment, though it’s worth noting that the board doesn’t seem to be able to interface directly with USB microphones. There are two ¼” speaker outputs (R and L,) four ¼” headphone outputs that each have their own dedicated volume dial, two USB Type-C connectivity options for connecting computers, tablets, or smartphones, a MicroSD card reader/writer, and an ethernet port. It also has Bluetooth.
Each of RØDE’s connections feature their Revolution preamps. These have an ultra-low noise rating of -131.5dBv and an ultra-high gain of 76dB. RØDE claims that these don’t need microphone boosters, lifters or external processing, and that their preamps are so quiet that using lifter will actually introduce unnecessary noise to the user’s signal.
There are six physical channels that can be controlled with faders and three virtual channels that can be controlled on the smart screen using the rotary smart dial. Each of these can be assigned to its own input source — for example, Channel 1 is your microphone, 2 is PC audio, 3 is chat audio, etc. You can even link multiple input sources to be controlled by a single channel. They also each have their own listen and mute buttons. The listen button allows users to enable or disable what audio is being monitored through the audio outputs, and the mute button allows users to enable or disable what audio is being passed through the device to its recording destination.
Being able to get a solid connection is important, but those who don’t have a lot of experience with audio processing might be a little intimidated by words like reverb or gain. The RØDECaster Pro 2 features APHEX processing, which has several easy-to-use presets for users that might not want to mess with individual settings too much. It has built-in presets for several of the most popular XLR microphones (from RØDE’s own Pod Mic to the Shure SM7B), while also having generic condenser and dynamic mic presets that can be manually adjusted. There are also presets for line-in gear and instruments.
Those who do want to tinker with several of the finer settings in these presets have the tools to do so, however. APHEX has three simple metrics that adjust multiple processes at once: depth, sparkle and punch. Here is how they work according to RØDE’s website:
- Depth: Use this to subtly enhance the low end of your signal, giving it more richness and tighter bass articulation.
- Sparkle: Use this to add brightness and detail to your signal, which is perfect for giving your voice more presence and clarity.
- Punch: Use this to add subtle compression to your signal, making your voice sound more intelligible and natural. It will also adjust the noise gate to help reduce background noise.
Users can also use these to create and save their own sub-presets. It then has two adjustable effects, Echo and Reverb, as well as seven different advanced processes for those who really want to fine-tune their sounds. These include high-pass filter, de-esser, noise-gate, compressor, equalizer, exciter and panning. This makes it easy for users of all knowledge levels to get the best sound they can.
One of the most unique things about the RØDECaster series is that it includes programmable SMART Pads. There are only eight Pads, but there are eight banks of profiles that users can navigate through using the two arrow buttons right beneath them. That means they can be used to control up to sixty-four different sounds and effects.
They come pre-loaded with sixteen sounds and effects, including music, applause, voice modulation, and even an expletive censor, but these are just the beginning. Users can record their own clips directly to the 4GB of onboard memory, edit them, and assign them to the pads, or they can use the RØDE Central app to load and export sounds to the board from their computer or mobile device.
Podcasters and streamers can import their own music to play at the beginning or end of a show, musicians can use looping audio tracks as parts of their songs, and custom designed voice effects can be activated at the touch of a button. On top of all that, the Pads can also be used to send MIDI commands to other pieces of connected software, just like the Stream Deck.
Not only are there tons of options for recording and mixing, the RØDECaster Pro 2 also offers a lot of ways to record audio as well. The two USB Type-C connections allow it to interface with a computer or mobile device. Audio can be sent from these devices to the RØDECaster to be mixed, but users can also record audio from the board on their computer using a program like Audacity or OBS.
It doesn’t need to be connected to a smart device to record, though. It is also capable of recording directly to a MicroSD card or a USB storage device. This is particularly useful if you want to be able to take the RØDECaster and use it at a venue during a live event. It’s also capable of recording multitrack for those wishing to keep their audio source recordings separate.
RØDE Central Software
If all the features built into the RØDECaster Pro 2 weren’t enough, there is also external control software available in the form of the RØDE Central app. This is the one area where RØDE could maybe have spent some time adding a few more features. Most of what this app does is available on the board itself. It allows users the set their audio channels, configure the connected outputs, configure the display, customize SMART Pads, and manage recording transfers.
The software is a little light on features compare to the rest of the board, but it’s a nice addition nonetheless. Some people may find it easier to set their channels through the app and it’s particularly useful for adding audio bites to the SMART Pads.
Is the RØDECaster Pro 2 Worth the Money?
The RØDECaster Pro 2 MSRPs at $699.99. Obviously, that isn’t a small amount of money for most people, but it is actually incredibly reasonable when you consider its quality and the value of all of the products it would replace. The truth is that there isn’t really a comparable product out there that does everything the RØDECaster Pro 2 does. It’s a preamp, a mixer, and audio processor, an effect bank, an audio monitor, and a recording device all rolled into one. Buying devices that do all of those things separately would likely cost thousands of dollars and add a significant amount of clutter to your recording station.
You might only need one or two of those things. If so, you might be able to find devices that perform them individually for much cheaper. That’s a valid route for those who can’t justify spending $700 on a piece of audio equipment, but for those who want a pro-grade, all-in-one audio solution that’s feature rich, made from quality components, customizable and easy to use, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Zoom Out: Verdict
The RØDECaster Pro 2 is a professional-grade piece of audio pre-amplifying, processing, mixing, monitoring, and recording equipment that also boasts a convenient sound and effect implementation system. It’s an expensive piece of equipment, but its exemplary build quality, performance, and feature set make it a worthy value proposition for professionals looking for an all-in-one audio solution.
- Powerful preamps for high-quality XLR/TRS audio input
- Faders, dials, and buttons are all exceptionally well-built
- Digital interface provides more customization options
- Large physical footprint
- Small amount of latency in the headphone monitoring
- Cannot directly interface with USB microphones