Professional Sound - August 2022 - Page 24

PRODUCT
PRODUCT

TESTS

By Drew Robertson

RØDECaster Pro II Integrated Audio Production Studio

As the age of independent livestreamed content continues to grow , so too does the need for a unified , all-in-one platform that can capture , process , and rebroadcast audio , as well as inject pre-recorded audio or effects while still being able record all of the above to onboard storage as required . Røde Microphone ’ s first attempt at such an all-in-one solution came in 2018 with the RØDECaster Pro . Four years and a lot of very functional updates later , Røde has given us the RØDECaster Pro II , which promises to be everything that was great about the original with a host of well thought out upgrades . Let us dive in and take a look …

Build Quality & Features Røde has somehow managed to fit a veritable kitchen sink ’ s worth of upgrades in a package that is smaller and lighter than the first generation of devices . The build quality , fit , and finish is excellent with the body being made of a heavy-duty plastic material and the top deck being made of a machined metal insert . Those familiar with the first generation of RØDECasters will notice two fewer faders , bringing the total down to six . However , these ultra-smooth 100mm faders are totally user-assignable , which is a big upgrade from the original and we still have access to three virtual faders in addition to physical channels . Each physical fader can be quickly selected via the colour-coded soft button at the top of each channel strip . Once selected , you interact with the various functions available via the 5.5-in . touchscreen .
The touchscreen has also been significantly upgraded , as it ’ s now raised up and canted at an easy to view angle rather than flush with the top . It ’ s nice to see that we still have access to eight userdefinable quick pads , now with the ability to quickly scroll through preset banks via the selectors at the bottom . Top right is where you ’ ll find a very welcome control knob for physically interacting with various functions within the software rather than relying totally on the touchscreen for control . I cannot express how much faster it is to dial in pre-amp gain or make fine adjustments to a processing parameter with a control knob over a touch interface , so this is a big win .
At the rear we find I / O that is similar yet upgraded over the original design . For instance , the four XLR inputs have been upgraded to combination-style jacks so that you may input line level or instrument sources . Powering each of these inputs is one of Røde ’ s new Revolution Preamps , which boast “ ultra-low-noise ” and 76dB of gain . The other major addition to the I / O is the secondary USB-C host interface , which can either be connected to a second PC or a mobile device for dual recordings or as a digital input . We now also have a 1GPS ethernet port and a wi-fi radio for direct network connectivity for updates .
Overall , I ’ m quite happy with the physical improvements to the RØDECaster Pro II .
Audio Quality Processing & On-board Effects The onboard software control also seen many updates and changes , and all of them for the better . Much like the original RØDECaster , the Pro II contains an upgraded quad core onboard DSP powered by Aphex for the effects . The onboard processing available to each channel includes a high-pass filter , de-esser , noise gate , compressor , a sweepable three-band EQ , and Aphex ’ s famous aural exciter . You also get access to two time-based effects in the form of an adjustable
delay , called Echo , and a rather lovely-sounding reverb . Additionally , there are also several voice alteration effects to play around with .
The onboard effects and processing included in the original RØDECaster Pro were initially quite limited in their function , with the user only able to either engage or disengage the desired effect with no ability to fine tune . Røde later added features and controls in various updates . The RØDECaster Pro II , however , allows the user to engage an “ advanced ” processing menu with the tap of a button , thus giving you fine control of each processing module .
Returning to the primary display screen , we are greeted with an array of audio meters . By default , these meters are effective at a glance for reference , with simple relative marks and a marker for unity gain . To more precisely monitor audio levels , you may do so by swapping them to broadcast mode in the settings menu . This gives each channel a full set of dBFS markers — another very welcome upgrade .
For internal routing of add itional guests , both in and out of the studio , you have a variety of options . In addition to the four analog inputs , you may also take in signal from the secondary USB interface and another feed via the onboard Bluetooth for maximum connectivity . Being primarily designed for use in a live studio environment , there are several extremely useful mix and routing options at your fingertips .
Overall , I ’ m quite satisfied with the onboard software and I hope that Røde will continue to improve and refine it as updates roll out .
Conclusion Røde is well known for providing unique , high-quality production solutions for content creators that don ’ t necessarily have a pro audio or broadcast background and the RØDECaster Pro II is certainly a big win in this category . It fits in well for everything from professional podcast studios to hobby streamers . The continued growth of livestreaming will only increase the need for all-in-one solutions and , should Røde continue to support and update this generation of casters , it will provide a wonderful live production platform for many years to come . Overall , I ’ m impressed with the changes made to the RØDECaster Pro II , having used the original and find it to be a very worthy upgrade .
24 PROFESSIONAL SOUND