Official Review: Rode PodMic (Hardware)

By Ben Sellwood, Jan 18, 2020 (updated Jan 18, 2020) 7 3

Review Approach:

First dedicated mic review.
Podcasting has never been so popular. Is the Rode Podmic the pinnacle of audio absorption, or is it just another mic?
Ben Sellwood

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RØDE is an Australian owned specialist of broadcast-quality dynamic microphones and precision audio equipment. Their mastery of electronic engineering, industrial design and technical engineering is evident in their exquisite selection of devices available and reputation for quality instruments across 117 countries. Founded in 1967 as Freedman Electronics, RØDE has a pedigree for customised configuration and distinct sound calibre for broadcasting live or pre-recorded productions.

The RØDE PodMic is a high-quality microphone designed specifically for podcasting and as such, the hardware behind it is optimised for vocal applications and is robustly built to last. A weighty but sturdy 937g black metal frame encapsulates the internals, which comprises of a dynamic polar pattern microphone with a sensitivity of -57dB, a 20Hz ~ 20kHz frequency range and a built-in pop filter to minimise any plosives or harsh sounds while casting or recording. The company also, rather handily, backs its products with a two year warranty out the box, which definitely instils you with confidence when shopping around for something that fits your needs and meets your budget. The microphone is a rather compact 17cm in height, making it burly and rugged in both look and feel.

Technical Specifications:
  • Acoustic Principle: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz ~ 20kHz
  • Output Connection: XLR Output
  • Output Impedance 320Ω
  • Sensitivity: -57.0dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (1.60mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz
  • Phantom Power: Not required
  • Warranty: 2 years extended warranty when you register your microphone
  • Colour: Black
  • Weight: 937g
  • Dimensions (L x W x H, mm): 172 x 109 x 62
  • Compatible RØDE Accessories: PSA1

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Testing this microphone I noticed it was excellent at directionally eliminating any external sounds, and while placing myself within a 30cm distance I could easily gain crisp clean sound without much tweaking or gain. Up close this microphone excels and sounds absolutely professional within a 3cm proximity, though the internal pop filter doesn't filter out all vocal gusts from any "k", "t" or "p" sounds. I would probably recommend an additional external pop filter to combat this, though being a dynamic mic this really shouldn't be required unless going for the ultimate "proximity effect" to achieve dulcet tones. The operating range appears to be around 3ft away from the device, as at this distance it was difficult to capture high enough volume to make it worth it. In essence, this is built for close quarters, which is perfect for the majority of casters with a small setup, or limited space. While typing this review on brown switches of the Veloficire keyboard, or even the Red Cherry MX switches of the Madkatz S.T.R.I.K.E 4, though the sound was vaguely captured it was distinctly muted out thanks to the polar pattern of the cardioid mic.

Captured sound is smooth and warm, with a richness that is indicative of far more expensive studio equipment. The range and tone overall is pleasing however while the mid and high range sounds excel with no harsh high frequencies even at high volumes, the lower range sounds fall a little flat in expectation. There is a notable boost around the 150hz range that is designed to make spoken audio pop, and it does bring up the clarity around that range without creating a muddy bassy sound, it differentiates your voice perfectly for the use around which it was crafted: typical podcast speaking. I could also see this mic working very well for perhaps acoustic instruments, and maybe for softer wind instruments, and most definitely for amateur singers or rappers to spit bars while in the silence of their own home, though I don't know how it would perform for any other styles of singing or musical audio capture. RØDEcaster pro console is recommended regardless of application, however for this review, I used some relatively old Numark/Gemini DJ gear for connectivity with Combo XLR jack and no phantom power. RØDEcaster pro is a four channel servo-biased preamp that contains features such as Aphex Aural Exciter and Aphex Big Bottom for bringing multistage dynamics, such as compression, limiting, de-essing, and noise-gating, with an overall ethos to simplify and capture your productions. This, when paired with the PodMic, would be an amazing caster-in-a-box solution, but this comes at a rather hefty £550 for the RØDEcaster pro alone. I can however imagine the quality and simplicity to be absolutely superb.

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Given that the PodMic is a mere £99 price-point device, it is impressive that it does give such pure sounding audio, especially when comparing it to other £200 and higher-priced microphones available on the market. If you're on a budget and want a strong contender to get you going, this is definitely one to take note of. As mentioned before, this microphone is entirely perfect for entry-level streamers and ideal for any singular spoken voice applications. You would need two or more if doing a face to face interview or group commentary, but for solo work, this packs a hefty level of professionalism into a sub £100 device. Streaming has never been so easy to do at such a high standard on a modest budget, as long as you have the gear to connect it up. Most people have USB on their laptops or 3.5mm connections and want the simplicity of basic connectivity, however, you will not get the warmth and vibrancy of an XLR microphone with an AIO USB solution of the same price bracket due purely to signal quality and conversion. An XLR Microphone which is plugged into a preamp, and then digitally converted to output for use on a USB device for capture will set you back more, but you will have far superior sound quality by going through this chain or devices than you ever could going direct to digital with an AIO £100 USB mic. Audiophiles will agree, amateur streamers will probably disagree, but a £100 setup will never sound anything like a £300 setup, there is always a bottleneck.

Verdict
What We Liked . . . Fantastic sound for spoken application An excellent price point for beginners Solid construction, quality fully guaranteed parts Great sound cancelling for unidirectional use What We Didn't Like . . . Low tones turned down by design The built-in pop filter isn't 100% perfect
8
out of 10
Overall
A superb option for budding streamers to get their teeth into without breaking the bank. If you want to up your game from the standard USB mics and gain some vocal clarity in your presentations, this is the device for you as long as you understand XLR connectivity and how to chain and tweak your equipment.
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