When it comes to podcasting, streaming, or content creation, creating a great, cohesive audio setup can make all the difference. Unfortunately, choosing the right hardware can sometimes become overwhelming, confusing, and extremely expensive, especially for hobbyists who don’t want to stream or create content for a living. Rode intends to change all of that with a range of accessories designed to take the guesswork out of building a better in-home studio. Can Rode make foolproof recordings? Let’s dive in.
Over the years, my recording hardware has slowly grown from a simple headset to multiple microphones, stands, desk mounts, and cables that have cluttered my desk and office space. I realized it was a big problem when I had a desk mic, floor stand and 4 different recording devices connected to my system at the same time that I needed to declutter. Fortunately, Rode’s PodMic and a host of accessories were available, and I jumped at the opportunity to streamline my setup.
In this review, I’ll provide some hardware details, but I won’t go too deep when it comes to the quality of Rode’s PodMic. This was thoroughly researched by our hardware editor just a few years prior to this review, and if you’re looking for an in-depth review of the mic’s capabilities, I highly recommend checking it out. Instead, it’s an all-inclusive setup review that includes unboxing and setting up the Rode PodMic, AI-1 amp, WS2 windscreen, and PSA1 studio arm. Here are the rough specifications:
- Price: $99 (Amazon)
- Acoustic principle: Dynamic
- Pickup pattern: cardioid
- Frequency Response: 20Hz~20KHz
- Output Impedance: 320 ohms
- Sensitivity: -57.0 dB at 1 volt/pascal (1.60 mV at 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB at 1 kHz
- Output connector: XLR
- Weight: 937g
- Product dimensions (LxWxH, mm): 172 x 109 x 62
- Windshield shown is additional cost ($12.99 Amazon)
- The 6ft XLR cable pictured is not included
- Price: 98.70 (Amazon)
- Analog inputs: 1 x Neutrik XLR-1/4″ combo
- Analog outputs: 2 x 1/4″ speaker outputs (impedance balanced) 1 x 1/4″ headphone output Gain range: 60 dB (with firmware version 1.3.1)
- Bit depth: 24 bits
- Sampling Rates: 44.1kHz / 48kHz / 88.2kHz / 96kHz
- 48V phantom power: Yes
- Simultaneous I/O: 1 x 2
- Number of preamps: 1
- Direct Monitor: Yes
- Bus operations: Yes
- Power supply: USB bus powered (USB-C)
- Price: 99.00
- Thread Size: 3/8″
- Weight (g): 1740
- Horizontal reach (mm): 820
- Vertical reach (mm): 840
- Minimum supported weight (g): 700
- Maximum supported weight (g): 1100
After receiving the items, unpacking was very easy. Rode doesn’t think much of empty phrases. While each piece of hardware was well packaged, there was definitely a minimalist approach with little instruction or excess, even for the larger and more sophisticated items like the PodMic and amp. I was expecting a comprehensive instruction manual for each, but I was surprised to find very little manual. If you’re new to setting up your audio, you might think that a small sheet of instructions isn’t enough, but it turns out it’s all mostly plug and play.
Here’s a handy arm
I started building the studio arm. If you’re like me, you’re limited in your desktop space, and I was particularly concerned because I’ve had desktop mount studio arms before and hated them. Typically, my main concern when installing a new mic arm would be that the c-clamp mounts usually leave nicks or scratches on the desk. Now that I have a standing desk with a glass top and metal frame, my biggest fear was that the weight of the arm and mic would potentially scratch or shatter the glass, or that it wouldn’t attach securely due to the metal rail underneath the desktop was quite thin but i decided to give it a try. There’s also an additional bracket that allows you to attach the Studio Arm through the desk, but I chose the C-Clamp version because drilling through a glass and metal desk isn’t a job I’m interested in am.
After tightening the clamp on the desk, I removed the yellow warning tape that informed me the arm was spring loaded and stuck it in the only available hole on the clamp. At this point the arm was sticking straight up. There’s no way to tighten the arm in any configuration without the mic attached, so I moved on to the PodMic and started setting it up. The PodMic is literally the only item included in its box. The supplied XLR cable from Rode costs extra, but is relatively cheap. Rode supplied a 6ft XLR cable which is a bit overkill for my particular setup but the cable came with a Rode branded Velcro so it was easy to cut to the desired length and attach to the C-clamp. The XLR cable just fits into the back of the PodMic, there really is no alternative. I then screwed the mic into the 3/8th threaded mount and the counterweight got the arm in full swing.
Make this software work
I routed the cable up my arm, routed it across the back of my desk, and placed the AI-1 amp near my PC on the desk. I connected the XLR cable to the only place I could think of putting it on the amp and then connected the USB-C cable that came in the AI-1 package to the PC. The hardware portion of the setup was essentially complete. It was as foolproof as it could get, so I moved on to the software. I am currently using Windows 11 on my desktop and the operating system was able to detect and install the software without prompting me. I opened Adobe Audition and tried a recording, but unfortunately there was no joy – something was wrong. The AI-1 amplifier has two buttons, the microphone and the headphones. When you push in the microphone button, a light will illuminate, indicating that the microphone is ready to record. Unfortunately, there was a little more to it than just turning the knob.
For all my life I could not initially get the mic to record through the amp no matter what applications I tried to record with. I went into the sound settings and looked at the options. It turns out that the amplifier will not work if the channel characteristics are different frequencies. In the control panel, I selected the AI-1 under Sound > Playback and Sound > Recording and went to the properties. I then had to go to Advanced and change the default format to the same frequency. I chose 96000Hz and indeed after changing these settings the sound quality on the PodMic was crystal clear.
The quality of the PodMic and the ease of use to modulate my audio input once the amp was working properly was an incredibly easy and streamlined experience. For a new podcaster, streamer, or content creator, hardware setup couldn’t be easier. Everything is pretty self-explanatory, and it’s actually more difficult too not putting things together properly. On the software side, the confusion surrounding the frequency changes is something new streamers won’t immediately realize, and it might not even be apparent if you’re looking for answers.
But once everything is set up, you can’t beat the quality of the PodMic and AI-1 amp at this price – you just can’t. For around $300 you end up with a solid mic and amp, and one of the smoothest pivoting mic booms I’ve ever tried. While I probably won’t have it mounted to my desk, I have a fantastic floor stand that is also compatible with Rode’s PSA 1, so I end up getting both a highly articulated extension arm and some of my desk real estate back. If you really want to kick start your audio with professional sound, use Rode’s PodMic and accessories as a guide on how to get it right.
*Rode PodMic, PSA-1 Studio Arm, AI-1 Amplifier, WS2 Windshield and 6ft XLR Cable were provided by Rode for this review.
https://www.mmorpg.com/hardware/rodes-podmic-and-accessories-review-jumpstart-your-game-stream-audio-on-a-budget-2000124633 Rode’s PodMic and Accessories Review – Start your Game Stream Audio on a budget