It looks like Rode has started a new design trend in some of their microphone releases. At least, they have with microphones potentially destined for life next to a computer. It began with the 5th Generation Rode NT1 (buy here), and now they’re implementing it again with the new Rode PodMic USB. Yup, the newly announced PodMic USB (buy here) offers both USB and XLR connectivity.
As the successor to the original Rode PodMic, the new PodMic USB offers the same great sound you’re used to from the original, but with extra versatility. As a USB microphone, it features Rode’s Revolution Preamps and includes all of the usual APHEX audio processing features we’ve started seeing in Rode’s other digital USB-capable microphones, such as the Rode Wireless GO II (buy here) and Rode NT-USB+ (buy here).
Rode PodMic USB – Both USB and XLR
While this is not the first Rode microphone to offer both XLR and USB output, its use here differs slightly from its previous implementation. At least, it differs as far as the layout is concerned. Whether or not it affects functionality is another matter entirely. In the Rode 5th Generation NT1, the USB socket was embedded deep within the XLR socket. This meant that you were forced to pick either one or the other. If a USB cable was plugged in, it was physically impossible to install an XLR cable – and vice versa.
On the new Rode PodMic USB, the arrangement of the sockets allows for both XLR and USB to be plugged in simultaneously. This raises an obvious question. Does it mean you can digitally transmit into your computer over USB and simultaneously send an analogue signal to a mixer, audio interface or field recorder? We’ve reached out to Rode to find out more and we’ll update here if and when we receive a response.
Even if the two outputs are able to work simultaneously, any APHEX effects applied will likely not carry on to the XLR socket and only apply to the digital USB output. It’s possible that Rode might’ve figured out a way to apply it to the analogue XLR signal, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. We still don’t know if the two sockets can be used simultaneously – although I’m leaning towards the answer being positive. Else why separate the two sockets out instead of going with the NT1’s design?
Zero-latency headphone output
You’ll notice that there’s also a headphone socket on the bottom end of the microphone, next to the XLR and USB sockets, as well as a big gold dial. This is the zero-latency headphone output, providing realtime feedback straight to the listener.
This makes life so much simpler when using this type of microphone in a podcast situation. Everybody is able to hear themselves directly from their own microphones as they talk to ensure they’re always in a prime speaking position. There’s no messing around with headphone amplifiers and trying to route the right microphone to the right pair of headphones. Here, each speaker just needs to sit down, plug in their cans and they’re ready to go.
It also makes it easier for things like voiceovers, particularly YouTubers. It means that you can plug the microphone straight into your computer, record your voiceover in Audition or Reaper, or even directly within video editing applications such as DaVinci Resolve without dealing with any lag that might have been caused in the process. You can hear yourself in real-time without the usual delay you get going through software.
No 32-Bit float recording
Unlike the Rode NT1 5th Generation, the PodMic USB is not an “unclippable” microphone. There doesn’t appear to be any support 32-Bit float over USB – they don’t explicitly say there’s no 32-Bit, but if it had it, I’d expect Rode to be making a big deal of it – so you will have to set your levels accordingly in your software to prevent it from peaking and losing the loudest sounds.
On the bright side, the PodMic USB is a broadcast-quality dynamic microphone and not a condenser microphone, meaning that it is difficult to clip the microphone into distortion before it goes into your computer or audio interface. So, as long as your levels are set well, you should be good to go. It also features an internal pop filter to help minimise or eliminate plosives.
Price and Availability
The Rode PodMic USB is available to pre-order now for $199 and is expected to start shipping in the coming weeks.