Rode is introducing a new version of its portable audio mixer console, the Rodecaster Pro, with upgraded hardware, new preamps, a load of new software features, and a subtly sleeker design. The Rodecaster Pro II is meant to pack the key parts of an audio control room for livestreams, podcasts, and other audio productions in a desktop console for amateurs and professionals alike.
At first glance, the Rodecaster Pro II looks like a slightly more compact version of its predecessor, with six physical faders instead of eight, slimming it down from 14 inches wide to 12 inches wide. But the console comes with some much bigger updates on the inside. The console is now powered via USB-C and has the ability to connect to two computers or mobile devices at once for dual operations. There’s also a bigger, better-looking touchscreen, and the system comes with far more options to customize processing and automation in the on-board software.
The biggest update looks to be with the sound pads (now called the SMART pads). The pads were previously used for playing audio clips on demand but have now been opened up to be fully customizable — with the ability to trigger effects, fade automating, MIDI commands, video switching, and more, akin to Elgato’s Stream Deck.
The new console’s preamps have a lower noise floor and higher gain than the previous model, so much that Rode says that it eliminates the need for products like the Cloudlifter to boost the signal-to-noise ratio of professional microphones like the Shure SM7b before going into the mixer.
A common complaint on the original Rodecaster Pro was the limited options for audio processing internally, with some effects like the compressor and EQ presets only having an on / off function. Rode opens these features up with more granular parameters to adjust as well as additional effects like reverb, echo, and pitch shifting.
Overall, these may seem like minor updates and may not be a necessary upgrade for all current Rodecaster Pro users — but as live video and audio platforms have evolved into higher productions, the gear has to keep up as well. Triggering transitions, fades, and even lighting settings from the console is coming close to having a full control room at your desk.
Rode says it will continue to update the Pro II’s firmware for added functionality, additional features, and software compatibility (which now can be updated via Wi-Fi and Ethernet on the console) “in the weeks/months post-launch,” similar to the additional firmware releases on the original Rodecaster Pro. When asked if Rode will be updating its original Rodecaster Pro with future firmware releases, Rode says “not at this stage,” so it looks like a lot of these software functions will only be available on the Pro II.
The Rodecaster Pro II is now available to preorder for $699 ($100 more than the cost of the Rodecaster Pro I) with plans to ship in mid-June 2022.