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Rode RodeCaster Pro II

Rode RodeCaster Pro II

The original podcast production station has grown up — and it’s not just for podcasters!

Rode’s original RodeCaster Pro was such a groundbreaking product that we reviewed it twice: first in 2019 and subsequently, after a significant firmware update, in 2020. The innovative Australians haven’t rested on their laurels, though: the RodeCaster Pro II (abbreviated to RP II from herein) is a substantial revamp with both hardware and software changes. It’s good too — in fact, I reckon it’s the best ‘podcast workstation’ currently available. There’s a huge amount going on here, and I can’t detail it all but I’ll explore lots of the features that should make it appeal to podcasters, streamers and musicians alike.

On The Rode

At a first glance, the RP II looks similar to its predecessor (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!) but there are changes and there’s a more powerful processor inside too. The sleek desktop form factor remains, the plastic case is robust enough to inspire confidence, and Goldilocks would love the weight: sufficient heft to stay put on a desk, yet not so heavy as to inhibit portability.

On the top panel are five knobs: a pot each for four headphone amps and an encoder to control various parameters on the touchscreen as well as the master output level. At 5.5 inches, this screen is bigger than the older model’s and broadly ‘smartphone sized’. Great use of coloured lighting on the hardware is mirrored in the on‑screen information, and the brightness of lights, screen or both can be set anywhere from a dim glow to... shall we say Sydney Harbour Bridge at midnight on New Year’s Eve? You can set the display/lights to auto‑dim after a specified time or period of inactivity, and can switch on haptic feedback for a tap or long‑press.

The eight rubberised Smart Pads are now accompanied by two bank‑scrolling buttons, which means less menu diving. There are six hardware channel strips, each with a long‑throw fader, a select button and mute/solo buttons. The older model had eight such channels, but you’re not at a disadvantage here: a few virtual channels can be controlled using the screen and encoder, and any source can be assigned to any physical or virtual channel with a drag‑and‑drop.

Around the back is an RJ45 Ethernet socket, and you can choose this or Wi‑Fi to connect to a router for firmware updates. The RP II checks for updates on startup and Rode stressed to me that updateability is a big part of their plan. Updates have come quickly to date, and another significant one to customise the USB output mixes was imminent as we went to press. A micro SD card slot is joined by no fewer than three USB‑C sockets! One, by the on/off switch, is for power (a 15V, 2A external switch‑mode supply is included). The other two are for connection to computers and mobile devices, or hosting USB drives (you can record standalone to micro SD or USB media).

When USB port 1 is connected to a Mac/Windows/Android device, the device sees two audio interface drivers: one a multi‑channel (16‑in/2‑out) interface, the other a Chat version (a 2‑in/2‑out mix‑minus interface for use with phone calls and apps such as Zoom). The second port has its own driver (Mac/Win/Android/iOS) and presents as a 2‑in/2‑out interface with switchable mix‑minus facility. If this sounds puzzling, don’t worry: it’s illustrated very clearly in the manual. The unique dual‑port arrangement allows the RP II to connect to two computers/tablets/phones over USB simultaneously. You have the option on the hardware and in the downloadable Rode Central Mac/Win app to record the pre‑ or post‑processing/fader signal too and, neatly, you can also set up two‑way MIDI communication, and use the RP II’s Rec button to initiate recording on your DAW. Testing it with my MacBook Pro running Reaper 6 on Monterey and an Android phone, it all worked as described.

Also on the rear are four analogue mono mic/line/instrument inputs on Neutrik Combo XLRs, and six quarter‑inch jacks which deliver a balanced line‑level stereo output and an unbalanced stereo feed from the four headphone amps. A Bluetooth converter completes the list of input sources. By default, the four analogue inputs are on faders 1‑4, Bluetooth and the Smart Pads’ sample playback occupy faders 5 and 6, and the three USB signals appear on virtual channels 7, 8 and 9 but, as I said, these can be reassigned easily.

Unusually, the RodeCaster Pro II has three USB ports — one for power, and two more which allow it to be used as an audio interface with two connected computers/phones simultaneously.Unusually, the RodeCaster Pro II has three USB ports — one for power, and two more which allow it to be used as an audio interface with two connected computers/phones simultaneously.

Gaining An Advantage?

Rode’s new purpose‑designed Revolution mic preamps live up to their billing. The previous‑gen preamps were competent, and covered probably 99 percent of podcasting jobs, but when using less sensitive mics and the sort of quieter or more distant sources music‑makers might work with, I found they benefited from a Cloudlifter‑style booster preamp. You definitely won’t be needing one of those with the RP II, whose preamps sound clean, with very low noise and oodles of gain (up to 76dB). The line and instrument modes are similarly pleasing, making this a decent ‘front end’ for music production. And at the other end of the signal path, the headphone amps are also good. I won’t bore you with the technical specs, but they’re clean and quiet enough for pretty much any project‑studio application, and when testing them with my various studio headphones (Beyerdynamic DT 250, Sennheiser HD 650, Audeze LCD‑X) there was always ample gain available, with plenty left in reserve.

The analogue inputs and the headphone amps are configured in similar fashion, using either the touchscreen or Rode Central app. To keep things accessible, there are presets for different mic types and other sources, as well as for headphones. The presets have different gain settings to account for mic/headphone sensitivity, phantom power requirement and so on. Helpfully, for the inputs you also have a polarity inverter and (elsewhere, as an insert effect) a panner, which some competitors lack and is very welcome here. You can set everything up manually too, of course. For instance, you can increment the gain using the on‑screen +/‑ buttons or using the main encoder wheel; in both cases the gain jumps in 1dB increments.

The Rode Central app allows various tasks to be performed and configurations to be tweaked on a USB‑connected computer.The Rode Central app allows various tasks to be performed and configurations to be tweaked on a USB‑connected computer.

Processors & Effects

There’s a better range of effects and Aphex‑branded processors here than on the original RodeCaster or, for that matter, its competitors. Some can be applied at the channel level, others assigned to Smart Pads, and two more (an Aphex Compellor and an output delay to adjust for video latency) at the stereo mix bus.

Starting with the channels, each has beginner‑friendly Neutral, Podcast Studio and Broadcast presets, which are pre‑determined combinations of three one‑knob processors called Depth, Sparkle and Punch, controlled using the encoder. But an Advanced tab gives more detailed manual control over eight Aphex processors and two effects and, on the whole, these are great. They sound decent, can be switched in/out of the signal path (which is fixed, by the way — a good candidate for a future update?), and provide plenty of ways to clean and shape the signal.

First comes a high‑pass filter with variable slope (6, 12 or 24 dB/octave) and frequency (20‑200 Hz), which can thus be used as a rumble filter or to correct for the proximity effect. Next comes a de‑esser with threshold, ratio, attack, release, frequency and gain controls. This is effective, but Rode seemed receptive to my suggestion to add a ‘listen’ facility. The noise gate again offers more than enough control, including over the range and hysteresis, and the GUI helpfully includes a waveform history to help you fine‑tune it.

The channel compressor is clean and capable, though the maximum ratio is 4.5:1 — that’s fine for dialogue, but I hope Rode consider extending this for music applications. The EQ has three ±12dB (in 0.2 or 0.3 dB increments) bell bands. Although the frequency ranges don’t overlap, between them they allow tone‑shaping over the critical 20Hz to 12kHz range. Should you require more high end or thickness, the Aphex Exciter has both Big Bottom and harmonic enhancer stages. Finally, we have that pan control.

The two channel effects are echo and reverb, which both have DAW plug‑in‑style GUIs and offer control over the level and bandwidth of the wet signal. The reverb offers three rooms and two halls (plate and spring types would be welcome options for music), whose applications range from glueing sounds together to obvious effects.

The Smart Pads (see the 'Smart Pads' box) offer access to more effects. There’s a voice changer section, with a choice of multiple ‘robot voices’, a voice disguiser (think informant clutching a device to the handset) and a pitch shifter (±1 octave; 0.1 semitone precision). This can be used with the same echo and reverb effects and/or the megaphone simulator. By default the effect applies to all sources when engaged (with your choice of latching or hold action), but you can exempt any of the mic inputs.

A Different Route

In addition to the processors and effects, there are some really useful signal‑routing options. Obviously, each channel has mute and solo, and the latter can be pre‑ or post‑fader. There’s also a fade in/out all channels function, with the option to keep mic 1 open. A familiar censor bleep mutes the inputs, and you can record your own sound to replace the stock bleep if you wish. A ducker can be assigned to a Smart Pad, and dims other channels in response to the signal on mic channel 1. And there are options to auto‑mute the monitor and Bluetooth outputs when channel faders are lifted, to prevent feedback.

Then we have more sophisticated options, including an advanced talkback facility that Rode call Back Channel Mode: you can to route the mic 1 signal to any combination of the other channels ‘off air’, including the USB channels if chatting to a remote guest. You can assign this mode, with your choice of Back Channels, to a Smart Pad for quick and easy access, and you can toggle individual channels in/out of this covert communication group by pressing their mute and solo buttons simultaneously. Another mode, again assignable to a pad, is Trash Talk, for ‘in these four walls’ conversations: it mutes the output to any guests who are connected remotely. This all adds up to create a more capable talkback facility than I’ve seen elsewhere on this sort of product. Definitely a plus.

While all tracks are always recorded in multitrack mode... they’re not polywavs — each channel gets its own separate file, and they’re all neatly organised in folders.

Standalone Recording

When using the RP II as a standalone device, you need to start by creating a Show, which is Rode’s term for a project that can contain many recordings. They can record either the full stereo mix, or multitrack recordings (which also capture the stereo mix). Setting up and naming Shows and getting the recording going is trivially easy, thanks to a wizard that walks you through it all. Once set up, you hit the big Rec button to start and use short and long presses to pause or stop. So simple! You can also drop markers as you go by tapping the screen, and since most DAWs can read these it’s a useful way to flag up edit points, fluffed lines and bloopers that you wish to attend to in post.

When you’re done recording, you can navigate using a play head or time‑increment buttons on the screen, or you can move from marker to marker. You can also set the start/end points and apply a fade‑in/out using the screen/encoder, but what you can’t yet do, and I hope you’ll be able to in the future, is add new markers during playback; you can do this only when loop playback is stopped.

What I really loved is that although all tracks are always recorded in multitrack mode (this is a common approach, but occupies more storage space than strictly necessary and increases file‑transfer time), they’re not polywavs. Instead, each channel gets its own separate file, and these files are all clearly named and neatly organised in folders. This makes setting up DAW projects for post‑production much less hassle. As with USB interfacing, you can record the signal pre‑ or post‑processing or fader. Great if you want to use the onboard facilities for a live broadcast while recording a clean multitrack feed for post. (The stereo mix obviously still captures the full show.)

As well as transferring projects, samples and recordings between the RodeCaster Pro II and a computer, Rode Central offers some useful tools for optimising your podcast show for online services such as Spotify.As well as transferring projects, samples and recordings between the RodeCaster Pro II and a computer, Rode Central offers some useful tools for optimising your podcast show for online services such as Spotify.

The Rode Central app is the easiest way to manage file transfers, and performs a range of other useful functions remotely over USB. As well as transferring projects, recordings and samples between the connected devices, you can do things like audition imported recordings and export them as WAVs at 44.1 or 48 kHz, at 24‑bit fixed or 32‑bit float word lengths, or as MP3s at a range of bit rates. You can also specify the loudness, and there are presets for various online services (Spotify, SoundCloud, and many more I’d not previously heard of!). Handy as all that may be, particularly for those not so used to recording, I love that you can use the app to set the RP II to standard card‑reader mode, and simply pull the WAVs off an SD card into your OS or DAW.

One For The Rode?

I’ve spent a lot of words listing and describing functions but I don’t think there’s really any way to avoid that, since the detail of all this stuff and how it fits together is what makes the RodeCaster Pro II what it is! I hope I’ve managed to convey just how unique and configurable it is, and perhaps most importantly of all, how ridiculously easy it is to use, for inexperienced users and seasoned recordists alike. That it’s as good as this right off the bat is really promising, given Rode’s assertion that “updateability is a big feature.” Just as we were going to press they not only informed me of an update that will make the USB output routing yet more flexible, but also suggested others will soon follow, to allow things like custom headphone mixes that are different from the main mix. If you’re into podcasting or live streaming, then, this has to be worth putting on your audition list, and if you’re a music‑maker it has plenty to offer too, and will likely offer more in the future. Recommended.

Smart Pads

The backlit Smart Pads can perform four functions, described as Sound, Effects, Mixer and Trigger. Set to Sound, they trigger samples — there are factory ones provided on bank 1 but you can record your own or use the app to load them from elsewhere. Used as an Effects pad, they apply effects to all channels by default, but you can exclude individual sources. Trigger turns them into MIDI pads, the data being sent to your computer over a USB connection, which is great for music‑makers wanting to tap in a beat. As a Mixer they can engage various signal‑routing functions, as discussed in the main text.

Tap on a pad’s icon on the Home screen and you can edit the pad settings — you can rename them with an on‑screen keyboard, change their colour, wipe them or enter an Edit screen, whose function varies according to the role assigned to the pad. You can always change its hold/latch behaviour, for example, but if it’s assigned to an effect you can choose different effects and modify their settings. If it’s configured as a MIDI trigger you can change the information that’s transmitted. For the Mixer you can change the functions too, of course. And as well as recording new samples, you can audition them (on loop if you wish), and you have a choice of touchscreen or encoder‑wheel control over the playback start/end points and fades.

It’s probably the slickest system I’ve seen on such a device, though I feel there’s some scope for improvement. Since you can record very long samples, for example, it would be great if you could zoom in on the timeline to make accurate setting of start/end points and fades easier. It would also be handy if you could adjust these parameters during loop playback; currently you have to stop playback to edit. It would be better still if you were given more control over the sample’s volume envelope; another one for the firmware‑update wishlist! In the meantime, you can, of course, perform more detailed edits on a computer, and you’re able to drag/drop files onto a pad using the Rode Central app.


  • Really easy to use, standalone or with a computer.
  • Four lovely, clean preamps with bags of gain.
  • Standalone multitrack recording to USB or SD media.
  • Can interface with two USB devices simultaneously.
  • Useful array of effects, processors and mixer facilities.
  • Large, colour touchscreen.
  • More functionality with Rode Central desktop app.
  • Plans to keep updating firmware.


  • I may have a ‘future feature’ wishlist, but there are no major problems here.


The most complete podcast studio I’ve yet encountered, the RodeCaster Pro II also has much broader potential in the studio.


£699 including VAT.

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