Heavy. That's the first word that comes to mind when unboxing the new Røde PodMic, a broadcast-grade dynamic microphone specifically designed for podcast applications. The first time you hold it, you'll realize you're holding something that's built to last, especially when compared to similarly priced microphones. It's an all-metal construction with a solid, stainless steel mesh grille. While its appearance evokes the EV RE20 style broadcast mic, its shorter profile, built-in mounting system and $99 price tag set it apart.
As a podcast producer and engineer, I'm often asked by people looking to try their hand at it what equipment to buy—particularly microphones. The answer always boils down to budget. The podcast industry seems to be covered by the ubiquitous Shure SM7B, but as reasonably priced as it is, it's often still out of range for beginners, especially those who will need more than one. With that in mind, Røde's price point allows newcomers to purchase four PodMics for the price of one SM7B.
But how does it sound?
As a starting point, I brought the PodMic along to a podcast session for a show I produce. The co-host has a smooth, rich, "radio-friendly" voice, so I chose to put it side-by-side with the Shure SM7B in front of him. Both mics were recorded flat. On playback, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it truly held its own against a mic that costs four times as much. The PodMic had a pleasing high end and tight mids, but lacked a bit of bottom, though in fairness, I think this mic is made to benefit from proximity effect, and the co-host doesn’t stay that close. An EQ boost in the low end put it right up against the SM7B, but with a natural brightness that gets lost in the Shure, probably because of its foam windscreen.
Where PodMic disappointed, somewhat expectedly, was with its built-in windscreen. The marketing of the PodMic mentions it as a selling point, but unless you're a seasoned voice actor with really excellent mic control, this mic most definitely needs a windscreen to block plosives. I worry that a foam cover might take away from some of its pleasing top end, and would personally opt for pop filter on this mic. But that's certainly not a deal-breaker when you're talking about a mic in this price range.
I was impressed enough with the PodMic to do a more ambitious test. The next day, I brought it to Digital Arts in NY, the recording studio I work at for ad agency, film, animation and television clients. I took the bold step of putting it side by side with a Neumann U87 during the recording of a TV commercial, with both mics’ diaphragms behind a single windscreen. No, I didn’t expect the $99 mic to sound as good as the $3,200 mic, but I’ve been using U87s for over 30 years, so it gave me a good point of reference. While it didn’t sound like the Neumann out of the gate, some quick EQ work brought it into the neighborhood, which really surprised fellow engineers that came into the studio to check it out. I don't think you'd fool anyone by trying to pass PodMic off as a U87, but the fact that it can deliver that large diaphragm sound with some EQ know-how is impressive.
Given its affordability and quality, I started to wonder how the PodMic might handle non-voice recording chores. For fun, I put it on my acoustic guitar. Sadly, it didn’t do much. For comparison, I recorded the same instrument with my Røde NT1A, which gave a clean and rich sound with very little effort. I placed the PodMic in several positions, and I just couldn’t get a great sound. Keep in mind that this mic is designed for a specific task, so this was really just a test to see if there was any bonus usage, because honestly, I could see having a number of these on hand at this price point.
So who is this mic for? It's a definite for podcasting beginners looking to hit the ground running with solid sound on a budget, but for $99, it's a solid backup mic to have on hand for professional studios. The PodMic has an entry-level price point for a mic that will last a lifetime.
Røde • https://www.rode.com