That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I open the box of the new Rode PodMic, a broadcast-grade dynamic microphone that’s been mainly developed for podcasting. When you handle it for the first time, you’ll understand that you’re holding something that’s constructed to last, especially when compared to other mics in a comparable price range. Rode PodMic is made entirely of metal, with a robust stainless steel mesh grille for added strength. While its look is reminiscent of the EV RE20 broadcast microphone, its reduced profile, built-in mounting system, and $99 price tag distinguish it from the competition.
Rode PodMic – Review
As a podcast producer and engineer, I am frequently asked what equipment to get by folks interested in trying their hand at podcasting, particularly microphones. The answer is always a matter of financial constraints. Even though the Shure SM7B is widespread in the podcast industry, it is typically out of reach for newcomers, especially those who want more than one microphone. This is why Rode PodMic’s price point allows new customers to acquire four PodMics for the price of one SM7B, which is an excellent value.
Nevertheless, what does it sound like to your earbuds?
Starting with a podcast session for a show that I produce, I took the Rode PodMic as a starting point for testing. The Shure SM7B was placed in front of the co-host, side by side with the other mics, due to the co-smooth, host’s rich, and “radio-friendly” vocal quality. Both microphones were captured with their polar patterns flat. Upon listening back, I was pleasantly delighted to discover that it had a true competitive advantage over a microphone that cost four times as much. This mic had a lovely high-end and tight mids but missed some bottom, but to be fair, I believe this mic is designed to benefit from the proximity effect, and the co-host doesn’t stay that near to the mic all of the time. With a slight EQ boost in the low end, it was able to compete with the SM7B, but with a natural brightness lacking in the Shure, which was most likely due to the foam windshield used on the latter.
The only area where Rode PodMic fell short, as was pretty predicted, was with its built-in windscreen. Although it is included in the marketing for the PodMic as a selling point, unless you are a seasoned voice actor with excellent mic control, a windshield is essential to prevent plosives from being picked up by the microphone. In my opinion, the use of a foam cover on this microphone would detract from some of its lovely top ends, and I would personally prefer to use a pop filter on it. However, when you’re talking about a microphone in this price bracket, that’s not a deal-breaker.
My initial impression of the Rode PodMic was positive enough that I decided to put it through a more severe test. After that, I took it to Digital Arts in New York, where I work as a recording engineer for clients in the advertising, film, animation, and television industries. It was a risky move for me to use it side by side with a Neumann U87 during the recording of a television ad, with the diaphragms of both microphones concealed beneath a single windscreen.
Indeed, I didn’t anticipate the $99 microphone to sound as pleasant as the $3200 microphone, but I’ve been using U87s for over 30 years, so it served as a decent point of comparison. After some fast EQ tweaking, it began to sound more like the Neumann. This surprised the other engineers who came into the studio to hear it because they were expecting it to sound like the Neumann. If you tried to pass PodMic off as a U87, I don’t think you’d be successful, but the fact that it can produce the sound of a large-diaphragm microphone with a little amount of EQ know-how is remarkable.
Because of its price and high quality, I began to wonder how well the Rode PodMic would perform in situations other than a voice recording. I decided to play it on my acoustic guitar just for fun. Unfortunately, it didn’t accomplish anything. I tried various positions with the PodMic, but I couldn’t get a good sound out of it. It’s important to remember that this microphone is intended for a specific use, so this was just an experiment to see if there was any additional utility. After all, at this price, I could see myself stocking up on a large number of these.
So, for what purpose is this microphone being used? It’s a must-have for podcasting newbies who want to get up and running quickly with good sound on a tight budget, but at $99, it’s also a good backup mic to have on hand for professional studios. Priced at a low starting level, the Rode PodMic is an excellent investment for a microphone that will last for decades.