Nov 2, 2020
I often say that when you start out, your show is rolling slow. As it keeps moving, it gets faster and faster. It just takes time, consistency (of schedule, and value). Kim Krajci of Toastmasters 101 pointed me toward this YouTube video from Box Angeles. This video shows Mellisa Hunter who has a hilarious series of Adult Wednesday Adams and how one video in that series went viral and her back episodes starting taking off with the original video.
One of the great things about podcasting getting more and more popular, is more and more products are coming to the marketing Specifically for podcasters. Zoom Recently came out with the Podtrak P4 (for me this is THE go-to piece of equipment). Now they've come out with the Podtrak P8 which is a direct competitor of the Rodecaster Pro from Rode.
Neither one of these units is a bad purchase. They both make it easier to create great sounding podcasts.
The Zoom Podtrak P8 (and the Rodecaster Pro) allow you to:
Record up to six people in the same room.
Report a remote interview via SB
Connect and record a smartphone
Play live sounds via touch buttons.
For me, I am always connected to my computer via a USB cable. This is for zoom calls, or recording directing into software. Keep this in mind when I talk about different tests. I do one live show on Saturday morning where I record to the internal card, or if I'm doing an interview (I use it as a back up).
Both the Zoom and Rode can be operated via batteries (The Rodecaster has an optional DC-USB-1 cable that enables you to plug in a USB battery). The Zoom P8 uses double-A batteries or can be powered via a USB cable. So with the Rode, you will have a USB and a power cable. With the Zoom P8, you can power it with just your USB cable. Advantage Zoom P8
The Rodecaster Pro currently lists for $599.
USB Power Cable for RODECaster Pro $20
The Zoom P8 is listing for $499.
Zoom BTA-2 Bluetooth Adapter $49
Advantage Zoom P8
This is an interesting one, as the Zoom P8 has six XLR inputs. It has a dedicated channel to the phone input.
This means you have a total of seven inputs. The USB interface on the zoom is used in place of one of the XLR inputs. You could have five XLR inputs, one USB, and One phone.
The rodecaster pro has four XLR inputs. Then it has a dedicated channel for a phone. It has a dedicated channel for the USB interface. It has another channel for Bluetooth.
This means you have a total of seven inputs. You could have four XLR, one USB, One Phone and one bluetooth.
Comments: The blue tooth is built into the Rodecaster, and the P8 has the ability to have one more XLR input. Advantage? Tie.
The Zoom has six headphone outputs, and a stereo output. The Rodecaster has four headphone outputs and a stereo output. The plugs are on the back of the Rodecaster where the inputs on the Zoom are on the face. Advantage: Zoom.
Both units have the ability to add markers. Advantage? Tie
While there is no normalization in the hardware of the Rodecaster, using the additional software on your computer you can have the files normalized with multiple settings with presets for Apple, Audible. The P8 has a normalizing feature built into the unit. There are no details on if this is peak normalization or loudness normalization. It appeared to be peak. Advantage Rodecaster
Both units provide each individual tracks along with a stereo mixdown of the whole recording. The Rodecaster provides the ability to turn off the individual track recording and just provide the stereo mixdown. This enables you to not have a ton of extra tracks when you don't want them, which doesn't take up as much storage on your storage card. Advantage: Rodecaster
Both units provide effects for each track.
Zoom P8: The Zoom provides bass and treble controls. It was one combination compressor/De-esser. There is also a limiter and low cut.
Rodecaster: Each track has Aphex effects built-in. This includes a de-esser, compressor, big bottom (bass), and aurel exciter (treble), high pass filter (low cut), reverb, and what my favorite feature - a noise gate.
Neither unit provides the full slate of effects to the USB channel (which is frustrating).
Advantage: Rodecaster (by far much more control).
Zoom: The zoom uses an SD Card and allows you to delete and rename files on the unit. Both units have a card slot on the back of the unit. The Rodecaster uses a microSD card. In my case, I have to put the microSD card into an adapter to insert it into my computer.
Advantage (due to ease of use): Zoom P8
The Rodecaster Pro has a sample rate of 48 khz
The Zoom P8 has a sample rate of 44.1kHz
For me, this is no big deal, but if you're doing video it probably is (video people love a sample rate of 48 khz)
I took a wave file and put it on both cards. It was 557M and then copied and pasted it to my computer. The Rodecaster tool one minute 14 seconds, the Zoom P8 took one minute two seconds so it appears to be slightly faster.
One thing I do like more on the Zoom is when you put it into transfer mode, it doesn't make you confirm. I do not understand this on the Rodecaster as you have to somewhat hunt to get to it, so why do I have to confirm it (both on and off).
Advantage: Zoom P8
The specs show that:
Rodecaster: 0dB – 55dB
Zoom P8: 0 – +70 dB
I recorded on both units and found the difference in noise was almost nonexistent. If you have to listen that hard to see if there is noise, you're fine.
Rodecaster Pro: 350 x 275 x 82 mm (13.8 X 10.8 X 3.2 inches)
Zoom P8: 295 × 248 × 61 mm MM ( 11.6 X 9.7 X 2.4 inches)
The big difference here is the XLR inputs are on the face of the Zoom P8 and on the back of the Roadcaster. This extends the height to by 2.5" (64 mm). Likewise all the headphone/output jacks also on the back s0 the Rodecaster does take up more space on my desk.
With the Rodecaster you have to use the free additional software to bring your files on to the Rodecaster. With the Zoom P8 you can drag them on to the card and bring them into the unit. It even converts the files if needed. The Zoom had 9 pads where the Rodecaster has 8. Both allow you to scroll through the screen to switch between multiple pages.
Advantage: Zoom P8
Quality of Outputs/Headphones
In going back and forth between the two units, I did notice more noise in the headphones when using the Zoom P8. This noise wasn't on the recording, but a bit of a bummer when what you're hearing is not what you're recording.
Noise Gate Vs Noise Reduction
One of the KEY features of the Rodecaster is the ability to add a noise gate to channels (sadly not the USB). The Zoom has a feature called, "Noise Reduction" When multiple mics are being used to record sound, the noise reduction function of the P8 suppresses background noise to a constant level by automatically reducing the levels of the mic inputs not being used by people. Sadly, I tried to test this, but living alone, I couldn't really put the Noise Reduction into practice and Zoom doesn't talk about it much in their videos.
Advantage: Rodecaster (as a gate is better than reduction)
This is a feature only available on the Rodcaster. For example, you can use presets for the Rode Podmic, EV RE20, and with a push of a button, your channel is set to your microphone (video).
Combining Files / Editing
You can combine files into one, you can trim files, add fade-ins and out. (Basic editing without a computer). This is only available on the Zoom P8
When you look at the features I covered:
Power: Zoom P8
Price: Zoom P8
Input Channels: Tie
Number of Outputs: Zoom P8
Quality of Outputs: Rodecaster
Recording Mode: Rodecaster
File Management: Zoom P8
Sample Rate: Rodecaster
Transfer Speed: Zoom P8
PreAmps: Zoom P8
Sound Pads: Zoom P8
Noise Gate/Reduction: Rodecaster
Mic Modeling: Rodecaster
Combining/Editing: Zoom P8
There are 17 items and the Zoom Podtrak P8 had eight of these, with two ties and the Rodecaster having an advantage in seven of them. You can see that its very close, but for some, they may argue as the areas where the Rodecaster comes out on top is on boosting the sound (the Aphex Processing) and in that area, the Rodecaster is much better. HOWEVER, keep in mind that you can use something like the Schepps Omni Channel plugin on sale for $69 (and sometimes even less) and you can all this processing in post-production.
So Again, It Depends
So if you're doing a ton of live streaming, you may want the extra processing (and noise gate) to keep things sounding great as you go live. However, if you have large fingers and hate having to take out that tiny MicroSD card and having to deal with adapters and confirmation prompts, the ease of use of the Zoom Podtrack P8 may provide you a better experience than the Rodecaster.
As I said at the beginning if you are having (Let's pretend there is no COVID) multiple people in the studio with you, both of these machines make it easy. The P8 gives you two more mic inputs (which, for me is a lot of guests for one podcast). If you like ease of use, and are not going to obsess about your sound then the Zoom P8 is a good fit for you.
If you don't mind having to do a bit more searching through menus to find what you are looking for (to enable you to sound better) then the Rodecaster might be the way to go.