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Rode PodMic Review: The Best Budget Microphone for Streaming

Move over Blue Yeti...

By Christopher Coke on March 11, 2020 | Hardware Reviews | 0

As a content creator on a budget, I’m always on the lookout for new pieces of gear to take my setup to the next level without breaking the bank. Today, we’re looking at the Rode PodMic, and I won’t bury the lede: this is the single best microphone I’ve ever reviewed under $100 and is my new gold standard for budget streaming mics. If you’re in the market for a new microphone, this is a product you can’t afford to miss.

Specifications

  • Price: $99 (Amazon)
  • Acoustic Principle: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz ~20 kHz
  • Output Impedance: 320 Ohm
  • Sensitivity: -57.0dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (1.60mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz
  • Output Connection: XLR
  • Phantom Power: Not required
  • Colour: Black
  • Weight: 937g
  • Product Dimensions (LxWxH, mm): 172 x 109 x 62
  • Compatible RØDE Accessories: PSA1

Rode PodMic vs Rode Procaster

The Dynamic Mic Difference: Drop the Condenser

The Rode PodMic comes to market at $99 and is one of the very few options targeted at streamers and podcasters that uses a dynamic capsule. That’s important, because, for many of us, a dynamic microphone is simply going to be a better fit than a condenser mic.

If all of that sounds like gibberish to you, allow me to explain. For capturing vocals outside of a studio, such as at your desk, you really only have two options: condenser and dynamic microphones. Condenser microphones have taken over the desktop space and for good reason. Condensers are great at capturing a wide range of audio, from very quiet sounds to the very loud, which is good if your mic is sitting on top of your desk. They also offer a very natural sound that many find pleasing for recording their voice. Dynamic microphones, on the other hand, are great for recording louder sound sources because they are very directional and are great for rejecting noise outside of the mic’s recording space (or polar pattern). You’ve probably already seen a dynamic without realizing it: they’re the most common mics used in stage performances, which is why you don’t hear the sound of the crowd coming through their mics.

Unless you’re recording in a quiet, sound-treated environment, there’s a good chance a condenser mic isn’t the best fit for you. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a streamer is using a mic like a Blue Yeti or QuadCast and decides to type in chat, sending every clack of their mechanical keyboard right through to the stream. If you’ve used a condenser yourself, you know the balancing act of getting enough gain without also piping through the sound of your computer fans and other background noise. If you have anyone else active in the house, well, they may as well be guest stars on your podcast. Condenser microphones are great, but they’re so sensitive that they’re just not a good fit for most streamers.

That’s where the Rode PodMic comes in.

Rode PodMic Review

The Rode PodMic: The New Gold Standard for Sub-$100 Streaming Mics

The Rode PodMic is designed for broadcast. It features a top-address design and a cardioid polar pattern, which means that you’ll be speaking into the end rather than the side and it’s going to try to reject sounds outside of that space. If you’re not talking right into the end, your volume immediately drops off and any sounds coming from the back and sides are drastically reduced. That means that, while the sound of your keyboard might still come through, it will be much quieter and may not be heard at all. Your PC fans, mouse clicks, and the other small noises you’ve been battling with will be things of the past (or at least much smaller concerns).

It also means that if you’re in a space that’s not ideal for recording, your results will be much better with less effort in post. My room isn’t the best for recording and I’m constantly fighting against reverb from the bare walls and hardwood floors. With proper mic technique, those problems completely disappear. As a father of three kids under six, I no longer have to shush them unless they’re really getting wild. If you’re recording in a dorm room or have other people around, the PodMic is an outstanding fit.

It’s also built like a tank. The entire body is made of metal and has a reassuring weight. Despite being more than 12 centimeters shorter and not including a desk stand, it weighs in at nearly the same weight at 937g (2 lbs). The grill is rigid and doesn’t flex. It also includes a nice swing mount to adjust the angle when it’s mounted on a boom arm, and it holds its position well. The PodMic is built like a microphone that’s twice it’s cost.

Rode PodMic XLR Connection

Needed Extras

All that said, the microphone isn’t quite as plug-and-play as some of the mics targeted at entry-level streamers and podcasters. The PodMic is an XLR microphone, which means you’ll need an audio interface to use it. It doesn’t require phantom power, but I found that I needed about 52dB of additional gain to get a good volume from it. That can vary slightly depending on how close the mic is to your mouth and how loud you are, but you’ll want to make sure your interface offers at least 50dB to be safe.

If you don't have an interface and buying one isn't in the cards, don't lose hope yet. When Rode saw the demand for a USB version of the more expensive Procaster, the listened to fans and the Podcaster was born. The same thing could happen here. I hope it does, because this is a microphone every new content creator should have on their radar. Lowering the barrier to entry is a smart move that I would highly encourage Rode to consider.

Because it needs to be positioned close to your mouth, you’ll also need a boom arm. These can be had for around $15 on the low end. I would also advise picking up a foam windscreen or other form of pop filter, though the built-in pop filter is remarkably good. Still, an extra barrier is helpful is you want to get right up on the mic without dealing with plosives.

The PodMic features an internal shockmount, so you can get away without having a secondary one. But, if you can find one that fits, I still think it's worth considering. For the cost, the internal mount does a decent job, but bumps and taps on my boom arm still made their way into the mic easier than I would have liked.

Rode PodMic Desk Mount

Sound Quality

In many ways, the PodMic feels like a little brother to Rode’s higher-end Procaster. Despite coming in at less than half the cost, the PodMic comes remarkably close in sound quality. It sounds like a broadcast mic and offers a timbre that is immediately reminiscent of talk radio. The sound is full and has a very present low end to give you more presence. Compared to the Procaster, it sounds slightly more compressed in its frequency response and requires that you talk straight on (versus at an angle if you’re turning to a co-host) to get the best sound. Still, these are absolutely small differences when you consider the massive savings.

Without exaggeration: Rode could charge twice as much as they are for this mic.

Have a listen to the sample above and hear for yourself how it compares to the Procaster.

Rode PodMic Desk Mount

Final Thoughts

For $99, the Rode PodMic is outstanding. It offers an incredible value with the quality of its capture and exceptional build quality. The only thing downside is that it requires an audio interface and boom arm which many new streamers will need to pick up extra. Still, it’s worth the investment. The Rode PodMic is the new gold standard for streaming mics under $100.

9.5Amazing
Pros
  • Outstanding broadcast sound
  • Excellent price and value
  • Sturdy build that feels solid and durable
  • Good plosive rejection
  • Internal shockmount
Cons
  • Requires an audio interface and boom arm


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight