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The RodeCaster Pro 2.1 Firmware Update introduced a lot of new features. While some may seem like minor upgrades, others are massively important in the way podcasters as well as live-streamers can utilize this console. It is great to see that Rode keeps raising the bar. Here is our live review of new features introduced in the latest firmware update, and while this is still a beta release, it has been one of the most reliable betas I have ever encountered. 2 weeks and counting and not a single issue. (Well, perhaps one issue, but it’s a minor omission…)

If you are interested in trying these features, you can download the beta here. So let’s dive in:

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Table Of Contents

New Firmware Update for Rodecaster 2.1b

Rodecaster released a beta firmware update for their Rodecaster Pro 2.1, and this update is significant. Let's explore some of the new features with a demo walkthrough of a few of the new main features and also explore ways that live streamers may take advantage of this device.

What is the Rodecaster Pro?

For those unfamiliar, the Rodecaster Pro 2.1 is a podcast oriented production mixer that allows you create a professional sounding podcast from one device, without needing a computer. It of course does connect to your PC or Mac and serves as a super capable audio interface, allows you to connect to your devices, have several people in the room, record and mix down a podcast, including intros, outros and music snippets.

You have the four audio channels, and your USB, which is the audio that's coming in from your PC. You have an extra input labeled "phone" to connect a phone with Bluetooth. Record your Livestream and have an instant podcast from your video. This device has music banks that you can overdub and create on the fly intros, outros, and repeatable snippets of audio that you may use over and over again.

A fantastic benefit is the ability to connect your phone via Bluetooth. As a result, you can play music, sound effects, plus people can easily dial into your show. For creators and live-streamers who are not on Zoom or Skype, this is an easy additional alternative with fantastic sound quality.

The old Rodecaster Pro console had channel preset; now however, you can edit the presets of each channel for broadcast rich sound on your microphone.

Most Significant Features of Rodecaster Pro 2.1 Update

Let's look at a quick overview of what's included in the 3rd major Rodecaster Pro firmware update, and why I think this is a significant update.

Editable Effects

Rodecaster Pro 2.1 Update Editable Effects
Rodecaster Pro 2.1 Update Editable Effects

A past complaint that Rode fielded was the fact the effects on their Rodecaster Pro 2.1 through 2.0 consisted of presets and weren't editable. With this new Rodecaster Pro 2.1 firmware update, they are now editable, and these effects can be edited in 2 places

  • using their software, and
  • the device itself.

Not only can the sound effects be edited on the console itself, but also there is a fantastic new software feature part of the Rodecaster Pro Software, which allows you to shape your sound much more conveniently, by editing the effects on your computer.

Mp3 File Export

Also new is the ability to export directly to .mp3. You can, for example, record a live-stream, and then publish a podcast in .mp3 format asa finished episode on the fly.

Global Ducking

An additional change they've introduced is global ducking. This feature lowers the volume of background music when you're speaking.

  • At the time or this writing, it appeared this was one of the few features not quite working in the beta yet.

Console Meters Mode Display Option

Rodecaster Pro 2.1 Update - Console Meters View
Rodecaster Pro 2.1 Update – Console Meters View

The display can now be changed to indicate db volume level indicators and looks and functions more like a pro console display. Previously these meters were still visible, but without any reference db indications.

Rodecaster Pro for Livestream Use

You can produce NPR quality livestream audio as well as podcasts right out of the box.

  • Soundbanks in the form of colored pad buttons are pre-programmable when recording into your Rodecaster and by overdubbing over a piece of music.
  • With the newly programmable soundbanks, you can now overdub sounds and create instant intros and outros, sponsor segments, while you're on the air.
  • With a mix-minus function built in to remove guest echo for people dialing in from Skype, Zoom or other apps, click the USB settings and mix-minus should automatically be applied along with ducking across all tracks, including guest tracks. (As I mentioned the ducking feature was not yet working in my beta)
  • Every channel can have its own mic preset along with generic presets. You can also set the levels for vocals on any mic that you hook up. These XLR inputs can also serve as 1/8th inch inputs with an adapter. When we are doing location productions, we have wireless mics and can plug these into the board just as easily.

There are a variety of new effects, and they've really added a lot of flexibility and capability in production.

  • In the advanced settings under the extras, you can enable the ability to edit the sound effects.
  • This gives the user the ability to create a custom sound or specific production settings such as compression, Aphex aural exciter, high pass filter, and reverb.
  • You can save this preset so that the device produces your sound preset right out of the box.

This feature allows you to just hit the record button and create a podcast that would be on par with the produced Adobe audition post-production workflow.

Up Next – Optimizing The Noise Gate

We are workin on a series of videos to explore how to get the most out of the editable effects. The first one of these videos is about how to optimize the noise gate for live-streaming, and it is live on YouTube Now, with a full write up coming up soon.

Spotify is well on its way to becoming the Netflix of podcasting. They single-handedly propelled the business of podcasting into the big leagues this week. Spotify announced they are planning to spend a cool budget of $500,000,000 (That's 1/2 a billion!) on podcasting acquisitions. For starters, they purchased Gimlet Media, reportedly for some $230M, as well as the Anchor podcast platform for $60M.

From the Spotify perspective, I agree with the analysis of the Wall Street Journal and others: This model means a focus on premium content and acquiring exclusive podcasts only available on Spotify. I think this theory covers both Gimlet as well as Anchor acquisitions.

Of course there are more questions than answers at this point. So what follows is speculation:

Does Netflix of Podcasting Imply Exclusive Content?

I could see that if their strategy succeeds, exclusive versions of the best and most desirable podcasts may only be available on Spotify, driving new subscribers to their overall platform.

So yes, I anticipate that Gimlet Media will produce some bespoke content for Spotify.

But I also I think there are a lot of variations on how this could play out when it comes to exclusivity – for example offering ad supported versions of exclusive podcasts outside of Spotify, meaning iTunes and elsewhere.

The Future of Podcast Monetization?

Also, I would predict that podcast hosting, ad platforms, monetization and reimbursement models will be routed through Spotify. Could they be going for a model of reimbursing premium podcasters as they currently reimburse musicians?

This could mean a democratized monetization model for mid-level podcasts, with micro payments to podcasters that are not currently commanding enough downloads to easily run ads inside their shows. I see this as a positive alternative for podcasts that don’t have any monetization options outside of Patreon.

However, the emphasis being on MICRO-payments, as in “Podcasters, don’t quit your day job”.

Symbiotic or Competitive?

I am also wondering if this is symbiotic with Apple and iTunes, or competitive when it comes to discoverability?

Will Spotify finally be able to break up Apple’s quasi monopoly in the podcast discoverability space?  

Just considering my own  behavior: I happen to have a Spotify music account. I NEVER search for any music on iTunes anymore. I search in Spotify directly. So just imagine a future to where Spotify would be the first place to search for interesting podcast content to listen to.

Considering Anchor

If you want to be the Netflix of podcasting, you need content. Content you develop, or acquire. My understanding is that Anchor owns the podcast content hosted on their platform, and so I am assuming that with this acquisition Spotify will acquire direct ownership of a massive amount of transitioned podcasts, leaving them to be able to decide on monetization and subscription and discoverability models.

Considering Gimlet

From the Gimlet perspective, this is the best exit their investors could expect now or in the future. In my opinion, I think there may also be an opportunistic element for Alex Blumberg to get his life back and move forward in the best possible way.

I imagine him being able to move towards more fun and meaningful opportunities within Spotify. Gimlet with its storytelling chops should be the perfect podcast content strategists. I think Alex and his team could be focused on developing interesting content – rather than Gimlet being a money making entity beholden to investors. 

One of the most compelling aspects of Startup as a podcast has been the intimacy of sharing of his journey, including the stress on work life balance. Listening to the last few episodes of that, combined with the show WithoutFail, it seems like the stress levels have not lessened, so with this exit perhaps the pressure from keeping investors happy will be eased.  

More acquisitions coming?

I am again speculating for now, and I think the picture will become clearer over time.

But yes, Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek's  $500 million budget leaves room for additional deals. In addition to new acquisitions of  podcast networks and content I would not be surprised if Spotify will also start to acquire podcast specific technology and ad platform companies. Not naming any names at this point. And rumors are afloat that Netflix might acquire all of Spotify.

So as a podcast producer, how do I feel about this all?

I think any movement within the podcasting industry that rivals Apple, or makes them move a bit faster on the innovation front, is a good thing.