If you’re planning a podcast with a group of friends, capturing the sound of many isn’t easy. But it’s about to get that way.
There are some things you quickly learn about the limitations of computers and USB when you’re trying to make a podcast. These days, there are plenty of podcasts, so people have caught up to what they need to do, but it’s not always easy, particularly if they want to make one with a friend.
Making a podcast solo is easy: you need to talk to whatever is capturing your sound. That could be your phone or a professional recorder, or a microphone plugged into something like a computer or a tablet, or maybe a camera or phone.
Involve more people, though, and recording gets a little complicated. You might choose to record remotely using software, which is how some podcasts are produced, or you might choose to have friends over and chat, with a microphone for every person.
If you opt for this approach, the complexity becomes more obvious because you need professional microphones and a professional multi-channel sound card, as USB microphones don’t typically allow you to plug several in and capture from them individually. There are accessories and peripherals that can get you around this, but not so much when you’re plugging directly into your computer.
Australia’s Rode has been working on a fix, though, releasing a free piece of software called Rode Connect which will allow you to plug in several USB microphones and have them link up in different tracks.
It’s a bit of a first for a USB microphone, and now makes it possible to have several people talking in the one place without as hefty a hardware requirement, meaning no sound card for several inputs is needed to get the same thing going.
There is a catch, however: the only microphone supported in the app is Rode’s smaller mic, the NT-USB Mini. Even the bigger one, the NT-USB — which is coincidentally the model we use for recording Pickr’s podcast, The Wrap — is left out for the moment, with the small USB Mini the only model that works here.
Rode says owners of that model will be able to use the software, though, with up to four NT-USB Mini mics plugged in at once, complete with extra virtual channels beyond the four microphones, supporting music, remote guests, streaming apps, and more, effectively opening up Rode Connect beyond podcasting, and potentially to other things, too. With the support for remote connections, it might be a way of recording a remote jam session with other musicians.
“The NT-USB Mini, coupled with Rode Connect, marks a huge leap forward for simple solutions that allow anyone to create a professional sounding podcast,” said Damien Wilson, CEO of Rode.
“And the possibilities the software offers for livestreaming applications are incredibly powerful,” he said. “No other audio company in the world is doing anything like this.”
As to when Rode Connect will work with other microphones, Rode hasn’t quite said. A spokesperson told Pickr that it is “actively looking at how we can incorporate other Rode mics into the system”, so it might only be a matter of time until other microphones are supported, handy for podcasters and musicians keen on taking this thing for a spin.
For now and for everyone else, Rode Connect is available now for Windows and macOS.