This is my review of the US$229 RØDE Procaster dynamic cardioid studio microphone, which RØDE sent to me together with the RØDECaster Pro. Because there has been so much to cover with the multifaceted RØDECaster Pro mixer/recorder (as indicated in my prior articles), I am only now getting to reviewing the Procaster microphone itself with the WS2 windscreen. However, all of the in-studio recordings I have made for the past few episodes of my BeyondPodcasting and CapicúaFM shows have been done with the Procaster for my voice (not for the remote guests). Ahead you’ll find more information, photos, comments and a recording.
About the WS2 windscreen and why I used it
The RØDE Procaster microphone (Amazon — B&H) is best used with a WS2 windscreen (shown above) to avoid plosives (i.e. pops). I base this assertion based upon other Procaster reviews I have heard, and my initial use of the Procaster in BeyondPodcasting episode 12. That day, I was very anxious to record the first coverage about the RØDECaster Pro together with Memo Sauceda and Rafael Pereira, so I recorded that particular episode with the Procaster microphone without the WS2 (which hadn’t arrived yet). I was as careful as possible to address the Procaster at a 45-degree angle, but still got some plosives which I later reduced using RX 6 software.
The only exception I have ever discovered to this rule was the legendary Australian radio presenter, television personality, disc jockey and voice-over artist Ken Sparkes (1940-2016, may he rest in peace). In the above video, he managed to do what no one else I know has been able (make a popless recording from the naked Procaster), including all of the countless Procaster reviews I have watched and heard in two different languages so far.
It’s always best to prevent plosives before they even hit the microphone, both to save time in post and to cover situations when need you to broadcast live on online radio, online TV, Hangouts, Skype, Zoom or a webinar.
I also find the Procaster “dressed” with the WS2 (shown above) to be as visually pleasing as a US$399 Shure SM7B with one of its two included windscreens (shown below, Amazon — B&H), at a fraction of the price.
Above, the Shure SM7B with its thicker windscreen installed.
I know that some people would prefer to use a dedicated pop filter instead of the WS2 windscreen, which also prevents pops. If that is what you prefer, the best one I’m aware of for the Procaster is the BSW RE320POP (currently US$59 from BSW).
The BSW RE320POP costs almost 3 times the price of the WS2. Both the RE320POP and the RØDE WS2 prevent pops very well. I say that based upon personal experience with the WS2 and reviews I have heard with the RE320POP. Why do I call the RE320POP the “best” among dedicated pop filters for the Procaster microphone? Because among dedicated pop filters, I strongly prefer the type like the BSW RE320POP (or like the one RØDE provides that attaches onto the NT1 or on the NT-USB) which are in a fixed position. I dislike the ones that use a gooseneck which (in my experience) tend to slip away from the desired position after a very short time, causing either stress for the operator (to readjust it constantly) or lack of effectiveness. Those pop filters that use a gooseneck also have a tendency to block the face of the person speaking and prevent her/him from seeing an interviewee clearly. I recognize that there may be a very slight loss of high frequencies with some windscreens, but if there is, I can’t really hear the difference and all of the issues covered above issues are infinitely much more important to me.
Practical observations with the Procaster microphone
Do to the Procaster’s relatively low output level (-56 dB at 1 kHz), which is typical with most dynamic microphones, you may need a pre-preamplifier like the Simply Sound SS-1 (illustrated above, reviewed here), CloudLifter or FetHead, depending upon the quality and strength of your connected preamp. Fortunately, I find that is not necessary with the preamps in the RØDECaster Pro mixer/recorder (covered in several articles, B&H).
Excellent side rejection:
Several sources, including our friend Ray Ortega, have stated that the RØDE Procaster mic is better at side rejection than the Shure SM7B (even though the both are rated as having a standard cardioid pickup pattern). Notwithstanding, Ray prefers the SM7B for other reasons, as he states in this episode of his Podcasters’ Studio and its episode notes. While we’re comparing these two microphones, I will mention that the dynamic Shure SM7B is rated as having an output level of -59 db, with is 3dB lower than the RØDE Procaster. The SM7B is also a favorite of our friend Bandrew of Podcastage, our friend Rob Greenlee (now of Libsyn) and The Jimmy Dore Show (comedy and political commentary). Fortunately, there is no problem combining an SM7B with a Procaster in a single conversation, as Rob Greenlee and I proved in the recent BeyondPodcasting episode 13, when Rob was still working for VoxNext/Spreaker. The Procaster is made in Australia. The SM7B is now made in México, and I have never tried one to date. I was born in the US, but —so far— have made more audio recordings in Castilian than in English.
The RØDE Procaster is quite heavy at 745 grams (1.64 pounds), so if you want to use it with a flexible boom as I do, you must be sure that it can handle that much weight. Fortunately, the Heil PL2T boom (Amazon — B&H) I use handles it fine, since it’s rated to support mics weighing up to 1.6 kilograms (3.5 pounds).
Do you need a shockmount with the Procaster?
I received the Procaster with its standard clip, which is working fine. Fortunately, I have not had any issues with shock or the need for the optional shockmount. However, if you live where there are frequent tremors or you tend to bang the table excessively, RØDE offers the optional PSM1 shockmount (B&H).
The Procaster sound
Above is my test recording of the Procaster, in addition to the past few episodes of CapicúaFM and BeyondPodcasting, which you’ll find at the end of this article. This is a 48 kHz WAV file, so listen using unmetered bandwidth to save money. Starting at 1:29, I disabled the RØDECaster Pro’s gate, low cut (high pass) filter and noise gate, so you can hear how the microphone sounds by itself.
Even though the reverb is fortunately very low when using the Procaster in my untreated room, below is the same recording after being processed with a mild treatment with the CrumplePop EchoRemover plugin I recently reviewed.
In its price range, I am extremely happy with the sound and build quality of the RØDE Procaster microphone (Amazon — B&H) together with the WS2. I also love how it looks physically for a radio/TV studio environment. It should be on your short list if you are looking for high-end dynamic vocal microphones and want the best bang for the buck.
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