Podcast recording stations are a nascent breed of hardware that’s forming a market niche of its own. It started with the RODE Rodecaster, a sleek and also beefy unit for professional podcasting. Zoom followed with a similarly capable product that’s derived from the manufacturer’s digital recording desks. Both units, while undoubtdely capable, have the same problem – lack of portability. Their makers are yet to introduce downsized, battery or bus-powered variants for less ambitious podcasting. I think that’s where the upcoming Maonocaster can find a place for itself and thrive.
Maonocaster – portable podcast production station
Financed by Kickstarter backers, the Maonocaster is an integrated 2-channel, portable podcast station. It features two microphone preamps with digital noise cancellation, voice processors, 7 pads for jingle/sample playback and runs on a built-in 5000mAh battery. The latter is said to be good for up to 8 hours of podcasting. It’s a particularly useful addition, for it enables podcasting during blackouts or in in-field situations.
Four audio channels can be mixed through the unit, including smartphone input and incoming audio from any source piped in through a 3.5mm AUX jack. That could be another smartphone, by the way, so bringing in audio from two guests over the phone is a possibility.
Inputs and outputs
In terms of outputs, the unit which resembles a standard 2-channel mixer features two monitor outs to plug into monitors, recorders, and/or headphones. There’s also a USB Type-C port for direct computer connection. Volume control is established by a large encoder and two faders.
The voice effects section offers six processors – pitch shifter, gender bend, robot (vocoder), sidechain (pull back background music while speaking), and voice removal (music only). The latter isolates the vocals from songs, enabling impromptu karaoke whole podcasting. There’s also a reverb send for voices with five reverb algorithms.
Four sound FX are mapped to one half of the sample playback pads. The other half has three programmable pads and a dedicated pad for muting expletives.
Price and availability
All in all, the Maonocaster looks like an elegant and well thought-out unit. It’s also affordable – the retail price will be USD 179 for the Maonocaster alone, and there are similarly affordable bundles with condenser microphones and headphones to present a complete podcasting setup. Kickstarter backers are treated to hefty discounts. For example, the Maonocaster Dual Bundle with two pairs of headphones and dual XLR mics can be had for just USD 250, down from USD 379. But even at USD 379, the bundle looks like very good value. And the same goes for the other bundles.