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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Rode Connect is the easiest way to connect multiple USB mics

Rhode has just connected, a new tool at Home Podcaster aimed at class. The new, free app aims to simplify multi-microphone recording with only one computer and no external hardware. Key features include recording up to four USB microphones on a single PC, a dedicated “virtual” channel to bring guests via Skype / Zoom, as well as recording (and important) system audio (eg music and beds) As they are included) will also listen to all music / jingles).

Connect provides separate fighters for all four local microphones so that you can get the right mix as a record. All your system audio will be on one channel, so if you want a quieter music bed, but a louder sound effect, it won’t be possible, but it’s still a useful feature. There is only one “virtual” channel, so you can likely have multiple remote guests, but again they will be recorded in the same channel. Or you can have one guest on the system channel and another on the virtual if you don’t need another voice at the same time.

Most importantly, Connect solves a surprisingly common problem: using multiple USB microphones on one computer. For all the convenience of USB, you can’t really just plug two microphones into a computer and record – whatever you’re recording with possibility lets you record from one USB mic at a time is. With Connect you can easily record up to four microphones in a single session.

Previously, the simplest solution was for everyone to record their own USB mic on their own laptop and then put all those files together in a digital audio workstation (DAW). Or, maybe you can get by using and changing just one microphone? Although not great.

James Trey / Engadgate

If you are technically minded, there are some OS-level tricks to solve the multi-USB mic problem. The most common on MacOS is to create a collected sound device. On Windows you are going to be very familiar with ASIO drivers. But just typing feels like a lot of work. This is usually the point when you start looking for a hardware mixer (such as Rodcaster Pro).

Road Connect simplifies all but a few caveats. Well, one in particular and it is a biggie. At launch, Connect only works with Rhodes NT-USB Mini Microphone, so you need to use at least one of the apps. Rhode has confirmed that more of its microphones will be compatible in the future, but it is unclear whether there are plans to open “someone” USB microphones down the line.

This effectively means that, for free, there is still some level of “buy-in” to use the application. You can rub some things so that you can use other microphones. For example, I was able to use the QuickTime Audio Recording option to pipe XLR microphones into Connect via System Audio. If you’re doing that it’s a little easier, but against the whole point of simplifying things, but still, it’s possible.

That said, as someone who has been using a Rodcaster Pro for the last year or so, the Connect has some distinct advantages. For one, I don’t need to turn on any other piece of hardware if I want to record myself and a guest (locally or on a zoom call). I often use Roadcaster to record both sides of a call or interview, which is now something I can do directly on my Mac (this is something that is much easier on a Windows PC).

The advantage here is that the Roadcaster takes an age to export audio in multitake mode and you’ll end up with eight different files (one for each channel on the mixer) with a stereo mix. Even if you just import the stereo mix, it is a bit more work than you can do within your operating system. Road Connect offers multitrack export or simple stereo export and seems to be quicker in my testing than the Roadster.

Road Connect almost seems like an attempt at only the software version of the Rockster Pro. If you have used the latter, the UI of Connect will play a few bells, even though it is very low. There are channel fitters with each connected NT-USB Mini for system audio and “virtual” guests. The channel number icon is reminiscent of the physical channel button on the Rodcaster Pro. Click those buttons on Connect (one of the USB mics) and you will find some similar audio enhancement options: Noise Gate, Compressor, Exeter and Big Bottom. These features depend on the previously unused digital signal processor (DSP) found in the NT-USB Mini, another reason why it is currently limited to this microphone.

Road Connect.

James Trey / Engadgate

The fun begins when you hit the record. I was able to chat with a colleague via Slack’s call option and record both sides of the conversation by pointing to Slack’s audio output on the connected virtual channel. When I played some music through YouTube, we both heard it and I could lower the volume to a level where it served as a music bed. I could trigger a local audio files from the stream deck, meaning that a well-rounded podcast might require as much trimming as you need. Naturally, all of this gets recorded in separate multitrack files – if you later want to edit and polish it in DAW – or simply as a single file to share it directly to the platform of your choice Export.

It is important to note here that there is an inherent problem while recording anyone Podcast with multiple speakers in the same room: Crosstalk. In my testing, I was able to hear a second speaker on the recording of my mic which echoed my mic sound more in the stereo mix. This is easily fixed in multitrack mode, as you can remove all audio channels except the main speaker. But this means that if you plan to use only stereo mixes then you have to consider mic placement and room acoustics. Luckily, you get a nice long USB cable with the NT-USB Mini.

If you are thinking of headphones for all hosts and guests, this is where it is possible to limit the app to Road to its own mics (for now). The NT-USB Mini has a headphone port for direct monitoring, but all local guests will listen to any audio passing through the app when used with Connect. Again, this means that music beds, jingles and guests are heard by all. This neatly resolves the need for a headphone splitter or even cable spaghetti around the PC.

If streaming is your thing, or if you want, Connect also provides a dedicated output channel so that you can easily pipe the entire mix through something like OBS or Xsplit.

Along with the release of Connect is a small, computer companion accessory: color. This is actually a set of color caps for the NT-USB Mini so that you can mute or change the volume of the correct microphone with quick visual reference. There are four plastic caps that match the four-channel icon colors in the app. This is not a necessary purchase, but will certainly make it easier for the host who is talking and make sure they have their level correct.

You can do this Download connect Starting today, and the NT-USB Mini is already available at most online audio stores.

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