Road has just unveiled a new tool Connect aimed at home podcasters. The purpose of this new, free application is simply to facilitate multi-microphone recording with the help of a computer and no external hardware. The flagship features include four USB microphone recordings on the same PC, system audio recordings (for example jingles and music beds) as well as a dedicated “virtual” channel to bring guests via Skype / Zoom.
The attachment provides separate feeders for the four local microphones so you can get the mixture right as you record. All your system audio will be in one channel, so if you want a quiet music bed but a high sound saving, it will not be possible, but it is still a really useful feature. There is only one “virtual” channel, so you may have multiple remote guests, but they will be recorded on the same channel again. Or if you don’t need any other words at the same time, your system may have one guest in the channel and another in the virtual one.
Most importantly, the connection solves a surprisingly common problem: one computer uses multiple USB microphones. For all the convenience of USB, you really can’t just plug two microphones into two computers and record them – you probably only record what you’re recording from one USB mic at a time. With Connect you can effortlessly record four microphones in the same session.
Previously, the easiest task was to record everyone’s own USB mic on their own laptop and then leave all these files on the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Or, can you just use a microphone and get back around? Not great though.
If you think technically, there are a few OS-level strategies to solve the problem of multi-USB mic. The most common feature of MacOS is the integration of integrated sound devices. In Windows you are going to be very familiar with ASIO drivers. But just typing which seems like a lot of work. This is usually the point when you start looking for a hardware mixer Rodcaster Pro).
The rod connect makes these easy but there are some cavities. Well, especially one and it’s a big one. Connect only works with the road’s own at startup NT-USB Mini Microphones, so they need at least one to make the most of the application. Road has confirmed that more of its microphones will be compatible in the future, but it’s not clear if it plans to open more “any” USB microphones from the line.
This effectively means that there are still some “buy-ins” to use the app for free. You can jury a few things so you can use other microphones. For example, I was able to use the QuickTime audio recording option to pipe XLR microphone Connect via system audio. If you do that going a bit against the whole point of simplifying things, it’s still possible.
That said, for anyone who has been using a Roadcaster Pro almost every day for the past year or so, Connect has some distinct advantages. For one, I want to record myself and the guest (otherwise locally or become a zoom call) but I don’t need to turn on another piece of hardware. I often use Rodecaster for recording both sides of calls or interviews, which I can now do directly for my Mac (this is one that is much easier on a Windows PC).
The advantage here is that Rodecaster takes an age to export audio in multitrack mode and you will finish eight separate files (one for each channel of the mix) with the stereo mix. Even if you just import the stereo mix, it does a bit more work than working within your operating system. The Road Connect offers multitrack export or general stereo export and in my tests it seems faster than the roadcaster.
Rod Connect almost feels like trying out only one software version of Rodecaster Pro. If you use the latter, the UI of the connection will ring for a few hours, even if it is very slightly disconnected. Each connected NT-USB mini has a channel feeder for system audio and “virtual” guests. The channel number icon reminds you of the physical channel buttons on the Rodcast Pro. Click these buttons on Connect (one of the USB Mix) and you’ll find the same audio enhancement options: Noise Gate, Compressor, Exeter and Big Bottom These features rely on the previously unused Digital Signal Processor (DSP) found in the NT-USB Mini, which is another reason to be confined to this microphone at the moment.
The fun starts when you hit the record, obviously. I was able to chat with colleagues through Slack’s call option and record both sides of the conversation by pointing Slack’s audio output to Connect’s virtual channel. We both listened to it when I played some music through YouTube and I can reduce the volume to the extent that it acts as a music bed. I can even play local audio files starting from the stream deck, which means most of the trimming you may need for a round podcast are. Or just export as a single file to share with the platform of your choice.
It is important to note that there is an underlying problem when recording here Any Podcast with multiple speakers in the same room: Crostalk. In my experiment, I heard a second speaker in my mic recording that further echoed the sound of my mic in the stereo mix. It’s easily fixed in multitrack mode, because you can delete all other audio channels, leaving only the main speaker. This does not mean, however, that you should consider mic placements and room acoustics if you plan to use only stereo blends. Luckily, you get a great long USB cable with NT-USB Mini.
If you’re thinking about headphones for all hosts and guests, this is where the Road app limits (for the time being) the app to their own mix. The NT-USB Mini has a headphone port for direct viewing, but all local guests will be able to listen to any audio with the app when using Connect. Again, this means music beds, jingles and guests all listened. This eliminates the need for a headphone splitter or cable spaghetti around the PC.
If streaming is your thing or you want it to be, Connect also offers a dedicated output channel so you can easily pipe the whole mix into something like OBS or Explit.
In addition to the release of the Connect is a small, couch companion accessory: color. It’s really a set of color caps for the NT-USB Mini so you can mute or change the volume of the right microphone with a visual reference. This is not an essential purchase but it will be easier for the host to stay on top of talking and make sure their level is right.
You can Download Connect Starting today and the NT-USB Mini is already available in most online audio stores.