Focusrite Vocaster Two Studio: what is it?
Spotify added 1.2 million podcasts in 2021, bringing the total number on its platform to more than four million. It’s just a platform. Add the other great hosts.
That’s a lot of podcasts and a lot of new entrants, most of whom won’t have any production skills. If, like them, you’re more focused on content than technical production, you’ll want a simple recording system that works. Press a button, two at most, the job is done.
That’s where Focusrite’s Vocaster Two Studio comes in. As the name suggests, this is a neatly packaged podcasting kit for enthusiasts looking for a complete solution. Its sister kit, the slightly cheaper Vocaster One Studio, is a single-channel option for solo creators but, if you can afford it, the dual-channel Vocaster Two will future-proof your investment. At some point, you’ll want to register a guest, and the extra channel lets you do that.
The kit includes a two-channel Vocaster Two interface, a DM14v dynamic mic, a pair of HP60v headphones, an XLR cable, a USB-C to USB-A cable, and a portfolio of podcasting software. The interface, microphone and headphones all look very professional in black, a look unified by a matching set of subtle red metallic stripes.
The obvious omissions are an extra mic, a second pair of headphones, and wiring for a guest. However, the Vocaster Two Studio doesn’t come cheap, so we suspect these items would have pushed the price beyond the level that most beginners are willing to invest.
The Vocaster Two looks more like consumer-focused tech chic than most interfaces. Its attractive pebble-like form is accented with alluring tactile plastics and smooth built-in buttons, a far cry from the stark, rectangular metal bricks we’re used to seeing.
Around the front are two 1/4″ headphone outputs, one marked Host, the other marked Guest. Rotating it, the rear panel features two XLR inputs, two 1/4 TRS balanced speaker outputs “, a 3.5mm TRRS phone input, a 3.5mm TRS camera audio output, a 48V phantom power button, a Bluetooth button and USB-C (USB-3) port.
The smooth, matte-black top panel, which unfortunately picks up fingerprints all too easily, has a giant central rotary input level control, flanked by two volume controls for the headphone and speaker outputs. Sitting neatly and tidy in a strip below these are a mute button, an enhancement button and an auto levels button for each channel.
The supplied microphone
The included DM14v is reminiscent of a streamlined Shure SM7B, arguably the best podcasting mic, bar none. Like the Shure, it’s a low-sensitivity dynamic mic that’s great at rejecting unwanted noise but demands a lot of clean gain. As mentioned elsewhere, the Vocaster has more than enough on tap. It’s a basic XLR mic with no onboard EQ controls, but that’s not a bad thing here: no setup is required. Just like the SM7B, it has a built-in pop filter, windscreen, internal shock mount, and heavy-duty mounting bracket that will work with any stand or boom. It’s also a beast of a weight, with a sturdy all-metal construction. We were really impressed with the sound, especially the midrange where the vocals are. Unsurprisingly for a dynamic, it’s not detailed but has a flat response with little coloration and enough warmth.
After appreciating the quality of the microphone, the HP60v closed headphones are a bit disappointing. The build quality is decent, they’re comfortable enough, and they do the job sound-wise. We just don’t understand why Focusrite supplied a pair of over-ear canisters when it’s clear an over-ear pair would do a much better job of isolating potential sound leaks. Maybe that’s because they offer a more universal fit, but that would be the first thing we’d trade for something more fitting.
Focusrite Vocaster Two Studio: performance and verdict
Basic operation couldn’t be easier. Plug in your mic, connect the interface to a laptop (or an iPad equipped with a USB-C port), fire up your DAW, put on your headphones, set the gain level, and talk. Just like most interfaces in this regard.
However, the Vocaster Two has half a dozen great features that make it particularly appealing to hobbyist podcasters. Auto gain is a feature commonly found on interfaces, but it’s nonetheless good to see it here as it takes away a lot of the faffing and anxiety that comes with getting a decent recording. Press and hold either of the two input gain buttons for ten seconds while speaking into the mic, and it will then automatically adjust the level for that particular channel.
• Universal Audio Volt 276
UA’s next-generation audio interface comes in two versions: the top control of the ’76 line works for podcasters and producers alike, and you’ll be delighted with that extra compressor.
• t.akustik podcast set
Perhaps an ideal companion for the Volt 276 is this bundle from Thomann’s t.akustik brand which adds all the extras you need to start creating your own podcasts.
• Tascam Mixcast 4
More than just an audio interface for podcasting, the Mixcast 4 is designed as a multi-channel mixer for all your podcasting needs. For more hands-on control, you’ll need to add more.
Speaking of gain, the Vocaster can deliver up to 70dB, which is enough to drive the most sensitive dynamic mics without the need for a Cloudlifter. Podcasters favor dynamic mics for their noise rejection potential, so this is a real boon.
Phone input and output, via cable or Bluetooth, is sky-sent. We can’t think of a podcaster who doesn’t occasionally interview guests over the phone, so this feature will be put to good use. Likewise, the camera output is a blessing for the many podcasters who also stream or post their podcasts on YouTube. It provides instant synchronization and could prove to be a real time saver.
Finally, the interface comes with the Vocaster Hub software, which allows you to control all the aforementioned features intuitively, graphically and technically. It’s also the place to fine-tune your levels to get the best possible mix. Yes, the software can be easy to understand, but it’s a little too dumb for our tastes. For example, gain level meters show green, orange, and red for clipping, but there is no scale. Call us old fashioned, but we like to know where -12dBFS is…
On the positive side, the software reveals an additional feature, looping. This lets you record your computer’s output, which is useful for including everything from backing tracks, intros and outros to pre-recorded interviews.
In addition to the Hub utility/mixer, the Vocaster Two Studio comes with Hindenburg Lite podcaster and radio recording software, plus trial subscriptions to Squadcast and Acast. Essentially, Squadcast is a cloud recording suite and Acast is a podcast hosting platform. Whether you decide to continue with these subs or not, Hindenburg is solid recording software, or you can, of course, use your own DAW.
MusicRadar verdict: If you need to get your podcast up and running fast, this kit is a no-brainer. The more tech-savvy might prefer another solution.
Focusrite Vocaster Two Studio: the web says
“If you’re looking for an all-in-one audio recording package to kick-start your pod/video casting career, the Vocaster Two Studio is a great choice.”
macworld (opens in a new tab)
Focusrite Vocaster Two Studio: hands-on demos
Focusrite Vocaster Two Studio: Specifications
- MAIN CHARACTERISTICS I/O: Complete podcast production kit with two-channel Vocaster Two interface, DM14v dynamic mic and HP60v headphones. Vocaster Two interface: 2 XLR mic inputs, mic input gain range: 70dB, mic input frequency range: 20Hz – 20kHz, stereo phone input and output via 3.5mm TRRS jack, camera output stereo via 3.5mm TRS jack, Bluetooth: v5.0 Vocaster Hub production/mixing software included.
- CONTACT: Focusrite (opens in a new tab)