Podcasting. Is it still relevant? Do people listen to them? Is there any point? I mean, we do one, but what about the rest of the world? Should they do it?
Well, it’s definitely gotten easier. The PM-21, for example, is a $129 podcast kit that includes a mini-mixer, microphone, mic stand, and Audacity software. It’s just enough gear to make you dangerous.
The mixer has two 1/4″inputs and one stereo RCA input. A small 1/8″ cable is designed for MP3-input and each channel has treble, bass, and volume knobs. There is a master output control along with two headphone outputs. The mixer connects as a USB audio device and uses an odd but not unusual full-USB to full-USB cable, something you rarely see anymore. It requires 12 volts of DC power.
The included mic stand is pretty solid although the clip is a bit cheap. The microphone, a MK-20 XLR model with 80-15kH frequency response and -56.5db sensitivity, is unpowered. The headphones, called the HP-20, are much too small to act as noise isolators and are, in truth, quite uncomfortable. You’re better off bringing your own.
The kit comes in a cardboard box with well-designed cut outs for each of the parts.
The audio quality, as evidenced by this sample, is fairly good. The mixing tools are cool as are the various inputs but for about the same price you can feasibly put this kit together yourself.
My own jackassery couldn’t make this mixer clip out, even at high volume, which is a huge plus for beginning podcasters. If you get this kit, try buying a Shure mic along with it for yourself and save the included mic for your subjects.
Nothing about this kit is bad, per se. It is a stable platform to start podcasting. Devices like the Samson G-Track offer a more all-in-one approach but the fact that you can set up a little podcasting station on the road and include others on the conversation is fairly valuable. The fact that the headphones are, technically, quite poor makes me recommend some BYO gear if you buy this mixer or to look at a higher-end device, perhaps from Yamaha or Numark, and compare and contrast.