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Focusrite Convenient Vocaster: Streamlined Audio Interfaces Designed for Podcasters | Engadget

Focusrite Convenient Vocaster: Streamlined Audio Interfaces Designed for Podcasters |  Engadget
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Focusrite already manufactures some of the most popular audio interfaces on the market. If you are a budding musician or chamber producer, you probably thought of one of their Scarlett interfaces when creating your studio. They are also great options for podcasters. But music producers and podcasters have different needs and priorities, Focusrite specifically targets the latter with its new Vocaster One and Vocaster Two. These new interfaces have a handful of features aimed at making life easier for podcast hosts and streamers.

Both interfaces are largely the same, it’s just that the Vocaster Two has two of everything, while the One has… you guessed it, one. There are two microphone inputs and two headphone outputs on the Vocaster Two, and only one on the other. The ins and outs are also easily labeled as “host” and “guest” rather than just “one” and “two”. This means you can probably set the host channel however you want and never worry about it again.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

Both Vocasters have large knobs on top that make it easy to control mic gain and headphone levels. But there’s also a series of buttons below that provide quick access to some extremely useful features. There’s a pair of mute buttons, an auto-gain function to automatically adjust mic levels, and an Enhance button that applies compression, EQ and high-pass filter to instantly improve the quality of your voice. While the button on the interface itself simply toggles Enhance on and off, within the Vocaster Hub app there are a few different presets to select from. Radio and Clean are my two favorites, but Bright and Warm might work better for some depending on the tenor of their voice.

Focusrite Vocaster

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

You will definitely want to install the Vocaster Hub app. Although the interfaces work right out of the box without additional software, there are some advanced features hidden within the app and that just makes certain tasks much easier. For one thing, it’s the only way to manually adjust the level of the two mic inputs independently on the Vocaster Two. Although you can use auto gain on both from the device itself, there is only one gain knob and it controls both inputs simultaneously.

The app is also where you can control the levels of the two loop channels and the auxiliary input. Looping makes it easy to play theme music while the auxiliary input is convenient for guests to tune in. It should be noted, however, that to take full advantage of this you will need a TRRS to TRRS cable, a regular audio cable will not cut it. But this ensures that not only can you hear your guest, but they can also hear you.

The more expensive Vocaster Two not only has an aux input but also Bluetooth connectivity for bringing in guests wirelessly, but I’d be hesitant to trust that myself. There are already enough things that can go wrong during remote interviews that I don’t want to add Bluetooth to the mix.

Focusrite Vocaster

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

Both interfaces have left and right audio outputs for connecting studio monitors, but the camera output is probably more useful for the intended audience. It’s really just a standard 3.5mm TRS stereo output, but if you connect it to a camera, you can avoid having to sync audio after the fact to a vlog, and instantly step up your streaming game. There is 48v phantom power if you prefer condenser mics.

In my brief test, both interfaces worked as advertised. For someone new to podcasting or wanting to be as mobile as possible, this would make a lot of sense. The Enhance function works wonders and does it without a hitch. It’s similar to the Scarlett line’s Air feature, but tuned much more specifically for the human voice.

Focusrite Vocaster

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

The auto gain also worked quite well, quickly allowing me to swap microphones without spending a ton of time manually dialing in the gain. It might be a little conservative for some, but it’s easier to make things louder in post if needed than to clean up a clipping mic.

The simple aesthetics and plastic construction are nothing fancy, however. The only frills are the LED ring around the gain knob and the red accents around the edges. But frankly, one of the least important things about an audio interface is how it looks. I might not throw them randomly in a bag, though. Thoughtful cushioning is absolutely necessary if you take them on the road.

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