Rode Rodecaster Pro II Vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 8: Reviewed & Compared

Choosing the right mixer when there are so many on the market these days isn't easy.
Especially when many of them are built for one specific need but being marketed as an all-rounder 🙄
But not to worry, I've got ya!
I have taken a deep dive into two beasts in the audio-mixing game and gone head to head with them: Rode Rodecaster Pro II vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 8.

We're looking at things like:
  • Sound Quality: This is the heart of the matter, right? How each mixer holds up in delivering crisp, clear audio. Are we talking about a mixer that makes your tracks sound like they're live from the garage, or are we hitting studio-quality sound?
  • Ease of Use: Nobody wants to spend hours figuring out which button does what. I’ll break down the user interface of both Rode Rodecaster Pro II and Zoom LiveTrak L 8. Are they plug-and-play easy, or will you need a PhD in mixology to use them?
  • Features and Functions: Ie. What's under the hood? Let's find out what sets them apart.
  • Durability: No matter your reason for buying, you want something that's gonna last, not fall apart after a few light sessions.
  • Price Point: Yep, money talks. When it comes to prices, we need to see which mixer gives us more bang for our buck. Is the higher price of one justified by its features, or is the other a hidden gem at a bargain price?
  • Customer Reviews and Feedback: What's the word on the street? Sometimes real-world use tells a different story than what the sales page says.

Rode Rodecaster Pro II

Real Talk: The RØDECaster Pro II Experience

High Expectations Met

When I first got my hands on the RØDECaster Pro, I was expecting something phenomenal. The multi-track recording with polywav files, one-button Bluetooth, USB in/out with mix-minus, and soundFX banks – it seemed like a complete package. It's like having your own audio production studio.

Initial Shortcomings

Lacking EQ Adjustments

However, it wasn't all perfect. The lack of basic three-frequency EQ control was a letdown. I thought the beautiful touchscreen would be perfect for this, but no luck. Not having these fundamental adjustments was a bit of a disappointment, especially considering its user-friendly design.

Microphone Compatibility

Not Just for Rode Mics

I don’t use a Rode mic – I’ve got Heil PR40s, which sound incredible with a Mackie mixer. So without onboard EQ, I had to tweak things in post-production. It’s a workaround, but not ideal. I’m curious to see how a Rode mic would fare, given their tuned presets.


Still Worth It?

Would I recommend the Rodecaster Pro? Absolutely. Despite some quirks, its potential is undeniable. It's a bit frustrating that I have to spend more time in post, which I hoped to avoid. But, I'm planning to test it with a Rode mic eventually.

Update: After Extended Use

Impressed by the Updates

After several months of use and with the release of the new software update, my view has shifted. The update addressed my concerns, adding controls for the onboard compressor, noise gate, de-esser, and more. It’s become a reliable workhorse for my podcast.

Power and USB Issues

A Frustrating Experience

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. There were power and USB issues that were quite troublesome. At one point, I couldn’t get the USB 1 to connect to anything, which was incredibly frustrating. This kind of issue is not what you expect from a premium product.

Final Thoughts

Great, But With Caveats

Overall, the RØDECaster Pro II is a powerful tool, but it comes with its own set of challenges. It's packed with features that any podcaster or content creator would love, but be prepared for some potential hiccups along the way.

Zoom LiveTrak L-8

Zoom LiveTrak L-8: The Portable Powerhouse

I got my hands on the Zoom LiveTrak L-8, and let me tell you, it's like having a field recorder on steroids. This thing's versatile and solid – despite some calling it cheap, my experience says otherwise. I've got two of these, and they've held up well.

Professional Features, Battery-Powered Convenience

The L-8 packs features you'd expect from a pro-level unit – backlighted buttons, effects, presets, recording options, and even a battery backup. After 12 months of use, not a single hiccup. It's got a very robust feel to it. Beginners, intermediates, pros – this mixer's a solid buy for all. David Shanhun on YouTube showcases its capabilities well, so check him out for some real-world usage.

Mac Compatibility and Customer Service Woes

Now, it's not all perfect. I've had issues with my Mac Mini M1 – the mixer doesn't always stay connected after a power cycle. Customer service hasn't been a great help either. Bypassing my USB hub with a direct connection seemed to improve things, though.

Pre-Amps and Recording Excellence

What really stands out are the six high-performance pre-amps, each with phantom power. It's tough finding a portable recorder with this quality. The board's layered menu-driven controls can be overwhelming at first, but they open up a world of great recording possibilities. Those 6 assignable Sound Pads with 13 preset sounds are a blast, adding an extra dimension, especially for podcasters.

Great for Podcasting and Mixing

It's not just for recording; the L-8 is a fantastic tool for podcasting and mixing. The phone integration is a nice touch too. As an audio interface, it's a winner – plug it into a USB power bank, and you're set for high-quality recordings anywhere.

Live Streaming and Solo Acts

For church livestreaming or solo acts, it's a breeze to use. It's got way more features than I've tapped into yet, but it's been smooth sailing so far. The effects are usable, unlike many other mixers I've encountered, which is a major plus for live performances.

Recording and Interface Capabilities

As an audio interface, it's top-notch. You can record at 48/32, which is a step up from most interfaces offering a fixed 24-bit rate. The digital recorder is simple to use – just record your gig, pop the SD card into your computer, and drag and drop the audio files into your DAW.
Final Verdict

This mixer is a dream device for podcasters and small bands. It combines mixing and recording in a portable package that runs on batteries or power banks. The preamps sound amazing, making mics like the Shure Beta 58 sound fuller and richer. The only downside? You can use only one effect for all tracks, so no combining effects or using different ones on different tracks. But overall, highly recommended!

Head 2 Head: Rode Rodecaster Pro II or Zoom LiveTrak L 8

The RØDECaster Pro II: A Podcaster's Dream with Some Hiccups

Let's be real, the Rode Rodecaster Pro II is like that one friend who promises the world and mostly delivers, but still leaves you a tad frustrated at times. It's an impressive piece of podcast production tools – packing a punch with features like multi-track recording, one-button Bluetooth, and a nifty soundFX bank. This digital recorder is like having your own audio production studio in a box.

However, it isn't all sunshine and rainbows. The lack of basic three-frequency EQ control is equivalent to having a high-end sports car without climate control- just seems like a missed opportunity. Especially when non-Rode mics (like my Heil PR40s) are in the mix – you'll find yourself tweaking things in post-production more than desired.

Despite these quirks, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this audio interface for its sheer potential alone. Yes, it might have its hiccups – like power and USB connection issues that are as annoying as trying to tune an old-school radio during a thunderstorm. Still, it remains a valuable asset in any podcaster's arsenal.

The Zoom LiveTrak L-8: Small but Mighty

Now onto another contender in the ring of podcasting mixers – the Zoom LiveTrack L-8. Picture this: you've got an intense workout planned but instead of dumbbells you're lifting marshmallows. That's what using the Zoom LiveTrack L-8 feels like; It packs professional-grade features into a lightweight design that won't break your back or your bank.

This portable mixer comes with backlighted buttons (because squinting sucks), effects, presets, and even has a battery backup for unexpected power hiccups. And it's not just about the looks; the six high-performance pre-amps each with phantom power are like the cherry on top of your favorite sundae.

Yes, it does have its share of problems – Mac Mini M1 compatibility and customer service being two of them. But once you've navigated through these hurdles, you'll find a robust podcasting mixer and digital recorder that can also double as live broadcasting equipment.

The L-8 shines in its recording and interface capabilities. The ability to record at 48/32 is like upgrading from a Toyota to a Tesla – an unexpected yet welcomed surprise. The digital recorder is as straightforward as ordering coffee in the morning; just hit record, pop out the SD card, drag and drop files into your DAW – Bob's your uncle!

And the Winner Is…

After putting these two heavyweights head-to-head, we have a clear winner: The Zoom LiveTrak L-8. Why? Well, it's simple: It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of podcasting mixers – compact yet fully loaded with features. Its portability combined with high-quality preamps and user-friendly interface makes it a dream device for podcasters on-the-go or small bands looking to capture their sound accurately.

The Rodecaster Pro II does put up a good fight with its impressive feature set, but its shortcomings in EQ adjustments and connection issues hold it back from clinching victory. In comparison, the Zoom LiveTrak L-8 offers more consistency in performance making it more reliable for professional use.

So there you have it folks! If you're in the market for a mixer that offers a balanced mix of portability and performance, then the Zoom LiveTrak L-8 is your best bet.