Podcast Factory review

I posted last week about the HGTV Tech Toys shoot with my client Kimberly Wilson of Hip Tranquil Chick podcast… we recorded the segment with the M-Audio Podcast Factory last Friday morning. The nice thing about being Kimberly’s podcast producer is that I got a chance test drive the product she was featuring on the show… here are my thoughts…

I like the Podcast Factory for what it is… a simple, all-in-one unit that works on Windows and Mac operating systems. It comes with a small mixer (really just a digitizer) that hooks up to the computer’s USB port, and has an XLR input for a fairly simple dynamic microphone. It also comes with a nice, if not sturdy, folding mic stand. The real treat of the package is its overall size… it fits inside my small messenger bag and has none of the heft of my more typical setup (a Behringer mixer and condenser mics… it takes a suitcase when all is said and done to transport that beast!). The ease of use is another positive… it is a good product for beginners with its plug and play interface.

That being said, I think there are a couple of things going against the Podcast Factory. First, I would not recommend it for podcasters that need multiple mics in their setup or envision it in the future. I tried hooking up a microphone to the line-in in the back of the mixer and the results were fairly disastrous. There was a cycle hum and a clicking that wouldn’t go away. Second, I think the price point is a bit high for what you get… a dynamic mic and a small USB interface for $179 seems a bit steep when you can – for less – get a small mixer with multiple channels and a condenser mic. The oft-mentioned Samson USB mic seems to be a better value at around $80 than the Podcast Factory from an ease-of-use perspective.

I tested the Podcast Factory “in the field” to capture a speech for another client. For a dynamic mic in a large open room, I thought it actually did a nice job. Since it’s a directional microphone, the room noise didn’t pick up quite as much as a condenser mic would have, which made the sound scrubbing in post-production cleaner. You can check out the results here (MP3).

All things considered, the Podcast Factory is a nice package, but I think some podcasters would outgrow it. I see it fitting in as a travel set, but certainly not a replacement for a more robust setup.

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