If you’re looking to take your podcasting to the next level, a mixing desk seems like a smart idea. But few are geared specifically for podcasters—until now. Does the Maonocaster All-in-One Podcast Production Studio have what it takes to help evolve your podcast?
- Brand: Maonocaster
- Connectivity: USB-C
- Ports: 2x XLR/Phono, 2x headphone 3.5mm, 1x 3.5mm AUX/monitor, 2x 3.5mm record output, 2x 3.5mm phone-in
- Battery Life: 5000mAh (~8 hours record time)
Podcasting can be a hard slog if you don’t have the right equipment. Recording on your mobile device is one option, but editing to add theme tunes, make cuts, etc., can be difficult. The PC solution delivers more power and possibilities, but the portability is greatly reduced, even with a laptop.
Then there’s the time taken to manage one or more additional voice added remotely, setting the levels right, and producing a polished show.
Audio masters Maono recently came to the rescue with the AU-AM100: All-In-One Podcast Production Studio, a Kickstarter-funded portable podcast mixing desk that is intended to revolutionize podcasting. It’s available to pre-order now for $200.
Maonocaster Mixer Features
The Maonocaster AU-AM100 is a compact mixing desk boasting fully integrated audio and even a built-in rechargeable battery.
Further, the setup is simple, and configurable for several different scenarios. Featuring multi-channel mixing, multi-channel streaming from external devices, and voice FX, the Maonocaster mixer also boasts noise reduction, programmable jingle buttons, and the ability to record and stream live. With the right preparation, no post-editing of your podcast is required.
Meanwhile, high-quality preamps ensure maximum sound quality from your input devices (microphones or mobiles).
Easy to use and incredibly portable, the Maonocaster AU-AM100: All-In-One Podcast Production Studio has the potential to revolutionize your podcasting experience.
What’s In the Box?
The Maonocaster single mic bundle features the mixing desk, a Maono PM320T condenser microphone, USB-C cable for data and power/charging, 3x TRRS audio cables for connecting smartphones, and 3x audio cables for AUX connection or external device connection.
Accompanying the mic is a base, arm, XLR cable, and pop shield. Also included in the kit are detailed, illustrated instructions and dry wipe boards.
Various Maonocaster bundles are available. Our review kit was purchased as part of the Kickstarter and was intended primarily for sole podcasting. However, you can buy the Maonocaster with additional headphones or twin mics.
You can find a list of the various Maonocaster kits on the website.
Setting Up the Maonocaster for Recording
While portable enough to take anywhere, you will still need a decent amount of space to use the Maonocaster. This might be a worktop, dining table, coffee table, whatever. You’ll need to fit your mixer on the surface, as well as the microphone(s) and recording device.
Two recording options are available: PC or laptop connection over USB, or a line out to a phone or tablet with a sound recorder app running. Be sure to provide enough space for your recording solution.
The Maonocaster itself is relatively compact, at 210mm by 170mm. Once placed, connect your microphone (two combination phono and XLR ports are provided), plug in your headphones, and attach any phones for calls. Calls could be standard telephony, Skype, or some other messaging service.
Powering up the Maonocaster requires a long press on the power button, found at the back of the mixer. It’s well out of the way, and the long-press prevents accidentally switching off the mixer at a crucial point.
With the Maonocaster detected by your PC and the drivers automatically installed, you’ll be ready to hit record on your chosen app. It’s worth taking the time to go over all the settings, adjust the gain, position the slider, and run some audio through the phone line in port to get the hang of the mixing feature. There’s also the built-in sound FX to try, from pitch adjustment to vocal effects, and the pre-programmed soundboard buttons.
Three programmable buttons are also featured. Maono has provided a soundboard desktop app that lets you assign audio clips to the board. These are stored in persistent memory and accompany four preinstalled audio sounds, such as a “ba-dum tish!”, and a round of applause. Look out also for the bleep button, ideal for potty-mouthed guests…
Finally, if you’re podcasting live, the mixer has a lineout to connect to loudspeakers.
Use the Maonocaster With Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS
As noted, the USB Type-C cable enables an easy setup with your PC. However, two outputs are available for recording or streaming directly to a mobile device. Naturally, this would not be the same mobile used to stream a phone call.
This means that all you essentially need as a recording device is your Android or iPhone/iPad. The Maonocaster’s in-built portability means you can theoretically set up your podcasting studio anywhere—no PC required!
Can the Maonocaster Mixer Enhance Your Podcast?
I’ve been podcasting since 2007. In that time, I’ve progressed from relying on someone else to record on a Mac and edit in Garageband to recording on Skype and editing in Audacity. More recently I’ve embraced mobile podcast publishing options such as Anchor.
In the past week I’ve scheduled three podcast recordings. After a few hours of messing around and experimenting with the Maonocaster, these sessions went well. In both cases, my co-host was remote, joining the conversation by Skype. What is interesting here is that the Skype call can be received on a PC and fed through to the Maonocaster, while all output is recorded on your chosen PC app (in this case, Audacity). This is arguably easier than using Skype on a mobile, which I tried on the second occasion.
Your mobile device can still play a part, however, typically to play a backing track or pipe a phone call into the mix.
With good sound quality, jingle buttons, and well-weighted sliders and mixing dial, the Maonocaster has already revolutionized how I make my podcasts, and I’m sure it will have the same effect on everyone who uses it.
You can check the sound quality using the Maonocaster in a domestic setting with a Skype caller on PC in this edition of MakeUseOf’s Really Useful Podcast.
Portable Podcasting, But No Stereo
Despite the obvious advantages of a lightweight, rechargeable mixing desk with a wealth of audio input options, there is a key shortcoming. The Maonocaster’s digital output is mono, rather than stereo.
For spoken work podcasts this probably won’t be an issue for most listeners. That’s not to say it isn’t a disappointment though, because it is. A future unit will apparently use stereo output (along with additional programmable buttons) but until then, it’s mono only. If you have the time to double up the track in post-production, you could have “fake” stereo, but then again if you had that time you probably wouldn’t need a mixing desk intended for “live” recording.
Overall, the Maonocaster is an impressive device that boasts portability, flexibility, and fun. Podcasting should be enjoyable and doing everything live with this mixer certainly enhances that philosophy.
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