Focusrite Vocaster Two Review
Focusrite Vocaster Two
It was very difficult to find anything wrong with this device. It hits all the points with almost full marks.
It loses partial points on price as there are some competitors that come in a little less expensive but the included software and bonuses more than make up for that.
The Vocaster Two gets our top recommendation for podcast Audio Interfaces.
This Vocaster Two review does contain affiliate links that provide a small commission to podcasthero.com at no additional cost to you! Thanks to Focusrite and Erikson Audio for lending me a unit to review!
As podcasting has become more popular, the audio gear industry has responded with some cool audio interfaces and digital recorders that are made specifically for podcasters! Gone are the days of using musician gear and making it work for podcasting!
The latest and greatest new podcasting toy on the market is the Vocaster from Focusrite.
Focusrite is a well-respected manufacturer of audio interfaces and other audio equipment. They are known for their high-quality and easy-to-use gear.
Let’s see if the Vocaster lives up to the high expectations we have come to expect from Focus Rite
The Vocaster comes in two varieties: The Vocaster ONE and the Vocaster TWO.
The Vocaster One has one XLR input and one headphone output. The Vocaster Two has two XLR inputs and also has a Bluetooth connection.
The unit that I’m reviewing today is the Vocaster Two.
Note– the Vocaster is not a digital recorder. There is no SD Card Slot and you have to connect it to a computer or an iPad to record.
Let’s get the specs out of the way first before we dive into what this device can do.
Gain – the preamps have 70db of gain which is more than enough to power gain-hungry microphones without a Cloudlifter, FetHead, or Simply Sound device.
Auto Gain – You can set your ideal levels with a one-touch scan
Enhance – Presets that allow you to add some tone and style to your recording
The four enhancement presets are Clean, Warm, Bright, and Radio
Bluetooth – Pair your phone and record anything from your phone
Loopback – Bring sounds in from your computer to your recording
Channels – two channels to bring in another microphone and record an in-studio guest.
Software – it comes with software that can help optimize your recordings.
Phantom power – +48v
The Vocaster 2 gets full points for portability. It is a small device which is surprising considering everything you can do with it. It will be easy for you to travel with this device and will not take up much desk space in your podcast studio.
Button and Knob Quality:
The buttons have a good quality feel to them and the knobs are as good as you would expect them to be from Focusrite. I really like the large buttons and the simplicity of the device. This device is easy to use.
Ease of Setup:
I use a Windows PC and have had some driver issues in the past with other audio interfaces. But the Vocaster was easy to set up and connecting the USB cable and setting the input and output settings in my DAW were all I needed to do. Easy Peasy.
Note: I did have to disable my Norton 360 application in order to install the Vocaster Hub software. Norton 360 would not allow the Vocaster Hub installer to install a number of files. But once I disabled the security software it installed successfully and the device worked perfectly!
The Focusrite Vocaster has included some software to help manage the device. The Vocaster Hub is cool software to manage your device from your computer screen.
The software allows you to do some of the things you can do directly on the device on your computer and some things you can’t do on the device.
For example, you can select your audio enhancement settings in the Vocaster Hub software and you can turn off the speaker output from the software.
The Vocaster Device Controls:
On the top of the Vocaster, you can adjust the microphone gain, mute channels, and turn on your mic preset enhancements. There is one big knob in the middle that allows you to adjust the host channel or the guest channel. You push the Host or Guest toggle buttons to decide which one is being adjusted. There are two smaller knobs that individually adjust the headset volume for the host and guest.
If you look at the Host volume knob you see the headphone icon and a speaker icon. The reason for this is this knob controls both the Host headset volume and the speaker volume at the same time. If you are using the speaker output then you can’t lower or mute the speakers without affecting the host headphone volume at the same time. The good news is you CAN mute the speakers separately from the included Vocaster Hub software.
For podcasters, I don’t think this is a big deal as most podcasters would not record with a speaker output unless doing a live event. Most of the time while recording you only need to monitor via headset. But while editing, some people like to edit while listening to speakers. It isn’t an issue unless you want to alternate between a headset and speakers. As a workaround, you can use the Guest Headset input for monitoring with your headphones and the Host Volume knob for controlling with the Speaker Output. This will give you independent control of both speakers and headset volume while editing your podcast with the Vocaster Two.
On the top of the device, there is also an indicator to display whether phantom power is turned on (can be toggled on and off for host/guest independently) and if Bluetooth is connected and if your PC is plugged in.
Below the big knobs, there are also some buttons for toggling effect enhancements and a mute button for both the host and guest. And the Host / Guest Toggle buttons also function as the auto-gain feature if the buttons are held down.
On the front of the Vocaster Two, you have the host and guest headphone 1/4″ jacks and that is all. The host and guest can set their preferred monitoring volume independently using the two knobs on the top of the device. Or as previously mentioned, you can plug your own headphones into the Guest input and use the Host Volume knob to control the speakers.
On the back of the Vocaster Two you have a power button, a security lock, USB C port, Bluetooth button, camera connector port, left and right speaker output, phantom power button, and Host and Guest XLR cable inputs.
Bringing in remote guests by phone, Skype, or through a podcast interview service like Squadcast is easy using the Vocaster Two audio interface. Bluetooth is not an included feature on the Vocaster One.
TRRS Cable Connection
You can also use a 3.5 mm TRRS cable to directly connect to your phone.
You could use your phone as a soundboard if you want to play intros and outros, sound effects, and voicemail feedback. And of course to record calls and conduct interviews.
The Vocaster automatically handles the mix-minus.
On a traditional mixer or audio interface, we had to manually set up a mix-minus to eliminate feedback where the guest hears an echo of their own voice. Essentially, it allowed the guest to hear the entire mix minus their own voice. The Vocaster Two includes Bluetooth connectivity and allows you to record phone calls without having to manually set up a mix-minus. Whether you are using a TRRS Cable or Bluetooth, the device takes care of the mix-minus automatically.
The loopback feature allows you to play sounds from your computer and they will make it into your recording. You can play your intro, outro, voicemail feedback, and sound effects. You won’t have to add them manually in post-production and it may help you with the flow of your show.
This is great for live streaming and also if you record “live to hard drive” or don’t want to have to add sound effects in post-production.
On the back of the device, there is an audio output for your camera allowing you to record the audio into your camera and save the hassle of having to sync up the audio later. This is a big plus for video podcasters using professional video recording gear.
The Auto-Gain Feature is Cool
What is auto-gain?
This device comes with more than enough gain to handle gain-hungry microphones like the SM7B. I’m using the Heil PR40 in my demo and it sounds great. But getting the right gain levels can be tricky.
The Auto-Gain feature allows you to automatically set the optimal gain for your microphone and voice presentation style. Press and hold the Host Volume or Guest Volume toggle button and the microphone will go silent for about 10 seconds while it listens to your voice through your microphone. In order for this to work you have to keep talking normally as you would recording your content. You can see the countdown timer in the Vocaster Hub software as you speak. The Vocaster will listen and set the optimal gain for you and your mic!
Extra Software is included:
They also partnered with other podcast software to provide some added value to Vocaster customers!
Hindenburg Lite – perpetual license (over a $100 value) is included and a 6-month free trial for Hindenburg Pro.
Squadcast gives you a 3-month free trial of their Pro Plan (valued at $40 per month).
Acast gives you 6 months of hosting on their influencer plan (valued at $15 per month)
These extra bonuses add up to a good dollar value – over $200!
$199 – Vocaster One
$299 Vocaster Two
Studio bundle pricing:
The Vocaster One and Vocaster Two are available in ‘studio bundles’ as well. If you need another microphone and headset then you might consider purchasing the studio bundle.
$299 – Vocaster One Studio Bundle
Vocaster One Studio includes a Vocaster DM1 dynamic microphone and a set of HP60v headphones.
The Vocaster DM1 microphone looks like the very popular Audio Technica 2100x microphone.
$499 – Vocaster Two Studio Bundle
Vocaster Two Studio includes a Vocaster DM14v dynamic microphone and a set of HP60v headphones.
The Vocaster DM14v microphone reminds me of the popular SM7B mic.
I am not reviewing the microphones or headsets included in the bundles and although they look cool I have not tested them so I don’t have a recommendation on these items.
What don’t I like about the Vocaster?
I am super impressed with the Vocaster Two and it is hard to find anything bad to say about it.
The only downside is that it only comes in one microphone or two microphone configurations. If you have more than two hosts or guests (in-studio) then you will need to look at another interface like the Rodecaster, Mixcast 4, or Podtrak P4
I noticed that the top surface of the Vocaster is prone to fingerprints so you may have to clean the surface of the Vocaster frequently if that bothers you.
Also, it is not a digital recorder so you do need to connect a computer or iPad in order to use the Vocaster One or Vocaster Two. I can’t take any points away from the Vocaster for this though as Focusrite primarily makes audio interfaces and not digital recorders.
The Vocaster Two vs the Podtrak P4
I have a Podtrak P4, and although you can plug in 4 XLR microphones to record four “in studio” guests, once you start adding remote guests you lose those microphone spots.
If I add a phone call I will lose the third microphone input and if I add a zoom call via my computer I will lose the fourth microphone input.
The Vocaster Two only has two microphone inputs but the aux TRRS input and the Bluetooth input and the loopback inputs are additional inputs. So unless you must have more than two in-person guests then the Vocaster Two will work just as well for you.
The Podtrak P4 is only able to record in multi-track as a digital recorder to the SD Card and NOT as an audio interface to your DAW. The Vocaster Two does support multi-track recording directly into your recording software.
If you need a digital recorder because you want to record without a computer, you would be better suited with the Podtrak P4 which is both an audio interface and a digital recorder.
But if you don’t need to record directly to a device and two in-studio microphones are sufficient then the Vocaster may be a better choice especially with the Vocaster Hub and the bundled software included.
Final Thoughts on the Vocaster Two
When Erikson Audio lent me a device for this review I knew that I would probably like the Vocaster Two just because Focusrite usually makes great gear. When I first saw the Vocaster series I thought that two mic inputs were limiting and that it wouldn’t be competition for the Podtrak P4 and other devices.
But I was wrong.
The Vocaster is definitely a contender in this space especially considering the bundled software that is included with your purchase.
The pricing is fair and comparable to other podcast-specific interfaces especially given the Focusrite brand which is a well-respected and quality name in the space.
I think the Focusrite Vocaster Two is a top choice if you are looking for a quality audio interface for your podcast and I highly recommend it.
Vocaster Two Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Does the Vocaster work on a MAC?
Yes, the Vocaster Audio Interface series does work on MAC (Monterey and Big Sur), Windows (10 and 11), and iPad (OS14 and OS15)
Is the Vocaster a good device for recording music?
The Vocaster series is specifically designed for podcasters and content creators. If you are recording music, Focusrite has many other audio interfaces that are better suited for musicians.
Do I need a Cloudlifter or FetHead with the Vocaster?
The Vocaster has 70db of gain and therefore it can handle even the most gain-hungry microphones. If you buy the Vocaster One or Vocaster Two, you shouldn’t need to purchase a Cloudlifter.
Can I record directly into the Vocaster?
No, the Focusrite Vocaster is an audio interface and is not a digital recorder. You will need to plug the Vocaster into a computer or iPad (USB-C) and record your show into the DAW software on your computer.
The Vocaster series includes access to Hindenburg which is a DAW designed with podcasters and audio journalists in mind.
Can I use the Vocaster with my live stream?
Yes, the Vocaster can be used to go live on any platform as long as you can choose your microphone and speaker settings.
Will the Vocaster work with Clubhouse?
Yes, You can connect your phone to the Vocaster and bring in audio from Clubhouse or another app into your recording.
Does the Focusrite Vocaster record phone calls?
Yes, you can connect your phone to the Vocaster using a TRRS cable and record your conversation into your show. If you have the Vocaster Two you can also connect your phone using a Bluetooth connection. Either way, the mix-minus is handled by the device automatically so you will not have to worry about setting it up yourself.
Can I use the Vocaster with OBS?
The Vocaster series is an audio interface that works well with all streaming platforms including OBS and others.
Does the Vocaster One include Bluetooth?
No, the Vocaster One does not include a Bluetooth connection. If you want to connect a device via Bluetooth you will need to purchase the Vocaster Two. However, you can connect your phone or tablet to your Vocaster One using a TRRS Cable.
Can I record on my iPad with the Vocaster?
You can connect your USB-C iPad to the Vocaster using a USB-C cable and record on your iPad. You can also bring audio into your Vocaster through your phone or tablet connected through a TRRS cable and Bluetooth (on the Vocaster Two).
Can I record my show using the Vocaster on an Android Device?
No, the supported operating systems are iPad (OS14 or OS15), Windows 10 or 11, and MAC (Monterey or Big Sur).
Can I monitor using Bluetooth headphones with the Vocaster audio interfaces?
No, you can only monitor with wired headphones on both the Vocaster One and Vocaster Two.
Although the Vocaster Two does have Bluetooth connectivity it does not allow you to monitor your recording and is strictly for connecting a device to stream audio into your show.
Do I need a power cable for my Vocaster or can it be powered by my computer?
The Focusrite Vocaster can be powered by your computer through USB so you will NOT need to carry a power supply with you when recording on the go. In fact, it does not come with a power supply and there is no power supply input on the back of the device. It is powered through the USB-C cable.
Does the Vocaster record in multi-track?
Yes, the Vocaster can record into your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) in multi-track.
You will need to set up your device audio settings in your DAW using the Focusrite USB ASIO driver that was installed on your PC with your Vocaster Hub software.
Does the Vocaster work with Reaper?
Yes, the Vocaster will work with any software that allows you to change the audio input and output settings within the application.
Here is how it works in Reaper Preferences, Audio Device settings:
Notice how the assigned inputs in the tracks are coming from the Vocaster tracks which allow for multi-track recording from the Vocaster Two to Reaper using the Focusrite USB ASIO Driver.
How many Inputs and Outputs does Vocaster Two have?
I hope you found this review helpful. Please let me know if I missed anything that you feel should be covered in this review.