If you’re a podcaster or thinking about starting your own podcast (everyone seems to be doing it!), then you’re probably thinking of how to get yourself set up. There are many tools out there to help you get there, and one of the more crucial items is getting yourself set up with the right equipment.
You’ll need a mic and some sort of audio editing tool. If you’re a beginner or want to do more than just talk into your mobile phone mic, the Maonocaster Lite AM200-S4 is a very simple plug-and-play setup that includes a studio mic (with Shock Mount & stand), a portable studio mixer, and even a pair of earbud headphones.
This is because straight out of the box, you can plug the mixer right into your PC or Mac (no driver required) and record your podcast with the mic provided. The mixer integrates several digital audio mixing equipment into one panel, offering a simplified podcast production process at a very decent price. Here’s a breakdown of the Maonocaster Lite:
This lightweight, portable mixer (it’s about A5 size) has a lot of features you’ll appreciate as a novice podcaster.
Setup: It allows for 2 people speaking (in Mic 1 and 2), and you can stream – or output – to up to 4 devices simultaneously (Pod 1, 2, 3, and USB-C). If you want to add music to your streams, you can plug it into the Music Input or even with Bluetooth (handy if you want to stream songs from Spotify on your phone, for instance). To hear what the entire recording will sound like, you can either plug your headphones (which comes in the box) in the Headset jack, or output it to a pair of speakers (Output). The buttons and jacks are labeled clearly:
Recording: Once you’ve selected your mic input to the Maonocaster Lite, you can start recording it directly to any audio recording app you use – like Garage Band (for Mac users) or Audacity. You can also stream it live on apps like TikTok, Facebook, etc. You can test out how your voice would sound through the headphones (standard 3.5mm earbuds provided), the volume of which you can control via the Monitor dial.
When recording a podcast, it’s important to find a space with few reflective surfaces – echo and background noise can be minimised with soft material, like furniture, carpeting, or even a closet full of clothes. With the Maonocaster Lite, you can use any room to record or broadcast thanks to the studio XLR mic (XLR to 3.5mm) – which picks up less background noise than your phone mic – and the mixer which has a DeNoise function that effectively erases background noises (ie. wind, echo) to make it sound like you’re recording in the padded sound studio.
However, the DeNoise button does tend to cause some (silent) distortion if you speak with a lot of short pauses (no issues if you speak clearly) but the solution to that is to turn the function off. The foam cover (included) also filters out ambient sounds.
In addition to adjusting the input volume of your mic (the big dial on the left), you can also adjust the LO, MID, and HI ranges to give your voice the gravity it needs. If you’re looking for some fun voices, pressing the Pitch button changes your voice to masculine (deep), feminine (a little higher), baby (high pitched), and robot (more like a deep, kidnapper-voice effect).
If you intend to sing, the mixer is also able to adjust your pitch with its autotune just like a karaoke machine can! The Electron pad gives you the option to change, say from A to D in a touch of the panel. There’s also an Echo dial, for audio reverb.
It has to be noted that if you have 2 mics set up, the controls apply to both and not separately.
Adding music: If you’re planning to add music to your podcasts – if you want to introduce your song or if you want bgm – you can simply plug your device into Music Input (3.5mm cable included) and play! You can also connect your phone to the panel via Bluetooth, so no wires are needed. You can adjust the volume of the song on the big dial on the right; the volume level is displayed in bars, with red being overly loud.
If you want to just play music, you can simply hit the Music Only button to remove mic input completely. Or if you want to talk over the music, the Side Chain (auto-ducking) will automatically lower the volume of the music so your voice comes out louder (and raises it when you’re done talking)!
Sound effects: Sometimes you want to make your podcast sound a bit more entertaining by adding some sfx, and the Maonocaster Lite comes with 8 preset sounds. These include Applause, Laughter Booing, and Cheering, to the more unconventional Gunshot and Slapping. You can also add 4 sound effects of your choice – it could be a voice recording or a piped-in jingle – which you can set up with the Loop Back button.
There are 3 versions of the AM-200 (S1, S4, S6) which refer to the the mics that come with them. The mic that comes with the S1 has a basic tripod stand, while the S4 has a Shock Mount desktop stand, and the S6 has an adjustable boom arm with Shock Mount; the S4 and S6 have upgraded mics that emit a deeper, crisper sound.
The large diaphragm (25mm) XLR condenser microphone – when mounted on the Shock Mount – does a good job of reducing background ambient noise and any movements on the table. An XLR mic is pro audio, and it’s what recording studios use since it carries a balanced audio for clean sound.
You can, of course, swap out the mic for different ones – for instance lapel mics, so you have more freedom to move around. However, the Maonocaster Lite isn’t compatible with a USB microphone or XLR to XLR microphones (its native input is 3.5mm).
The Maonocaster Lite is a very cool audio console for the beginner and even intermediate level podcaster, with the flexibility to play around with sound effects. The XLR mic makes it sound like you’re recording from a pro sound studio. Since it’s so easy to set up (plug and play!), and the buttons/dials are easy to understand, it’s great for those who’re just starting out. Plus, it’s portable and lightweight! You can get the Maonocaster Lite AM200-S4 ($188) with free shipping here.