The Zoom Podtrack P4 is coming out next month (from what I hear) and this appears to be a game-changer for those podcasting on a budget. Here are some of the features of the Zoom Podtrack P4:

Zoom Podtrack P4 Podcast Recorder
Four mic inputs with XLR connectors
Four headphone outputs with individual volume control
Gain control knobs and mute buttons for each input
Phantom power for all XLR inputs
Automatically prevent feedback from call audio using the Mix-Minus function
Easily connect your phone using the TRRS connection
Trigger sound effects using four assignable Sound Pads with 11preset sounds
All input sources can be recorded on separate tracks
16-bit /44.1kHz audio WAV
Records directly to SD, SDHC and SDXC cards up to 512 GB
2-input, 2-output USB audio interface
Class-compliant mode for iOS compatibility
Up to four hours of use with just two AA batteries or a USB power supply
Can be powered via 2 AA Batteries
Can be powered via USB or Zoom AD-17 AC Adapter

Comparing the Podtrack P4 to the Rodecaster Pro

Zoom P4 VS Rodercaster Pro

Zoom Podtrack P4 Manual (pdf),

Price:
Zoom Podtrack P4 is $199 Rodecaster is $599

Audio Processing:
The Rodecaster has built-in APHEX audio processing and mic modeling. There is a “big bottom,” an aural exciter, a compressor, and noise gate. The P4 has a low cut (to cut out unnecessary frequencies) and a limiter (to make sure you don't peak and distort). ThePodtrack P4 does have very powerful preamps that are very quiet. The Rodecaster also features a built-in ducking option so if the host is in channel 1, and someone tries to talk at the same time this feature (which can be turned on and off) will ensure the host (mic 1) is heard.

Sound Pads:
The Rodecaster has 8 pads for sound effects vs the 4 on the P4. If you're doing things live and want the ability to play sounds with a press of a button. As both the Rodecaster and the P4 have the ability to plug a phone in and you could use an app like Backpack studio which enables you to have a ton of sound pads.

Slider Vs Knobs
The Rodecaster has sliders vs the knobs on the P4

Storage:
The P4 has a SD card, the Rodecaster has a micro SD Card. On their website, the Rodecaster mentions Micro SD up to 256 Gigs. The Podtrack P4 mentions card up to 512 Gigs. Both of those sizes are huge.

Bluetooth:
The Rodecaster has built-in Blue Tooth, the P4 has an optional BTA-2 Bluetooth option ($49)

Recording Sample Rate:
The Rodecaster records in 48khz/24-bit, the P4 is 44.1khz/16 bit. While I don't feel this makes that much of a difference (as in the end your podcast is listened to in earbuds, car speakers, and portable speakers). However, if you're doing anything with video, your video editor will be happy you have the ability to record in 48khz.

Number of Tracks:
The Rodecaster can record up to 8 tracks, the P4 records up to 4
Both units provide a stereo mixdown, and in addition to the mic inputs, they provide tracks for the pads. The Rodecaster has the ability to turn off the multi-track recording.

Recording Into Your Computer
Both send a stereo mix to the computer (great for live streaming), but the Rodecaster can also send map individual tracks to channels.

Interface
The Rodecaster has a touch screen. The P4 has a simple to use menu system.

Markers
The Rodecaster has the ability to add markers (which can be very useful for editing)
While other room recorders have this feature the P4 does not )

Outputs
The Rodecaster has 4 headphones out in addition to a stereo out.
The Zoom P4 has four headphones out.

Footprint:
The Rodecaster is 14″ X 11″ the P4  4.1″ X6.1.' This might be important for those with smaller desktops. The P4 is  1/4th smaller than the Rodecaster.

For my friends across the pond the Rodecaster is 350 mm x 275 mm the Podtrack P4 is 112 mm x 155 mm

Warranty:
RodecasterPro: Limited 1-Year Warranty with 1 Additional Year upon Registration. (source BNH).
Podtrack P4: Limited 1-Year Warranty (source BNH).

If you're looking for a great sounding unit, and never need to record more than four sources, this is a great unit. Audio snobs will complain about the lack of ability to record in 48khz/24hz but 44.1/16 will be fine for something that is heard in-car speakers and earbuds. Some will complain about sliders vs knobs. The knobs help cut the footprint which gives you your desk back. If you want to achieve the tone of the rodecaster you will need to invest in some plugins. If you're on a budget and want an easy way to record separate tracks including the phone, this is worth checking out. Just don't drop it.

Check out the Zoom Podtrack P4

The Zoom ZDM-1 Dynamic Microphone

I must confess that the Electrovoice RE320 has been my mic for many years. It's also close to $300. The ZDM-1 comes with a pop filter, “stand” a cable, and headphones for $120. I didn't think it was fair to compare it to the RE320 so I pulled out the Rode Podmic (another microphone designed for podcasters for around $99).

Both microphones are very well built, and when I kid about using them as a weapon, I'm not kidding. You need a sturdy stand to hold these up. The ZDM-1 has a great mount that screws into the bottom and just seems solid. The Rode Podmic also is well built.

The Zoom ZMD-1 has 50 Hz to 18 kHz frequency response with tight bass and smooth highs enhance vocal tone for radio, podcasting, and more

The Rode Podmic has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. In specs, it should pick up a bit more bass and a bit more high end.

While neither one of these microphones sound bad, I thought I heard a little more high end and sibilance on the Zoom ZMD-1.

The one thing that Audio Technica, Zoom, and other microphone companies need to quit doing is giving us microphone stands that are 100% completely worthless. While the TPS-4 stand that comes with the ZDM-1 is sturdier than the other worthless microphone stands, They are so short that you have to do a bizarre yoga pose to lean over to use it. Either invent a new mic stand as an accessory, or just include the clip/mount and lower the price. Nobody in their right mind is using the TPS-4 microphone stand.

The Zoom ZHP-1 Headphones were amazingly clear. The high end was crystal clear to an almost alarming point. The somewhat self-adjusting headphones fit nice and snug and really cut out the outside world. I used other “included” headphones with other microphones and they were typically uncomfortable and had the fidelity of a record cut out of a cereal box (you have to be over 50 to get that). These had a nice sound, and I love that the cable can be disconnected at the headphones (great for those of us who are always tangled in or headphone cable.

For $199 this a good value with a solid mic, nice pop filter, study mount and comfortable headphones to boot. Just pick up a nice boom arm (are strong desk stand as it is heavy).

August Question of the Month: What Keeps You Going?

This month the question was, “What has kept you going with your podcast when others have stopped?”

Kris and Kristine from the Kris and Kristine Show

Kris and Kristine are engaged and this is just another great way of spending time together. (everyone together  – awww….). Kristine said, ” I'm big on trying to constantly strengthen our relationship. And there's a lot of research that says, for a woman, when she invests in the hobbies and the interests of her partner, then it really helps to build that bond. And so Kris could have loved going to golf or you could have had all these hobbies that take you out of the house and away from me, but instead, you choose to build and grow a hobby with me. What woman wouldn't want that from her significant other that you want to spend dedicated time with me?

These are super nice peeps and I wish them the best when they get married in November. Check out their show at www.krisandkristine.com

Curtis Lanclos from the Retrozest Podcast

Curtis Lanclos from the Retrozest podcast needed an outlet. He wanted to talk about all things retro (70's and 80's) and by starting a podcast he attracted other people who are just like him.

It turns out it's really paid off. Diane Franklin, the actress who portrayed Monique Junot in the classic 80s dark comedy film Better Off Dead, granted me an interview in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the film. In fact, it just posted yesterday.

The other thing that keeps me going is the power of podcasting network shows. In fact, via Episode Number 678 of the School of podcasting, you really prepared me for the aforementioned interview with Diane Franklin. What was supposed to only be a 45-minute interview ballooned into an hour and 15 minutes. This was largely because the tips you shared on Episode Number 678 really prepared me and helped me to frame and ask some very unique questions, which kept the stories from Diane flowing.

Additionally, you recently did a short review of my AC DC Back in Black 40th anniversary episode on your Podcast Rodeo Show. You shared several tips which helped me to plan for future episodes. And also you pointed out a glaring typo on my podcast description to which I immediately responded and corrected. Thank you for all you do. Dave. I suspect that your contribution to teaching about podcasting is really keeping a bunch of podcasters going, keep up the good work, and check out the retros s podcasts at retrozest.com/podcast.

Civilla Morgan from the Childless, Not By Choice (and Not Just Another Religion and politics Podcast)

Here is what Civilla from the Childless, Not by Choice had this to say, “I believe I believe in the power of podcasting, I believe podcasting is a Message carrier. And I can see the results of it because of the response that I get. I may not be at a million downloads. But I'm hearing from people whose lives are literally being changed when they listen to the Childless, not by choice podcast episodes. They're writing into me.  One woman just called me about a week ago from Holland on speakpipe on my website, and she left a message because she was so excited to find thes podcast, she couldn't believe it. And she had to tell me all about what episode she was on and how the podcast has completely absolutely helped her and that she just recently joined the Facebook group.

I've got to keep going. I've got to keep getting the word out. Slowly but surely it can be tedious. There can be deep valley moments where you just want to throw everything across the room and just walk away from it all. And then those awesome mountain top moments where you get that awesome interview, like when I got that interview with you, Dave Jackson. And so you have to take the good with the bad when it comes to podcasting and I just love that I can get the message out whether it's the Childless, not by choice podcast, or the Not just another religion and politics podcast where I get to say my part as to how the Christian community is behaving (or misbehaving right now), in some instances. It's just a way to get the word out to get your message out. It's truly a message carrier. And that's why I'm still podcasting.

Craig from Ingles Podcast

Here are the reason Craig keeps podcasting:

  • I podcast with a co-host, who I've known for many years. He's a very good friend. And it's a lot of fun to get together with him. once every three weeks, batch record some episodes, then have a nice lunch together and just hang out, just be with someone who I really like. We have a laugh, we have fun together. So one big element of the fun I get from podcasting is getting together with my friend and colleague.
  • I think we're helping people with our product when I know we're helping people, we get feedback, voice messages, emails, telling us that because of the podcasts, we've helped people, get promotions, find a job pass an exam in English, so we know that we're doing some good out there and then keeps us going the feedback from our community.
  •  I really like the podcasting community. They're a great bunch of people. And I enjoy hanging out with podcasters. I feel very comfortable when I'm with podcasters. And, and over the years, I've made some really good friends in the podcasting community going to events and conferences, and meeting people online. So I really like being part of the community. And it's much easier to be part of the community if you have a podcast.
  • I think I really like creating something that wasn't in the world before. Hopefully, that's a good thing. It might be a bad thing. But I like the idea that we've put something out there that might be of use to people and it didn't exist before we turned on the microphones.  I like the idea that I've created something.

Check out Craig at Ingles Podcast

Dave Jackson from the School of Podcasting

I've always said that podcasting scratches every itch I have.

  • It is somewhat technical, and I'm somewhat of a geek.
  • You are in 100% control and you can do anything you want. As a creative person, I love that.
  • I get to help people. As someone with a teaching background, that puts a lot of “Gas in my tank.”
  • As someone who spent myself into bankruptcy trying to have children (and failed), this is somehow my “Legacy.”

Check out all of Dave's shows at www.powerofpodcasting.com

Mentioned In This Episode

Episode 677 on doing better interviews

Zoom Podtrack P4

Rodecaster Pro

 

September Question of the Month

Right now, I'm obsessed with the word, Interesting. When you hear the word interesting, what comes to your mind. If someone who spoke another language and asked you to explain what Interesting mean, how would you describe it. Feel free to “riff” on your thoughts of interesting, and explain any examples of content you feel is interesting. I need your answer by September 25th, 2020.

Ready to Start Your Podcast?

I love helping people plan, launch, and grow their podcast. I have multiple plans and scenarios to meet any budget. Let's work together.

About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.
3 comments on “The Zoom Podtrack P4 Portable Podcast Recorder
  1. Englinesian says:

    The P4 is actually amazing equipment. It is battery powered, has 4 dedicated XLR inputs as well as 4 dedicated 3.5mm monitor outputs, records directly to memory card and can function as audio interface. As additional point, it also supports recording a phone call. What an amazing equipment. I hope in the near future Zoom releases P2 which is dedicated for 2-person podcast/interview.

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