Focusrite already makes some of the most popular audio interfaces on the market. If you’re a budding musician or bedroom producer, you likely thought of one of Scarlett’s facades when building your studio. They are also great options for podcast creators. But music producers and podcasters have different needs and priorities, so Focusrite is specifically targeting the latter with its new Vocaster One and Vocaster Two. These new interfaces have quite a few features that are meant to make the lives of podcasters and broadcasters much easier.
The two interfaces are pretty much the same, it’s just that Vocaster Two has two of everything, while the interface is…you guessed it, one. There are two microphone inputs and two headphone outputs on the Vocaster Two, and only one on the other. Entrances and exits are also easily categorized as ‘host’ and ‘guest’ rather than just ‘one’ and ‘two’. This means that you can probably set the host channel the way you want and never have to worry about it again.
Both Vocasters have large knobs on top that make controlling mic gain and headphone levels easy. But there is also a set of buttons below that provide quick access to very useful features. There are a pair of mute buttons, an auto-gain feature to automatically adjust microphone levels, an optimization button that applies pressure, an equalizer and a high-pass filter to instantly improve the quality of your voice. While the button on the interface itself simply turns optimization on and off, in the Vocaster Hub app, there are a few different presets to choose from. Radio and Clean are my favorites, but Bright and Warm might work better for some depending on the thrust of their voice.
You will definitely want to install the Vocaster Hub app. Although the interfaces will work directly without additional software, there are advanced features that are hidden in the application and make some tasks much easier.
First, it’s the only way to manually adjust the microphone input level independently on the Vocaster Two. While you can use auto gain on both from the same device, there is only one gain knob and it controls both inputs simultaneously.
The app is also where you can control the levels of the loopback and aux channels. The loopback makes it easy to connect themed music while the aux input is easy to get guests to connect. However, it’s worth noting that to take full advantage of this, you’ll need a TRRS to TRRS cable, which is a regular audio cable that you won’t cut. But this ensures that you not only hear your guest, but they can hear you as well.
The more expensive Vocaster Two not only has an aux input, but also Bluetooth connectivity to bring guests in wirelessly, but I’d be hesitant to trust that myself. There are already enough things that can go wrong with remote interviewing that I don’t want to add Bluetooth to the mix.
Both interfaces have left and right audio outputs for connecting studio monitors, but the camera’s output is likely to be more useful to the target audience. It’s really just a standard 3.5mm TRS stereo output, but if you connect it to a camera, you can avoid having to sync audio after posting it to a vlog, and instantly step up your streaming game. There’s 48V phantom power if you prefer condenser mics.
In my brief test, both interfaces worked as advertised. For someone who is just getting started with podcasting, or wants to be as mobile as possible, this would make a lot of sense. The optimization feature works wonders and it does so without any fuss. It’s similar to the Air feature on the Scarlett line, but tuned more specifically to the human voice.
The automatic gain also worked fairly well, allowing me to quickly switch mics without spending a lot of time dialing the gain manually. It might be conservative for some, but it’s easier to make things louder in a post if needed than to clean up a choppy mic.
Despite this, the simple aesthetics and plastic construction are nothing to write home about. Only the LED ring flourishes around the gain knob and red accents around the edges. But honestly, one of the least important things about an audio interface is its looks. I might not randomly throw it in a bag, though. Some thoughtful liners are definitely a must if you take them on the road.
If you’re just starting out already, Focusrite also sells the Vocaster One and Two as bundles with headphones and a microphone. Both packages contain the same headphones, and they are durable if not noticeable. The Vocaster One Studio comes with a DM1 microphone for $300, which is probably comparable to the Shure SM58. It’s not a decoration, but it gets the job done. While the Vocaster Two Studio includes a high-quality DM14v dynamic microphone for $500.
Of course, if you’re just looking for a front, you can order both the Vocaster One and Vocaster Two right now for $200 and $300, respectively.
Modernization: This article originally mentioned that the Vocaster Two’s gain knob controls both microphone levels simultaneously. You can select the controlled entry by pressing the level button.