Review: Pinnacle Podcast Factory (UK Edition)

Complete Podcasting Setup (October 27th, 2006)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Pinnacle Systems, A Division of Avid

Price: $179.99 US, 99.99

The Good

  • Excellent microphone quality. Complete package.

The Bad

  • Recording interface unit feels cheap. Software included of little value.

I was dubious about reviewing the Pinnacle Podcast Factory, as it performed a task I had not previously attempted. I took on the challenge with the foresight that one day I may post podcasts (or Netcasts) myself one day. Podcast Factory consists of the M-Audio recording interface, microphone with stand, and software for both Mac and Windows platforms. Pinnacle and mAudio are owned by Avid, so products are mixed and matched to provide the best solutions for the task at hand.

The hardware

My first perusal of the recording interface prompted me to wonder how this plastic box was going to deliver anything better than my capable iMac. The little box feels very cheap, but it does offer a vast array of features. The front has rotary controls for input level (gain on the mic), mix control and output volume, as well as a couple of peak and signal LEDs. There is also a mono-stereo switch and a standard headphone output jack. On the back is the USB port, line outputs, input level switch, guitar or instrument input, and the microphone input, which accommodates a balanced XLR type connection. This little unit offers a professional 24-bit, 48kHz audio interface with preamp, so it is capable of adding quality to your set-up.

The microphone is a nice weighty metal and plastic construction, supplied with an XLR cable, and a useful desktop stand. The microphone quality feels great, in contrast to the recording interface. It has a unidirectional design with an internal filter that minimizes pops and interference.

The software

A CD with drivers is included, but you do not need them for Mac OSX. You also get Podifier software, which helps prepare and publish your podcasts, plus Pro Sessions sound and loop libraries. The Audacity software is nothing to write home about, but it does give you the tools that you need to get started. If a better software suite were included, the whole package would be a lot more appealing.

Good Solution for Beginners

Now that my first experience with recording audio was underway, I fired up GarageBand and recorded two minutes of vocal via the built-in iMac microphone, followed by a two-minute session using the Podcast Factory. What you immediately notice is that the M-Audio equipment delivers clear, crisp, detailed sound. Background noise virtually disappears and the recorded audio sounds so much more professional. The iMac microphone does a good job, but you have a distant feel and echo and external noises creep in. The recording interface also gives you a lot more control over levels and other sound qualities. If I wanted a cost effective solution and introduction to the whole podcasting scene, I would definitely consider the Pinnacle Podcast Factory, but might locate different software.

by Dave Cryer


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