If you’re a streamer or podcaster, you already know the value of a blender. The MaonoCaster takes this concept and composes it by adding two microphone inputs, customizable sound effects, reverb, voice effects, etc. At $ 179 currently on Kickstarter, and $ 199 retail, it offers a lot for an affordable price, but does its performance live up to its promises?
The MaonoCaster had been on my radar for months before I contacted the company. As a big fan of the GoXLR, it seemed to provide many of the same features for a lot less. Having examined some Microphone kits from Maono in the past, which exactly matched my impressions of the company: value driven. Except, while you could say the same about the hundreds of inexpensive microphones on Amazon, Maono has hit it. They weren’t the cheapest you could find (the AU-A04 kit cost $ 64.99 but included a boom, shock mount, and pop filter) but they looked and sounded like microphones approaching triple digits .
The MaonoCaster therefore represents a convincing product for content creators on a low budget. At $ 179 right now, it packs an impressive feature set. This is a USB audio interface, so it will send and receive both audio from your computer. It accepts two XLR or ¼ inch inputs, and the second mic is connected to a 3.5mm jack to work with headsets, and each has its own headphone jack for real-time monitoring. It accepts two additional sound sources to route a phone or other device, which is ideal for taking calls or playing media. It has an integrated eight-button soundboard, with a beep button and the ability to use three custom effects, loaded from the Maono software package. There is a voice changer, six reverb modes, a denoiser and a pitch shifter, and effect / mix knobs to adjust their volumes. There’s even built-in auto-tuning if you’re creating streaming music or just wanting to have fun.
To really understand what it can do, I recorded an overview / review video which you can watch below:
Maono has sent his Solo pack, which will cost $ 299. It includes the MaonoCaster itself, as well as an XLR mic, desk stand, pop filter, shock mount, headphones, and all the cables you’ll need to get up and running. If you already have an XLR mic and headphones you won’t need all of these, but it’s nice to see a simple option that takes the guesswork out of assembling the hardware for new streamers.
I was immediately impressed when I first tested the MaonoCaster and continued my review period. It works well. The unit provides 48V phantom power, so it will work for most condenser microphones and even feed my dynamics – however, if you’re using a gain-hungry mic, you might find it a bit quiet. It doesn’t quite have the safety margin of the GoXLR or GoXLR Mini and left my Procaster usable but a few dB less than where I usually keep it. Using the built-in latency-free monitoring, I was able to adjust my volume within seconds. The back panel was well identified, so connecting my phone to load a Spotify playlist and add music to my stream was just as easy, and since I could hear everything right on the device, I was able to get my levels up. just without questioning myself.
Since there are two inputs, it’s a great choice for a two-person feed or podcast. MaonoCaster has made a smart design choice to also add two monitor outputs, so the second host can hear exactly what’s going on on the show. I also like that you can add additional sound inputs as well. I like to keep playing my music on my phone while recording so that I don’t have to use Alt + Tab outside of the game. You can also use it to take calls and bring people into your production remotely. .
When it comes to effects, the MaonoCaster has a lot of options. The main features are the reverb options and the denoiser, which is a switch on the back. In most situations, you’ll want to stick with the Studio or Room reverb, but you have four other larger space options for the ambiance. The pitch shifter is also fun and operates on a button for quick changes. In the VoiceFX section, you have options for male, female, baby, and robot, as well as buttons to opt for Music Only or your sidechain. There’s even an AutoTune option for on-screen music making or karaoke.
Another interesting feature is the soundboard. It comes with eight pads, although the bottom right acts as a beep button. The first four have preset effects like a rimshot, applause, and a dramatic sting. The other three can be customized with your own sound effects using the Maono app. It’s easy to do: you download the effect in MP3 or WAV format, open it with the software and use two clicks to save it to the pad. I wish there was a way to override the built-in effects, but an included letter indicates that this is a feature they will offer with an upcoming Pro model.
There are a few missing features here, however. There is no compressor, for either amplifier like an equalizer or a de-esser. On his campaign page, Maono says he will be adding features in the forthcoming Pro version, as this template is primarily for mixing and live streaming. It does this job well, but the lack of a compressor and EQ is a big omission for any type of mixer at this price point.
The other thing that you shouldn’t expect from this device is any kind of audio routing on the software side. Maono never promises it, but given its competitiveness with the GoXLR, it’s reasonable for a new user to come in and be disappointed. In this way, the GoXLR and the MaonoCaster are very different devices. This will mix up the audio you have connected to it, but will not create a mass of virtual audio devices to do Software mixed.
Overall, however, it’s hard not to be impressed with the MaonoCaster. It’s a great little unit and really feels like a steal for all that it offers. The sound quality is crisp and clean and it is much easier to produce a full stream than with software solutions. I also really like that there is a built-in 5000mAh battery, so you can take it with you. Just note that it doesn’t actually record, so you’ll still have to run it in a laptop to be truly portable.
The Solo Bundle looks a bit pricey at $ 299. You pay extra to know you get everything you need without shopping, but you can also buy the MaonoCaster on its own and its separate PM-320S microphone kit and have a very similar package, without headphones and some audio cables. Still, the mic is very clear and has excellent body and clarity. If you don’t want to shop around, the Solo Bundle has everything you need except a computer.
I have followed the development of MaonoCaster since its first announcement and am happy to say that it does not disappoint. Even at the full retail price of $ 199, it’s great value. Wish there were a few extra features like a compressor and equalizer, built-in but simple plugins for audio and streaming software can easily accomplish this same job without costing anything extra. The ease of taking your production to the next level of professionalism is an absolute highlight here.
If you’re a content creator who doesn’t like post-production or just wants to make what you produce look more professional, the MaonoCaster is a great choice.
The product described in this article has been provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.