The PodTrak P4 is a podcast recorder which is designed specifically for this purpose in comparison to other devices which just have this capability, which has been created by Zoom.
The device lets you plug in 4 XLR microphones and lets you record in multitrack.
The device also allows you to have independent control via headphones so each participant can control what they need to.
You can connect the device to whatever compatible piece of tech you prefer like a computer, iPad, or a smartphone.
If connected to a smartphone you can even use it for recording phone calls.
The device also doubles its use as a USB interface on top of being a portable recorder itself.
The PodTrak P4 also has sound pads which can be used to add effects or play music over your recording.
The device has an RRP of $200, which for the features it includes is quite reasonable, but means that you should only invest in it if you are sure this is a device you will get use out of.
This device reflects the growing popularity of podcasting through its existence as a product designed specifically for podcasting.
Most podcasting equipment in the past has been previously intended for music recording, but with products like this entering the market we can see that podcasters are now a significant enough audience to justify dedicated products.
However, this also means that there are competitors for the PodTrak P4, so what does it offer, and how does it stack up in comparison to these?
What Is The Zoom PodTrak P4?
This product has been marketed by Zoom to be the best recorder available for podcasting, so while this is a hefty claim to make, based on the features included, it seems like it could live up to this.
While this product seems to mostly be a new product for Zoom, it could be seen as a successor to Zoom’s H5 and H6, however it stands out with its distinct features.
This is likely the most important section to consider as you should understand what this product is offering before wondering if you should buy it.
You should invest in the PodTrak P4 if it has features which you know which you need, so this section will talk you through everything offered by this product, and whether it will fill in the gap in your set up.
You Can Plug In And Record 4 XLR Mics
Similarly to Zoom’s H6, this product allows you to plug in up to 4 microphones, and this seems to be the sweet spot for most podcasts, and any more than 4 mics usually seems to be overkill, so being able to get this perfect amount in one product is perfect.
While there are solutions if you want to have more than 4 microphones, these will not be solves natively in this product.
The PodTrak P4 lets you use XLR microphones which are either a condenser or dynamic, and if you are using a condenser the product offer a Phantom Power setting which is a useful tool for ensuring that your interface is working properly.
All 4 of the inputs being recorded on the PodTrak P4 will be given their own track which is great for post production and editing different mics separately.
For example, if the audio input is at a different level on different mics, editing them will be made infinitely easier using this device.
If you plan to use multiple microphones when recording a podcast, the PodTrak P4 is a must.
Independent Headphone Control
Since most of the participants who are recording will likely be wearing headphones which will ensure that they know how they sound when you are recording and can tell if there are any issues like a popping microphone.
Participants will be able to control their headphone volume and setting individually which is great if a particular participant is having a specific issue.
Lets You Record Remote Calls
Another feature of the PodTrak P4 is that it is able to record calls which is perfect if you have a remote caller into your podcast.
This has become a more and more common aspect of podcasts in recent years, so having this feature is more useful than ever.
There are sometimes no simple solutions to recording calls for situations like this, so being able to do it natively through the PodTrak P4 is an amazing feature to have.
This is made even more easy with all the different devices which the PodTrak P4 can connect to, so however you are receiving a call, the PodTrak P4 will be able to pick it up.
Since these calls are usually being done over mobiles, there are multiple options to connect the PodTrak P4, so you do not have to worry about having a specific input on your phone for the PodTrak P4 to be able to connect.
Sound Pads For Music And SFX
Having pre recorded sounds or effects on the PodTrak P4 is a great feature to have and you can control live is perfect for podcasts which need these aspects to be added in post production.
Being able to add intro and outro music live is a very useful feature, especially if you are podcasting live and do not want to fumble with devices.
This will also save time in mixing as well. This is not a feature everyone will use, but having it will help greatly for others.
USB Audio Interface
The PodTrak P4 can also be used when connected to your computer as its own USB interface for controlling audio.
This is a great feature if you are featuring on a guest podcast and want to have the best audio quality for yourself possible.
However, it is worth noting that when in use as a USB interface, you will not be able to record in multitrack, however you can record onto a SD card if you prefer.
What Features Are Missing?
The main missing feature of the Podtrak P4 is that unlike the other offerings from Zoom like the H5 and H6, it will not function as a standalone recorder, similarly to a dictaphone.
To make this device you will need to have at least a single XLR microphone plugged in, so if you are looking for a device which can record without any other products, this will not work for you and you should consider the H5 or H6.
The product itself weighs close to 290 grams which is just a bit heavier than a standard smartphone, so you do not have to worry about it being too heavy.
And its dimensions are 112 mm by 155 mm by 47 mm making it a bit longer than a normal pen.
Taking all of this into consideration, you can see why so many people love how portable this product it.
However, there is a downside to this with some people seeing it as being not as durable as it should be, especially for a product which is not particularly cheap.
The design is made from plastic and if it makes a big drop there is a chance it could get permanently damaged.
So, if you are worried about breaking it, ensure that you are always being careful, and transporting it in a case, or looking for a more durable alternative.
There are different ways to get the device up and running whether it is plugging it into your mains, using the included AA batteries, or connecting it to a USB.
The batteries can last between 4 and 9 hours depending on use, so you should be able to get everything you want recorded.
The USB connection uses USB C, which is so common now you should not struggle to find places to connect it to.
The product only costs $200, which while it is a significant investment, this is generally lower than a lot of the competition and has some great features which make it worth the spend.
After recording some samples using the Podtrak P4 we can report that sound quality is as high as you would expect and incredibly clear.
Of course this will depend on the microphones which you are connecting, but there is practically no noise added by using this device.
How worthwhile the Podtrak P4 is for you will depend on plenty of different factors, but mostly on what equipment you already have.
For example if you already own the aforementioned Zoom H5 or H6, you will already have a pretty good recorder from the reputable brand, and unless the recorder is on its last legs, there is little excuse for the upgrade.
However, if you currently have no dedicated device for helping you record your podcast in a more organized and high quality way, getting the Podtrak P4 is easily justified.
Of course, you will already need to have an XLR microphone to plug in, but if you have this, you will be set!