Rode PSA1 Review (Best Microphone Boom Arm Ever Made?)

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Rode PSA1 Review (Best Microphone Boom Arm Ever Made?)
VERDICT
The Rode PSA1 is a sturdy, flexible, and reliable boom arm for podcasters and anyone doing voice recording at home.
Build Quality
8
Functionality
8
Recording Test Run
9
PROS
Protects your mics from falling over with its sturdy design.
Flexible - good for sitting or standing positions.
One year warranty.
CONS
Not as travel-friendly as other solutions.
Not the cheapest option, but you are paying for quality.
8.3
OUR SCORE

Rode (or RØDE) is an Australian-based manufacturer responsible for many of our favorite microphones over the years. Rode also provides accessories for mics, like windshields, shock mounts, and boom poles. The Rode PSA1 is one example and has become one of the most popular “boom arms” for podcasters and streamers.

The Rode PSA1 provides a strong desk clamp, and is designed specifically for heavier mics in general. This means you can get height and reach out of the PSA1 that is not possible with a floor stand. Plus floor stands are more prone to falling over, and to put it mildly, that’s very bad.

Rode PSA1 Review (Verdict)

The Rode PSA1 is definitely a worthwhile product to invest in if you are streaming, podcasting, or recording vocals.

OUR PICK
RODE PSA 1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm
$127.00

Overall, the RODE PSA1 is the perfect arm in the 'middle of the road' price range with some great features. Two different mounts give you options, and the arm’s sections are highly flexible. It's the best seller for a reason.

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10/25/2020 08:39 am UTC

The combination of flexibility and vertical reach is one of the first things I noticed, two things that were never easy with other stands. Now that it’s fixed to my desk it can stay there without looking cluttered or untidy like my previous setup. Of course, if I’m not using it, it can simply be moved out of the way and then swiveled back when it’s time to record again.

Overall I was very impressed with the PSA1 studio boom arm. It was an addition to my setup that I never thought of as essential but now having used it, couldn’t see myself without one.

In the full review below, I’m going to look at why the Rode PSA1 is a game-changer for podcasting and streaming, and what you should know before buying one.

Is The PSA1 Good For Podcasts?

The simple answer is yes, podcasters who like to sit at a desk will appreciate the design of the PSA1. But it also has enough reach to accommodate those who want to stand as well.

Podcasting has finally overtaken radio, becoming the “new norm” with more and more people investing in equipment to record and broadcast from home. So of course audio equipment manufacturers are now expanding their product ranges to include items specifically for home recording, which has never been more popular.

Podcasters working from home know that space is an issue, and traditional floor mic stands tend to be rather cumbersome, being designed for stages and studios rather than home use.

One such podcaster that has had this issue is…me! My podcast, Too Old For This Pit, is aimed at fans of metal, punk, and alternative music, and you should definitely check it out if that sounds like you.

I had got sick of my microphone boom falling over and finding myself having to arrange my posture to meet the mic (not great when recording for an hour at a time!). So I was really excited to try out the PSA1 and see if it held up to the reviews I’d seen. I was also enticed by the fact that the PSA1 is mounted to a desk, meaning it can remain there for good and eliminate the arduous task of positioning a stand and mic every time I wanted to record.

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed when unpacking the studio boom arm is the weight of it. At 3.8lb (1.74kg) this was reassuring considering I currently use a heavy Sontronics condenser mic for recording. Obviously the last thing you want to worry about is your mic falling over and being damaged, plus this can take out other equipment if it pulls on cables or smashes into delicate equipment like speakers.

Rode insists that the PSA1 will hold microphones between 700g and 1.1kg which means it should be compatible with most mics such as a Blue Yeti or others you may be recording with at home. At first, I was a little confused as to why there was a minimum weight but I’ll come to that later.

Blue Yeti USB Microphone
$140.00

Easy to use USB mic, perfect for podcasting and streaming. Features 3 condenser capsules, 4 pickup patterns, headphone output and volume control, mic gain control, plug & play.

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10/25/2020 04:39 am UTC

Unboxing will present you with 4 separate parts, which works well for someone like me who hates having to spread moving parts over the floor like a jigsaw!

You have the mic boom arm, desk insert, attachment pin, and thread to fit the locking nut to your shock mount. After referring to the very simple instructions I realized that the attachment pin wasn’t even necessary for my setup.

In its simplest form, the Rode PSA1 simply clamps to the side of your desk via the desk clamp with the studio boom arm slotting into the clamp. From there, it threads itself to your shock mount.

One concern I did have was the fact that my desk didn’t have a lip for it to fix to, however this was quickly resolved by simply screwing the clamp into the cable hole on my desk which is currently unused. If this is a problem however there is an option to mount the boom arm by drilling through your desk and using the separate attachment included in the box. So if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty you can always give this a go.

Luckily for me this wasn’t necessary, although it’s still great that Rode had thought of this potential issue. It’s easy to see how in the rush to purchase a boom arm, you may not even realise your desk has no suitable lip for the clamp.

Build Quality – 8/10

Straight out of the box you can tell that the Rode PSA1 is built to a high standard of quality. This should be of little surprise to existing RØDE customers, who appreciate the strong build quality of their products.

A concern when mounting this to your desk is that it’s going to fall over or cause damage but the clamp is sturdy and gave no reason to worry that your mic is going to tumble down mid recording session.

The spring-loaded arms are both metals, so there’s no need to worry about them suffering damage over time or through extended use. There isn’t a way of fixing this into the desk clamp, instead it just slots in. This would have been a nice touch however the arm slots in deep enough to not cause any concern.

I’m sure this is something Rode considered but with the arm being designed to swivel, adding a way of fixing it could ultimately inhibit the functionality of the stand so it isn’t really a big point to complain about!

Functionality – 8/10

As I’ve mentioned, setting up the Rode PSA1 was very simple and probably took a maximum of 10 minutes. Boom arms can be a little fiddly to get in place and this was something that I did feel was a bit of an issue with this product at first.

One particular issue with the boom arm was the fact that it was spring-loaded and wouldn’t initially hold in place.

But this actually turned out to be a good thing which added to the flexibility of the PSA1. Having been used to positioning microphones on a drum kit or amp meticulously in the studio it seemed a little odd to have an arm that could move so easily.

But this is the point of the PSA1 – a live-streamer isn’t going to sit completely still, they will be animated and moving around, and Rode clearly realized this when designing this stand.

So once I got used to the flexibility of the PSA1 I started to realize that this would be a really useful bit of kit to have. Maybe not one that I’d deemed necessary in the past, considering I could just tolerate the annoyance of a floor stand, but definitely one that I was starting to wish I’d invested in earlier.

The studio boom arm itself is spring-loaded and so without a microphone in place, it will jerk up and leave you wondering how on earth this is going to work whilst recording.

Then I remembered this is why the PSA1 has a recommended “weight range”. I realized that the boom arm would be stabilized once the shock mount and microphone are attached to the thread. Using the mic as a counterweight is a clever trick that allows the Rode to balance, adjust vertically and horizontally, and swing on the axis of the clamp.

Therefore a lightweight mic may not have enough weight to stabilize the boom arm, whilst a heavier mic may have the opposite reaction, causing the microphone boom arm to fall!

This in reality is perfect for a podcaster as the likelihood is you aren’t going to be recording on a heavy, vintage tube mic or a lightweight SM58. Something like a Blue Yeti would be a perfect fit for the arm.

Recording – 9/10

The real test for the Rode PSA1 is during recording. As I’ve mentioned, one of the best aspects is the ability to move the position of the mic without having to unscrew nuts or make any adjustments. So to make the most of this review I used the PSA1 in a recorded interview and was really impressed with how different it felt.

Previously I was anchored to my seat, constantly thinking of where I was positioned in front of my mic and trying not to knock the microphone boom arm. With the Rode, I felt much more animated and less concerned with where I was talking and not worrying about volume automation in the editing stage.

Of course, some live-streamers will prefer to stand rather than sit, and this is something Rode has accommodated as well with the PSA1. The vertical reach of the boom arm is approximately 840mm (or 33 inches) meaning if you are more animated and want the flexibility to stand up you can do so without any awkward adjustments.

All in all, the Rode PSA1 proved to be a great product for recording and I found I wasn’t worried about how I was sitting and had no concerns about moving around during recording. Compared to my previous setup, this is definitely a must-buy product!

A Minor Complaint

One item that would have made a nice extra is a storage or carry case. Chances are, if you are fixing the Rode PSA1 to your desk, you won’t be travelling with it. But as the boom arm is spring-loaded it does make it a little awkward to store (unless you want to keep the original box).

Not a huge issue overall, and certainly not a deal-breaker, but this could put certain users off. For example, journalists and podcasters who travel for interviews may find transport awkward, but not impossible.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the pros far outweigh the very few, minor cons and if you are new to podcasting or streaming and looking for a convenient way of recording your voice then I would highly recommend the PSA1. It will set you back more than an average floor stand but it is well worth the investment.

Overall I was surprised by how much easier the PSA1 made recording. Even if I was a vocalist recording at home I could definitely see the Rode being beneficial. Long after this review is published, the boom arm will remain fixed to my desk and that pesky floor stand will be forever banished to the cupboard!

I’d highly recommend investing in a Rode PSA1 boom arm if you’re into podcasting, streaming, or any voice recording from the comfort of your home.

OUR PICK
RODE PSA 1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm
$127.00

Overall, the RODE PSA1 is the perfect arm in the 'middle of the road' price range with some great features. Two different mounts give you options, and the arm’s sections are highly flexible. It's the best seller for a reason.

Check Price On Amazon Check Price On MusiciansFriend
10/25/2020 08:39 am UTC