The Marantz Turret is an all-in-one video podcasting tool, complete with a camera, microphone, and LED light. When you plug the USB cable into your computer, it shows up just like any other webcam. Not only that, but also it provides a pretty drastic improvement to audio and video quality compared to your computer's built-in webcam and microphone.
I found out about the Turret after I'd spent months cobbling together gear to build basically the exact same thing. For the past several months, I’ve been hard at work designing what I've dubbed the Soapbox Station, a plug-and-play webcam studio for Wistia’s video recording tool, Soapbox.
Naturally, I bought a Turret as soon as possible, and I was excited to put it to the test and share a gear review of what worked—and perhaps what didn't.
Let's start out with a big one: How's the audio and video quality? I thought you'd never ask!
The Marantz Turret offers a giant audio improvement over my computer's built-in microphone. It's no contest—the Turret sounds incredible. The image quality, however, isn't a vast improvement from the built-in webcam on my laptop. While the LED light and camera height offer some improvement, the video quality isn’t nearly as advanced as other webcams like the Logitech BRIO, the camera I chose for the Soapbox Station.
One feature to note about the Turret is that it requires power to operate. Once you plug it into a wall outlet, you simply plug the USB cable into your computer, and you're ready to roll.
Also, you can adjust the tilt and swivel of the camera, as well as the placement of the microphone. It even has a removable pop filter to reduce any popping sounds as air from your voice hits the microphone.
The LED ring light comes with adjustable brightness and a filter to help you match the color temperature of your ambient lighting. But the downside is that if you wear glasses, you’re pretty much doomed. As with any other ring light, there's no way to avoid the nasty glare you'll get in your glasses.
On the column, you can mute the camera and microphone, plug in headphones to monitor the audio, and plug in additional USB devices. There's also an auxiliary output if you want to record audio using an external recorder.
After playing around with the Turret for a while, here’s what stood out to me:
- The camera is pretty cropped, making it difficult to get any kind of a wide shot.
- The Turret really shines as an audio-first device. If you're going for that "radio show" look with the microphone in the frame of the camera, the Turret is a great option!
- Because it's USB-based, you can use it with just about any webcam-powered program out there.
Here's the million dollar question: Did I just waste four months of my life designing the Soapbox Stations? The short answer—no. Have a look at how the Marantz Turret stacks up against the Soapbox Stations we designed and built here at Wistia.
At just $300, the Marantz Turret is undoubtedly an incredible tool to help you start making better looking videos with Soapbox. It's easy to use and ready to roll, right out of the box. That said, it feels like the camera image quality is the weakest link.
The Soapbox Station Lite, which is similarly sized, has additional benefits. For one, it's entirely USB-based and doesn't require power, making it more portable. And the image quality on the Soapbox Station Lite looks way sharper than the Turret.
If you have some extra room in your budget and really want to step up your game, you can't go wrong with the shallow depth of field and beautiful image quality on the Soapbox Station Pro. But for the price, the Turret is a great piece of gear.
Ultimately, Marantz has introduced a truly unique piece of gear, and we're excited to see how it helps shape the world of video. So what do you think? Will you be picking one up, or will you build your very own Soapbox Station instead?