Rode is already a household name in the podcasting and music production worlds, but now the firm is looking to give gamers and streamers a sonic step up as well. The new Rode X line becomes the Aussie audio expert’s first ever sub-brand, landing with a pair of pro-grade USB microphones and a custom-built virtual mixer designed to have Twitch streamers sounding their best.
The range kicks off with the more wallet-friendly XCM-50 condenser microphone, while the XDM-100 dynamic mic aims for broadcast-quality audio. Both are plug-and-play over USB-C, so you don’t need any dedicated hardware, and have powered headphone ports, level controls and mute buttons built-in for lag-free monitoring.
It’s the XCM-50 that makes most sense for desktop duties or as part of a portable streaming setup. It comes with a tiny tripod and 360-degree swivel mount for easy angling towards your mouth, has an integrated pop shield and shock mount to cut down on unwanted background bangs, and packs down into a satisfyingly compact package. Rode Reckons it delivers “highly detailed voice reproduction” with “incredible warmth and presence”, and a pickup pattern optimized for streaming.
For more static setups, preferably with a microphone arm, the XDM-100 looks like the way to go. It has Rode’s low-noise, high-gain Revolution Preamp, with 24-bit/48kHz analogue-digital conversion and tight cardioid pickup pattern that’ll strip out keyboard clattering. It has a studio-grade shock mount and detachable pop shield.
Rode hasn’t gone nuts on gamer-friendly styling, with subtle splashes of red against matte black metal. You won’t find any RGB lighting here – the XDM-100 in particular would look right at home in a music studio. They both have access to the same Aphex audio processing you’ll find with the firm’s mainline mics, including compressor, noise gate and high pass filter controls.
It’s on the software side that Rode X is hoping to make the biggest impact. The Unify desktop app can manage four USB microphones at once, and up to six virtual audio sources – so game audio, chat mix, background music and web browser audio can all be tweaked individually, without needing a handful of separate apps or a physical mixing desk. It can then send out separate mixes to the player’s headphones and the live stream, so they aren’t deafened whenever a commenter triggers a sound alert.
Multitrack recording is on hand for content creation, along with studio-tier audio processing and a bank of smart pads for triggering sound effects and MIDI commands just like the Rodecaster Pro II hardware mixer. Later this year it’ll get on-the-fly voice changing abilities too.
It’ll be included free with all Rode X microphones, but anyone with existing gear can use Unify as well: a rolling monthly subscription will set streamers back $5, or there’s a $45 annual alternative.
Game streamers the US can pick up an XCM-50 for $149 (around £135) and the XDM-100 for $249 (about £225). UK prices are yet to be confirmed.