|Industry||Consumer and professional audio equipment|
|Founded||1967 (as Freedman Electronics)|
|Headquarters||Silverwater, Sydney, Australia|
|Key people||Peter Freedman (President), Damien Wilson (Global Marketing & Sales Director)|
RØDE Microphones // is an Australian-based designer and manufacturer of microphones, related accessories and audio software. Its products are used in studio and location sound recording as well as live sound reinforcement.
- 1 History
- 2 Organisation
- 3 Products
- 3.1 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
- 3.2 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
- 3.3 Dynamic Microphones
- 3.4 Shotgun Microphones
- 3.5 VideoMic range
- 3.6 Mobile, Smartphone & Tablet Microphones
- 3.7 Compact Wearable Microphones
- 3.8 Custom microphones
- 3.9 Microphone Accessories
- 3.10 Software
- 3.11 Warranty
- 4 Awards
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Parent company to Rode Microphones, Freedman Electronics was established in Sydney in 1967 by husband and wife couple Henry and Astrid Freedman. Originally from London, Henry relocated to Stockholm and started a family. Working as a chief engineer for a telecommunications company, Henry would do after-hours servicing and modifications for a local agent of German pro-audio manufacturer Dynacord. In time Henry was offered the Australian distribution rights to sell the brand, and as a result migrated with his family in 1966 (including son Peter) to Australia.
Setting up a shopfront in the suburb of Ashfield, Freedman Electronics was one of the first companies in Sydney to design, manufacture, install and service a diverse range of audio products including loudspeakers, amplifiers and microphones.
Henry passed away in 1987, and his son, Peter, took over the family business. In the next few years Peter invested heavily in growing Freedman Electronics’ sound installation services, but his limited business experience combined with a difficult economy in the late 1980s almost bankrupted the company and left Peter in a considerable amount of financial debt.
Origins of Rode
With a grim outlook for Freedman Electronics, Peter was desperate for a solution to the company’s financial situation and amongst other ventures he recalled a microphone he had found almost ten years previously at a trade show in Shanghai, China in 1981. After gauging local market interest he imported 20 of them. “They were shit... two out of the 20 weren’t working at all” Peter recalled in an interview. “I opened them up, and saw they’d used inferior components and the soldered joints were bad. So I fixed up the parts, made a board mod here and there and got them to a point where we could sell them. They weren’t super quiet compared to what we're doing now ... but they worked.” 
Sales of the modified microphone began to take off in Sydney, which (in the Australian vernacular) was likened to “a rat up a drain pipe”. This gave lend to the unofficial title the ‘Rodent-1’, which was later broken up to become the RODE NT-1. Peter Freedman dropped in the ‘Ø’ character as a salute to his Scandinavian heritage, and Rode was born.
Following the microphone’s early popularity, the company decided that it would be a wise investment to move more of the manufacturing to Australia. This move would improve product quality, reduce reliance on offshore contractors, and ensure that all manufacturing knowledge developed would stay in-house.
Entering the Export Market
After an initial success in the Australian market, Peter Freedman decided to look overseas for further business opportunities, and in 1992 he travelled to California armed with the company’s new NT2 microphone which was built using mostly Australian components. Cold-calling a number of recording studios in the Los Angeles area Peter was able to demonstrate what the NT2 was capable of, and after a week he secured the company’s very first international order, 100 NT2 microphones for West LA Music. With a taste for export business and an understanding of the emerging home recording/project studio market, RØDE exhibited at the Winter NAMM exhibition the following year, taking up a modest booth to showcase the NT1 and NT2. “We took a little booth jammed between a guy selling steel drums and a huge garbage bin – it was like a joke” Peter explained. “But in the first three hours we stitched up distribution for Japan, Canada, England, France…”
The company’s distribution network continued to grow, with a major milestone in 1994 when it secured US distribution through loudspeaker manufacturer Event Electronics (a company that would be acquired by Freedman Electronics in 2006). Event would remain the USA distributor until Rode established its own offices there in 2001. The rest of the 1990s would see Rode continue its investments in vertically integrated manufacturing, bringing more of the production processes in house as it added the valve Classic and NTV microphones to its line-up.
Entering the broadcast market
Much like the home recording revolution of the 1990s that gave Rode its initial success, the early 2000s saw rapid development in the area of home video recording with technologies such as MiniDV and early non-linear editing software allowing for high quality video production. The company quickly identified a growing demand for high-quality microphones for these cameras at relatively low cost, and so in 2004 Rode released the VideoMic on-camera microphone. Since this time Rode has developed a successful range of shotgun microphones(NTG1, NTG2, NTG3, NTG8) as well as developing the VideoMic range to meet the demands of the DSLR camera market.
In 2006 Rode’s parent company, Freedman Electronics, purchased loudspeaker manufacturer Event Electronics, a company that had been instrumental in establishing Rode’s US distribution channel in the early 1990s.
In March 2012 Rode opened the 'RØDEWORKS' design facility in the Sydney CBD to serve as a creative studio space, nurturing the innovation of its product and graphic design teams and allowing for future expansion plans. The studio was officially opened on 20 March by Mr Ian Murray AM, Director of the Australian Institute for Export. In his speech, Mr Murray praised Rode for its approach to keeping resources in-house and successfully leveraging significant investments in Australian manufacturing.
Rode Microphones is headquartered in Sydney, Australia and has five offices worldwide across Australia, USA and Hong Kong.
Manufacturing is considered one of Rode’s core competencies, and the centre of its competitive advantage – a concept that Rode refers to as “The Rode Difference”. Since the early days of the company it has adopted a strategy of bringing most of the manufacturing in-house, focussing on robotic automation to maximise consistency of manufacture, as well as minimising labour costs which are relatively high in Australia compared to other regions. By adopting a strategy of vertical integration, Rode has been able to leverage its internal production facilities for R&D, allowing it to venture into other product areas. “That’s the thing with Rode – we buy all the gear” explains Peter. “The machining gear, the test gear; machinery that we invest in lets us do what we want to do. It’s like the transformer, we’re talking about one type but we could make any type of audio transformer because we have the machinery now.” Rode’s manufacturing success has been acknowledged by the Australian Government on two occasions, winning awards for manufacturing innovation in 2012 and 1999.
Rode has a strong focus on marketing and communications, continually striving to innovate both in the products it offers to customers and in the ways it communicates its product offering. Examples of this innovation include the VideoMic range of products, and the Soundbooth demonstration application for web browser and iPad.
The RØDE Difference
In 2011 Rode launched a website under the title ‘The RØDE Difference’, which detailed five areas in which the company believes it offers an advantage over other microphone manufacturers. These areas are: precision, passion, community, value and customer support. The website was accompanied by a factory tour video hosted by founder Peter Freedman.
The RØDE Soundbooth is an application that allows users to hear real-life recordings of the company’s microphones in different recording scenarios. To date the company has released two versions of the application; the first (titled ‘Soundbooth Studio’) highlights vocal and instrument recordings for music, and the second (‘Soundbooth Broadcast’) focusses on location and field recording for film, television and broadcast production. Soundbooth Studio was recorded by Grammy-nominated engineer John Merchant, at Red Door Studio, Nashville, The Steinway Gallery, Nashville and Middle Tennessee State University. It comprises close to 400 individual tracks.
It is available on the RØDE website and also for download as a native app for Apple iPad.
RØDE Rocks & RØDE Rockumentary
2012 saw the launch of a two-tiered user content generation campaign by Rode Microphones, under the titles of ‘RØDE Rocks’ and ‘RØDE Rockumentary’. The ‘Rocks’ competition was a global band contest that invited musical artists from all over the world to submit an original song, accompanied by a video featuring a Rode microphone, to then be judged by a panel of celebrity international musicians and producers. For ‘RØDE Rockumentary’ entrants were required to make a short film (under two minutes) featuring a Rode microphone.
Both promotions offered aspirational experiences as the grand prize. For the ‘RØDE Rocks’ competition it was an all-expenses paid trip to Hollywood, USA, to record at Record Plant studios with producer Alain Johannes. ‘RØDE Rockumentary’ offered entrants the chance to make a documentary featuring the ‘RØDE Rocks’ winner, under the guidance of filmmakers Philip Bloom and Jason Wingrove. Second and third place winners in both competitions received large audio prize packs containing Rode and event products.
The 2012 ‘RØDE Rocks’ competition was won by Navicula, a four-piece rock band from Bali. Nuno Barbosa, a Portuguese filmmaker, won first prize in the ‘RØDE Rockumentary’ competition.
In 2008 Rode launched a series of educational videos that demonstrated how to achieve the best results using its microphones to record a band. Titled ‘Rode University’, the series comprised 28 individual episodes, the majority of which focused on a particular instrument (vocals, bass, drums, guitar) with a particular Rode microphone. It was hosted by audio educator Peter Moses, and featured Sydney band Hell City Glamours.
Rode followed up with a second series in 2010, this time focussing on audio techniques and theory for broadcast, film, TV and electronic news gathering. The series featured ten episodes and was hosted by professional sound designer and author Ric Viers. Both video series are available on the company’s YouTube channel, via a native app for Apple iOS devices, or on DVD from RØDE’s merchandise store.
Strategic alliance with Rycote
Rode announced a strategic alliance in early 2013 with UK microphone accessory manufacturer Rycote, that would allow Rode to utilise Rycote’s patented Lyre shock mounting system in future microphone and accessory products. An updated VideoMic was announced at the same time, featuring a single-piece red Rycote shock mount in the place of the original rubber band suspension.
Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
Rode is traditionally known for its large diaphragm (1”) condenser microphones, as it was the area that the company specialised in exclusively for its first ten years of operation [ref]. The company manufactures both valve/tube and solid state varieties, as well as models that offer variable polar patterns and equalisation filters. The NT1-A is Rode’s biggest selling microphone, and the company claims it to be the world’s quietest studio microphone [ref website] with a published self-noise of 5dBA. The company has retired the NTV, Classic, NT1 and NT2 microphones from production. The Classic II microphone was announced as ceasing production in October 2011. It was commemorated with a limited edition black version of which only 500 were ever made, and came with a series of exclusive items including an additional JAN6072 valve, a titanium lifetime warranty card engraved with the owner’s name, and a leather bound book detailing the history of the Rode Classic and Classic II microphones. Its large diaphragm condenser studio microphones are primarily side-address, with the exception of the Broadcaster microphone which, due to its application in broadcast and radio environments, is end-address.
Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
Rode first introduced small diaphragm condenser microphones into its product range in 2000 with the NT3, which featured an end-address ¾” cardioid condenser capsule. It was followed closely by the NT4 stereo microphone and the NT5 ‘pencil’ condenser microphone. Both featured ½” cardioid true condenser capsules, with the NT4 having a matched pair fixed in 90 degree alignment for XY stereo recording and the NT5 capsule being interchangeable with an omnidirectional version. The NT5 (and later NT55) are available as an acoustically matched pair, a common practice that involves matching the sensitivity of two individual microphones to within a very small sensitivity tolerance, and selling them as a pair to be used for stereo recording techniques. Rode entered the live vocal performance space in 2006 with the S1 (and black S1-B variety) microphone. It features a ¾” super-cardioid condenser capsule, designed for feedback rejection in live situations. In 2009 Rode released the M2 and M3 microphones that featured permanently polarised condenser capsules, a more cost effective solution to the true condenser capsules found in other Rode studio microphones.
Rode produces a select range of dynamic microphones for sound reinforcement and broadcast audio. The M1 is a handheld live vocal performance dynamic microphone that the company claims is "designed to provide the very best performance night after night, while taking all the abuse expected of a microphone with the rock 'n' roll credentials of Rode". The M1 is also available with a lockable switch (M1-S). The Podcaster microphone is Rode’s only microphone with USB output. It features a high-output dynamic capsule and on-board headphone monitoring. The Podcaster was awarded an Australian International Design Award in 2007, recognising the product as an example of good design. The Procaster microphone has similar specifications to the Podcaster but with XLR output, the professional standard output connection for audio. In late 2012 the Reporter, a handheld interview microphone with an omnidirectional dynamic capsule was released.
RØDE entered the shotgun microphone market in 2005, with the NTG1 and NTG2 microphones. Both feature a permanently polarised ½” condenser capsule, with the NTG2 accepting a battery power source in addition to phantom power. The NTG3 was released in 2008, providing RØDE with a premium true condenser shotgun microphone, featuring RF bias technology to allow the microphone to continue operation in humid and cold conditions where traditional microphones could fail. In 2012 RØDE announced the NTG8, a long shotgun version of the NTG3 which features enhanced directionality across all frequencies.
The original VideoMic was released by Rode in 2004, after founder Peter Freedman was unable to find a suitable microphone for his home MiniDV camera. Two years later the company released a stereo version of the turnkey microphone system for camcorders and consumer video cameras.
Following the introduction of high definition video on DSLR cameras such as the Canon EOS 5D MkII Rode further developed the VideoMic concept to reduce the size, and incorporate a 20dB level boost, which is intended to allow the user to decrease the level of the camera preamp, thereby reducing the noise floor of the recording. In 2012 the Stereo VideoMic Pro was released, providing a stereo option for DSLR filmmakers. It was recognised with a Design Award from the Australian International Design Awards program.
With the announcement of Rode and Rycote’s strategic alliance the company revised the original VideoMic to incorporate the Rycote Lyre one-piece shock mount.
Mobile, Smartphone & Tablet Microphones
At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Rode announced that it had commenced producing microphones for consumer smartphones, tablets and mobile devices. The first of these products was the iXY, a stereo microphone designed for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. It features two ½” cardioid condenser capsules, fixed in a 90 degree alignment to allow for XY stereo recording. Using the Rode Rec app the microphone is capable of recording at resolution of up to 24-bit/ 96 kHz, which at its launch is the only microphone for Apple Inc.’s portable devices capable of such a high sampling resolution. The iXY was recognised as a product of high quality design in 2013 with a Red Dot award. A month after the release of the iXY, Rode announced the smartLav lavalier microphone for smartphones and mobile devices. With a TRRS output connection, the smartLav connects to Apple and Android based smartphones and tablets.
Compact Wearable Microphones
Rode offers a range of compact condenser microphones, designed for close miking applications including a headset and two lavalier microphones. The HS1 headset microphone, released in 2010, is constructed from lightweight aluminium and is available in both pink and black versions. In addition to its standard Lavalier microphone, Rode also offers the PinMic lavalier which is designed for discreet miking of subjects. It features a removable capsule head that is connected to the wired base via a trio of pins, which can be placed through fabric to allow the microphone to be placed anywhere on the subject, as opposed to the limited mounting options of a traditional lavalier. Rode supply an unpainted capsule head mesh with the PinMic (in addition to selling separately) for the user to paint or camouflage as required. Rode’s range of compact wearable microphones all use the company’s proprietary MiCon connection system, which allows for the connection of a range of different output adaptors. Rode currently offers nine MiCon adaptors making the microphones compatibile with 3.5mm stereo and XLR standard output as well as wireless transmitters from Shure, AKG Acoustics, Audio Technica, Sennheiser, MIPRO, Audix, Sony and Lectrosonics.
In 2006 Rode was approached by sound engineer Bruce Jackson to design a microphone system that could be used as the primary podium microphone for the Asian Games that year in Doha. The microphone has since appeared at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver,2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore, 2011 Pan-Arab Games in Doha, 2011 Rugby World Cup in Auckland, 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and most recently at the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in London. Rode’s engineers designed the microphone system with two discrete microphone capsules in order to offer a high level of redundancy. The first capsule in the microphone stem sends audio directly to the broadcaster’s main digital audio network, using Rode designed preamps that are fed phantom power from an Optocore fibre network device. The second capsule is connected to a custom wireless system that is housed inside the actual lectern. This wireless system contains an RF transmitter, phantom power supply and transformer coupling amongst other components. The output is available both in analogue form, and sent to the analogue backup portion of the main audio system. It is also available in modulated RF format that is received by a radio mic receiver (or receivers) beneath the stage, and at the front-of-house (FOH) position. Originally three microphones were built, with one of these later being converted to a floor-standing unit.
Custom microphone for Barbra Streisand
Following the success of the Podium Mic project in 2006, Bruce Jackson again approached Rode with a special request, this time to create a custom microphone that would be used by singer Barbra Streisand on the European leg of her Streisand tour. Mr Jackson saw room for improvement with the microphone used during the North American phase of the tour and approached Rode’s engineering team with the brief to provide a smoother high frequency response, in addition to a tailored polar response with greater side rejection. Rode successfully modified its S1 microphone capsule to meet Mr Jackson’s needs for the tour.
Chrome M1 microphone
Rode has produced a very limited number of chrome plated M1 microphones, for use by Rode endorsees. The microphones were originally created at the request of Pelle Almqvist of The Hives to match their on-stage attire.
i16 surround sound microphone
The Rode i16 was an April Fools’ joke that was published on the company’s website, as well as its corporate Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo accounts on 1 April 2013. The microphone featured 16 discrete condenser capsules (taken from the NT5 microphone), and was shown connected to an Apple iPhone 4S. In the announcement video, Peter Freedman suggested that it was capable of beamforming, while filmmaker Philip Bloom suggested that it sounded “better than my actual ears could hear!”
Rode offers over 60 different microphone accessories, including the Rode Blimp microphone suspension system in addition to other wind shields, shock mounts, stand mounts, cases, and stands.
Rode entered the software market in 2013, releasing the Rode Rec (and free Rode Rec LE) app for Apple’s iOS devices. The application allows the user’s device to operate as a professional field recorder, with a key feature being that it allows for editing of the recording and publishing to a number of cloud-based platforms as well as email and desktop.
Rode offers a free extended warranty on most of its products, available via registration of purchase on its website. Company founder Peter Freedman states that after-sales service and customer care is one of the fundamental strengths of Rode’s business model: “Never mind good business, it’s what [you] should do… I’ve done that since day one. You buy a mic and have a problem with it and [we] will sort it out.” “We have never ever charged for service and repairs.” Mr Freedman told AudioTechnology magazine in 2004. “We don’t make a song and dance of the fact, but it’s true. And I love it” The majority of microphones offer a ten year extended warranty while some offer a five year. The M1 live dynamic microphone and the Classic II limited edition both offer a lifetime extended warranty upon registration.
|2014||Horizon Interactive||Promotional Video (Gold)||RØDE Rocks!|
|2014||Horizon Interactive||Integrated Marketing Campaign (Gold)||Soundbooth Broadcast|
|2014||Horizon Interactive||Product Launch||iXY (website, print advertisement, promotional video)|
|2014||Horizon Interactive||Mobile Apps: Productivity (Best in Category)||RØDE Rec|
|2014||Red Dot||Product Design||iXY (Lightning)|
|2014||Red Dot||Product Design||Stereo VideoMic X|
|2014||Manufacturer's Monthly Endeavour Awards||Export Award|
|2013||Australian Export Awards||Manufacturing Award|
|2013||Pro Audio Review||PAR Award (USB/iOS)||iXY|
|2013||Export Council of Australia||NSW Manufacturing Award Winner|
|2013||Red Dot||Product Design||iXY|
|2013||Australian International Design Awards||Design Award||iXY|
|2013||Audio Media||Gear of the Year||NTG8|
|2012||Export Council of Australia||NSW Exporter of the Year|
|2012||Export Council of Australia||Large Advanced Manufacturer|
|2012||Australian International Design Awards||Design Award||Stereo VideoMic Pro|
|2012||Chicago Athenaeum||Good Design||Stereo VideoMic Pro|
|2011||Australian International Design Awards||Good Design||VideoMic Pro|
|2011||Chicago Athenaeum||Good Design||VideoMic Pro|
|2009||Australian International Design Awards||Design Award||Blimp|
|2009||Red Dot||Product Design||Blimp|
|2009||Australian Music Association||Best Wholesaler Website|
|2009||Australian International Design Awards||Design Award||Blimp|
|2008||Horizon Interactive||Silver: Training & Education||RØDE University|
|2008||Horizon Interactive||Bronze: Consumer Information|
|2008||Horizon Interactive||Bronze: Company Identity|
|2008||Australian Music Association||Best Training & Retail Support||RØDE University|
|2007||Australian International Design Awards||Design Award||Podcaster|
|2004||TEC Foundation||Outstanding Technical Achievement||S1|
|2004||Australian Music Association||Australian Made|
|1999||Export Council of Australia||NSW Exporter of the Year|
|1999||Export Council of Australia||Small to Medium Innovative Manufacturer|
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- Marine, Joe (9 January 2013). "New iXY Microphone from RØDE is the World's First 24-Bit/96K Apple iOS Recorder". Retrieved 5 April 2013.
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