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|Industry||Consumer and professional audio equipment|
|Founded||1967 (as Freedman Electronics)|
|Founders||Henry Freedman, Peter Freedman|
|Peter Freedman AM (Chairman), Damien Wilson (Chief Executive Officer)|
Number of employees
Røde Microphones, LLC // (stylised RØDE) is an Australian-based designer and manufacturer of microphones, related accessories and audio software. Its products are used in studio and location sound recording along with live sound reinforcement.
Parent company to Røde Microphones, Freedman Electronics, was set up by husband and wife Henry and Astrid Freedman. Originally from London, Henry Freedman relocated to Stockholm and started a family. Working as a chief engineer for a telecommunications company, Freedman 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 there in 1966 with his family, including his son, Peter.
Setting up a shop in the suburb of Ashfield in Sydney, Freedman Electronics was one of the first companies in the city to design, manufacture, install and service a diverse range of audio products, including loudspeakers, amplifiers and microphones.
Henry died in 1987, and his son Peter took over the family business. In the next few years, he 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 Røde
With a grim outlook for Freedman Electronics, Peter was desperate for a solution to the company's financial situation and while pursuing other ventures he recalled a microphone he had found almost 10 years previously at a trade show in Shanghai, China in 1981. After gauging local market interest he imported 20 of them.
Sales of the modified microphone began to take off in Sydney, which (in the Australian vernacular) was likened to taking off like "a rat up a drain pipe". This gave rise to the unofficial title the "Rodent-1", which was later changed to the Røde NT-1. Peter Freedman added the 'ø' character as a salute to his Scandinavian heritage and to give the brand a European flavour. The character is in use in the Danish and Norwegian alphabet, but not used in modern Swedish. In Swedish the same sound is represented by the letter 'ö'. In Danish and Norwegian "røde" is the plural or definite of "rød" which means "red". The same applies to Swedish but with the spelling changed to ”röd”.
Following the microphone's early popularity, the company decided that it would be a wise investment to move more of the manufacturing to Australia in order to 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 with the company's new NT-2 microphone, which was built using mostly Australian components. After speaking with 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 NT-1 and NT-2. “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 Freedman Electronics later acquired in 2006. Event would remain the USA distributor until Røde established its own offices there in 2001. The rest of the 1990s saw Røde continue its investments in vertically integrated manufacturing, bringing more of the production processes in-house. It also added the Valve Classic and NTV microphones to its range.
Entering the broadcast market
Much like the home recording revolution of the 1990s that gave Røde 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 Røde released the VideoMic on-camera microphone. Since this time, Røde has developed a 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, Freedman Electronics purchased loudspeaker manufacturer Event Electronics, a company that had been instrumental in establishing Røde's US distribution channel in the early 1990s.
In March 2012, Røde 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 Ian Murray AM, director of the Australian Institute for Export. In his speech, Murray praised Røde for its approach to keeping resources in-house and successfully leveraging investments in Australian manufacturing.
In December 2016, SoundField Limited was acquired by Freedman Electronics. SoundField was the first company to commercialise 360-degree surround (with-height ) in the late 1970s. Today, the main applications for SoundField Microphones is in 5.1 and 7.1 live sports broadcast, video game and film sound design, and virtual reality.
Røde Microphones is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, one of seven offices worldwide, including the USA (Los Angeles and New York), the UK, Korea, and China (Shenzhen and Hong Kong).
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, Røde has been able to leverage its internal production facilities for R&D, allowing it to venture into other product areas.  Røde's manufacturing success has been acknowledged by the Australian government on two occasions, winning awards for manufacturing innovation in 2012 and 1999.
Røde has a strong focus on marketing and communications. Examples of this include the VideoMic range of products, and the Soundbooth demonstration application for web browser and iPad.
In 2008, Røde launched a series of educational videos that demonstrated how to achieve the best results using its microphones to record a band. Titled ‘Røde University’, the series comprised 28 individual episodes, the majority of which focused on a particular instrument (vocals, bass, drums, guitar) with a particular Røde microphone. It was hosted by audio educator Peter Moses, and featured Sydney band Hell City Glamours.
A second series was released in 2010, this time focusing 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.
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’) focuses on location and field recording for film, television and broadcast production. Soundbooth Studio was recorded by engineer John Merchant, at Red Door Studio, Nashville, The Steinway Gallery, Nashville and Middle Tennessee State University. It comprises close to 400 individual tracks.
Partnership with Rycote
Røde announced a strategic alliance in early 2013 with UK microphone accessory manufacturer Rycote, that would allow its microphones 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
Røde 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 Røde'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, and NT2 microphones from production. The Classic II microphone was announced as ceasing production in October 2011.
Small-diaphragm condenser microphones
Røde 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.
Røde 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, Røde 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 Røde studio microphones.
Røde produces 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 Røde". The M1 is also available with a lockable switch (M1-S). It features a high-output dynamic capsule and on-board headphone monitoring. The Podcaster was awarded an Australian International Design Award in 2007. The Podcaster and NT-USB microphones are Røde's only microphone with USB output. 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 release its first shotgun microphone in 2005 with the NTG1 and NTG2. 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.
In 2012, Røde announced the NTG8, a long shotgun version of the NTG3.
The first VideoMic was released by Røde 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, Røde 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, Røde released theStereo VideoMic Pro. It received a Design Award from the Australian International Design Awards program.
Mobile, Smartphone, and tablet microphones
At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Røde 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. With the Røde Rec app the microphone is capable of recording at resolution of up to 24-bit/ 96 kHz, which at its launch was 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, Røde announced the smartLav lavalier microphone for smartphones and mobile devices. With a TRRS output connection, the smartLav connects to Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.
Compact wearable microphones
Røde produces a range of compact condenser microphones. The HS1 headset microphone was released in 2010. In addition to its standard Lavalier microphone, Røde also produces the PinMic lavalier, which 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.
Some of Røde's compact wearable microphones use the company's proprietary MiCon connection system, which allows for the connection of a range of different output adaptors. Røde currently offers nine MiCon adaptors making the microphones compatible 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, Røde designed a microphone system for sound engineer Bruce Jackson 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), the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in London, and at the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio in 2016.
Custom microphone for Barbra Streisand
Following the success of the Podium Mic project in 2006, Bruce Jackson again approached Røde to create a custom microphone that would be used by singer Barbra Streisand on the European leg of her Streisand tour. Røde successfully modified its S1 microphone capsule to meet Jackson's needs for the tour.
Chrome M1 microphone
Røde has produced a very limited number of chrome plated M1 microphones, for use by Røde endorsees. The microphones were originally created at the request of Pelle Almqvist of The Hives to match their on-stage attire.
Røde produces over 80 different microphone accessories, including the Blimp microphone suspension system in addition to other wind shields, shock mounts, stand mounts, cases, and stands.
Røde began producing software in 2013, releasing the Røde Rec (and free Røde 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.
Røde offers a free extended warranty on most of its products, available via registration of purchase on its website.
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