Røde Microphones

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RØDE Microphones LLC
Private
IndustryConsumer and professional audio equipment
Founded1967 (as Freedman Electronics)
FoundersHenry Freedman, Peter Freedman
HeadquartersSilverwater, NSW, Australia, ,
Area served
Global
Key people
Peter Freedman AM (Chairman), Damien Wilson (Chief Executive Officer)
ProductsMicrophones
Number of employees
350 (approx)
Websitewww.rode.com

RØDE Microphones LLC /ˈrd/ 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.

History[edit]

Freedman Electronics[edit]

Henry Freedman, founder of Freedman Electronics, in his electronics workshop

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.[1] In time Henry was offered the Australian distribution rights to sell the brand,[2] and as a result migrated there in 1966 with his family, including son Peter.[3]

Setting up a shop 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.[4]

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.[5]

Origins of RØDE[edit]

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.[2] After gauging local market interest he imported 20 of them.[3]

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 lend to the unofficial title the ‘Rodent-1’, which was later broken up to become the RØDE NT-1. Peter Freedman dropped in 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 Norwegian and Danish alphabet, but not used in modern Swedish.[6] In Danish and Norwegian "røde" is the plural of "rød" which means "red".[7]

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.[1]

Entering the export market[edit]

The RØDE Microphones booth at Winter NAMM trade show, 1993

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.[2] 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…”[2]

US operations[edit]

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 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 as it added the valve Classic and NTV microphones to its line-up.

Entering the broadcast market[edit]

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 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.

Event Electronics[edit]

In 2006 Røde's parent company, Freedman Electronics, purchased loudspeaker manufacturer Event Electronics,[8] a company that had been instrumental in establishing Røde's US distribution channel in the early 1990s.

Rødeworks[edit]

Ian Murray AM (left) officially opens the RØDEWORKS studio with Peter Freedman (right)

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 significant investments in Australian manufacturing.[9]

Aphex[edit]

Aphex Systems was acquired in mid-2015 by Freedman Electronics,[10] parent company of Røde Microphones.

Soundfield[edit]

SoundField Limited was acquired by Freedman Electronics, in December 2016. 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 in Virtual Reality applications.

Organization[edit]

Offices[edit]

Rode Microphones' factory and corporate headquarters in Sydney, Australia

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).[11]

Manufacturing[edit]

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.[6] 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. [1] Røde's manufacturing success has been acknowledged by the Australian government on two occasions, winning awards for manufacturing innovation in 2012[12] and 1999.[13]

Marketing[edit]

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.

Røde University[edit]

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.

Røde followed up with a second series 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,[14] via a native app for Apple iOS devices, or on DVD from Røde's merchandise store.

Soundbooth[edit]

Recording Soundbooth Broadcast, using 15 different microphones simultaneously

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.[15]

Strategic alliance with Rycote[edit]

Røde announced a strategic alliance in early 2013 with UK microphone accessory manufacturer Rycote, that would allow Røde to utilise Rycote's patented Lyre shock mounting system in future microphone and accessory products.[16] 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.

Products[edit]

Large-diaphragm condenser microphones[edit]

The Classic II limited edition large diaphragm valve condenser microphone

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.[17] 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.[18]

Small-diaphragm condenser microphones[edit]

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.

Dynamic microphones[edit]

The Røde Podcaster USB dynamic microphone

Røde 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 Røde".[19] 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, recognising the product as an example of good design.[20] 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.[21]

Shotgun microphones[edit]

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.

VideoMic range[edit]

The Rode VideoMic with integrated Rycote suspension (shown atop a Canon EOS DSLR camera)

The original 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 the Stereo VideoMic Pro was released, providing a stereo option for DSLR filmmakers. It was recognized with a Design Award from the Australian International Design Awards program.[22]

With the announcement of Røde and Rycote’s strategic alliance the company revised the original VideoMic to incorporate the Rycote Lyre one-piece shock mount.

Mobile, Smartphone, and tablet microphones[edit]

At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas 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. Using the Røde 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.[23] The iXY was recognised as a product of high quality design in 2013 with a Red Dot award.[24] 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 based smartphones and tablets.

Compact wearable microphones[edit]

Røde 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, Røde 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. Røde supply an unpainted capsule head mesh with the PinMic (in addition to selling separately) for the user to paint or camouflage as required. Røde'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. 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.

Custom microphones[edit]

Podium mic[edit]

In 2006 Røde 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), the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in London, and at the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio in 2016. Røde'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 Røde 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[edit]

Following the success of the Podium Mic project in 2006, Bruce Jackson again approached Røde 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. Jackson saw room for improvement with the microphone used during the North American phase of the tour and approached Røde's engineering team with the brief to provide a smoother high frequency response, in addition to a tailored polar response with greater side rejection. Røde successfully modified its S1 microphone capsule to meet Jackson's needs for the tour.[25]

Chrome M1 microphone[edit]

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.[26]

Microphone accessories[edit]

Røde offers over 60 different microphone accessories, including the Røde Blimp microphone suspension system in addition to other wind shields, shock mounts, stand mounts, cases, and stands.

a 'dead cat' Røde Blimp and a 'dead kitten' Røde X/Y Stereo mic for DSLR cameras

Software[edit]

Røde entered the software market 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.

Warranty[edit]

Røde 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 Røde'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.”[27] “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”[2] 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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Schoepe, Zenon (March 2011), "Meet your Maker – Rode Microphones", Resolution, pp. 56–61
  2. ^ a b c d e Holder, Christopher (2004), "The Name behind the Name" (PDF), AudioTechnology, pp. 56–61
  3. ^ a b White, Paul (August 2005), "The Wizard of Oz", Sound on Sound
  4. ^ "Peter Freedman AM, Founder & CEO of RØDE Microphones". The Modern Vocalist World (Podcast). 27 October 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  5. ^ Grafton, Julius (July 2005), "Peter's Long and Winding Rode", CX Magazine, pp. 16–24
  6. ^ a b Leung, Isaac (February 2013), "The Sound of Success", Electronics News, pp. 12–16, archived from the original on 4 April 2013
  7. ^ Google translate: "Translation of 'røde' from norwegian". Retrieved on 22 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Rode Microphones buys Event Electronics". Broadcast Engineering. 9 June 2006. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  9. ^ Simmons, Christopher (30 March 2012). "RODE Celebrates RODEWORKS Design Studio Opening in Sydney". Broadcast Engineering. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  10. ^ "RØDE Microphones Acquires Legendary Audio Innovator Aphex". 24 July 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  11. ^ "The RODE Microphones Story". RODE Microphones. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Premier announces Export Award Winners" (PDF) (Press release). The Hon Barry O’Farrell MP Premier of NSW. 11 October 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  13. ^ Mcleay, John (14 September 1998). "Exporting Proves a Very Sound Decision". The Australian.
  14. ^ "RODE University". YouTube. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  15. ^ Emerton, Scott (1 November 2011). "Click, Listen, Demo, In the new RODE Soundbooth". RODE Microphones.
  16. ^ "Røde Announces RYCOTE Collaboration, Releases New Videomic". MovieScope Magazine. 1 February 2013. Archived from the original on 5 April 2013.
  17. ^ Müller, Sacha (20 January 2013). "sE X1 vs Rode NT1-A". Recording Hacks. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  18. ^ Shipps, Erin (10 October 2011). "Rode Classic II Limited Edition". Radio Magazine. New Bay Media. Archived from the original on 16 May 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  19. ^ "RODE M1". RODE Microphones. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  20. ^ "Australian International Design Awards – The Røde Podcaster". Good Design Australia. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  21. ^ "Announcing the Reporter Interview Microphone". RODE Microphones. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  22. ^ "Australian International Design Awards – The Røde Stereo VideoMic Pro". Good Design Australia. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Slater, Harry. "Røde iPad microphone wins prestigious design award". PADvance. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  25. ^ Wilson, Damien (27 July 2007). "Røde to the Rescue: Custom Røde microphone on tour with Barbra Streisand" (PDF). Røde Microphones. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  26. ^ Emerton, Scott (4 August 2011). "The Hives rock custom chrome M1 mics during recent tour". Røde Microphones. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  27. ^ "Peter Freedman AM, Founder & CEO of Røde Microphones". The Modern Vocalist World (Podcast). 27 October 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2013.

External links[edit]