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Røde Microphones

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RØDE Microphones
FormerlyFreedman Electronics (1967–1990)
Company typePrivate
IndustryConsumer and professional audio equipment
Founded1967; 57 years ago (1967)
Founders
  • Henry Freedman
  • Peter Freedman
Headquarters,
Area served
Global
Key people
  • Peter Freedman AM (Chairman)
  • Damien Wilson (CEO)
ProductsMicrophones, audio mixers
Number of employees
600+ [1]
Websiterode.com

Røde Microphones (/ˈroʊd/; stylized RØDE) is an Australian-based audio technology company specializing in the design and manufacture of microphones, headphones, audio interfaces, and audio software. The company's product range focuses on applications such as music recording, location sound recordings, broadcast and podcasting, filmmaking, and content creation, for the consumer, producer, and professional markets.[2]

RØDE serves as the flagship brand of the Freedman Group, which was established in 1967 as Freedman Electronics. Over the years, the Freedman Group has expanded through the acquisition of several audio companies, including SoundField, APHEX, Event Electronics, and Mackie. The company is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, and maintains a global presence with offices in key regions, including the United States and China. RØDE exports its products to 119 countries worldwide.[3]

History[edit]

Freedman Electronics[edit]

Freedman Electronics was founded in 1967 by the husband-and-wife team of Henry and Astrid Freedman.[4] Originally hailing from London, Henry Freedman moved to Stockholm, where he and his wife started a family. While working as a chief engineer for a telecommunications company, Freedman provided after-hours servicing and modifications for a local agent representing the German pro-audio manufacturer Dynacord.[5] Eventually, he was granted the distribution rights in Australia to sell the brand, which led to them emigrating to Australia in 1966 with their family, which included their son, Peter.[6][7]

Establishing a shop in the suburb of Ashfield near Sydney, Freedman Electronics became one of the earliest companies in the city to design, manufacture, install, and service audio products, such as loudspeakers, amplifiers, and microphones.[8]

Peter Freedman took control of the business after Henry passed away in 1987. Peter made substantial investments in expanding Freedman Electronics sound installation services. However, his limited business experience, coupled with the challenging economic conditions of the late 1980s, nearly pushed the company to bankruptcy and left Peter burdened with significant financial debt.[9]

Origins of RØDE[edit]

As the 1990s dawned, Freedman Electronics faced financial challenges that prompted Peter Freedman to seek a solution. While exploring other ventures, he recalled a large-diaphragm condenser microphone he had encountered a decade earlier at a trade show in China. After assessing local market interest, he imported 20 of these microphones.[6] [7]

The modified microphone achieved immediate success. This acclaim led to the informal nickname 'RODENT-1' for the microphone, which was later rebranded as the RØDE NT1, thereby establishing the RØDE Microphones brand. The addition of the 'Ø' character paid homage to the Freedman family's Scandinavian heritage and imparted a European flair to the brand.[5]

Studio microphone range expansion[edit]

In 1992, RØDE introduced the NT2 large-diaphragm condenser microphone following the release of the NT1. Due to the growing market for affordable microphones suitable for home recording, the NT2 gained attention. The company expanded its distribution network and invested in its manufacturing capabilities in Australia by implementing a vertically integrated manufacturing model.[10]

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, RØDE experienced rapid expansion and introduced a range of studio condenser microphones, including the Classic, NTV, NT3, NT4, NT5, and Broadcaster. They also released a redesigned version of the NT1 during this period. Additionally, the NT5 is particularly well-suited for recording drum sets.[11]

On-camera microphone[edit]

Rode VideoMic Pro

In 2004, RØDE introduced the world's first compact on-camera microphone, the VideoMic, to its product lineup. This innovation gained popularity among indie filmmakers and the emerging vlogging and YouTube filmmaker communities. Subsequently, the company expanded its VideoMic series in the late 2000s and 2010s, introducing models such as the VideoMic Pro, VideoMicro, and VideoMic NTG, along with stereo variants like the Stereo VideoMic Pro and Stereo VideoMic X, which received the Red Dot Design Award in 2014.[12] [13]

In 2019, RØDE achieved further success in the on-camera microphone market with the launch of the Wireless GO compact wireless microphone system. Building upon technology initially introduced in the mid-2000s with the RØDELink range of wireless microphones, the Wireless GO received positive reviews. Its compact size and form factor, featuring a built-in microphone within the transmitter pack, enabled entirely wireless operation.[14]

Podcasting[edit]

In 2007, in response to the growing podcasting industry, RØDE introduced its first dedicated podcasting product, the Podcaster—a dynamic USB microphone. RØDE's commitment to podcasting extends to other products, such as the NT-USB and Procaster microphones, which have become popular choices among podcasters.[15]

In 2018, RØDE unveiled the RØDECaster Pro, an 'integrated podcast production studio.' This versatile system incorporates several components commonly found in professional broadcast studios, including a mixer with microphone inputs and headphone outputs, sound pads, and channels designed for seamless integration with remote callers.[16]

Headphones[edit]

RØDE entered the headphone market in early 2022 with the release of the NTH-100.[17] It received mostly positive reviews from both professionals and audiophiles, but some reviewers preferred more "correct" sounding headphones.[18]

Acquisitions and partnerships[edit]

Event Electronics[edit]

In 2006, Freedman Electronics purchased loudspeaker manufacturer Event Electronics,[19] a company that had been instrumental in establishing RØDE's US distribution channel in the early 1990s.[10]

Aphex[edit]

Aphex Systems was acquired by Freedman Electronics in 2015.[20] The APHEX Aural Exciter and Big Bottom audio processors were later integrated into the RØDECaster Pro podcast production studio and RØDE Connect software.

Soundfield[edit]

SoundField Limited was acquired by Freedman Electronics in 2016. SoundField was the pioneering company that first commercialized 360-degree surround sound recording (known as 'ambisonic recording') in the late 1970s. SoundField microphones find primary applications in 5.1 and 7.1 live sports broadcasts, video game and film sound design, as well as virtual reality.

Mackie[edit]

In 2023, RØDE acquired the American professional audio company Mackie.[21] Founded in Washington by Greg Mackie in 1988, Mackie is a manufacturer of affordable compact pro audio mixers, speakers, and other audio products. The acquisition expanded the product offering of the Freedman Group significantly, with the brands under the group umbrella offering audio solutions ranging from microphones and mixers to loudspeakers and audio software.[22]

Organisation[edit]

Offices[edit]

RØDE is headquartered in Silverwater, Sydney, Australia, where it operates a 110,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. The company also operates a second manufacturing and logistics facility in Pemulwuy, Sydney.[23]

The company established offices in the United States in 2001. Besides Australia, the US is the only country where RØDE does not rely on a distributor. RØDE has a total of seven offices worldwide, including the United States (located in Los Angeles and New York), the UK, South Korea, China, and Hong Kong. Currently, the company employs over 600 staff globally.[24] [25]

Executive management[edit]

RØDE was founded by Peter Freedman, who currently serves as Chairman of the Freedman Group.[26]

Damien Wilson was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Freedman Group in December 2016. He joined RØDE in 2007 and served as Sales and Marketing Director for several years before becoming CEO.[27]

In 2021, Australian politician and diplomat Joe Hockey became the first member appointed to the Freedman Group Board of Directors.[28]

Manufacturing and research & development[edit]

RØDE products are meticulously designed and manufactured in Australia. Since the early 1990s, the company has embraced a vertically integrated manufacturing model and invested in cutting-edge machinery, robotic automation, and advanced manufacturing technology. These have enabled the majority of production processes to be brought in-house, encompassing metal fabrication, capsule production, plastic injection moulding, and circuit board printing using surface mount technology. This model offers dual benefits: reducing reliance on overseas suppliers for production and enhancing research and development capabilities, as well as speed-to-market efficiency.[29]

RØDE's primary manufacturing facility is situated at the company's headquarters in Silverwater, Sydney. It comprises three warehouses spanning over 110,000 square feet and houses machinery valued at over $100 million. Additional production and logistics operations are located in Pemulwuy, Sydney, as well as in the US, Europe, and Asia.[30]

The company has received numerous accolades for its manufacturing and innovation, including the Australian Export Awards in 1999 and 2013.[31]

Marketing[edit]

In 2008, RØDE launched a series of educational videos on YouTube called 'RØDE University' that demonstrated how to achieve the best results using its microphones to record music performances. It was one of the earliest series of its kind from an audio technology brand. A second series was released in 2010, this time focusing on audio techniques and theory for broadcast, film and TV. It starred professional sound designer and author Ric Viers. These videos were also released on DVD.[32]

In 2011, RØDE launched the ‘Interview with a Legend’ series, which featured filmed interviews with key figures in the audio industry, including Les Paul, Al Schmitt and Alan Parsons. These videos were published on an online video portal called RØDE TV.[33][34]

RØDE launched a campaign in August 2009, which offered customers the chance to buy a M1 microphone for AU$1 with the purchase of another microphone.[35]

In 2014, RØDE launched the My RØDE Reel short film competition, which invites filmmakers to submit a film to win prizes, including audio equipment, funds, and scholarships. They have partnered with brands including Adobe, Panasonic, and Blackmagic Design. In 2020, the company made headlines when it awarded US$1 million to the winners of My RØDE Reel.[36]

In 2019, RØDE launched the My RØDE Cast podcasting competition, modelled off My RØDE Reel.[37]

RØDE has launched several interactive media campaigns, including the RØDE Soundbooth, an application that allows users to hear real-life recordings of the company's microphones in different recording scenarios, and the RØDE Ambisonic Library,[38] a website of free ambisonic audio recordings that can be downloaded for use with the ‘Soundfield by RØDE’ software.

Customer service[edit]

RØDE offers a free extended warranty on most of its products and worldwide technical support.

Products[edit]

RØDE manufactures products across several audio categories,[39] including but not limited to studio recording microphones, filmmaking microphones, professional headphones and podcasting equipment.

Studio condenser microphones[edit]

RØDE first made an impact with its large-diaphragm studio condenser microphones in the 1990s.[10] Developments in audio technology around this time, including the introduction of digital recording techniques, contributed to the growth of home recording practices. This created a sharp increase in demand for affordable studio condenser microphones. RØDE filled this gap in the market with the NT1 and NT2 microphones, which have since become popular microphones for studio recording.[40]

Since then, RØDE has released several large-diaphragm condenser microphones including the Classic, Classic II, NTV, NTK and K2 valve microphones, the NT1-A and NT2-A, which are designed versions of the original models, and a redesigned version of the NT1. According to RØDE, the NT1-A is one of the world's quietest studio microphones with a published self-noise of 5dBA.[41]

The company first introduced small-diaphragm condenser microphones into its product range in 2000 with the NT3. It was followed closely by the NT4 stereo microphone and the NT5 'pencil' condenser microphone. The company later added the NT55, NT6, M3, M5, and TF-5 – a collaboration with GRAMMY-award-winning audio engineer Tony Faulkner – microphones to its range.

RØDE released its first ribbon microphone, the NTR, in 2015. It was awarded the Red Dot 'Best of the Best' Award for Product Design that year.[42]

Dynamic and live performance microphones[edit]

RØDE produces several dynamic microphones for studio, broadcast and live performance use. The company introduced its first dynamic microphone in 2007 with the Podcaster – a broadcast USB microphone. This was followed by an XLR variant named the Procaster and later the PodMic. RØDE's dynamic broadcast microphones have become widely used in podcasting, voice-over and radio production.[43]

The company released its first dynamic live performance microphone, the M1, in 2008—promoted through the '$1 Mic campaign and supported by a lifetime warranty.[44] RØDE also released the MI-S, which features a locking switch.

USB microphones[edit]

RØDE released its first USB microphone, the Podcaster, in 2007 to cater to the growing podcasting market. This was amongst the first products of its kind to utilise an in-built analog-to-digital converter and USB connection, allowing users to plug the microphone directly into a computer without the need for an external audio interface. The Podcaster was awarded an Australian International Design Award in 2007.[45]

RØDE later added several USB microphones to its range, including the NT-USB and NT-USB Mini. RØDE has also integrated a secondary USB audio output into several of its products, including the VideoMic NTG and Wireless GO II.

Shotgun microphones[edit]

RØDE released its first shotgun microphones in 2005 with the NTG1 and NTG2. The range was later expanded with the NTG3, the NTG4 and NTG4+, NTG5 and NTG8.

RØDE shotgun microphones are known for their in-built batteries, digital switches, and RF-bias technology, which significantly improves moisture resistance.[46] The NTG5 was the first microphone on the market to utilise circular acoustic perforations on the microphone body in place of the linear slots typically found on shotgun microphones.[47]

VideoMic range[edit]

RØDE developed the first compact on-camera shotgun microphone,[citation needed] the VideoMic, in 2004. This was followed by the Stereo VideoMic in 2008 and VideoMic Pro in 2010. Originally intended for use with camcorders and other home movie devices, the VideoMic range became increasingly popular in the late 2000s with the introduction of consumer DSLR cameras that could record high-resolution video, such as the Canon 5D Mark II, and the growing indie filmmaker and vlogging market.[10]

The RØDE VideoMic range has since become known for on-camera microphones.[48] The product line has expanded to include models for use with mobile devices (the VideoMic Me series), compact models (the VideoMicro and VideoMic GO), and stereo models including the Stereo VideoMic X, which won both an Australian Good Design Award[49] and Red Dot Design Award in 2014.[50] Several variations of the original VideoMic with updated designs and innovative features have been added to the range, including the VideoMic Pro+ and VideoMic NTG, which was voted ‘Best Microphone of 2020’ by VideoMaker.

Headphones and headsets[edit]

The NTH-100, a closed-back professional over-ear headphone competing mainly against the AKG K371 and Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro,[51] was released on March 29, 2022. In February 2023, RØDE released the NTH-100M,[52] a headset which combined the existing NTH-100 headphones with a new NTH-Mic microphone. It was targeted at podcasters and gamers. The NTH-Mic was designed with the NTH-100 in mind but it can potentially be used with other headphones or on its own, as it uses a standard 3.5 mm TRRS phone connector.

Podcasting equipment[edit]

The company manufactures a range of dedicated podcasting microphones, including the Podcaster, Procaster and PodMic. RØDE’s NT-USB, NT-USB Mini, NT1-A and Broadcaster microphones are also widely used for podcasting.

Mobile recording[edit]

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. With the RØDE Rec app, the microphone is capable of recording at a 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 Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.

Since then, RØDE has added several products for mobile devices to its range, including the iXLR interface for plugging professional microphones into iPhone and iPad, the VideoMic Me series of compact shotgun microphones for Apple and Android devices, and the SC6-L Mobile Interview Kit.

Ambisonic microphones[edit]

Following the acquisition of SoundField in 2016, RØDE released its first ambisonic microphone in 2018, the 'SoundField by RØDE' NT-SF1. It was awarded 'Best Microphone of 2020' by Sound on Sound.[53]

Custom microphones[edit]

In 2006, RØDE designed a microphone system for sound engineer Bruce Jackson. 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 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio.

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 modified its S1 microphone capsule to meet Jackson's needs for the tour.[54]

RØDE has produced a very limited number of chrome-plated M1 microphones, for use by RØDE endorsees. The microphones were created at the request of Pelle Almqvist of The Hives to match their on-stage attire.[55]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Koziol, Michael (14 October 2014). "RODE microphones: the world hears them now". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  3. ^ "RØDE Microphones - About us". RØDE Microphones. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  4. ^ "Putting it all on the line". Business Research and Insights. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  5. ^ a b Schoepe, Zenon (March 2011), "Meet your Maker – Rode Microphones", Resolution, pp. 56–61
  6. ^ a b Holder, Christopher (2004), "The Name behind the Name" (PDF), AudioTechnology, pp. 56–61
  7. ^ a b White, Paul (August 2005), "The Wizard of Oz", Sound on Sound
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  51. ^ "RODE NTH-100 Review and Measurements". Headphones.com. 22 April 2022. Retrieved 4 September 2023.
  52. ^ Chan, William. "NTH-100M | Professional Over-ear Headset | RØDE". rode.com. Retrieved 4 September 2023.
  53. ^ "SOS Awards 2020: All Winners". www.soundonsound.com. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  54. ^ 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.
  55. ^ Emerton, Scott (4 August 2011). "The Hives rock custom chrome M1 mics during recent tour". Røde Microphones. Retrieved 5 April 2013.

External links[edit]