Rode has long been a trusted name in the audio industry. The company has recently launched a new sub-brand called Rode X, which is focused exclusively on gamers and streamers. As part of this new launch, Rode X has come out with two new microphones: the XCM-50 condenser microphone and the XDM-100 dynamic microphone. They also released a new companion software for these mics called UNIFY, giving them both a ton of control options that definitely help set them apart.
Most streamers will probably be content with the XCM-50. We certainly enjoyed it in our review, but some might prefer the more versatile qualities of a dynamic microphone. Rode X sent us an XDM-100 for a fair and unbiased review. Here’s what we found.
Zoom In: Specs
- Dynamic microphone
- Connectivity: USB Type-C
- Polar pattern: Cardioid
- Revolution Preamps
- Internal and external pop-filter
- Included 3.5mm headphone extension cable
- Included shock mount
- Internal Aphex voice processing
- UNIFY software
- Zero-latency headphone output
- level control and mute button
- Price: $249.00
Unboxing and Build Quality
Inside the box, you will find the microphone itself, an external pop-filter, a 3.5mm headphone extension cable, a shock mount, and a USB Type-C to Type-C cable. The shock mount is made of metal, and it’s heavier than you might expect. Meanwhile, the external pop-filter has a silicone cage around it that gives it a bit more structure while also maintaining flexibility.
The mic itself is heavy, and definitely feels like a piece of professional-grade equipment. It features a USB Type-C output on the bottom, a 3.5mm headphone pass-through jack, and a rubber level-control dial that also doubles as a mute button when depressed. It has a stylish mostly black design with a couple of red accents at the top of the grille and around the pass-through jack.
We at High Ground Gaming generally prefer condenser microphones for gaming and streaming, since they are more sensitive and generally preferable for normal speaking voices. There are a few advantages that less sensitive dynamic mics like the XDM-100 have, however. They are better at filtering out unwanted audio like keyboard typing and computer fans. They’re also better for a more dynamic range of audio, such music recording, stage use, or those times when streamers might like to get a little vocal during a tense Valorant match.
The basic audio is pretty good on the XDM-100. Users need to be sure to speak into the top of the microphone and keep it positioned fairly close to their face in order to get a good recording, but basic speaking voices are surprisingly warm, balanced, and full sounding. A good condenser mic might still be better for normal speaking, but this is a solid alternative with a much bigger range. It’s also worth noting that the internal pop-filter is just okay. Using the external one drastically diminishes the number of plosives.
The Rode X UNIFY software is one of the best pieces of mixing, processing, and recording software we’ve ever seen. Make no mistake: this isn’t just a nice add-on that throws in a couple of bonus features like most microphone control programs; it’s one of the main reasons to buy the microphone.
To start, it gives you access to nine (or more) channels that each have faders you can use to control your audio’s output levels. There are channels for the XDM-100, Game, Chat, System, Music, Browser, Virtual, and Audio Devices. Then there are different output mix sub-channels. Each of these separately controls audio levels for different outputs. There’s one for Stream, Headphone, Chat, Recording, and Monitor. This is especially convenient for those who might want their stream to hear one thing, while they want to hear something different in their headset.
Then there are the sounds. These are similar to the SMART Pads used on the RODECaster Pro 2. You can assign up to eight pages, each containing eight different sounds to buttons on the software. It comes with Airhorn, Record Scratch, Fireball, Meow, Surprise!, Ambulance, Rimshot, and Sad Trombone audio pre-programed into the software. These are a little gimmicky, but there’s no doubt that creators will have a lot of fun finding ways to integrate them into their streams.
The other great thing about the XDM-100 is that it has a DSP chip built into it for internal processing control. You can use the UNIFY software to control APHEX processing through this chip for ultra low-latency. This can control gain and a built-in 75Hz or 150Hz high-pass filter, as well as four other filters: Noise Gate, Compressor, Aural Exciter, and Big Bottom. Each of these filters come preset by Rode X to give the XDM-100 what the company considers its optimal settings, but those who are more comfortable with audio production can also click the “Advanced” tab at the bottom of the screen and adjust each of the filters’ settings manually.
The great thing about the way Rode set this up is that it makes it easy for users of all knowledge levels to control their audio in a manor that they are comfortable with.
Is the XDM-100 Worth the Money?
The XDM-100 MSRPs at $249.00. There aren’t a lot of good dynamic microphones out there, but the Shure MV7 seems like a close competitor, as it’s also a dynamic mic from a company with a reputation for podcast-quality sound. The benefit of the MV7 is that it has both USB and XLR outputs, allowing users to upgrade to an XLR interface somewhere down the line. The XDM-100 cannot do this, but its advantage is that it also includes the UNIFY software which gives users a ton of mixing and processing control right out of the box.
Both options are quite expensive for most streamers. Those who won’t take advantage of the dynamic range of either microphone would be better off with a cheaper condenser mic. That said, the XDM-100 is a quality piece of equipment, making it a great option for streamers who like things to get a little loud and who want to get the most out of the UNIFY software.
Zoom Out: Verdict
The Rode X XCM-100 is a well-built dynamic microphone with a warm sound. It has tons of customization options through the UNIFY software and APHEX processing. It’s quite expensive and most gamers and streamers will probably be better off with a more affordable condenser mic, but those who will make use of its dynamic qualities will find it to be an excellent product.
- Audio mixing through UNIFY software
- APHEX processing
- Attractive, professional-grade build quality
- More expensive than most USB microphones
- No XLR output
- Dynamic microphone isn’t necessary for most streamers