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Rode Broadcaster Review

Time to Go Pro

Christopher Coke | Posted: Sep 1, 2020 4:00 PM
Categorized under
Hardware Reviews | 0

The Rode Broadcaster is a professional grade microphone designed for, you guessed it, broadcast. There’s no shortage of “broadcast” aimed microphones today (so says the marketing), but the Broadcaster isn’t among the ranks of dime a dozen streaming mics. Even among other professional broadcast mics it stands apart. The Broadcaster is a condenser microphone when the most popular broadcast mics you’ve probably seen are dynamic. Why? Let’s take a closer look and find out and see if this mic earns its $419 asking price.

Specifications

  • Current Price: $419 (Adorama, B&H
  • Key Features
    • HF2 1” capsule with gold plated diaphragm
    • On-Air indicator LED
    • Ultra-low noise
    • Voice tailored low-cut feature
    • Internal pop-filter
    • 10 year extended warranty when you register your microphone
  • Active Electronics: JFET impedance converter with bipolar output buffer
  • Capsule: 1.00"
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Address Type: End
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Output Impedance: 40 Ohms
  • Maximum SPL : 128dBSPL
  • Maximum Output Level: 2.0mV (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load)
  • Sensitivity: -34.0dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (20.00mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz
  • Equivalent Noise Level (A-weighted):14dBA
  • Power Options: +24V phantom power, +48V phantom power
  • Weight: 577.00g
  • Dimensions: 167.00mmH x 50.00mmW x 65.00mmD
  • Output: XLR Output
  • Warranty: 1 year with free extension to 10 years following registration here

Rode Broadcaster Unboxed

There’s no mistaking it: from the first time you hold it in your hand, it’s obvious that this is a different caliber of microphone than what’s targeted at the gaming market. Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that most gamers considering this mic will probably fall into two camps: those who are actively producing content on a regular basis and those who aim to become or are already pros, whether that’s streamers, podcasters, YouTubers, or even radio hosts. Rode has positioned this mic ahead of those camps, competing directly with the likes of the Shure SM7B, Aston Stealth, and Electro-Voice RE20 — but that’s also what makes the Broadcaster stand out.

Unlike those mics, the Broadcaster isn’t a dynamic microphone. It’s a condenser, which means it’s going to offer a more natural sound to whatever it’s recording — presumably spoken word — due to its wider frequency response range. That also means it’s going to be a good fit if you record more than just your voice, which is why it’s a popular choice in professional radio and podcast studios. It also means that you won’t need a high powered interface to provide it with lots of gain like those dynamics. 

Rode Broadcaster Microphone for Streaming

In that way, you might say it’s more of a competitor to the likes of the Audio-Technica AT4040 or Blue Bluebird. Like these microphones, it’s what’s known as a “large diaphragm condenser,” which means the actual capsule is much larger than found on common streaming mics — a full one inch, in fact. The result is a more full-bodied and realistic sound. This is certainly true of all three of these mics, but to my ear, it’s clear that Rode has tuned the Broadcaster for the human voice and designed the mic for exactly that purpose. 

The first thing I noticed when recording with it for the first time was how bass rich it is. You don’t need to “eat” the mic to leverage the proximity effect. Even 3-4 inches away, my voice sounded more authoritative than it does on my Blue Yeti. In fact, it’s much closer to Rode’s own Procaster (reviewed here) than either of the condensers I mentioned above at the same distance.  At the same time, the Broadcaster lacks the compression “crunch” dynamic microphones apply due to their more limited frequency response.

Highpass Filter

The Broadcaster also has a handful of other neat features tailored to vocal recording, such as its voice-tuned highpass filter (sometimes referred to as a low-cut filter). Toggling this switch applies a filter that silences anything under 75Hz. The range below this point is low rumble, such as from an AC unit outside the window of where you’re recording or the drone of a highway. Unfortunately, PC fans usually don’t fall into this range, but watching a decibel meter does show several dB drop-off even from ambient room noise. The trade-off is that it can make your voice sound slightly thinner if you have deeper pitched pipes. 

The filter is a great inclusion, and it lives on the back of another neat feature: the On Air indicator. This is a pro-grade feature if ever there was one since you’ll need a studio console to use it. The indicator light is controlled by a special five-pin header most of us won’t have, but will turn red when the engineer sends you live to the airwaves. Without that connector, the light illuminates when the mic receives phantom power. The problem is that it makes it difficult to use the mic with a shock mount, and there were times the sound of moving my boom arm made its way onto my recording. 

The microphone features a built in pop-filter and it works quite well. Unlike the Aston Spirit I reviewed last year, I wasn’t able to make the Broadcaster cut out from too harsh a plosive. Like any microphone, though, it will distort if you “pop” too close to the element, so if you like to eat your mic, it’s a good idea to invest in a foam windscreen. Rode also threw in an adjustable mount that attaches to your boom arm that is made from a very solid plastic and holds its place well.

Sturdy Grille

Taking a step back to look at the microphone more broadly, I have to say that I am impressed with how robustly it’s built. I suppose I shouldn’t be — Rode microphones are some of the most heavy duty and made to last I’ve ever laid hands on. The Broadcaster has a solid metal body with a rigid metal grille to protect the capsule. The filter inside is also a metal weave, which prevents it from muffling the capsule. The mic has a good heft to it at 577 grams, but isn’t so heavy that it will make your mic stand sag.

Usage Impressions

As I mentioned above, the Broadcaster has a naturally more bassy character than most condenser mics. Even if you EQ something like the Elgato Wave 3, it takes some serious tweaks to get it to the Broadcaster’s range out of the box. It’s absolutely a sister mic to the Rode Procaster, but it’s more true-to-life sound gives it a more airy, realistic sound. It almost feels like a hybrid microphone, drawing on characteristics of both. 

At the same time, while the Procaster rejected most of the white noise in my room, like my window fan or my NovelKeys Silk switches, the Broadcaster picked up all of it. I had to tweak my noise gate and adjust my recording environment. When I did, though, I was surprised by just how quiet it was. The Broadcaster has  very low self-noise. If you invest time into silencing your recording space, it rewards that effort in spades. If you don’t, it highlights it as much as any condenser. 

XLR connection

That said, the off-axis rejection was impressively good. I believe this is due to its end address design (you talk into the end, not the face like many condensers), where its body can aid in blocking off-axis noise but I can’t say for certain. 

What’s clear is that Rode has invested heavily in making the Broadcaster a competitive choice for environments where it will be competing with heavy-hitter dynamics like the Shure SM7B. It’s not as insensitive as that microphone but nor would it feel, or sound, out of place right next to it. 

Have a listen for yourself in this audio review where I compare it to the Rode Procaster (comparison begins at 4:25):

Final Thoughts

The Rode Broadcaster is a great microphone that gives you a rich, broadcast worthy sound, excellent build quality, and a tremendous 10-year warranty after registering it. It’s a professional-grade tool and is priced accordingly, which is going to make it less accessible for many users. 

At $419, it’s a microphone that demands introspection. What do you want to accomplish? What tool is best going to suit your recording environment? If you can’t sound treat your room or completely quiet down your environment, a dynamic mic like the Procaster may be the better option. If clarity and realism is more important, the Broadcaster is going to accomplish that goal better.

Regardless of which camp you fall into, the Broadcaster is a very expensive microphone that needs to be viewed like an investment in your craft. This is a microphone made to follow you, whether that be on Twitch or talk radio, for years into the future. It clearly won’t be for everyone in the gaming space, but for the creators looking to make this their business, it can be an outstanding tool.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Outstanding body and detail in vocal capture
  • Very low self noise
  • Good built-in pop filter
  • Built-in highpass filter
  • Solid build, ready for daily studio use
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Requires a quiet environment or treated space
  • Incompatible with many shock mounts


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight