Rode XDM-100 Dynamic USB Microphone Review

If you’ve ever looked up mics, you know Rode – the Aussie company that makes some of the best consumer mics. They’ve now got into the gaming world with the launch of Rode X and the XDM-100 Dynamic USB Mic is their top product for gamers and streamers.

The $350 XDM-100 looks really cool, made of a solid black metal cylinder with red highlights, and I’m loving how flashy it is. Inside is a premium dynamic capsule usually found in XLR mics, designed to give you a rich, creamy sound, while being less susceptible to background noise like keyboard and mouse clicks.

But, I found that it was just as sensitive to background noise as any of my condenser mics; i could still hear my keyboard clacking away beneath and behind the mic. The XDM-100 is like other condenser mics with a cardioid pickup pattern, but you need to get it close to your mouth – between 2 and 6 inches – to get the best sound.

You’ll need a boom arm like Rode’s PSA1+ to make that happen, because the XMD-100 doesn’t come with a desk stand. But it does come with a shock mount and threading that will work with any good arm. Just bear in mind the 700g heaviness of the mic. Plus, Rode also throws in a pro pop shield to protect against plosives and heavy breathing that the mic can pick up if it’s that close to your mouth.

The XDM-100 has one dial on the back for controlling headphone volume. The headphone jack is just below it, which isn’t ideal ’cause it can get messy with cables all around. The only other port is the USB Type-C at the bottom – Rode includes a 3 meter USB-C to C cable in the box, but if you’re using a Windows laptop or PC without a USB C port, you’ll need to buy a USB C to A cable.

The XDM-100 sounds awesome – not that it would be hard to find a bad sounding mic at this price point. It’s got an ultra-low noise, high gain Revolution Preamp and 24-bit/ 48kHz conversion thanks to a built in Digital Signal Processing. This sounds fine by itself as you can hear from the samples below but it really comes alive when paired with Rode’s UNIFY mixer software.

Rode X XDM-100 Mic test without UNIFY
Rode X XDM-100 Mic test through UNIFY

As you can see, there’s a massive difference in audio punch and vibrance. Forgive my voice somewhat wafting in and out – that’s just me failing to understand how to use the noise gate properly. You are likely far more intelligent than I am so you’ll get the XDM-100 sounding pro in short order. UNIFY will work with any USB or XLR microphone but there are some special features like the APHEX Aural Exciter for brighter sound and Big Bottom (try not to laugh) for extra depth that are only available to the XDM-100. Advanced users can also go deeper to fine tune things like harmonics, attack and tune in real-time thanks to that onboard DSP.

UNIFY allows you to manage up to multiple microphones and output devices and route audio through them. Additionally, UNIFY allows you to record multitrack mixes of all your channels which is great for later editing. Unfortunately, it’s not that intuitive; at least not for this fuddy duddy. It took a fair amount of YouTube videos to even begin to make sense of things but I still ended up with something broken; like Spotify audio not working.

The specific Rode mic features are strangely hidden and I would have missed them if not for the aforementioned YouTube vids. I mean, just changing the gain on the mic is buried a few clicks deep. I assume Rode expects you to do these things very rarely and that’s why they aren’t front and center but damn. UNIFY is certainly powerful in the right hands but the learning curve is quite steep and pretty unwelcoming to noobs.

Verdict

After using the Rode X XDM-100 for a few weeks, I’m pretty impressed with its design and sound quality. And if you are a streamer, the Rode UNIFY software takes it to another level with some great granular controls over the voice output. It effectively brings the goodness of an XLR microphone in a handy USB package. But is it worth the premium compared to the plethora of USB mics like the MSI Immerse GV60 or the Thronmax Drill One Pro that cost half as much? I don’t think so.

Especially since the XDM-100 relies a lot on the UNIFY software which also isn’t the most intuitive thing in the world. Yes, it’s a great sounding mic but so are so many others. As a total package, the XDM-100 offers a lot to streamers and podcasters but with so many cheaper yet equally great plug-n-play USB mics out there, it doesn’t do enough for the price. I say get it but only on a deep discount.

Rode XDM-100 Dynamic USB Microphone Review
LIKES
Gorgeous design and solid build
Can achieve excellent audio quality
Comes with shock mount and pop shield
USB-C connection
DISLIKES
Very pricey for a USB mic
Too dependent on UNIFY for best sound
UNIFY isn't the easiest thing to learn
4
Kizito Katawonga
Kizito Katawongahttp://www.medium.com/@katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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