Rode is a global leader in audio technology, renowned for creating high-quality audio solutions fit for professional use in creative film-making, content creation, podcasts, live performance and more. In the later half of last year, they introduced Rode X - their streaming and gaming division, dedicated to developing high-performance audio solutions specifically for streamers and gamers. With the launch of this division came a brand new product line and the first three next-level audio solutions for gamers and streamers: two professional USB microphones – the XDM-100 dynamic USB microphone and the XCM-50 condenser USB microphone; and UNIFY, a virtual mixing solution custom-designed for streamers and content creators.
If you’re a gamer or streamer who is looking to incorporate top-notch audio into your gameplay and content, this series is highly worth considering! Once you know what type of microphone you’re after - a dynamic mic vs. a condenser mic - the Rode X microphone that’s best for you will be obvious.
Dynamic vs. Condenser Microphones
Let’s take a look at the differences between the two so you can decide whether you should choose the Rode XCM-50 condenser microphone or the Rode XDM-100 dynamic microphone.
To understand the benefits of a dynamic microphone, it helps to learn how they work. These microphones feature a slim diaphragm connected to a wire coil within a magnetic field. When sound waves strike the diaphragm, the coil vibrates, interacting with the magnetic field and generating an electrical current.
By design, dynamic microphones are less sensitive than condenser microphones, typically requiring you to be super close to the microphone to get optimal sound (about 5-15cm). They often need more gain to match condenser mics' levels. This reduced sensitivity allows them to effectively isolate your voice and reduce background noises, such as air conditioning, keyboard sounds, and mouse clicks.
Condenser microphones feature a capsule with a diaphragm situated super close to an electrically charged backplate. As sound waves reach the diaphragm, it vibrates, altering the capacitance between itself and the plate, and generating an electrical signal that gets amplified by an internal preamp. The preamp and occasionally the backplate need power to function, provided by batteries, phantom power through a mixer, external preamp, audio interface, or a computer's USB port.
Condenser microphones have greater sensitivity compared to dynamic mics. This allows for more flexibility in positioning, as they can be placed further from the mouth (10-20cm). However, their heightened sensitivity also makes them prone to capturing background noise - especially in environments that lack proper soundproofing.
Which one is best for gaming and streaming?
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference as they can both sound great in various setups. When looking at the two microphones from Rode’s X series - the XCM-50 condenser microphone and the XDM-100 dynamic microphones - there are a number of things they share in common. They both deliver rich, broadcast audio that’s ideal for streaming and gaming. Both feature a high-power headphone output that provides flawless zero-latency audio monitoring and playback, complete with hands-on level control and microphone mute functionality. They also both feature an internal pop shield and capsule shock mount to provide protection from pops, knocks and bumps.
Additionally, the two microphones possess robust internal digital signal processing (DSP) that can be unlocked through Rode’s UNIFY software (included with the purchase of both microphones). This lets you add advanced APHEX® audio processing for your voice, including a compressor, noise gate, high-pass filter, and the renowned Aural Exciter™ and Big Bottom™ effects. Combined with UNIFY, both microphones are capable of delivering audio that rivals a professional broadcast studio.
The differences between the two matter most once you consider the environment in which you’ll be using the microphone.
The Rode XCM-50 is for you if…
If the space you’re streaming or gaming in has minimal background noise and not too many reflective hard surfaces (such as tiles or wooden floorboards), a condenser microphone such as the Rode XCM-50 will be a great choice for you. If your space doesn’t meet this criteria but you’re not too concerned with noise, then by all means, pick one of these up as well. Being a condenser microphone with a full frequency response, you can expect the XCM-50 to pick up loads of clarity, detail and presence in your voice.
The Rode XDM-100 is for you if…
On the other hand, if the space you’re streaming or gaming in has more background noise or isn’t very soundproofed, and you want to curb as much background noise as possible - a dynamic microphone such as the Rode XDM-100 is an excellent choice! Additionally, the XDM-100 will produce tighter, more focused sound, while remaining rich, detailed and clear. It also has the benefit of Rode’s ultra-low-noise Revolution Preamp and high-resolution, 24-bit/48kHz analog-to-digital conversion for pristine audio quality.
What is UNIFY?
Along with the launch of the Rode XCM-50 and Rode XDM-100 came Rode’s UNIFY software. This software is designed to be the ultimate audio software for streaming, gaming and content creation, consolidating functionality that would otherwise require multiple applications into one easy-to-use solution. Whether you’re a Twitch streamer or content creator, UNIFY aims to give you total control over your audio.
With UNIFY (which comes free with any Rode X microphone), you can route and mix up to four USB microphones or other audio devices; and up to six virtual audio sources (including game, chat, music and browser applications) in one intuitive interface. Additionally, you can create independent sub-mixes for different outputs, including your livestream, headphones and chat; add studio-grade audio processing to your microphone channels; trigger on-the-fly sound effects; and more!
UNIFY is compatible with XCM-50, XDM-100 and RØDE microphones and devices. Requires Windows 10 64-bit or later.