CTW Review: RØDE iXY

A few months ago, James Knight, our friend from across the pond, asked if he could write up a review of the new RØDE iXY iOS microphone. Never being one to pass up on a day off, I said, "Sure!" So here we go...

A few weeks ago, Australian microphone power-house RØDE announced the immediate shipping of their latest creation, the iXY microphone. Focussing on mobile sound capture, the microphone is iOS compatible and is the first unit to offer broadcast-quality 24-bit, 96kHz recording from its matched ½’’ stereo pair XY condensers when you pair it with the dedicated app, RØDE Rec. It’s also recently won the highly-regarded Red Dot design award and as with all of their mics, has great quality sound.

I tested it out for Mike to see whether it would be useful for church techs across the world, and it looks as though its passed. The wide range of events techs are asked to cover means that secondary thoughts like recording need to be setup and executed in a flash with limited prep time, and this is where we can find a use for the iXY. The beauty of being able to whip out your iPhone or iPad and record the pastor’s impromptu sermon or even have the ability to use the iXY as a backup recording device in case Reaper fails is a huge convenience. Anything from shooting videos for the Sunday service at a remote location or covering an event for the church website can be aided with a little help from this device. It’s probably apparent, therefore, that I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve got my hands on – the price tag of only $199 (list) means that for the first time, small churches with limited budgets can utilise broadcast quality audio in their recordings, without the hassle of camera interfaces and their associated paraphernalia.  

Understandably as audio geeks we have to judge gear on what it sounds like, and that’s why there are a few audio samples below – as you can see, the mic gives a very natural, smooth sound and the 90o coincident capsule alignment allows for true stereo recording (without the volume dip in the middle that you’d usually expect from competitors). The built in high-pass filter removes all handling noise (really, ALL handling noise) whilst the usual assortment of RØDE accessories (in this instance a hard-shell case with carabineer and a windshield) allow for maximum flexibility. It’s important to note, however, that if you’re looking for something a little more conventional to record your interviews or cover lectures with, but still want the flexibility of recording using your iOS device, RØDE have recently unleashed their ‘SmartLav’ (an iOS lavalier condenser microphone with 3.5mm jack output) which should fit the bill nicely. Anyway, the cardioid mic has a frequency range of 20Hz-20kHz, ensuring you capture all of the most crucial detail in your recordings, whilst its 40g weight allows for complete freedom of movement. 

This mic really is a cool piece of kit and sports an onboard A/D converter, supporting the concept of simplicity during use – there are no cables, no interfaces, no PSU – literally, just plug and play. Once you’ve got it connected to your iOS device you can either fire up the free RØDE Rec LE app (with basic functionality) or pay a little extra for the RØDE Rec HD which boasts an on-board editor, cropper, compression and EQ – both apps have an adjustable input level to ensure volume remains consistent. The applications feature stereo bar graphs and scrolling waveforms to clearly display information whilst users are able to upload the audio to SoundCloud, Dropbox, email, FTP and iTunes File Sharing after the editing process with a single tap. 

For years, the IT market has been manufacturing poor quality microphones for our portable devices and RØDE’s new iXY offering marks the end of inferior sound on the move. Over the past few years, RØDE have gained a huge presence in the audio world thanks to their solid build quality and careful engineering – this microphone is testament to their ingenuity and passion for great sound.

By James Knight, an audio consultant for London-based integrators Hans Kolberg Group

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