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RØDE Broadcaster


 

 

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August 1998

 

RØDE'S REPUTATION, impressively quickly made, has so far depended entirely on one particular market area, albeit the broadest. All three models--NT-2, Classic, and NT-1--capitalise on the general enthusiasm for vintage microphones by shamelessly imitating them, and the result is three strictly studio microphones that manage to give the flavour of certain classics, with and without valves and frills, and always without the price tag. The impact they, along with the inexpensive eastern European imports, have had is shown by the response from the market leaders who have had to fight them on their own territory.

From the general to the particular; the new Rode is as different as it could be in terms of its breadth of appeal. Where its predecessors aim to join the ranks of the all-round classics, it sets its cap at a very specific market, namely the spoken voice, on air, but also in other situations. Called the Broadcaster (did they have to get permission from Fender?), its technical links to other Røde models are clear, but its features place it firmly in the broadcast studio or anywhere where speech recording is the primary activity.

Its outer appearance is not dissimilar to the NT-1 reviewed here in December 1997. Achunky body is capped with a coarse silver grille and mounted on a simple yet effective plastic stand attachment, locked on to it with a ring at its base. The big difference is that it is an end-fire design, using a large gold-sputtered diaphragm in non-negotiable cardioid mode. It should also be pointed out that in this domain where dynamics are often the first choice, the Broadcaster is a condenser, suggesting that perhaps it is indeed a variant on the NT-1.

But if this is the case than the variations are extensive. Several aspects of the Broadcaster's design are quite specifically aimed at its intended application, from the physical to the electronic. In the first category, there is an integral pop filter behind the grille, and in the second the bass filter is tailored for the particular proximity tip-up the expected close speaking voice will produce.

Perhaps the most obvious outward sign of the Broadcaster's role is a pod on the body containing a red led. This is not there to indicate the presence of phantom power, and in fact has no link to the function of the microphone at all; it is to be connected to a switch on the console as an on-air indicator. Any switch will do, from a fader switch to a mute, and if suitably connected it will tell the 'talent' (how I hate that word) when they should stop coughing, swearing and farting. It does nothing at all to the microphone--there is no on-board muting or any other safety features--but placed as it is right between the speaker's eyes it should do the job of a separate cue light more effectively.

The unfortunate consequence of this otherwise thoughtful feature is that you cannot get the microphone out of the box and plug it straight in in the usual way. The connections for the indicator led are combined with the audio output on a 5-pin XLR, necessitating the construction of a special break-out lead to hook it all up. Even the review sample was supplied with a 5-pin female plug and nothing else--I had to either improvise or make up my own cable. Fortunately the pin-outs for the audio are the same as the left-hand channel of a standard-wired stereo microphone, so I had a suitable Y-cord to hand. Of course for the application the Broadcaster is intended for this is not a problem - the microphone will be a permanent installation and it wouldn't matter if it needed a 7-pin DIN and an EDAC to connect it. The on-air led is switched across the other two pins, open for on and short for off.

The high-pass filter switch is on the back of the led's pod, and rolls off at 6dB per octave below 75Hz. It is awkward to get at when the microphone is hung in its clamp over an on-air mixer, which is, perhaps, intentional. Other than that there is nothing to adjust, not even a pad. This is, perhaps, surprising as the Broadcaster seems quite sensitive, producing high levels with close speech and requiring a pad on the connected preamp. The plus side is a clean punchy sound with all the presence Røde generally delivers. Pop filtering is very effective; it's easier to overload the connected electronics with a P than to produce a real blast, and the filter helps prevent even this. There is also internal shock mounting for the capsule, reducing the need for a big suspension mount that would hide the led. This too does its job well, with as little mechanical stand sound as you could expect.

The Broadcaster is intended to be used where a big bright up-front sound is required, and it is certainly capable of delivering that with few penalties.

Other uses suggest themselves as well, but in its chosen sphere it should shine.

     

 

Januar 2001

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