It’s been quite a year for the audio brand RØDE. The Australian company has had a bumper year of product launches, including new wireless microphones, a compact version of the RØDECaster Pro, plus a new generation of RØDE’s iconic NT1 condenser microphone with USB and XLR as well as 32-bit float digital output.
Also announced earlier this year was the all-new Streamer X: a video capture and audio interface designed for gamers and live streamers who want great quality video and audio for streaming to their viewers.
The Streamer X is superbly compact and packed full of innovation. It enables streamers to take an HDMI video feed from a computer, DSLR or a gaming console at resolutions up to 4K with a refresh rate of 30Hz. There’s a pass-thru HDMI port for feeding through the video signal to an external monitor at 4K/60Hz.
Despite its small size and limited physical controls, the Streamer X offers many functions that can be accessed using either RØDE Unify or RØDE Central software so that the Streamer X can be customized right down to the last detail.
Setting up the Streamer X is easy. There are two USB-C ports for connecting two separate computers or creating two audio channels from one computer. A single Neutrik combo XLR/TRS audio input feeding RØDE’s superb low-noise Revolution preamp can drive almost any microphone, even the hard-to-drive models like a Shure’s SM7B.
As well as accepting a microphone in the XLR input, the Streamer X can also take an instrument. At the rear of the device are two outputs for connecting headphones or a headset, like the RØDE NTH-100. The headphone input is a standard 6.35mm, while the headset is a 3.5mm TRRS jack. Microphone inputs can also include a wireless connection with RØDE’s range of wireless microphones, such as the new Wireless Pro.
The gain level for inputs to the Streamer X can be set using the Gain encoder knob. Next to it is a volume encoder that can adjust the volume levels of the headphones or headset. With a pair of headphones or a headset plugged into the rear of the Streamer X, you get zero-latency monitoring and can hear the audio from your video feed, host computer or even sound effects.
Beneath the Gain and Volume rotary encoders are two buttons that can instantly cut the audio and video feed if you need to. I’m not sure why you might need them, but perhaps you can think of them as panic buttons if things go awry or you are struck down with a coughing fit.
The RØDE Streamer X has something called SMART Pads. There are four arranged in 16 banks, offering a total of 64 separate pads. The pads can be cycled through using the forward and backward cursor keys beneath the four pads. Each SMART Pad can hold one of the following: Sound, Effect, Mixer or MIDI command.
You can store sound effects, music beds, jingles or any other audio on a SMART Pad, which can be triggered by pressing the pad. The Sound can be played once or as a continuous loop, making it a handy feature for playing music beds.
SMART Pads can also store one of the many onboard sound effects available on the Streamer X, including pitch shifting, voice disguiser, megaphone, echo and reverbs. They can also hold APHEX processing built into the device like noise gate, de-essing, compressor, etc.
Mixer Actions can also be stored in a SMART Pad with effects such as a censorship beep tone, fade in and fade out or a ducking function that boosts the mic level when you speak and lowers any other audio source playing. The Mixer Actions can also be used to control the intelligent routing of the inputs and outputs to suit your setup, including Mix Minus for online chats with a remote contributor.
Finally, the fourth action that can be assigned to a SMART Pad is MIDI Triggers. One pad press will send a MIDI Trigger to the host computer and could be set up to control audio software. The SMART Pads are very flexible and can be used to customize your live streaming setup.
To get the most out of the Streamer X, RØDE has developed its Unify software, which enables the user to customize the Streamer X with routing tables for directing sound sources to go where you want them. It takes a little study to get the most out of Unify, and the software is available for Windows and macOS. Unify can also manage your recordings, which can be exported as audio files in WAV or MP3 formats.
Unify can also add more audio sources, whether a gaming console, music source or even sound from a web browser. It’s a bit daunting at first, but I suggest that you play around with Streamer X and read the user guide to get an idea of what it is capable of. Unify is a powerful piece of software that massively expands the little Streamer X’s capabilities. It’s a bit like learning a new language. Practice makes perfect. Just experiment and you’ll soon get the hang of what this incredible box of tricks can do.
Alongside Unify, the RØDE Streamer X can also be configured using RØDE Central software. It’s not as extensive as Unify, but it does most of the things you need, including loading sounds into the SMART Pads. You can also update the Streamer X’s firmware and adjust basic settings.
Another exciting feature on Streamer X is the Presentation Mode. This feature enables the user to use the SMART Pads as control buttons when using PowerPoint or Apple Keynote and presenting to an audience.
Despite its compact size, the RØDE Streamer X has a tripod mount enabling it to be attached to a boom arm so that it doesn’t take up any desk space. The overall build quality and video and audio feed quality are impeccable.
Verdict: The RØDE Streamer X is an incredibly versatile tool for controlling audio and video settings in real time. There are controls for microphone gain and headphone volume. The provision of 64 SMART Pads enables the user to program individual pads with sounds, effects, mixer actions and even MIDI Triggers. The Streamer X will capture the video from your camera, game console, computer or other video source and enable you to add audio using an XLR, wireless mic or even a headset. The Streamer X is so flexible you can set it up to do almost anything with your video and audio sources. It can even be used to run your PowerPoint presentation more smoothly. The Streamer X is a fantastic piece of hardware. Live Streamers and Gamers will love it.
Pricing & Availability: The RØDE Streamer X is shipping now and costs $399. RØDE is giving away a free NTH-100M headset (valued at US$199) with any purchase of a Streamer X made between November 20 and November 30.
More info: rode.com
- Audio interface, video capture card and control surface.
- Video specs: Up to 4K @ 30Hz video capture and 4K @ 60Hz pass-through via HDMI.
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) support: Yes.
- Analog mic input: Neutrik combo jack for connecting XLR microphone or instrument, with an ultra-low-noise, high-gain Revolution Preamp.
- Headset input: 3.5mm TRRS input for connecting headsets and 1/4-inch headphone output for zero-latency monitoring.
- Integrated wireless receiver for connecting RØDE Series IV wireless microphones, including the Wireless PRO, Wireless GO II and Wireless ME.
- Internal DSP for advanced audio processing powered by APHEX.
- 64 customizable SMART Pads for triggering sounds, voice effects and MIDI commands
- Dual USB-C interfaces for connecting to two computers or consoles.
- Easy configuration and control via the RØDE Central desktop companion app.
- Compatible with RØDE’s free UNIFY streaming software for advanced audio routing, mixing and configuration.
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