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RODE M1 Vocal Microphone Review

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The Aussies Gave Us The Rode M1: Was It Worth While?

Somebody told me once that Australia is like the United States minus about 10 years of progress. I didn't exactly get the point but I would have to disagree. The Aussies have given us things such as the Electric Drill as well as the modern WiFi standard ( Wireless LAN IEEE 802.11 ) used in just about every connected device out there from Laptops to e-Readers. They are also home to Rode Microphones.{C}

A Brief History Of How The Rode M1 Came About

Rode got its start in the late 1960's when two Swedes, Henry and Astrid Freedman, emigrated to Australia and opened a small pro audio shop according to the RODE website. They spent the next 20 years honing their craft and finally, in 1990, Rode Microphones was born with the release of the RODE NT1 studio mic. The NT1 was unique in that it was one of the first studio quality mic's introduced that was actually within reach of the project studio budget - a completely new market that was just coming into its own in the early 90's with the introduction of the DAW. Over the next 20 years they would continue to build on the original concept of the most microphone for the dollar in the studio. More recently however Rode has expanded into the live audio market with the RODE M1.

Rode M1: Look And Feel


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I had to snicker a bit at the rather innovative packaging [ read: a CAN! ] the Rode M1 comes in. In typical Seattle fashion I initially thought to myself, "Well, this can be recycled right!?" Rode deserves points for originality and its nice to have another potential safe option for transport besides the standard soft case. Outside of said can-in-lieu-of-box the usual suspects of mic, clip, spec sheet, soft case can be found inside. The mic clip actually looks extra beefy compared to most. Extra bonus: If you register your mic on www.rodemic.com the 1 year warranty magically extends to a LIFETIME warranty!

The M1 itself won't actually stop traffic with its looks but certainly won't send everyone packing. Just don't expect anyone to say "Hey dude! What kind of mic is that!?" Elegantly Understated is the operative phrase here. The dark satin gray finish looks classy and aside from the small Rode M1 lettering near the gold-plated XLR connection there are no other graphics. The gold dot near the pop screen is a nice throwback to Rode's start in capacitor mics but considering the M1 is a cardiod dynamic this is clearly decorative here.


Rode M1: Useability

In hand the Rode M1 feels solid and substantial at 360 grams. Comparatively speaking, the Shure Beta 58a weights in at 278g and the recently reviewed EV N/D767a is a relative flyweight at 260g. Despite the aforementioned porkiness, the Rode is fairly short at 171mm which combined with a relatively fat tapered body feels nicely balanced and comfortable. While the integral grill/pop filter feels pretty stout I would be a bit leary to see what happens the first time this mic gets dropped on its head.

Rode M1: Specs

As stated earlier, the Rode M1 is a dynamic mic and sports a cardiod pickup pattern. Rode advertises the frequency range as 75Hz - 18,000Hz which looking at the frequency graph seems about right. After a slight rise around 150-200Hz to probably add a touch of warmth theres a gradual rolloff from 150Hz down. Response upward from there is fairly flat with the exception of a broad bump of approximately +6db around 7-8000Hz which could lend itself towards a little air or sparkle to the vocals. Rode states it's sensitivity as -56dB ±2dB re 1V/Pa (1.6mV @ 94 dB SPL) @ 1kHz which is more or less inline with the Shure SM58 (1.85mV @ 94 dB SPL) and the Audix OM5 (1.8mV @ 94 dB SPL) with the outlier being the considerably more sensitive EV N/D767a at 3.1mV @ 94 dB SPL.

Rode M1: Test


For the sound test, I was fortunate enough to have a number of mic's at my disposal including the Audix OM5, Shure SM58, Shure Beta 87a, and of course, my trusty EV N/D767a - all dynamics with the exception of the Beta 87a. I came prepared with the instrumentals for a new track I'm working on and proceeded to work through the song with each of the mics starting with the Rode M1.

Upon powering up the Rode M1 I noted that handling noise is quite low. Short of swinging the mic around wildly by its cable in raucous fashion, it definitely does just as good as its competition. Likewise, feedback with the cardiod pickup patte rn is also very well controlled. With the mains up at significantly high levels I had to get dangerously close to the PA speakers before feedback started rearing its ugly head. Plosives were also well controlled with thanks to fairly thick foam contained within the grill.

Rode M1: Comparison


If I had to make a comparison sound-wise I would call the Rode M1 the illegitimate love child of a SM58 and Beta87A.The Rode exhibits some of the warmness of the SM58 minus the muddiness but seems to share more of the natural flat frequency response sound of the Beta87A. As a result it almost sounds more akin to a condenser mic than a dynamic. The Rode M1 exhibits a nice but not overly pronounced airiness to vocals on the upper end and generally gives the vocals a clarity that is very studio-like in nature.

When using both the OM5 and N/D767a I noticed just how much more presence both microphones had over the Rode. My voice sounded not only more full but while singing through some more challenging passages with some sustained belts hovering around high A/B I was actually able to use about 15-20% less effort vocally. Again with both the EV and OM5 the harmonics naturally present in my voice seemed to be better showcased than with the Rode.



With the Rode M1, Rode has brought what amounts to a very solid addition into the already somewhat crowded live microphone arena. Their years of experience building top-notch yet within reach studio microphones has led them to create a live vocal mic that not only approaches condenser studio-like quality in sound but is built to withstand ridiculous amounts of abuse. I have a feeling a lot of these will be going strong well after the grill has crusted over with nasty green growth and the 10-year warranty expires. Your mileage may vary but at the end of the day my only gripe is that its natural sounding dynamics may not give your vocals as much cut through a live mix as you might want. On the flip side if you naturally have a bigger sounding voice and an Audix or EV borderlines on honky then th is may very well be an excellent option. Regardless, at $99 USD the Rode M1 is a hellava lot of microphone for the money and if you happen to be in the market for a new premium live mic then this one is certainly worth a look.

Rode Microphones - www.rodemic.com

Review by Travis North

*This product review is a courtesy of The Modern Vocalist World and is endorsed by The Vocalist Studio International.


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