Rode Streamer X Review: Is It Worth It for Podcasting?

I don’t make any secret of the fact that I absolutely love peripherals. Anything that takes the business of audio editing away from the keyboard and mouse to something more tactile.

I used to have a Novation Launchpad hooked up to my computer. Then, I figured out how to use a game controller for audio editing. I have since added a Boss Gigcaster 5 to my setup for live recordings and streaming. I was in an electronics shop the other day and saw a second-hand flight simulator controller. I spent more time than I should, wondering how I could work it into my audio workflow.

I think I might have some sort of problem.

However, The Podcast Host is indifferent to such fixations and has sent me the compact Rode Streamer X, adding to the legacy of Resident Evil’s Mr X, Action Man’s Dr X and fictional government genetic research facility Weapon X in using the letter X after their title (you could also, I don’t know, rename a social media site after it, that’d be pretty foolish though).

A quick heads up that our link to the Rode Streamer X is an affiliate. We’d earn a small commission should you choose to buy through it (at no extra cost), and this income helps support all of our free content!

What is the Rode Streamer X?

The Rode Streamer X is a Professional Integrated Audio Interface, retailing at a hefty £349/$400, which puts it at the higher end of the audio interface market, especially for one with only a single XLR input.

There is a reason for this, though, and one that I find rather nifty. While billed as an audio interface, it also doubles as a 4K Capture Card, with HDMI IN for cameras, game consoles, or any HDMI device, and an HDMI THRU for connecting a TV or monitor. This meant I could, theoretically, connect my Nintendo Switch to the HDMI IN, then connect my TV to the HDMI THRU, then stream my attempts to build cool devices in Tears Of The Kingdom that always end up either exploding or falling on me.

Who’s it For? (Surprise!)

It will be no surprise, given these features and the fact that it’s called Streamer X, that this little device is geared more towards, you guessed it, streamers. While I have some experience with streaming (*cough* Mondays at it’s not my main gig, so I can’t fully attest to its suitability in this area. I sadly did not have the right kind of HDMI cable to hook up a camera to test out the video capacity and, while the idea of hooking up my Switch and testing it out as a capture card was tempting, I am but a humble audio editor and not in any way qualified to talk about that side of the unit.

So, I’ll mainly focus on my experiences getting the Streamer X set up, and talk a little bit about what it could offer the “audio-first” podcaster.

Rode Streamer X: Features & Setup

The setup for the Streamer X has been streamlined (stream-x-lined?) to be quick and easy, and theoretically, this is good. In practice, however, I found it a little bumpy.

The first issue was getting the Streamer X to Connect X to my Computer X.

The Streamer X comes bundled with a ‘SuperSpeed’ USB-C to USB-C cable (presumably, it’s got all the Chaos Emeralds or something) that I couldn’t connect to my work computer as it only has USB-A inputs. I get that most people use laptops now, and most laptops only have USB-C inputs. But for a piece of gear aimed at streamers, most of whom have tower computers that look like spaceships, it’s a bit of a let-down. My normal USB-C to USB-A cable, which I use for my Boss Gigcaster, didn’t work. I ended up using the charging cable for my phone.

The Streamer X features three different forms of audio input, indicated by three little lights above the input dial, with the selection indicated by a different colour around the gain dial. There’s the mic/instrument jack (purple), a headset mic (green) or a Rode Series IV wireless transmitter that can be paired with the unit (light blue).

My second frustration was that it took me far too long to realise this was the case, and I was stuck for longer than I should have been on headset mode, wondering why my mic wasn’t working. This is admittedly more on me, but for a unit aimed at simplicity that comes with no instructions other than four steps on the back of the box lid (connect to PC, plug in microphone, download software, ‘get connected’), they could have indicated this a little bit clearer.

As with the Rodecaster Duo I previously reviewed, input and output levels are denoted by a coloured ring around the dials, which is pretty but not very precise, with gain indicated by the very small light above the input dial changing colour from green, to yellow, to red. It’s a very colourful piece of kit that looks great on a desk.

Rode Central Software

The software for the Streamer X, Rode Central, is designed to help set up and customise the Streamer X to fit your specific needs. It has four presets for streaming, video calls, gaming and presenting. The pads are set up with what I would describe as ‘standard podcast noises’ such as an air horn, crickets, applause and a swear beep. It has options for fairly advanced audio and video routing and gives you a fair amount of control over each input, including a suite of APHEX processing effects, simplifying the process of shaping your sound, and giving you control over Depth, Sparkle and Punch.

There is also an advanced section if, like me, you’re more of a nerd about these things.

It also features something called ‘Presentation Mode’, turning the pads into a controller that uses keyboard shortcuts for slideshow presentation, which I thought was an interesting use case for the Streamer X.

Rode Streamer X Review: Summary & Conclusions

As a straightforward audio device, I don’t think I can recommend the Rode Streamer X for podcasting, even for podcasters who use video. If you just need an audio interface, there are cheaper options with more inputs and controls, and the video element, while impressive, doesn’t really add much value when webcams and Zencastr exist.

But if you are a streamer, the Rode Streamer X combines a number of different pieces of kit and simplifies them down into one unit. Instead of buying an audio interface, a capture card and a stream deck (all of which can be quite pricey), the Streamer X functions as a jack-of-all-trades box to add to your setup.

Buy the Rode Streamer X on Amazon

Our Rating: 4.5

Build Quality: 4/5

Audio Features: 3/5

Software Features: 5/5

Still shopping around? Check out our roundups of the best audio interfaces, podcast mixers, and digital recorders!

Originally posted on December 7, 2023 @ 1:27 am

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