Exclusive! What goes into making a mic? Tour the RØDE Microphones Factory

by Karin GottschalkLeave a Comment

The folks at RØDE Microphones recently extended an invitation to visit their premises located in the west of Sydney in the industrial/commercial/residential suburb of Silverwater.

The visit was a real eye opener. RØDE’s innovative yet affordable professional microphones have been staples of the audio recording and movie industries for years now.

RØDE itself is an all-too-rare Australian design and manufacturing success. Even rarer is the fact that most of RØDE’s products are manufactured in-house, in their very own factory.

In recent decades, Australia’s manufacturing base has shrunk radically as governments have withdrawn financial assistance, removed trade protection tariffs, outsourced supply offshore and followed a laissez-faire ideology that has seen once-hallowed Australian brands snapped up by new foreign owners.

Australian research and development via government-funded science and industry organizations like the CSIRO have been hit hard and Australian R&D innovations in the solar power generation industry rarely if ever manage to find local financing. Whole industries continue to move offshore perhaps never to return home.

There have been some bright lights in the darkness, however, especially in the moviemaking arena. Australians once threw light into the moviemaking darkness and produced the world’s first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang.

Eric Miller of Miller Camera Support Equipment invented the fluid head for movie cameras in the 1950s and other names more recently making their mark on the world stage include Atomos, Blackmagic Design, MyMyk and Que Audio.

To the best of my knowledge, three of those six companies manufacture in Australia but RØDE, I suspect, steals the march with the sheer volume of its output.

At RØDE I saw proof of a will to creativity and innovation that has largely disappeared from Australian culture in recent years. The first and most obvious example of that was RØDE's adaptation of machinery used in making high end Swiss watches to manufacturing microphones.

Other examples of thinking differently were scattered about the RØDE factory, from the computer-controlled laser-cutting of microphone capsule foils to the hard-wearing ceramic coatings on microphone barrels.

When I mentioned to one RØDE staff member that I was having an unduly hard time obtaining some purpose-made, top quality audio accessories I was impressed to learn that RØDE is also aware of the scarcity of these sorts products and has imported the parts and machinery to make them itself.

At a time when other industries here are closing factories and divesting product lines, hearing that one company at least is investing in itself was a relief. Just this morning, news headlines included an item about Australian industrial investment now being at recession levels.

Where another company has shown themselves to be the market leaders such as the UK's Rycote with its Lyre noise-reducing suspension, RØDE has sensibly chosen to incorporate Lyre suspensions into key products like the Stereo VideoMic X, the new VideoMic Pro, the VideoMic and the VideoMic GO.

Another example of sensible thought and action is in RØDE’s purchase of industry-leading US audio monitor manufacturer Event Electronics.

There are two sides to the high quality audio equation – acquisition and editing. RØDE has long had a handle on the audio acquisition side but until I spotted two pairs of Event studio monitors in the RØDE offices I had no idea they had a presence in audio post-production too.

Editing audio while monitoring through headphones has its limitations. The goal is to best simulate your movie’s sound in broadcast and projection environments and while there have been advances in software simulation of speakers via headphones, there is no substitute for the real thing in the form of hardware.

I had been searching for the best but most affordable speakers to connect to my editing workstation via audio interface in the very near future, and a pair of Event nearfield studio monitors is now on my wishlist.

Both sides of the equation both soon to be RØDE — there is a certain symmetry in that. RØDE Microphones’ parent company, Freedman Electronics, bought Event Electronics in 2006 and Event studio monitor manufacturing moved to Silverwater not long after, with mics and speakers now being made under the one rapidly expanding roof.

Exclusive! planet5D tours RØDE Microphones factory - what's it like inside? The making of microphones Click To Tweet

RØDE Factory Tour – How do they make microphones?

RØDE Factory Tour – How do they make microphones? Well, you won't see every bit of the process, but you will get an exclusive look inside the RØDE Microphones factory!

RØDE Factory Tour behind-the-scenes

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

Karin Gottschalk

Karin Gottschalk

Karin is a documentary moviemaker, journalist, photographer and teacher who conceived and cofounded an influential, globally-read, Australian magazine of contemporary art, culture and photography. While based in Europe, contributing to the magazine and working in advertising, she visualised a future telling the same sorts of stories with a movie camera and audio recorder. Now back in her home base in Sydney, Karin is pursuing her goal of becoming an independent, one-person, backpack multimedia journalist and documentary moviemaker. Mentorless and un-filmschooled, she is constantly learning and sharpening up her skill set.
Karin Gottschalk

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