The RODE Streamer X is a great idea and a device that’s well realised. It’s not perfect and it’s not the most powerful when it comes to video, but for a majority of creators it’s a very handy little box.
the good bits
Neat all-in-one solution
Strong audio performance
Customisable SMART pads
Dual-PC output and HDMI passthrough
the not so good bits
Lacking for 4K content
No HDMI 2.1
RØDE Streamer X Combined Audio Interface and Capture Card
You’ve heard of RODE, they make excellent audio gear like the RODECaster Duo and the PodMic and they’ve done it for years. This is new territory though, the RODE Streamer X marks their first step into the world of video. The Streamer X is an all-in-one solution for streamers that combines audio interface and HDMI capture card.
£349/$399 means this isn’t an entry level option, but RODE has a strong reputation for quality and this is not really an entry level device either. That kind of budget brings a lot of different gear that does the same job into reach, so will bringing things together set a new benchmark or should RODE just stick with sound?
The RODE X range is made for creators and the Streamer X falls perfectly into that category. It’s officially RODE’s ‘streaming and gaming division’ that launched at the end of 2022 but after the initial release of the XCM-50 and XDM-100 it felt a little unloved by the Australian brand. The Streamer X sees a return of the strikingly red RODE X packaging and while that feels a long way from the usual calm white exterior, what’s inside the box is quintessentially RODE.
It’s all a bit Honey I Shrunk the Kids, the recently released RODECaster Duo looks like a mini RODECaster Pro II and now the Streamer X feels like a mini version of the Duo. RODE has dipped into the parts bin as there are plenty recognisable elements here and they come together to form a unit that feels like nothing they’ve done before and just another player in the squad all at the same time.
Noticeably the two dials and four SMART pads are borrowed straight from the excellent RODEcaster Duo, which is a wise move as they’re excellent quality and bring a genuine studio vibe to the Streamer X. Turning it around you’ll find a back panel that’s covered with IO; HDMI in and passthrough ports, a combined XLR/line-in jack, 3.5mm and 6.35mm headphone jacks and three USB-C ports – one for power and two for output. That’s a lengthy list and yet despite there being so much going on, the RODE Streamer X maintains a remarkably desk-friendly size with nothing feeling cramped. The footprint is just 14cm x 12cm, around a third of the space demanded by the RODECaster Duo.
Like on the Duo each of the Streamer X’s inputs are boldly lit by customisable RGB lighting. These pack a serious punch and I love the way the rings around the dials fill with colour to match their level, what I don’t love is they never turn off. If the Streamer X has power those LEDs will smack you around the face with colour, 24/7. This means a permanent light show if you use the included external power source and with no physical or digital on/off switch your only option is to yank out the cables. It feels like an oversight from RODE and while they can’t magic a power switch onto it, I hope they can come up with something in a firmware update down the line.
The RODE Streamer X manages to achieve what a lot of other external capture cards I’ve tried can’t – it’ll actually sit flat on my desk with cables attached. I even tried to catch it out with the most rigid HDMI cable I could find but the 380g heft was still enough to keep it stable – great stuff. The rubberised feet on the bottom also mean it won’t slide about as you twist volume knobs or slap a SMART pad too. You can even clear it off your desk entirely thanks to a standard mounting point on the bottom meaning you could stick it on a mic arm if you wanted.
It’s surprising it’s taken so long for audio and video to live side by side in one device but that’s what the RODE Streamer X does. Half audio interface, half external capture card, it aims to offer an all-in-one solution for streamers and for the most part it does a pretty good job of both.
The audio interface half of the RODE Streamer X is unsurprisingly excellent. Not that you’d expect anything less from RODE, audio is their thing after all. I had been running a PodMic via XLR into a RODECaster Duo but swapped the latter out for the Streamer X and none of my viewers noticed. I could even use the same power supply and USB-C cables, it was a straight swap. Whether you’ll need the external power supply will depend on your setup, the Streamer X needs around 15W of power and can draw this via the USB-C connection to your PC if the juice is available. I tried both with and without the external power supply connected and noticed no difference in performance.
The same studio-quality VoxLab and APHEX processing from other RODE interfaces is onboard again here however unlike those audio-focused devices you’ll need the RODE UNIFY software to take control of them for the Streamer X. Everything in the app is simple enough to use and I’d recommend you take the time to play with each different setting to dial things in. There are clear gains to be had here with just half an hour of tinkering.
The UNIFY app is also where you’ll program what the four SMART pads do and again it’s worth properly setting these up as they are surprisingly powerful and it goes beyond simple audio tricks. Each pad can be configured to fire off sound bites and toggle different voice effects but it’s the MIDI commands that can really take things up a notch. With a little tinkering the Streamer X becomes a Stream Deck, capable of controlling applications like changing scenes in OBS. It’s not quite a substitute as the only way of identifying each pad across different pages of commands is a colour change, though if you’ve got the memory for it there’s a lot that can be done.
While you’re spoiled for choice on the SMART pads, sadly there’s no scope to re-bind the two dials. These are fixed to adjusting mic gain and headphone levels and while that’s fine and they work well with that nifty LED effect I mentioned earlier, I can’t help but wish there was the option to control HDMI audio with them too. Trying to wrestle down the Mario Kart menu music is a battle that could have been easily won with a simple click and twist – oh well.
Turning to the video half of the RODE Streamer X the experience is good to a limit and this is where we start to see the compromises of an all-in-one unit. 4K capture is achievable however the lack of HDMI 2.1 means HDR and frame rates higher than 30 are restricted to 1080p and below. In a majority of situations that’s unlikely to be an issue for streamers, but could be limiting for other content creators. It just feels a little dialled back and means the Streamer X sits behind other external options in the market – though those options don’t also feature an XLR input so it’s a case of compromises and picking the right unit for the job.
Play within its boundaries though and the RODE Streamer X is capable of doing an excellent job as a capture card. I wandered into the tropical jungles to play Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 4K on an Xbox Series X and was impressed with the detail and colour of the jungle landscapes, even without HDR. Dropping to 1080p the fast movement of F1 23 was also well handled and I noticed no screen tearing or visual artefacts. Hooking up my Nintendo Switch the RODE Streamer X felt very at home, the lower resolution and overall step down in power of Mario Kart 8 translated into a smooth experience with vibrant colour.
When testing I tried playing on my LG CX via the Streamer X’s HDMI passthrough and wouldn’t have known there was a device between my console and the TV. The full 4K60 picture looked great and controller inputs felt immediate. Strangely the Streamer X refused to capture the Xbox dashboard (which I assume is an HDCP issue) but this didn’t impact the passthrough signal. Trying to play solely via the OBS preview I did notice a tiny amount of input delay begin to creep in, this wasn’t impactful in general gameplay however competitive players may notice a difference.
Like others in the RODECaster series the Streamer X offers dual-PC support thanks to two onboard USB-C outputs and this is an area RODE does have an advantage on the competition. Being able to send two independent, full quality feeds to two machines simultaneously will be super helpful for dual-PC streamers however it’s a BYO situation for that second cable. RODE do include a USB-C cable in the box which is all most will need, however if you’re looking to double up make sure you don’t skimp on it. While testing the Streamer X I found it could be pretty picky about which USB-C cable it was happy to work with. Audio was usually not a problem and any USB-C cable I tried would feed in the XLR signal, however to get video too you’ll need to invest in a USB-C cable that supports the SuperSpeed transfer standard.
For a brand whose expertise has previously just been audio, the Streamer X is a solid first outing into the video space for RODE. It’s not perfect, but I can see this being the start of a product line and would be surprised not to see a Streamer X2 in future. While in isolation the capture card isn’t the strongest on the market, it’s more than capable for streamers and will record great quality HD content. However when you then combine that with industry leading audio and those customisable SMART pads the Streamer X becomes a super unique and potentially valuable tool for streamers.
On the surface £349/$399 feels like a chunky investment but it can be quickly rationalised when you consider this as two purchases in one. To go out and buy a quality audio interface and mid-range external capture card wouldn’t leave you with much change out of £349 anyway. Purely as a capture card, it’d be wise to look elsewhere and really tick off that spec sheet but if you have a need for XLR and HDMI, you’ll struggle to find a better duo to do both than the Streamer X.