Rode AI Micro Review: An Audio Interface in Your Pocket

article featured image

New technology in audio never stops ceasing to amaze me.  Let me introduce you to the AI Micro from Rode – an interface so small it can fit in your pocket! For this review, I put the unit through my usual gruelling testing.  This review will cover:

  • Performance Via Computer
  • Performance Via Cell Phone
  • How its Dual-Channel Recording Works
  • Overall Performance and Findings

Read on to see how the Rode AI Micro stacks up in this comprehensive review.

This post contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission should you choose to buy through them – though never at any extra cost to yourself!

Rode AI Micro vs a Cell Phone for Scale
Rode AI Micro vs a Cell Phone for Scale

Initial Thoughts on the Rode AI Micro

The Rode AI Micro weighs in at a whopping 13 grams.  That is so light that you could potentially forget it’s in your pocket! Out of the box, it comes with:

  • One Standard USB Cable (USB-A)
  • One USB-C Cable
  • One Lightning Cable

It features a single 3.5 mm headphone jack and two 3.5mm microphone inputs that will work with TRS or TRRS microphones. For more compatibility and other technical spec information, you can check out the product page on Rode’s website.

Rode boasts plug and play functionality, and that is mostly true.  The device wasn’t picked up by my computer’s USB-C port.  However, it was instantly ready to go via USB-A and when plugged into my phone via USB-C.

Rode AI Micro: Computer Tests

I used three lavalier microphones for this test:

MICROPHONELOUDNESS IN LUFSRMSTRUE PEAKNOISE FLOORINTERFERENCE/NOISE
Lavalier Go-24.5-22.74-4.03-69.16Occasional buzz at 23kHz; no major hiss or interference noise
SmartLav+-27.1-25.05-5.84-67.36Occasional buzz at 23kHz; no major hiss or interference noise
V Lav-24.6-22.51-4.53-67.16Occasional buzz at 23kHz; no major hiss or interference noise
A Table of Recording Measurements & Findings

Computer Recording Findings Explained

The Rode AI Micro uses an auto gain function.  This means you don’t set recording levels.  Based on the recording measurements in the above chart, the auto gain function performs well when used with a computer.  These numbers reflect very healthy recording levels.

The occasional buzz at 23kHz is a form of interference. Any USB device has an inherent susceptibility to interference from your computer’s parts.  However, 23kHz is outside the range of human hearing so it’s not a huge issue. 

Below you can listen to test recordings for each microphone used:

Rode AI Micro: Cell Phone Tests

I am always iffy with recording into a cell phone. This is where interference noise is most likely to happen.  Let’s take a look at the cell phone recording findings:

MICROPHONELOUDNESS IN LUFSRMSTRUE PEAKNOISE FLOORINTERFERENCE/NOISE
SmartLav+-32.7-30.35-15.46-72.63Constant buzz at 23kHz; no hiss
Lavalier Go & V Lav-26-27.31-6.07-70.89No major issues
Recording Measurements & Other Findings When Recorded With a Cell Phone

Rode AI Micro Cell Phone Recording Findings Explained

These recordings were done via the Rode Reporter, a recording app.   The results aren’t perfect, but they aren’t terrible either.  The recording levels are a tad on the low side.  It’ll be important to ensure that, if recording on a cellphone, your recording environment isn’t overly noisy since the levels seem to take a slight dip compared to recording via a computer. The second example is still healthy, however. The first may need some extra editing for noise if the recording environment is noisy. You generally don’t want to dip below -30 RMS for a raw recording. The SmartLav+ had the lowest recording levels in the computer test too. This mic may just not be as sensitive as the others used in the testing, which results in lower recording levels in an automatic gain setup.

The second example in the chart is using the dual recording functionality of the AI Micro.  I’ll go over how this works in the next section below.

Note: via the Rode Reporter app even a mono (1 mic) recording will be recorded as stereo, but to either just the left or right, and will need to be split to mono.

Dual Recording

The Rode AI Micro can record 2 channels of audio at once.  It does it in a bit of a strange way but the result is still separated audio.  How it works is that it records mic one on the left side and mic two on the right.

Dual Recording Using the Rode AI Micro
Dual Recording Using the Rode AI Micro

As it is, one person speaks only on the left side and the other only on the right, which can be a bit jarring.  This is an easy fix. Split the stereo file to mono and bring your panning back to center for each track. You will probably need to edit out some mic bleed. The smaller waveform in the above image is when the “guest” gets picked up into the “host’s” mic and vice versa. This is known as “mic bleed”.

Our Rating: 4.4/5

  • Build: 4.0/5
  • User Friendliness: 4.7/5.0
  • Performance: 4.5/5.0
  • Overall: 4.4/5.0

Rode AI Micro: Worth Buying?

I really like the Rode AI Micro.  For something so small it really gives great results. It’ll benefit mobile podcasters, journalists, vloggers, or folks doing conference calls. The price tag is $99 CAD or $79 US, which is a steal for an entry point recording interface that handles the gain settings for you. 

Some might find the one headphone jack limiting if there are two people involved.  But you can always get a headphone splitter so two people can both use headphones.

I did occasionally get audio dropouts while playing back in a DAW.  This means the interface couldn’t always keep up in playback even with higher buffer settings inside the DAW’s settings. This did not occur during conference call tests. Recording into a DAW there were no issues. I wouldn’t use this as a one-stop-shop interface, but for simplified recording into a computer, on the go, and conferencing it’s great!

With the AI Micro being so small and compatible with both a computer and phone, it’s a perfect tool for recording on the go!

Here’s another great review of the AI Micro on YouTube from Producer Hive. And be sure to check out our full Podcast Equipment Guide if you’re still shopping around!