RØDE NT1 Review
Originally published at www.rode.com.au/sound.htm; rescued from Internet obscurity 2010-05-14.
by Paul White
Contrary to chronological intuition, the NT1 is the latest and most affordable addition to the RØDE range. Like the NT2, its styling owes more than a little to the Germanic classics of old. Despite being cheaper than the other mics in the RØDE range, no corners have been cut on quality — the main difference is that this is a fixed pattern cardioid mic using a single diaphragm, large diameter pressure gradient capsule.
The same one-inch gold sputtered diaphragm topography is used, and the capsule is suspended in a specially developed shock mount system. The on-board FET circuitry is transformerless, and the electronics are mounted on a separate sub-assembly which the manufacturers describe as ‘monocoque.’
The circuit board occupies the full length of the microphone body and is populated with high quality components. The mic casing is machined from high grade aluminum and has a light satin finish, the color of which reminds me of computers. The stand clip engages onto the bottom of the mic via a locking ring, though I’m sure most users would prefer to use the mic in an elastic shock mount — even if just for the pose value!
The shock mount from the NT2 fits and can be bought separately, and I imagine there are many off-the-shelf shock mounts that would also do the job. The mic comes complete with a snap-shut rigid plastic case with foam padding, and there’s room to stash the stand mount inside.
The wire basket has a very open weave and, initially, I wasn’t quite sure whether I liked the look of it or not. Acoustically, however, it is less obtrusive than a closely woven basket, and a secondary layer of fine mesh is bonded to the inside of the basket to help act as a pop shield, though an external pop shield should always be used when recording vocals. Apparently the inner mesh and outer basket are formed in a single operation using a 100 tonne press!
So far, the NT1 looks like a pedigree RØDE mic, and the frequency response graph looks almost exactly like that of the NT2 in its cardioid mode.
Noise is a respectable 17dB, sensitivity is 18mV/Pa (slightly better than either of its siblings), and the maximum SPL is 135dB. There’s no pad or LF rolloff switch, but given that most mixers have pads and filters on their input stages, this isn’t a problem. Because of the similarity in the response plots of the NT1 and NT2, I’d expect them to sound more or less the same. In fact the NT1 has, if anything, a slightly warmer sound to it. I don’t know why this should be, but the result is a sumptuous vocal sound that might have some users asking whether there’s a tube in it or not. Other than the hint of extra warmth, the mic still features the open, well articulated character that defines the rest of the range, though of course it doesn’t quite have the same magical flattering properties of the Classic, which still remains one of my favorite mics ever.
it sounds supremely rich and detailed on acoustic guitar.
Though the NT1 is a predominantly close vocal mic, it is still flexible enough to do a better than average job on most instruments, and it sounds supremely rich and detailed on acoustic guitar.
However, the biggest surprise is the price, because the NT1 comes pretty close to the bottom of the price range you’d expect to pay for a large diaphragm vocal mic, yet its performance is far from entry level. The only corners that have been cut are the limitations of a fixed cardioid pattern and the price.
Given the unbeatable performance to price ratio, and the fact that most multi-pattern mics spend their life set to cardioid pattern, the NT1 is the ideal buy for the discerning user who demands both value and uncompromised performance.
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