RØDE NT2 Review
Originally published at www.rode.com.au/sound.htm; rescued from Internet obscurity 2010-05-14.
by Paul White
When I was first sent a RØDE NT2 to review some years ago, I’d never heard of the company and there were quite a few Neumann look-alikes around at the time, so I wasn’t expecting great things. The fact that the mic was also surprisingly affordable lead me to expect an unexceptional capsule and electronics, packaged to appeal to home studio owners who wanted an impressive looking-microphone. I could not have been more wrong.
Though the outside of the mic does bear much more than a passing resemblance to Neumann’s classic U87 — right down to the satin nickel plated brass body – the internal construction is meticulous. At the heart of the system is RØDE’s own hand built dual-diaphragm pressure gradient capsule.
This design features a large one inch diaphragm (normally associated with a warm vocal sound) with an extremely thin gold sputtered membrane, as found in many of the most esoteric studio mics. The circuitry is solid state and transformerless, delivering a wide 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response with exceptional transient performance. A slide switch on the side of the body allows either cardioid or omni polar patterns to be selected. There are also switches for a high-pass filter and a -10dB pad.
Microphones have a long life expectancy, and we expect them to perform consistently throughout that time. To this end, RØDE have taken the welcome step of treating all the internal connections with a deoxidizing solution, something you’d normally expect only from a dedicated hi-fi tweaker (this treatment also extends to the circuit boards). The internal connections are also gold-plated to further minimize oxidation.
When it comes to performance, the NT2 turns out to be quite sensitive, managing 16mV/Pa, and the amount of phantom power current required is only 3.5mA, less than half of what a standard phantom supply is designed to deliver. Noise is quoted as 17dB, which is reasonably low for a mic of this type.
You’d have to look hard to find an instrument to which this mic couldn’t do justice.
SPLs of up to 135dB can be handled with the pad switch in, which means you could theoretically use the NT2 for close drum miking. Having said that, I wouldn’t let one of these anywhere near a drummer except perhaps as an overhead mic! In common with most large diaphragm capacitor mics, the frequency response is not ruler flat, but rather designed to add a little subtle color to the sound. In the case of the NT2, the response is nominally flat up to around 10kHz, then there’s a gentle presence hump centered at around 15kHz, which has the effect of giving the sound a lot of ‘air’ without allowing anything to become harsh.
Tested on vocals, the NT2 manages to combine the directness of a good dynamic mic with the warmth and openness that only a capacitor mic can give. The overall impression is of a subjectively natural sound with just a hint of a larger-than-life halo around it.
Used on acoustic instruments, the mic delivers a convincing, articulate sound. The detail of plucked strings is handled particularly well, and wind instruments are treated with finesse. You’d have to look hard to find an instrument to which this mic couldn’t do justice. At the price, it’s a very tough act to follow.
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