Today, we are writing our RODE NT1-A Microphone Review to share everything you need to know about this top-notch mic.
In 2004, the NT1-A received an Electronic Musician’s Editor’s Choice award. Considering that it is still one of the best-sellers today, this speaks a lot about its quality and performance.
Since it has excellent features and things to offer, you would expect the mic to be on the pricey side. Luckily, it is a more affordable condenser mic and is excellent for anyone building a professional or home studio.
The NT1-A is still going strong despite being released back in 2003. So what makes it click and appear so appealing to everyone?
Let us continue our RODE NT1-A Microphone Review to know what it is all about.
When our NT1-A arrived, we noticed how much the company included in the package. Yes, it has a shock mount, which companies usually include in condenser mic packages. But aside from this, RODE added a cover, XLR mic cable, and pop filter inside.
We found all the items nicely and neatly packed, and they all worked as they should. The inclusions are perfect for newbie musicians starting to build their home studio.
With these items bundled in the package, you can save extra cash for other purchases.
Other than these, the box also includes a bonus DVD from RODE. It contains information on how to acquire the best recordings with the mic.
For how the box looks, it is an all-white package with an image of the mic at the top. The RODE branding is on the package with several features and the product name.
RODE NT1-A Microphone Review – Design and Functionality
While writing our RODE NT1-A Microphone Review, we learned that the NT1-A is a revision to the NT1. The latter is a large-diaphragm, fixed cardioid FET condenser.
Audio Upgrades owner Jim Williams utilised through-hole high-grade components when he designed and created the original NT1.
The NT1-A microphone is the “Anniversary Edition” but is generally an entirely new mic design from RODE. The product significantly uses surface-mount components on its circuit board. Plus, it enables assembly automation and also decreases production costs.
Our sample microphone for testing featured a polarised backplate to +75 VDC. If you think about it, this is high for condenser capsules. But presumably, it is likely why the mic has a low noise floor.
Compared to the grille on the NT1, the NT1-A is slightly bigger. Then, the exterior finish shifted from hospital blue to a satin nickel shade.
According to RODE, the NT1-A retained the capsule from the original product. However, mic owners suggest that a few production runs utilise alternative pieces.
As far as we know, the NT1-A utilises a 34mm edge terminated capsule with a 28mm diaphragm. However, photos of the mic display a standard China-supplied K67 centre-terminated derivative.
Build-wise, the quality of its body and form is excellent. Plus, the NT1-A features a sleek design, giving it a more premium vibe.
We love its stainless steel form, which feels durable and solid. However, still be cautious when handling the product since condenser mics are easy to break than stage microphones.
Bonus DVD Included with the RODE NT1-A Microphone
Peter Freedman, the creator and president of RODE, is the presenter featured in this DVD. In addition to providing free recording advice, the video is handy for determining how the microphone sounds. It also gives you an idea of its audio quality.
Key Features of the RODE NT1-A Microphone
In this part of our RODE NT1-A Microphone Review, we will share the set of features of the NT1-A. These elements continue to make the mic a favourite option among users. Is it the perfect mic for your needs?
Let us find out.
Vocal Performance at Its Finest
Stunningly warm and clear, the NT1-A is a vintage large-diaphragm true-condenser mic perfect for recording all kinds of vocals.
Its supple, silky character gives life to every performance. These elements guarantee accurate capturing of every nuance, thanks to its broad frequency response.
The studio-grade SM6 shock mount and pop filter are also present in the NT1-A for clear, plosive-free recording.
Instrumental Clarity with the RODE NT1-A Microphone
The NT1-A is a studio-grade microphone that is not only good for voices but also excellent for recording instruments. Its top end makes acoustic guitars and pianos sound lively. Also, the high SPL capability makes it a perfect drum and percussion microphone.
The core of the NT1-A is its gold-sputtered capsule, which allows it to deliver the warmth of classic studio microphones. This precision-manufactured product also does not compromise SPL handling and frequency response.
With its cardioid polar pattern, the NT1-A eliminates most unwanted sounds. It also has a controlled proximity effect that offers rich, intimate, and well-balanced sounds.
The RODE NT1-A Microphone Extremely Quiet for Superior Recordings
The NT1-A is among the quietest studio microphones and has a self-noise of 5dB(A). It ensures clean audio, even when recording soft sound sources.
In our tests, we heard how flawless and clean its recording quality was. We will discuss these details further in our RODE NT1-A Microphone Review.
Complete Vocal Recording Kit
The package of the NT1-A has the RODE SM6. This high-quality suspension shock mount isolates external noise like unwanted vibrations and rumbles from the microphone. Also, it has a removable pop shield featuring a telescopic arm and two adjustment axes.
RODE also supplies the NT1-A with a high-quality XLR cable.
RODE NT1-A Microphone User Guide
The NT-1A has a comprehensive user guide that covers everything you need to know about using the microphone. You will find the setup instructions and an overview of its features & accessories. This manual will help you get the most out of the microphone.
We will share the product specifications in this part of our RODE NT1-A Microphone Review. You will need to know these details to determine if the mic will work for your setup and needs.
The mic has a pressure gradient acoustic principle plus a JFET impedance converter with a bipolar output buffer. The NT1-A is a cardioid mic with a side address and a capsule measuring 1 inch.
Its frequency range is 20Hz to 20kHz, while output impedance and maximum SPL is 100Ω and 137dB SPL. The NT1-A has a -32dB re 1Volt/Pascal (25 mV @ 94dB SPL) +/- 2dB @ 1kHz sensitivity. A-weighted, the mic has an equivalent noise level of 5dBA.
Speaking of its power requirements, the NT1-A needs P24 or P48. It also uses a 3-pin XLR, balanced output between pin-2 (+), pin-3 (-1), and pin-1 (ground) output connection. Additionally, it has a maximum output level of 13.7mV (@ 1kHz, 1% THD in a 1KΩ load).
Lastly, the NT1-A weighs 326g, and its dimensions are 190 x 50 x 50mm (H x W x D)
Hands-on with the RODE NT1-A Microphone
We tried the microphone for over a week to share our experience in this RODE NT1-A Microphone Review. While testing it, we saw how it performed, the setup process, and its overall quality.
Here is a quick reminder for when you start using the mic. First, you should position it vertically, then speak to its side rather than directly at the top. It is the best way for it to capture your voice clearly and efficiently.
Setting it up is not difficult. However, the necessary tools on hand are essential for the process. Since it is not a USB microphone, you cannot just plug in and use the NT1-A.
You can connect it to an audio interface or speech recorder with an XLR cable. Thanks to RODE, a decent 6m length cable, a shock mount and a carrying case are in the box. Once you mount and connect the XLR cable, you need to power the mic and find a good position.
Like other condenser microphones, the NT1-A needs power to work, so this is where the phantom power comes into play. You will need a phantom power that can provide +48V, but +24V is enough to power this microphone.
After setting it up, we immediately tested the product to share the results in our RODE NT1-A Microphone Review.
We always wondered why the NT1-A continues to be one of the top choices for recording microphones. But our performance tests answered our question. It was perfect for recording vocals with its high sensitivity and low 5dB self-noise that prevented interference in our recordings.
We also noticed that this microphone worked excellently for recording voices and speech. Its nice and flat frequency was approximately at the 0Db mark and perfectly captured most detail. Aside from the clarity, we loved the added sparkle that enhanced our voices to stand out in the mix.
You must be aware of the high sensitivity of the NT1-A, which is -31.9dB. As a result, it is good at picking up low-level sounds, which explains why it captured a lot of detail.
Our tests managed to record various sounds without distorting, so we did not do much editing in the post-process.
Its sensitivity and SPL also allowed the microphone to capture whispers and full-blown singing. All of these voice ranges were clear and audible in our recordings, and we did not notice any distortion.
The only drawback of this microphone is the sibilance issues with T and S sounds. It is due to the sensitivity of the 1-inch gold-sputtered capsule.
Fortunately, the NT1-A has a pop filter that can help solve this problem. However, its filtering performance is not perfect, so we recommend upgrading at some point if you invest in this microphone.
The NT1-A delivered an excellent overall performance during our tests. It is the ideal product if you want recordings that do not have too much colouration. This microphone has a flat yet natural response, resulting in realistic audio, so what you see is what you get.
Although the NT1-A is a quiet microphone, we recommend setting up a vocal booth to maximise its performance. It will help you achieve higher-quality recordings. If it is impossible, a simple acoustic shield is enough to improve the sound reproduced by the NT1-A significantly.
RODE NT1-A Microphone Review Summary
The NT1-A is an exceptional condenser microphone that excellently records vocals. It is one of the best choices for upgrading to your first XLR microphone from a USB microphone. Although it is not cheap, it does not cost a fortune, and its performance makes it worth the purchase.
We highly recommend this product if you plan to make your first solid investment in a recording microphone. Whether you use it for podcasting or making music, the NT1-A will do the job and deliver impressive performance.