When I purchased this microphone, it was part of a bundle Rode had put together for their anniversary, which included the microphone, a shock mount, and an XLR cable. I think this bundle is now a permanent deal, so that's what I'm going to be reviewing.
This microphone, when paired with any half-decent preamp, is an incredible bang for your buck. Crisp highs with a smooth low-end on vocals, lots of shimmer on acoustic guitars, and plenty of body as drum overheads. I use it primarily for vocals, and it has yet to fail me. The sound you get is very tweakable, and you can basically make it sound any way you'd like. Very transparent.
I've been using this mic for two years now, and it's been very good to me. I get very pleasing sounds of it here at home with my rather lackluster preamps, but if I bring it to the studio with me and get to run it through some tubes, she really starts to shine. Not quite as smooth or as natural as a Neumann, but why would it be? It's a $200 microphone. And it's worth every penny.
The included shockmount and cable have held up wonderfully thus far.
Definitely worth the purchase.
Last edited by Sandurz; 10th December 2011 at 02:38 AM..
Reason: accidentall submitted
The NT1a is like an ice pick to the head. Chinese LDCs are known for their hyped high end. The NT1a is the worst of the bunch in my opinion. Very piercing highs that are not contained well with eq. I got one when they first came out thinking it would have to be an improvement over my original NT1. Boy, was I wrong! My original NT1 sounded like a U87 compared to the piercing screeching sound coming from the NT1a. I returned it right away, with no regrets.
I have had my NT-1a for about 4 yrs and it has served me well. It is well-built, stands up to moderate abuse, and the price is right.
Soundwise, it has a 2db rise at 150hz that makes it sound great on most male vocals. On certain male vocals, it has won shootouts here against somewhat better mics like the at4047, mk220, and sm7b. It sounds pretty good on acoustic guitar with some nice mid-range presence and strong low end, but I usually prefer SDCs on guitar, as the NT-1a can get boomy in the low end relative to the SDCs I use (cemc6, sm81).
I don't really notice any harshness in the upper mids or highs that others speak of. The upper mids are present, but I have never found it harsh even with compression. I would not use it on most female voices, but it sounds pretty good on deeper register females.
I love the low noise and high sensitivity characteristics of this mic, as I record a lot of quiet sources like fingerstyle guitar and solo singer/songwriters.
I recently did a systematic shootout of several vocal mics ($200-$600 range) with each of several preamps ($225-$550 per channel range) to find the best pre for each mic. The NT-1a with a Sytek MPX-4Aii was an outstanding combo for male vocals.
The NT1-A is a budget cardioid condenser microphone aimed at the new sound engineer and home musician. The microphone in question here came as part of their 'Complete Vocal Recording Solution' with the mic, shockmount, pop filter and XLR cable. At it's typical bundle RRP of around £160 its a neat little package for a very competitive price.
Its a bright sounding mic, and I have personally used it for both male and female vocals - for metal/rock singers, singer / songwriters and voice over work, also I have used it to record acoustic guitar. Its a great little all rounder for all these uses, sounding particularly nice with an acoustic guitar. It performs better with the quieter end of the scale, for nice guitars and nice smooth vocals/voice over rather than the roaring of rock singers but with the right amount of EQ and other desired effects you can get great results that please engineers and my clients alike.
Its not the be all and end all, and at this price you really wouldn't expect it to be. Its a great solution for the new engineer and hobbyist as you start your journey into the world of audio and lets face it - in the future more mic's in your arsenal isn't going to hurt one iota ... and it won't hurt your bank balance much, either!
Sound Quality - 7
-Nice smooth bright sound that is pleasing to hear and capable of great results even without a fancy pre-amp.
Ease of Use - 10
-Its a microphone, it has no options. Just sing at it!
Features - 6
Great kit included with the bundle but no options for different polar patterns or anything may limit its versatility against other microphones.
Bang For Buck - 9
Almost whoever you are, you really cant go wrong at this price.
Rode NT1A is a very quiet microphone and a little bit hyped on the highs.
I normally run it trhu a dark sounding tube preamp to do voiceover work and it has never let me down. Definitely a bang for the buck, but don't expect it to be a high end mic though.
This mic used to be THE mic to buy if you were on a budget. At the time it first came out it was pretty much the only mic you could get to sound anything close to a good studio mic without spending over a grand. Most the people that used it were on a budget and were using it with budget preamps so it's reputation wasn't great among the high end studios but all the home studio people loved them.
Craig David was I believe the first big artist through that used one and it did sound good on his voice. It can sound good if you match it up with a nice tube preamp. I wouldn't call the highs hyped as it seems to drop down after 16k. There is a peak around 8k which can be a problem for some singers and instruments but since you know it is at 8k you can EQ it out. It's not the best mic out there and for the price now the cheaper Audiotechnica studio condensers and Studio Projects are Rodes rivals.
I still have a pair or Rode NT1a mics in my studio and they do get used from time to time.
Should you get one?
If you're on a budget, why not. It's a decent mic and by spending less money you could put it towards a good preamp and still end up with a fairly decent sound, perhaps a fantasic sound if you find the right preamp. I know I lot of people that have used it with an Aphex 207D with good results. If you run a high end studio, you might even find it useful to have lying around. It can sound great on acoustic guitars.
The Rode NT1-A is the perfect condenser microphone for beginners on a tight budget who are ready to make professional sounding records.
The first thing to note is the microphone is very quiet - it only has 5dB SPL of self noise. This results in very modern, clear, and clean recordings which can either be desirable or sterile. Indeed, this microphone very bright and crisp and lends itself well to male and lower pitch female vocals, but the high frequencies can come off as harsh. This microphone can also be very sibilant, but a skilled mix engineer can utilize some EQ and a de-esser to minimize the aforementioned problems to a very acceptable level.
Another thing to consider is Michael Joly of Oktavamod (Award-winning microphone engineering from Michael Joly) does a modification of the Rode NT1-A that makes it sound very similar to a Neumann U87 (which costs 5 times as much) for only $399. Many Gearslutz members had a very hard time discerning a difference between the modded NT1-A and the U87 which is pretty amazing. I plan to send my NT1-A in to be modded by Oktavamod sometime in the future, so look out for a review of that soon!
All in all, the Rode NT1-A microphone really does sound great for the price (which is under $250 on amazon), and it is packaged with a shock mount, pop filter, and XLR cable so it really is a great purchase for beginners who are ready to get their feet wet in the world of audio recording.
Background: Rode is a best selling brand of well-designed and well-engineered microphones which come with 10 year warranties. The price point is well-judged for the home-studio market and the mics, whilst not high-end, have a good reputation for build, reliability, and tonal quality.
The NT1A was my first microphone and was intended for studio use - vocals and acoustic guitar - but it has also worked well for field recording. I struck lucky considering my lack of knowledge at the time.
Hardware: The NT1A is a revision of the previous NT1 model and it's USP is the low self-noise and bang-for-buck. The review model, purchased 8 years ago, came in a soft cardboard box with a good quality dust case and 'cats-cradle' eleasticated shock suspension with mic-stand mount. The mic is robust and well-engineered with good tolerance. The capsule is 1" cardiod condenser with an incredibly low self-noise of 5dBA - it's claimed as the worlds quietest studio microphone. The active electronics inside consists of a JFET impedance converer with bipolar output buffer. It's a side-address mic and the frequency response is 20-20,000Hz and output impedance of 100 ohms. Maximum SPL is 137 dB. It weighs 326g and connects to preamp via 3-pin XLR.
In Use: The NT1A feels substantial and solid to the touch; I remember getting home from the audio shop and connecting it to a preamp and monitoring with headphones on...I moved the mic on the stand to find a sweet spot in the room; whilst doing this I knocked a pin off my desk and it fell onto the floor...amazingly I heard the pin drop onto the floor through my headphones!
Leaving tonality aside for a moment, the incredibly low self-noise and dynamic response of this mic has taught me a lot about recording...the exactness of the NT1A can really help in terms of mic placement and the textures of different sources. This microscopic nature led me to use it for field use too and it worked very well on quiet sources in the natural world e.g. tiny insects buzzing and grass rustling in the breeze.
When it comes to tonality, the precision of the NT1A can be a positive and negative...it can be harsh, particularly on a 'harsh' vocalist or 'buzzy' instrument. This is problematic come mix time when it can be a battle with EQ and compression. That said, 8 years ago, there was little to touch this in the price range.
Based on the NT1A, I decided to upgrade to a Rode K2 when funds were available; the reason for this was I felt the NT!A never represented the qualities I wanted in the mix and the K2, whilst bright, is much warmer. Lately though I've been experimenting with the NT1A through a BAE preamp and it's like a new mic; the Recording Hacks review (link below) also notes that it's good for tracking to tape which smooths off the harsh edges. When I say harsh I don't mean it's a harsh mic but rather has a tendency towards 'brashness' in certain conditions e.g. bad room or tonality of vocal. Sibilance can be an issue too, although with the BAE this issue has disappeared and the mic has taken on a new lease of life.
I recently compared the NT1A against the sE Electronics sE X1 mic:
Conclusion: This is a great starter mic but needs a decent preamp and careful placement to get the best from it. It won't suit sibilant vocalists but can be EQ'd. It's excellent value and I've never regretted my purchase...it's an old friend I've learnt a lot from. I'd definitely recommend it but the competition has caught up now and, as with all mics, it's worth auditioning against the competition.
UPDATE: Following James Meeker's review below I've decided to adjust my scoring as I was wrong in my assessment and Gearslutz should present factual information. Having used 'better' mics for a while now I can put the NT1-A in a better context; it's still a well-engineered mic with great resolution but it's not deserving of a high score in comparison with other mics...particularly mics at a higher price point.
My assessment is that it's a decent buy for a beginner and the budget conscious (and who isn't that?). But personally, I don't like it at all -- it's just too harsh (although NOT as bad as the C1) and doesn't stand up to what I've become accustomed to over the years. In my opinion, a beginner would be far better served stepping up a bit to something like an AT4050. NOTE: there are a number of mods out there that reportedly revoice the NT1-A to smooth it out some, and a fair number of people swear by them (particularly the Octava mod)
I bought this as my first mic. Before I had this I was using my MacBook mic to record random stuff, so obviously this was a massive leap forward and I had no problems with the sound quality at all.
That was about one year ago. Since then my ears have got better and I've been doing a lot of recording. Only recently have I started to notice it's limitations.
I started getting difficulties when I recorded a female singer with a really special voice. She has some very harsh edges to her voice when she gets louder and the mic couldn't really deal with that. It sounded terrible. My mixing engineer fixed that problem with a deEsser and it turned out ok. http://soundcloud.com/sean-gray/would-it-be-easier
All in all I'm super happy with the mic. It has been a great investment: I spent a relatively small amount of money and got a quality mic that would allow me to make acceptable quality recordings and learn more about recordings. It's been my friend for about a year and within the next year I think I'll have to move on to something better.
If you're starting out and you want to add quality to your recordings at quite a low cost, then go for it. If you want to get more serious then I'd recommend spending a bit more.
This is the mic I recommend the most for broke decent sound engineers, as you can not just plug it in and sing and expect the recordings to sound great.
I use this mic the most in my studio, but everything I record with it have to be EQ out.
Its a low budget mic that can produce great sounds, but expect to have to play with the EQ and play with where you have to place the microphone when recording. - its a $200bucks mic that gets the job done.
Recommended for someone with less than $200 to spend
If I am recording a number of vocalists at once on individual mics, especially if it is for a background singer or someone who I need to brighten up a bit.
, I will go for the NT-1a and it compares favorably alongside my other large diaphragm condensers, e.g. Neumann U-87 or Equitek E-200 or AT 4030's. With a good tube pre, it can warm up just fine; it is a very quiet mic with quite low self noise.
Experiment with different mic pres with different gain characteristics and you wil hear a lot of different qualities so don't be too quick to judge.
I used to do a lot of spoken word and found the NT1a GREAT with a pop filter and a clean tube pre especially on resonant male voices.
If you have less than $200 or can pick one of these up for $100 used, I think it is a great bang for the buck!
- Sound quality: This mic has some outstanding SQ features--it has a wide frequency range and extremely low noise. Recording my vocals tend to sound too bright dead on. When turned 45 degrees or more, it takes the edge off an produces a more neutral tone. I tend to hear this same brightness on other's vocal tracks recorded using this mic as well. There are plenty of mods available for this mic and that's likely d/t the fact that the circuitry produces so little noise. Here's the Graph from Recording Hacks:
To me it seems to sound brighter than the graph would indicate which has been suggested is d/t time domain response issues caused by the protective grill. I cannot confirm or deny that.
- Reliability / Durability/ Usability: This mic is definitely lighter and doesn't feel as solid as some other mics I own. I haven't had any troubles with it however and I think it's made of aluminum. Probably why it feels light--and I have a tendency to equate light with cheap though it's certainly not always the case. Often it's the opposite. It's build quality is closer to my old Samson C01 than some of my newer/pricier mics. It comes with a very good shock mount, pop filter, and mic socks that allow you to leave it on the stand and not get dusty. It's very well thought out package for the lazy among us. The included carrying bag is not a rugged way to protect these for transport however.
- Would I buy this again if it were stolen?: Maybe... I like this mic b/c it's about as quiet as a good preamp and it does sound great many times. It just isn't my go to mic. I imagine I'd miss it if it were gone at times. It's so quiet.
- Features that stand out: The low noise and the wide frequency response!
- What I don't like: The general brightness on axis.
- Similar products used: Blue Spark, cheap Shure LDC, and Samson C01
This mic has some nice features and is definitely useful, but the sibilant brightness needs tamed for my vocals in general.
I use the Rode NT1A primarily for voice overs but I have used it on a variety of different recordings.
It is able to capture every single detail of the moment.
Vocals sound up close and intimate without colouring the sound in a negative way.
My set up is straight into the presonus and then direct via USB into my Mac Book Pro or iMac depending on where I am recording.
You can also use a tube pre-amp to make the Rode NT1A sound even warmer than it already does.
I have record using the very nice pre-amp along with the very nice compressor.
And this Mic sounds killer through an Avalon, manley or a classic neve.
Whether you are just starting out looking for your first Mic or you are and experienced recording engineer you should defintely add one of these too your arsenal.
Rode NT1A Should You Buy It?
I am extremely pleased with everything I have recorded and it will be my go to Mic for most applications for a long time.
Why spend more if you don’t have to. You can spend more but the increase in quality would be marginal at best.
My advice… grab one today.
A heavy handed, highly colored mic that might just be the fit
I have an NT1A. It was my second LDC. The first was a cheapo Samson C01. This is a very bright microphone, often, you'll need to use a desser.
The irony though is that for certain very low bass male vocals, this is the perfect fit along with the occasional female soprano.
It's also one of the better mics in the price range. It's only cardioid so you're not going to do a ton of different things but I like to point it at a hard wall and catch room ambiance for guitars and singers.
You're not going to love it on acoustic guitar, it's a little too top-end heavy for this application unless you're looking for the string-meets pick sound to be extremely prominent.
Extremely quiet and ultra-sensitive. It's hard to beat at the price point, then again, it's also in a price point where a little more goes a LOT farther. Not a bad mic, works well on voice overs specifically without getting overly boomy.
When these first came out, they fit a niche for a decent budget ldc. I, like many others, brought one of these home to try out. In a way, they were successful because the sound was 'decent'. However after a few tracks, the harmonic biases became nerve wracking. The tinniness of the high end adds up after a couple tracks on different sources and the boomy low-mids really crowd out the mix.
In the last few years, the market has really caught up in this price range. Mics like the sE X1, the KEL Audio mics, and some of the AKG's really blow the Rode out of the water in terms of natural harmonics and balanced clarity. I've relegated mine to use as a backup live mic on piano because the mid-scope gives me a sound that can cut through the mix - but it certainly isn't a great sound.
It's a decent mic, but I think you can do much better on a budget these days.
I bought this microphone because of the price tag. It is great for around $200. I did not go into it thinking that this microphone would blow everything out of the water and I have not been disappointed yet.
Back at school I used this through a Millennia HV-3D preamp and I got a very rounded vocal track. Comparing it to some of the higher end vocal microphones I have had a chance to use I don't think I will need to spend more money on a vocal mic until I get to the point of being a recording guru so to speak. At my home demo rig I lack the same high quality preamps and I am able to hear a pretty noticeable difference in the sound quality but this is to be expected when dropping from a high end preamp to a m-audio fast track's pre-amps.
If I was to try and find a flaw with this microphone I would have to say I don't personally like the screw mounting system for the shock mount it came with but this is a minor detail.
When I used this to record guitars as a room mic I enjoyed the presence of the lower mid region. This plus an sm57 really helped to fill out my guitar tone to sound fuller. Granted I eq'd out the high end on this mic and the lower end of the 57 but I really enjoyed the blended sound.
I am going to keep experimenting with this microphone to see where it excels and where it falls short. Overall though for a budget microphone I feel that this is very versatile choice.
My first impression was the color, probably had the most color I've ever heard on a microphone I'd classify the color as a "rich" sound, I probably would of liked it but the highs were too harsh for my liking so I sold it. This mic would definitely serve a purpose to give some instruments nice sounds but on vocals It's a difficult mic to use. Not impossible, but I would pass on it.
Two NT1A mics (provided by performer) 3' apart for a 4-piece band: bass, guitar, fiddle, dobro/guitar.
Normal venue PA setup:
FOH mixer is a Yamaha, EV high/mid & sub speakers, no monitors, stage area has sound insulation on 3 sides & carpet, room is partially insulated for sound & designed overall for "acoustic" performances.
The engineers have specific experience in folk, acoustic, bluegrass events, indoors & out.
At flat channel settings, these were very bright-sounding and crispy-sharp in an unpleasant way.
They were most unflattering to the higher voices, making them shrill and almost mettalic. Yuck.
EQing will not help, the overall tonal character is jangly.
They don't handle bass very well either, getting woofy very easily.
We don't have these issues with the Shure, Neumann, or AKG mics in the same situation(s), and don't usually have objections to performers using their own mics. I will veto the NT1A next time it comes around.
I am a (relative) Low-End-Theory practitioner & enjoy using several less-than-$500 mics in many cases, but I won't use a mic that sounds unpleasant or dis-phonic to me, and this one does.
It uses the same capsule as the D12, the legendary "Beatles" mic but with a differently shaped basket. In this day and age of digital recording, I find myself using more and more dynamic and ribbon mics instead of condensers, and this mic shines in that category. I first heard it on acoustic guitar, and it had a fullness and a smooth top end which I'd been looking for. It also works really well on vocals, especially female. I haven't tried it on anything yet, but to me it sounds like a very versatile mic.
I gave the features a lower mark because the bottom end roll off is close to useless, and it works in very particular way, actually physically changing the shape of the basket.
The original Rode NT1 was one of the truly affordable budget microphones designed for the burgeoning 80s home recording scene. It had an excellent reputation and was a common sight in local and project studios everywhere. For good reason--it was a decent mic. But times change, companies change hands, costs are cut to maximize profit, components change over the years, and things moved overseas.... and that's exactly what happened to the NT1.
This is not the same microphone that you'll hear old AE's drone on about being an excellent choice. It's not the same mic you'll read about in Rode's advertising blurbs, dribble dreamed up by some marketing weenie that wouldn't even notice the difference between an original NT1 and the low grade, total manufacturing cost about 3 dollars hunk of screaming metal you've just unwrapped. It's really something you should consider before going down this path because, as of the moment I'm writing this, there are PLENTY of options for mics in this price range and, barring a few natural disasters by Samson, all of them will kill-krush-and-destroy the modern NT1.
It's shocking how bad this microphone sounds compared to the original. If given the choice between miking a drum kits overheads with SM57's over NT1's there wouldn't even be a choice--my natural reflexes would have me halfway setup with the Shure's before the thought had even processed. I honestly cannot think of an application for this mic that virtually anything, including a rusty Campbell's soup can and a length of string, wouldn't beat its pants off of. This mic is shrill, thin, processed sounding and sterile. You know the old adage about a good recording engineer being able to make silk purses out of pig's ears? Well, George Martin couldn't get a good sound with The Beatles if he was forced to exclusively use NT1's; instead we'd all be talking about how amazing Gerry and the Pacemakers are. Avoid.
Bottom line: considering the environmental challenges and dwindling resources in the world it should be a crime against humanity to create, market and sell the NT1. It is a testament to the pursuit of money over everything else, in this case: artistry. Total junk.
I have one of these for over 10 years and use when I do not have access to high end mics (U87, 414, sounduluxe, etc)
If you compare it to one of these high end mics that cost $1000-$3000, then NO the sound quality is NOT EVEN CLOSE
I gave it a 4 out of 5 becuase I compared it to other mice in the SAME price range $200-$300. In this range there are not to many other mics that are as clear and open sounding. the only others in this range that I would consider using are the BLUE (they have a few in this range) and the AKG 4040.
it has a bass roll off and a pad (features) for this price thats good enough!
bang for the buck, well at this price a nice condenser with very little noise that has not had one problem in the over 10 years I have owned it and moved a few times, is a good deal!
run it though a good mic pre and it will surprise you I have run it thought focusright, joe meek and as well as plain old Mackie preamps. sounded good though all of these.
NT1A great sound quality...if oriented well (MP3 attached)
I just bought a non-matched pair of the Rode NT1A (it was on sale, I picked two that were really close in serial numbers, and they didn't have any matched pairs in stock). I'm only giving it three stars because of quality control issues I found. Here are my thoughts:
Out of the box, the grey paint finish of the mics was a little less satin shiny on one side of each mike versus other sides. I think it might have all little to do with shipping, as the mics would be rubbing around in the box during transit. Or the finish paint wasn't applied so well. So right there, I have to deduct a little, since the fit and finish aren't as good as a 5 star would warrant.
The box has a circular piece of clear tape on both sides of the box when brand-new, factory-sealed.
I had to try out five different NT1As before I found two that seemed ok. Two of the five had a popping sound every few seconds at a low level (you have to turn up the gain to hear it, in a quiet room) and the third had a crooked and apparently damaged diaphragm (I shined a flashlight through the metal mesh to see it). A fourth one had some popping, but letting it run on phantom power for several hours seemed to solve the problem. So again, quality control seems to be lacking.
The diaphragm capsule on the two mics I kept is angled back a bit, about 2mm, and its back might be on the verge of touching the mesh. Not sure if it's designed that way, but being so close to touching the mesh isn't good, because touching it can transfer unwanted vibrations.
The included black fabric pouch for the mics has a LOT of somewhat-loose threads inside. So turn it inside out and cut the loose threads, so that they don't fall out so much and collect on the metal mesh (and possibly get past the mesh over time).
The shock mounts are not perfectly centered, and even adjusting the rubber bands doesn't make the mounts perfectly centered. Not a huge problem to me, since one rubber band cannot be the exact same as another, In any event, I line up the mikes based on their alignment and not the shock mounts.
You can remove the large, circular pop filter by unscrewing it.
The mic cages seem to be quite well centered on the mics. It looks like there are only two screens, the outer and inner ones.
The packaging seems to be professionally done when you open the box. The two boxes I had were identical in packaging layout (some products don't even have good consistent packaging from sample to sample). The upper box snugly fits the lower box, so be gentle when putting it on or off so that the sudden change in air pressure doesn't damage the mics.
I use my own cables (Canare Quad, for instance) so I didn't try out the included cables. I noticed that with these mikes, microphony of the cables seems less (i.e. flicking your finger against the cables doesn't produce capacitance-related noise in the sound).
You have to tighten the vertical adjustment screw of the mount firmly or else the weight of the mics will tip the mount.
There may be a design bug to the mount...the female connector on the bottom to connect to the mike stand is too shallow; the male connectors on the stereo mounting plate on my mike stand are long enough that I cannot tighten it all the way into the mike mount. I had to add a few mm of 5/8" washers so that I could get firm tightening. Some other female connectors on other mounting clips are perfectly deep enough.
You can independently set up the horizontal alignment of the mount on your mike stand and the orientation of the mike on the mount.
OK, let's talk about the sound. I set up a stereo pair, as I feel that testing a mike in stereo tells you more than doing it in mono.
The equivalent noise is extremely low. I think I may be listening to the noise floor of my USB interface. From maybe 10 feet away, if I lightly rub the fingers in one hand, I can hear it in the mikes. That's awesome! The advertised quietness is no joke, it's the real deal.
The sound is big and fat, with plenty of bass frequencies. When I walk around the hardwood floor, I clearly hear the bass boom of the floor on the recordings. Not much isolation?. Off angle (e.g. near-coincident pair) the sound is not what I would call lean and bright. It's a smoother, full sound, and not harsh. Compared with an omni mike, this mike (being a cardioid) is like a zoom lens on the sound, and magnifies the sound field. Doing recording tests by walking around the room , the sound from behind has some disconnected bass, you hear deep bass but it's not connected to the voice. I think this is a consequence of being a cardioid. The volume level when in back sounds 1/3 as loud as the front, and has a muffled, phasy-bass quality.
On distant miking of choirs, piano and opera singers with a near-coincident pair, the sound is really nice. It's neither warm nor cool, the character seems about right. That is, neutral. Through my Focusrite 2.4, it's really great; technology has truly advanced to the point where studio quality recording is now available to the masses for hundreds of dollars, not thousands.
See attached mp3 file of the beginning of my daughter's choral concert. The NT1A mics are in front of the conductor, and the singers walk in from the back-left of the hall and go to the front and spread out in a semi-circle around the entire front of the hall. The piano is at the four o-clock position relative to the mics (i.e. to the right of the mics and a little behind them).
The noise level of the two mics seems identical. The volume level and sound quality of both mikes seem pretty close. But recording sounds from the rear, one mic seems to have quite a bit more high frequency detail than the other (e.g. you hear the "s" sounds more). So it's not a perfect match.
Does the NT1A sound like my own voice? Well, with an ORTF arrangement, it sounds very nice indeed. But pointing out the mics by only 70 degrees (I accidentally did this one time), I would say not, as it seems a little flat, lifeless and harsh compared to my own voice, lacking in richness. In other tests, I found that angling the mikes head on results in a sizzling bright sound character. Not at all pleasing to my ears. If I was a singer and was singing into one mic a foot away and then using the DAW to add reverb and such, I would try to pick a less sizzling-bright microphone.
I get the impression that doing a burn-in improves the sound quality. Plug in phantom power and leave the mike on for 24 hours or more. It got rid of the popping sound in one mike that I eventually kept, and it seems that the sound gets more liquid, to my ears.
When money is taken into account, if using for stereo recordings, I would give 3 stars, because of all the headaches I had trying and returning the mikes until I had gone through five of them to find two good ones. But If they improved the quality control for popping sounds, fit and finish and capsule alignment inside the mesh, I'd give it 5 stars. On an absolute level without regard to price, if the quality control improved, I'd give it 4 stars.
If you're on a tight budget and need cardioids for stereo recording, the NT1A is probably as good as it gets. At least you don't have to worry about mike hiss. But if you buy it, first do a visual check of the capsules, and listen for popping sounds in a quiet room with the preamp turned up. Cheers!
Last edited by classical; 3rd January 2014 at 08:13 PM..
Reason: Recording made with Rode NT1A added
Just picked picked up a Rode NT1A a few days ago and I've been doing some vocal testing into an Mbox Pro with PT10.
Everything was packed well and the finish on the mic was fine.
I had no trouble setting up the shock mount or screwing it on a stand. Everything lined up well... no issues what-so-ever setting things up.
As far as I know, the mic was made in Australia.
After reading the above post, I turned the cover bag inside out over a white envelope - no lint fell out at all. The diaphragm was pitched at a slight angle but, it was not touching the protective screen.
I used the cable that came with the mic for my test.
Sound Quality = 4
When I sing very close, one to two inches away, the tone is warmer than when I moved further away. The further away I got, the more treblely my vocals became. Over 4 inches and it was noticeable.
I've witnessed this phenomenon with other mics (Sure SM7 for example). Nevertheless, up close, I got a nice, warm sound with an authentic reproduction of my voice.
I gave it the "Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers" test... up close, it overloads easily when you hit with a strong "P"... even with the pop screen. A strong "P" (up close) causes clipping. However, by singing a bit off axis, the mic does not overload and it still sounds good. If it weren't so sensitive to pops, I'd give it a 5 for Sound Quality.
Ease of Use = 5
As mentioned in one of the above reviews, it's just a mic - no switches, no variables - just plug it in and go.
Features = 4
About the only feature that the NT1A sports it it's low S/N Ratio.
The NT1A is very quite indeed - a huge plus.
Bang for Buck = 5
Overall, it's a a pretty good mic and I'm very happy with it. I have several albums under my belt and I would confidently recommend the NT1A.
Two thumbs up!