Rode NTV by asdfdsa
The NTV is a fixed-pattern (cardioid-only), large-diaphragm capacitor microphone featuring a one-inch diameter capsule that utilises an edge connection system rather than the more usual centre element. The military-spec multi-pin connector that links the mic to the external power supply box is designed and built by Rode, while the valve itself is an ECC81 dual triode.
Some designers believe the output transformer contributes as much to the sound of a mic as the valve itself, and Rode have had theirs custom built by Jensen, probably the leading name in the field of audio transformers. Even the capacitors are of audiophile provenance, from companies such as Solen, Wilma and Black Gates.
The NTV is the predecessor to the Rode NTK, and was most likely discontinued for being too costly to produce, though they share similar characteristics, the NTV is considered to be a little nicer and uses some better components. It has been highly raved about from the likes of Ray Bensen in an early 2000's TapeOp interview, where he trades the tube out for a telefunken valve, and claims the mic is on par with such contenders as the U-47 and C-12.
I have never had the chance to do the tube swap, but stock (and now a decade old) I would not rate the mic as highly as a U-47 or C-12, but the sound can be stunning in certain instances, especially with a lush pre.
I have found there can be little bit much sibilance some times (watch your s's when singing close), though other times, this characteristic can add a bit of shine to the sound. For vocals the mic can work very nicely up close, for a real 'in you face' type of sound, not harsh, not truly clear and open, but a little compressed, and kind of a mildly 'pressured' airiness. Sometimes I find a little 'honk' in the mid tone, but some EQ can cut that out, and it'll vary from source to source.
On electric guitars I really didn't find the mic pleasing, but a bit shrill (ymmmv) and couldn't get it to work well for distorted tones, though for a drum room mic it works nicely with some dirt and compression but try positioning it low so it doesn't pick up too much high-end / cymbal noise. On bass, the low-end actually seemed to be there, nice and round with a little warmth... it's not my first pick on bass (guitar) but it does fill out nicely with a dynamic mic and can hold its own rather well. In my experience with acoustic guitar, the mic seemed pretty accurate, in my case recording a boomy guitar it replicated it well, the mic has a good bit of 'air' to it, but be careful, as it can be a little thin in some instances, other times its great and fits great in a mix.
The stainless-steel body looks fantastic and certainly well-constructed, and can handle as much abuse as any LDC. The PSU and accessory bundle it comes with (metal foam-lined case, shock mount, psu, cable) are a nice addition, and all high-quality. The frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz, and self noise is better than 19dBA, which is pretty typical for a tube mic of this type, as is the sensitivity at 15mV/Pa. I'd consider it a sensitive mic, picking up very quiet noises from across the room and having a quick 'reaction' or response to details.
Overall it is a very good mic, and some consider it great. It can be used for a wide variety of sources, but as all mics, has its limitations. For the price I'd consider it a deal if you can find one as they're getting harder to come across, and if you're looking some-what of a low-cost utility tube mic, that isn't too colored, but has enough character to not be 'dull' on anything really, and has the ability to add a little pop and sizzle in the right places. I'd reccomend running it through some-what of a 'thick' and colored pre to get the full robustness and character out of the mic, though the nice thing is, the mic itself isn't so colored that it can pass for clarity if you match it accordingly. No polar-switching options, but cardioid alone covers the majority of circumstances, though I rate it 7/10 for features because of this.
If you're looking to pick up another LDC or get started with a tube-mic, I don't think you could go wrong with the NTV, so long as you have a few dynamics at hand to cover the rest of the bases. Good value, good performance, and very workable sound.