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Rode NT5
Old 27th May 2004
  #1
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Rode NT5

No, it is not high end gear, but I was wondering if anyone has heard this mic. Many have told me that it is a great pair of stereo mic's for recording acoustic guitar. A little darker than Neumann KM 184's, but the sound is there. It is only $399 for the pair. Great reviews in Sound on Sound and Electronic Musician as well.
Old 27th May 2004
  #2
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StuartMac's Avatar
 

I had a pair of NT5s - for about two weeks. I got them REALLY cheap and still felt ripped off.

Sorry. I thought they really, really sucked.
Old 27th May 2004
  #3
1484
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Wow first complaints I have ever heard on the NT5. I know you can't trust Electronic Musician to a certain point, but they said,

"Both the NT4 and the NT5 are housed in heavy-duty, cast-metal bodies sporting a classy, satin-nickel finish and Røde's signature gold dot. The two mics share the same frequency-response characteristics, as well as a respectable maximum SPL of 143 dB, a dynamic range of 128 dB, and transformerless output circuitry. Neither mic provides an attenuation pad or highpass filter. A thin black label encircles the base of each mic, indicating manufacturer, model, and serial numbers.
Other gear used for the tests included Daking 52270 mic preamps, a Langevin Dual Vocal Combo preamp, a Focusrite Green Series dual mic pre, a Mackie 1202-VLZ, an Allen & Heath 16:2 console, and an SSL 6000E Series desk. Results were recorded to DAT (Panasonic SV3800 and Tascam DA-P1), ADAT, Tascam DA98, and CD-R.

Both mics were easy to use and performed well, exhibiting a relatively even frequency response and quiet operation. I checked the mics' self-noise, which is rated 16 dBA, against a comparable condenser in my cabinet, the small-diaphragm Oktava MC012. The Røde mics were significantly quieter than the Oktavas.

As a location-recording engineer specializing in stereo recording, I'm always interested in checking out new options for capturing stereo images. My ears perked up when I heard that Røde recently introduced two affordable new microphones designed specifically for stereo-miking applications: the NT4 (see Fig. 1), an unusual-looking stereo mic, and the NT5 (see Fig. 2), a small-diaphragm condenser packaged in matched pairs. Along with my enthusiasm for stereo recording, I also have a fondness for strange-looking mics, so I jumped at the chance to test these new transducers from Down Under.

CLONE POOL

For this review, I received a single NT4 and a matched pair of NT5s. Both models have the same externally polarized (“true” condenser) capsule style. Two rows of narrow ports around the top of the cap help achieve its cardioid-only polar pattern. The gold-sputtered, half-inch diaphragm glints through an orderly array of small round holes at the address end of the mic, which is veiled by a finely woven mesh screen.

Both the NT4 and the NT5 are housed in heavy-duty, cast-metal bodies sporting a classy, satin-nickel finish and Røde's signature gold dot. The two mics share the same frequency-response characteristics, as well as a respectable maximum SPL of 143 dB, a dynamic range of 128 dB, and transformerless output circuitry. Neither mic provides an attenuation pad or highpass filter. A thin black label encircles the base of each mic, indicating manufacturer, model, and serial numbers.

Both models come in custom, hard-plastic carrying cases embossed with the Røde logo. The cases are secured with sliding plastic latches and fitted with form-cut foam interiors. The NT4 package includes the RM3 stand adapter; the WS4 wind shield; a custom, 5-pin, female-to-2-XLR-male stereo cable; and a 10-foot, 5-pin-to-⅛-inch-stereo-plug cable. The pair of matched NT5s comes with two RM5 stand adapters and two WS5 foam-rubber wind shields. The stand adapters are made of flexible, durable plastic and incorporate metal threading — a touch of quality that's nice to see, considering that some major mic manufacturers now use plastic threading on their stand adapters.

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO


The NT4 is a dedicated stereo mic fitted with two capsules permanently positioned as an XY coincident pair. A curved piece of metal on the top of the mic acts as a stereo bar to support the two caps, which are fixed at a 90-degree angle.

The NT4 is a bit of a Frankenstein creation, borrowing its body from the previously introduced Røde NT3 and sharing its capsule design with the NT5. The result is a mic that looks about as odd as a duck-billed platypus. The body is a beefy cylinder that tapers at the bottom. A rounded, internally threaded ring near the top of the mic allows access to the electronics inside. The NT4 can be powered either by a 9V battery or via phantom power (48V, 24V, or 12V). The bottom half of the mic screws off to reveal the battery compartment. Naturally, powering the mic by 48V phantom power yields the best results.

An oval window in the upper half of the body recesses the mic's on/off switch, protecting it from accidental bumps. The window also contains a red LED that indicates battery life. As long as the battery is good, the LED lights during power up and then shuts off; if the LED remains on after power up, it indicates that a new battery is needed. According to Røde, one 9V battery grants up to 400 hours of operation — a feature likely to make the mic popular among concert “tapers” whose recorders do not provide phantom power.

The NT5 is a pencil-type, small-diaphragm, mono condenser mic offered in matched pairs only; as of this writing, you cannot purchase a single NT5. This mic requires phantom power (48V, 24V, or 12V); there is no battery-power option.

RØDE TEST


I tested both mic models live and in the studio. The live performances were recorded in stereo direct to DAT. The groups I recorded and the venues I recorded at included an ensemble comprised of vocals, cello, sarod, gongs, and percussion at a small Buddhist church in San Francisco; a trio with clarinet, tenor sax, and shakahachi flute at a midsize, cement-floored venue; a classical cellist at an art gallery with hardwood floors and a high ceiling; a nine-piece ensemble composed of drums, congas, timbales, bass, keyboards, electric guitar, pedal-steel guitar, trumpet, and saxophones at a small club in San Francisco; and a large jazz ensemble featuring piano, violin, saxophone, flute, upright bass, drums, and Chinese erhu at Yoshi's jazz club in Oakland, California. I also used the NT4 as a drum-set overhead for an extremely dynamic player on a multitrack live recording of a jazz trio at a 19th-century church in Tiburon, California.

For the studio tests, I was assisted by fellow sound-arts instructor Steve Orlando. Working in Ex'pression Center for New Media's SSL room, we used the NT4 and the NT5s as drum overheads for a recording of a Latin jazz ensemble; as room mics; and on acoustic guitar. I also put the mics through several tests at my personal studio.

Other gear used for the tests included Daking 52270 mic preamps, a Langevin Dual Vocal Combo preamp, a Focusrite Green Series dual mic pre, a Mackie 1202-VLZ, an Allen & Heath 16:2 console, and an SSL 6000E Series desk. Results were recorded to DAT (Panasonic SV3800 and Tascam DA-P1), ADAT, Tascam DA98, and CD-R.

Both mics were easy to use and performed well, exhibiting a relatively even frequency response and quiet operation. I checked the mics' self-noise, which is rated 16 dBA, against a comparable condenser in my cabinet, the small-diaphragm Oktava MC012. The Røde mics were significantly quieter than the Oktavas.

The capsules of the single NT4 and the pair of NT5s proved sonically well matched. Moreover, the capsules in the pair of NT5s were from the same production run and even had consecutive serial numbers.

ACOUSTIC DUTIES


During drum-overhead testing in the SSL studio, Orlando put up the NT5s alongside his personal favorite for that application, a pair of Neumann KM 184s. Admittedly, that was not a fair comparison with regard to price, given that a single KM 184 costs more than the pair of NT5s. Still, the NT5s fared well. The Røde mics were sonically a bit darker and not quite as full sounding as the Neumanns, but we were really impressed by the quality of the sound. The NT5's frequency-response chart shows a relatively flat response (±2.5 dB) up to around 14 kHz, at which point it begins to roll off, dropping approximately 8 dB by 20 kHz. That seemed in keeping with the relatively darker quality of the highs as compared to the Neumann KM 184.

To compensate, we applied approximately 3 dB of shelving boost at 10 kHz. After that simple EQ adjustment, it became a challenge to determine which mics were which in the mix — the sound quality of the Røde mics was that good.

FIXED INCOME

Both of the Røde models also sounded rich and detailed on an acoustic guitar miked close. I preferred the NT5s in that instance, because of the positioning flexibility afforded by using separate mics — For example, with the mic positioned a few inches back and directly facing the 12th-fret area of the acoustic guitar — which effectively aimed one cap at the lower fretboard and the other at the sound hole — we noticed a “hole-in-the-middle” effect. That is no deficiency of the NT4, but rather it is the inevitable limitation resulting from the fixed 90-degree angle of the mic's caps — think of it as a trade-off for the convenience, ease of use, and guaranteed phase-distortion-free (and thus mono-compatible) performance of the NT4. That said, you can easily tighten up the stereo image after the fact by panning the two channels closer together.

Sonically, both mics performed admirably, even holding their ground against comparable models costing twice the money. Though in comparison they sounded darker and less sparkly in the highs (a quality some readers will view as a minus, others as a plus), the Røde mics captured plenty of detail — enough to impress a group of pro engineers who took a listen out of curiosity. In addition, the mics were quiet and smooth sounding, and the capsules were well matched on both models"

Hmmmm, anyone else use these mic's?
Old 27th May 2004
  #4
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StuartMac's Avatar
 

Don't know about EM but I refuse to take Sound On Sound reviews seriously.
Old 27th May 2004
  #5
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Revelation,

take my word for it these are awful mics. I did a 3 week rock and roll session last year where I was stretched mic wise so I borrowed a pair from the bands live engineer. They sucked on just about every source - to be more specific

drums - horrible on O/H and even worse on hi hats

Acoustic guitar - thin and lifeless

Piano - don't ask (it was a Yamaha upright)

Room mics - I tried them for distant room mics on drums and electric guitars, they were unusable on every source.

The other small diaphragm mics I had on that session were a pair of KM184 and a pair of AKG C451B. I don't consider either of those pairs to be primo but they smoked the Rodes on every source and believe me I needed the Rodes to work.


I also agree with Stuart wholeheartedly, Sound on Sounds reviews are not worth a s**t.

Don't do it, wait for a used pair of something better, I recently bought a used pair of AKG 451s (the old ones) for similar money. Apologies for seeming negativem it's not my style but I would never consider a Rode product on the basis of what I heard,

cheers,
Ruairi


PS the pair I tried were in no way darker than my KM184s, they were much stronger in the 1.5 to 4k region - sweet
Old 27th May 2004
  #6
Gear Addict
 
fatty's Avatar
 

rode nt5 thru mackie pre is the tinniest, harshest combination i've ever tried. they suck, bigtime.
Old 28th May 2004
  #7
1484
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Looks like the KM184 is the way to go for a pencil condensor
Old 28th May 2004
  #8
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StuartMac's Avatar
 

Try the Josephson C42s first - I don't have them, but I DO have KM184s. Sometimes the 184s are great, sometimes they can sound a bit brash. From what I can gather the C42s are smoother, and should be worth a look.
Old 28th May 2004
  #9
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matucha's Avatar
well, me and friend, we did a comparison of NT5, KM184 and KM84, some time ago... I should have the sounds somewhere. I try to find it and put it here as mp3. NT5 was the brightest no doubt, but nothing scary... as I remember.
Old 28th May 2004
  #10
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matucha's Avatar
So here it is:
Attached Files

flute_neumann_km84.mp3 (219.9 KB, 14750 views)

Old 28th May 2004
  #11
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matucha's Avatar
another:
Attached Files

flute_rode_nt5.mp3 (222.8 KB, 14882 views)

Old 28th May 2004
  #12
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matucha's Avatar
another flute:
Attached Files

flute_neumann_km184.mp3 (224.4 KB, 12957 views)

Old 28th May 2004
  #13
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matucha's Avatar
a Petrof grand piano:
Attached Files

piano_neumann_km84.mp3 (575.9 KB, 14634 views)

Old 28th May 2004
  #14
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matucha's Avatar
and the sharper one:
Attached Files

piano_rode_nt5.mp3 (576.5 KB, 15179 views)

Old 28th May 2004
  #15
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matucha's Avatar
The three...
Attached Thumbnails
Rode NT5-trojka_web.jpg  
Old 28th May 2004
  #16
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matucha's Avatar
the piano
Attached Thumbnails
Rode NT5-piano_04_web.jpg  
Old 28th May 2004
  #17
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matucha's Avatar
piano again
Attached Thumbnails
Rode NT5-piano_03_web.jpg  
Old 28th May 2004
  #18
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matucha's Avatar
The preamps were used from the Neve console on the picture (it is actually a wreck, repaired too many times to hold it's name ;-). Converters were old protools 24bits, but I don't know why my friend recorded it at 16bit with no consistent levels, so I had to boost some samples to make it usefull for direct comparison. You can see the mic's positions on the pictures. The hall is used for recording music for movies and has nice acoustics... the rest is punk ;-).

I think NT5 sucks on the flute, but it is not such a problem on piano... well I'm interested to hear your comments ;-).
Old 28th May 2004
  #19
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matucha's Avatar
Attached Thumbnails
Rode NT5-smecky.jpg  
Old 28th May 2004
  #20
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RaGe's Avatar
 

Yeah km84 is "creamier" on piano. Didn't think NT5 sucked that bad on flute.
Old 28th May 2004
  #21
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matucha's Avatar
it is the sucked midrange and hard dry top, that will turn mix into the nightmare. I learned to view things from this side... soloed it isn't nice, but works somehow this way "yes this is a flute - i recognize it" ;-)
Old 28th May 2004
  #22
1484
Guest
The NT5 sounds pretty decent, especially for a pair for $399. However the KM 184 has a little more depth in the flute and the piano. It is not a big difference, but a noticeable one. I assume it has a fuller sound on the acoustic guitar as well?
Old 28th May 2004
  #23
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matucha's Avatar
well we didn't try guitar, since it isn't my instrument of choice... however we were quite satisfied with the results at the price. It is no highend, but with some EQ it could work on some tracks. But I'd be very caucious to record big part of the mix with those, could be very problematic.

This was year or two ago, now I see too many good deals on 2nd hand market I simply can't resist to go after prooved mics.

One thing I couldn't complain about Rode is the build quality, it is simply robust.

And I don't own any rode mic.
Old 29th May 2004
  #24
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audiothings's Avatar
 

stapes / avenson
great reviews all around...

anything by earthworks
cheaper than the km184 and more natural top end.

studio electronics se3

oktava mc012 matched pair from sound room
probably the safest bet for this sort of money...

Old 13th March 2011
  #25
Well after all this time I found this thread. I think the NT5's sound just fine. Any small difference between them and the KM 184s can be easily EQ'd. I think the guys complaining were really just hearing the fruits of their own abilities. Like a bird that sees it's reflection in a mirror, and tries to fight it. LOL. Sure there are better mics at a much higher price, but the rule of diminishing returns comes into play really. For a lot more money you get a little bit better. I think people really decide with their preconcieved notions, rather than their ears.
Old 13th March 2011
  #26
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woodnote's Avatar
 

NT5's are not going to destroy a track or ruin a mix. I have heard some stunning tracks recorded with the NT5's. So when I hear people say they used them and it sounded horrible, I think "user error" way before I think "mic error". Anyone who hate them care to post some recordings they were "stuck" using them on?
Old 14th March 2011
  #27
Gear Head
 

There are a lot of these going around Australia so I've used them quite a bit. Sure, like everyone says, you can get something happening with them, but it's a pain. They are just way too bright, and I'd rather put up the right mics first than have to fight their brightness all day.
Old 14th March 2011
  #28
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didier.brest's Avatar
Check this for NT5 testing against other cardio SDCs on steel guitar and this on piano (NT5 is no. 1).
Old 14th March 2011
  #29
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Check out the "one man music" thread. Can't remember the guy's name, but someone posted some great great drum sounds recorded with NT5s.
Old 14th March 2011
  #30
i did a spectrum analysis just for fun and curiosity. below are 2 photos showing eq curves.
Attached Thumbnails
Rode NT5-flute-graph.jpg   Rode NT5-piano-graph.jpg  
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