Friday, January 10, 2014

The New RODE NT1 2014 Review!

New Rode NT1 2014

After a couple of sleepless nights freaking out about my purchase of the Legendary Shure SM7B - which I will say is a pretty wonderful mic (but - maybe for a deeper male voice), I just had serious doubts about this amazing dynamic on my voice. I also felt that it was quiet, and I ordered a Cloud Lifter CL-1 to get the 60db boost it needed. Yet, I felt it wasn't bright enough for my vocals, although I do have a lower female register; some days I can wake up sounding like Kathleen Turner - I only aspire to sound like her one day :)

Growing up I've had such amazing opportunities to work in state-of-the-art studios since the age of 12, and have seen a lot of gear and beautiful microphones in my day. Ribbons are wonderful to work with and probably a fave personally, but again - being another dynamic, I would need a louder preamp that would pack a lot of gain! Plus, they aren't so cheap.

Then I thought about a tube, and although it would create a warmer sound, maybe it would lack some of the brightness I would want? I stayed up for the last 2 nights pondering and reading review after review. I always wanted to own a RØDE - but because they were designed and MADE in Australia I thought there was no way I could afford them. I was wrong! After doing much research I stumbled across a few contenders.

Staying up and getting slightly addicted to their Rode Soundbooth app. I still can't stop singing that "Oooh baby" track. It sticks with you. Well played Rode, very well played. ;)

These mics are a beauty and of course Rode sturdy. Both designed and made in-house in Australia.
The NTK tube mic was up there, along with the NT1000 (which I believe is a condenser version of the NTK - but I could be totally wrong!), NT2-A, NT1-A and the NT2000 (which was starting to creep out of my price-range). The highest on my list was the NT1 - new 2014 edition, but because it was SO new I put it out of my mind as I didn't think it would be around here yet, and trekked out to my local shop.

The P.A Shop is amazing here in London, Ontario - by the way. Incredibly knowledgeable staff, great variety of stock and if you're an out-of-towner Canadian, they offer free shipping! They also ship everywhere else, you can contact them through their chat service or call. They've always been awesome to me and treat me well :)

They actually have a RØDE vocal booth where I got to try the microphones I wanted to! I could have cried tears of joy finding this out :)

Sweet collaboration with Rycote - completing a really professional shock mount.

First up was the NT1-A. It sounded great, it sounded bright - which wasn't too bad for me for what I wanted. I think I was ready to go for that but wanted to hear all of my options. Next I tried the NT1000 which sounded a little warmer to me and I was warming up to that idea. Then I plugged into the NT2-A which also sounded equally great,  and started some confusion because for some reason I couldn't hear too much difference and asked for another opinion.

The very smart sales associate said he heard more sibilance on my vocals on the NT1000 over the NT2-A. Interesting! I was wondering what to do because I didn't really see myself using the different polar pattern settings as I found the cardioid to be what I would use the most, if not all the time - unless I wanted to do a duet on one mic - or whatever else. It was the next choice on my list.

Last choice (because the NTK tube wasn't available to try) was the NT2000. I loved the sound because it was sort of warmer than the NT1-A and incredibly smooth. The price was a little higher than I wanted to go - but it was also very sweet sounding. It because a hard choice, I made my vocal round 3 more times and then I decided I was ready to grab the NT1-A, because we both thought it sounded best on my voice.

In my head, I knew deep down I reeeeallly wanted to try the new NT1 and for some reason I started to walk around aimlessly because ADD gets the best of me sometimes - and for the good because there it was! I had a Wayne's World moment seeing the brand spankin' new box behind glass - "Oh yes, she will be mine."

Who doesn't want to pose with a new mic? I went with an out-take as I later thought how lame my idea actually was ;)
There were some waiting to be put out on the floor. "Oh yeah! We JUST got that new NT1 in! I'm equally excited to try it!" the salesman said. Both of us giggling in excitement, as we unboxed it and plugged it in. And there it was...

I get a smidgen warmer sound and not as bright as the original NT1-A. It gave my vox some nice depth and smoothness. I feel that was what the anniversary edition was lacking for me for MY vocals particularly. I am not knocking the NT1-A whatsoever, but the NT1 had similarities with that I loved about the NT2000. But, this is really just in my opinion and to my ears.

Perhaps I was just overstimulated, like smelling too many perfumes at once, but I knew in my heart that this one would work for me. At the price point of $320 CDN + tax it was a sound steal. Really happy with it!

As far as sibilance, it might be there a tad, but when I think about my S's and T's - I try and be cautious and I do sound a lot better, actually. I think you could use a de-esser on it and EQ it out - but it wasn't too bad at all, and a quick fix straight-away if NEED be. Especially when I was singing - it was a non-issue.

For my voice-over work I'm still trying to see what sounds best, but I sent in a completely dry vocal take and I am pretty sure I got that job :) That says a lot!

So, for the price - actually not even for the price... For the sound of the microphone, it sits at an affordable advantage to open to a bigger market - to get the proper credit it deserves.

Oh! They also have this little plug feature on the bottom of the mic that you can scan and it brings you right to the page where you can register for your 10 (!!!) year warranty. I've also read that their customer service is superb, and help without question (well, maybe a couple.)

All metal pop shield and a good locking nut is also included. 

The dreaded plosives through the new, and may I say INCREDIBLE, shock mount w/removable pop shield that comes included (SMR designed by Røde but features Rycote lyres) are almost completely gone. Which is actually why I went for the SM7B in the first place. I cannot give this shock mount enough praise. It's nice because you can't go wrong with the space between the mic, and the shield. It has already been ingeniously decided for you! :)

Another great thing is that this shock mount is compatible with all the NT series - including the K2 tube mic.

When you're done a session for the day, they also included a nice dust cover for your protecting convenience.

As you can see, I tried to capture the pop shield in it's detail. It looks like leather on the site ;)
I own an M-Audio Nova (because I actually love the sound for the money) and although these are both considered brighter cardioid condensers (the Rode NT1 is a little less gritty - in a favourable way) considerably floor noise boasting the "world's quietest 1" Cardioid Condenser", and to me - it seemed to open me up in a less harsh manner. I will keep both of them for my future mic locker as they offer me something a little different.

All in all, I'm very impressed with the new NT1! You should definitely have a listen! Try all of them, because something might sound better or different to you. Wonderful quality from Rode.

What is a review without hearing what it sounds like? I will post a sound clip below completely dry through Reason 6 and Prøpellerhead's balance (which I am also in love with!) below:

For reference: I am a new voice-over artist at (which is very much under construction)  and an old singer-songwriter ;)  I'll be using this microphone mainly for vocals and some acoustic guitar. You can check out my music soundcloud. (Even though I produce mostly electronic music:)

My little humble (and un-treated - don't judge me) home studio. 


Belvadere said...

It sounds nice. I'm a Rode fan.

Anonymous said...

Dear Elle,
Nice review and a very nice voice to review it with.
One thing I would like your readers to note though is that this microphone is definitely NOT sibilant (as I think you also said in the review).
However, due to the way that the vocals have been processed in this demo, particularly the first 20 seconds of spoken word, the microphone comes off as seeming very sibilant.
Would you be so kind as to adjust the processing (too much high shelf EQ is my guess) and re-post just for the sake of giving this new and really awesome mic a fair presentation in an otherwise excellent demo?
Thanks! :)
NB. I do own this mic also.

Anonymous said...

Hola Elle, como esta la experiencia con este nuevo NT 1, puedes contarme.
Koki Solier Córdova.

dickiedrummer said...

Nice review, thanks!... I have the NT-1A, butthink I'll add this new one to my collection. Good luck with the V/O work, your voice sounds great :)

Unknown said...

Hello Elle,
I really enjoyed reading your review and listening to your vocals. I just recently purchased this mic a few days ago to add to my home studio. I mostly record rap vocals but every now and then I will record a singer. For the last couple of years I have been using the bluebird mic which I really like a lot but I just wanted to try something different, that’s why I decided to get the NT1. So far I have only used it once and it was to record a chorus that I had just wrote. After that recording I must say that I am very pleased with this mic and glad that I decided to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Hi :) Nice review...
You have a nice voice . Organic and freshie . I give it 25 shmeckels.

Alisen said...

Pinpointing the right voice-over talent is very important regardless of the project that you want them for. But the challenge that is faced by most people is how they can go about the process so as to successfully hire the right voice-over. See more voiceover services

Unknown said...

i dont know what that preamp your running through is but its either that or your levels, but it sound horrible! I have the NT1 andit doesnt sound that shitty! Im listening on genelec monitors that are over 1200 dollars and trust me something is way to high in your gain staging or you were clipping and that came through in the bounce! alot of people dont know that something can be clipping in thier daw but it will sound okay until you bounce it, then its noticeble! id consider re-recording it!

Unknown said...

Hi Elle,
Just found your review of the NT1 and let me say great work. Nice demo of your spoken word and singing.
I just bought this complete studio kit, more for the Rycote Shockmount than the mic, but was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the NT1 fighting well above it's price range. I think it sounds better than some of my other way more expensive mics in my locker. I now have three Rode products after starting out with the NT1-A when I went LCD in 2011, plus the NTG3 and now this one. All Aussie designed and made in Sydney.
We don't only play great rugby league and basketball here we also make great affordable mics. I'm proud to own a few at my voice over "Studio 54".
You stay classy.
Cheers Walter Williams, Rojo Voice Productions

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