Rode has been on a mission to offer the world high-quality mics at economical prices. Their latest offering is the NT1-A, a direct descendent of the NT1, but with improvements to sweeten the deal.
Chief among the enhancements is the NT1-A’s self-noise of 5 dB (A-weighted) — an amazingly low figure at any price, let alone in a mic in the sub-$350 price range.
But the NT1-A is more than just quiet. This solid-state condenser offers excellent bang for the buck. It’s a large-diaphragm design with a cardioid polar pattern; that’s it — no pads or filters or anything else. But then again, that’s what you need for 95% of project studio recording applications.
With any mic, all that really matters is the sound quality. And the NT1-A delivers big time. I compared it against mics ranging in price upward of $3,000, and I was extremely impressed with how well the NT1-A held its own. There are differences, but are they worth 10 times the price?
For vocals, the NT1-A is fat, with plenty of bottom, good presence, and an open, detailed top end. On acoustic guitars, the tone is full, with excellent clarity and creamy midrange. On percussion, its top end delivers good transients, and a smooth decay with no strident overtones.
On all sources, the NT1-A offers good dynamic response. The lack of a pad might be a problem if you’re tracking super-loud sources — but I had no problem with distortion even on loud amps.
Then there’s that self-noise . . . or should I say lack thereof? No matter what I tried, I was unable to discern any hiss or noise that I could ascribe to the mic itself. Suffice it to say that few — if any — of us have a quiet enough studio to where the self-noise of the NT1-A would be an issue!
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced large-diaphragm condenser microphone, and would rather put your money toward quality than bells and whistles, the NT1-A is just what you’ve been waiting for.