Rode NT2-A

One of Rode’s recent ads claims that there are 150,000 NT2 mics in use around the world — give or take a few thou and you’re still talking lots of microphones. So when the company decided to update this recent-vintage “classic,” they weren’t looking at an easy task.

There are three primary areas where the NT2-A differs from the original NT2. When you open the box, you’ll notice the first right away: there’s way more control built-into the mic itself. Three 3-position slider switches select the polar pattern (omni, cardioid, or figure-8), highpass filter (flat, 40Hz, or 80Hz), and pad (0, –5, or –10dB). The NT2-A also follows in the footsteps of other recent Rode mics by posting a low self-noise spec: 7dBa.

Finally, the NT2-A is built around the Australian-designed and -manufactured Type HF-1 dual-diaphragm capsule, the same transducer that’s used in Rode’s wonderful K2 microphone (see my review in the December ’03 issue).

The NT2-A is also substantially heavier than the NT2, because of its acoustically modeled solid cast-metal housing and heat-treated steel mesh grille. The NT2-A comes in at just $50 more than the original.

The most recent generation of Rode mics, with the advent of the TYPE HF-1 mics have all had a markedly different sound from their predecessors — they’re smoother, more even, and richer. That definitely describes the NT2-A. While there’s a gentle high-frequency lift, this tends to open up the sound rather than make the tone harsh or hype-y.

On male vocals, the NT2-A has a fat tone with round mids and full low frequencies. The top is open and detailed, with plenty of presence but without the harshness and hyped treble some other mics exhibit.

I received a pair of NT2-As, so I set to work stereo miking a variety of sources, including nylon- and steel-string acoustic guitars. The imaging was excellent. The sound was full, open, and detailed, and the dynamics followed the sound in the room nicely. I hate to repeatedly and redundantly repeat myself again and again, but I keep coming back to the word “smooth” — because it’s an apt descriptor of the top end of the NT2-A. Another would be “natural.”

On crunchy electric guitar, the NT2-A was chunky sounding, without top-end “fizz” but with plenty of low-end thump and thick midrange presence.

Metallic hand percussion rang true, without strident highs, and with smooth (there’s that word again) decay. Other types of percussion sounded real, with good attack transients and well maintained dynamics.

I’m really enjoying the latest large-diaphragm mics from Rode — I was impressed with the K2, and have similar feelings about the NT2-A. The value offered by these mics is simply outstanding. While the list price of the NT2-A is around $700, you can pick one up at a substantially lower street price. But even at full list price, the NT2-A delivers excellent value. It would be nice if the package included a shockmount rather than a stand mount, but at this price, I’m not complaining too loudly.

Forget what you’ve heard from Rode mics in the past — not that the older models don’t perform very well in their own right, mind you — the new generation of Rodes, including the NT2-A, are simply stellar performers that provide excellent, smooth, dynamic sound with lots of control capability, lots of flexibility, and literally no self-noise.

Whether you’re looking for your first “pro” studio mic or searching for the best model to fill out a microphone locker, the NT2-A bears strong consideration as it excels in almost any application.

A winner? Oh yes.