When a microphone is 30 years old, it must be doing something right. The Rode NT1 is arguably the company’s flagship studio microphone and the origin story of the brand name. The microphone was originally called Rodent1, abbreviated to Rode NT1 and the rest is history. Today, the company is unveiling its fifth iteration, and it includes two major updates that should interest podcasters and singers alike. That would be 32-bit float recording and the addition of USB connectivity.
The inclusion of USB may feel like something that should have been there all along, but typically “pro” studio mics are XLR only, with USB reserved for desktop mics. However, times are changing and more and more people are looking for a classic microphone but without the need to use an audio interface. With the NT1 you now have both. The USB connection is hidden directly under the existing XLR connection. It’s a smart solution, but you’ll need a USB cable with fairly narrow connectors or it won’t fit.
With the new USB connectivity comes the option to customize the sound of the microphone. Usually this part is offloaded to an interface or mixer, but now there’s an onboard DSP that lets you apply things like a noise gate or compressor directly to the mic (via Rode’s Central or Connect apps). Not to mention it makes the mic a lot more portable as you don’t have to carry a separate, often clunky, interface with you.
Arguably the biggest benefit of the MK5 (and the onboard DSP) is the introduction of 32-bit float recording. In short, 32-bit allows for exponentially greater dynamic range than 16- and 24-bit (which is what most systems use). This means you can forget about clipping (when audio is too loud and distorted) as there is enough headroom for almost any sound possible. In other words, you can practically forget about setting levels, knowing that you can adjust them afterwards without audio loss.
For podcasters and singers, this means they don’t have to worry as much about levels at the time of recording, knowing they can adjust things however they like. Of course, having a good level at the time of recording is always advisable whenever possible, but at least it means sudden noise won’t ruin your recording. It’s also very rare to find 32-bit float on a mic like this these days – you’d normally have to buy a professional audio recorder if you wanted that feature.
At $259, the NT1 is in an interesting spot. Shure’s MV7 also offers XLR and USB connectivity, and costs $250 without 32-bit float (it’s also a dynamic mic, which is either a plus or a minus depending on your needs). Sennheiser’s fantastic MK 4 capacitor typically costs around $300 and doesn’t offer USB connectivity. If you use something like a Blue Yeti and are looking for an upgrade, the NT1 is a compelling option.
The NT1 is available for pre-order today.
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