My New Mic Has Arrived! Introducing the Rode NT1-A

November 25, 2010  |  Articles, Review

Click Here To Hear Sample of Rode NT1-A

Back in October I starting asking around to see if anyone was going to the US to visit. I was in the market for a new microphone and I had read a whole bunch of good reviews about one microphone that had won awards and had an excellent reputation for being one of the quietest mics around.

The Rode NT1-A

None of my friends were going but thankfully one of their friends was coming to visit Egypt and didn’t mind bringing my new mic with her. So after getting her details and thanking her profusely I went on Amazon and found the best deal.

As it happens the best deal was through a store called Nova Musik in Milwaukee (pronounced Mili-wa-kay in its original form). Anyway I don’t usually announce where I buy my gear from … but honestly these guys were great. I called them up to ask about something specific to the NT1-A and the guy was just one of the nicest customer service reps I’ve ever spoken to… It also cleared for me what that mystery accent for the Main guy in CSI LV was (the guy with the beard from the first 7 seasons forgot his name).

Anyway I highly recommend Nova Musik … the order was made and my friend’s friend received the mic within 2 days. Brilliant service… and probably a bit of luck.

The lady arrived on the 22nd and my friend called me up yesterday with a hostage picture of the box … we met up yesterday night and I picked the package up and took lots of pictures and even recorded a raw audio demo for you guys to hear.

It is necessary to mention that this is an XLR microphone and I am a USB mic kinda guy (I try to be cost effective and practical since I don’t have access to an audio hardware store that caters to Voice Artists here in Cairo). So I had purchased the Centrance MicPortPro and used it to connect my new Rode mic to my pc to record directly.

The Unboxing

I apologize for the quality of the photos… I took them with my ancient 2G iphone.. but I figure you’ll get the picture (ha ha… uh… so sad) anyway here it goes:

This is the box that the set comes in. Rode (one of the oldest and most trusted names in the microphone industry) is an Australian company and I have to say I am impressed with their manufacturing quality. I believe this probably is the first Australian product I have ever owned and the Australians are on par with ze Germans so far.

Just to give you an idea of how heroic that lady was who helped me out and transported this mic to me all the way from NY to Cairo… look at how puny my work cell phone is compared to the box. That thing is massive!

This box was a bit fiddly to open but that isn’t to say it is a bad thing. The case protected the precious equipment inside quite well… also featured in the picture… a 5 year warranty from Nova Musik… the mic actually has a 10 year warranty so … again kudos to the Aussies. On the right is the box where the shockmount and pop filter are … they are labeled as free.

Under a cardboard buffer you find the mic wrapped in cellophane next to it is a considerably long XLR cable (also labeled free)

This is probably the only ‘cheap’ part of the package [I originally thought]… a cloth bag that is supposed to be what you carry the mic in [correction Rode contacted me and clarified that that is a dust cover to protect the mic while it is attached on the stand… so it isnt a carry bag] … So far MXL have had the best solution for this issue which is a plastic hardcase lined with foam that you can carry your mic around in (that came with my MXL Studio 1 usb mic ) even the solution by Audio Technica was better than this cloth bag… the AT2020 came with a faux leather pouch that you can put your wire, micro stand and mic in.

You can Read the Rode Rep’s comment regarding the cover in the comments section below!

This is the shockmount and popshield box…. took me forever to figure out how to get them out of it… very very fiddly.

This is the shockmount and filter. . As you can see (or not… the picture isnt that clear) they are all one unit. This is what you stick on your stand.

This is the Star of the show… the NT1-A the self proclaimed ‘World’s Quietest Studio Microphone’ We’ll see how that pans out… but so far… I like it… although the mic is a little lighter than my other mics!

The Centrance MicPortPro…. $149 for that little piece of aluminum. But well worth it (although it isn’t as pretty as the ones made by the competition)

Its sturdy though… I can’t say it isn’t… solid and has a nice LED light installed in it to tell you its plugged in and working.

This is how it hooks up to the mic… one end has the XLR input and the other end is where you stick the mini USB wire that goes to your PC.

The Recording

My pc runs on Windows 7 and when I first plugged the Mic +Micportpro windows quickly identified and installed the drivers… but it was recommended by Centrance that you should download the zero latency drivers… not a big download… a few kb and a quick install.

After that it took 3 seconds for Adobe Audition to recognize the setup and away we went.

Actually when I first pressed Record nothing recorded so I figured that I must press the phantom power (wicked name… could be a super hero of some sort) button and that gave the mic juice.

That was the only hiccup.

The audio recording posted on top is not edited … as in I did not add any compression or effects… I didn’t even record in my booth… I was in a big echoy room and just wanted to see how it sounded… I had the gain setting on the MPP (micportpro is getting hard to continuously type this) so the volume might be a little low… and the only thing I edited out was the ums and the long awkward pauses which I am famous for when I don’t have anything prepared to say.

Conclusion

The Rode NT1-A is a great package… I paid $199 (no shipping fees for ground shipping… thank you Nova Musik) and as advertised it does seem like the complete studio set.

The Package comes with:

  1. The NT1-A Cardioid Condenser XLR Mic
  2. A Long XLR Cable
  3. A sturdy and well built Shock Mount
  4. A Pop Filter
  5. A CD containing information on how to improve your audio recordings
  6. A Manual
  7. A cloth bag to carry your  NT1-A mic in

Listen to the audio and be the judge… I haven’t messed with the setup much.. (I got it 10 pm yesterday and only had time to take the pictures and put it together and record that quick audio sample.

I did notice that I might have been sitting a little too far from the mic and that the combination of that as well as the fact that I also set my computer’s input gain on super low might have contributed to the low volume.

Reminders

Don’t forget to visit the new Voiceover Wiki http://www.vopedia.com

and if you would like to support me and get something out of it head on over to http://www.vopavilion.com and get yourself listed. You get to promote your site and I am able to eat 🙂

If you enjoyed this review or if you have any questions leave a msg down below (in the comments section).

Taji



29 Comments


  1. That’s the very same mic I use, Taji – and I love it. 🙂 Glad to hear that you’re liking it too! I use mine with a MOTU Microbook rather than a MicPort – which is another really handy (and very portable) unit.

    • I did not know that! I need to experiment a little more with how compressed my voice sounds in real-time and whether it will complement my vocal range in the booth… But I have a feeling I’ll be able to find a good setting soon.

      I’ll take a look at the MOTU Microbook …. thanks for the tip

  2. Oh, I have no doubt, Taji. 🙂 One of the things I liked about this mic was how versatile it was … and of course, it’s hard to beat the price for the quality. 😀

    If your voice is sound compressed, it *might* be proximity effect, if you’re close to the mic. Though one of the things I really love about this mic is that when I’m really close to it, I can “whisper in its ear” and be really happy with the way it sounds. 🙂

  3. Hey Taji,

    Glad to hear you’re loving the mic – we’re really proud of the NT1-A!

    I just wanted to clarify that the cloth ‘bag’ isn’t really a bag at all but a dust cover to put over your mic when it’s set up but not in use. We found that most NT1-A users have it as their ‘go to’ mic so it’s mostly always on the shock mount ready to go. This cover can be easily slipped on and off and will keep dust and moisture away from the capsule.

    All the best from Sydney!

    • I see! I have to say you guys did a great job with this package. I feel like I’ve made a smart choice by purchasing the NT1-A…. But!

      But I would have loved to see an alternate method of protecting the microphone during traveling. I wouldn’t have minded paying a little more for a way to protect the microphone… Many Voiceoverists (voice actors etc.) travel quite allot and like to have their favorite mics with them (at least I do… maybe if I had a $1,000 mic I wouldn’t want to risk carrying it around with me while I go across the globe. But I digress).

      Very professional package (actual packaging) brilliant deal and other than that one issue with having a protective case or something for the mic I greatly recommend people to get this mic.

      I also want to thank you guys (Rode) for taking the time to read my review. Very cool of you and thanks for the clarification!

    • I have been using the same package from RODE. Amazing!!

      What do you use the Micport for Taji?

      My Mic cable goes into a sound card which then goes to my MAC.

      • The Micport pro is a XLR to USB converter… think of it as an external soundcard … but not exactly… it converts any XLR microphone into a usb microphone and then you can use its preamp to boost the signal (or gain if you will).

        So it would be Rode to Micportpro to computer usb port.

  4. Hey Mahmoud,

    well, I don’t know the NT1-A, but the NT1 (the NT1-As elder brother) was the first mic I bought about 13 years ago – and it is still in use, because it sounds quite perfect.
    Meanwhile I bought a Neumann TLM 103 (about 5 times as expensive as the NT1-A) and I think, it sounds more transparent – but nevertheless I like my Rode.

    I hope you’re as happy with your Rode as I always were!

    But I really don’t trust in that MicPort, it looks so – fragile. How about an external soundcard like the Cakewalk (Roland) UA-25 EX? I just bought the second one for my new studio, because the first one works perfectly since many years. And it’s not really expensive – it costs about the same as the NT1-A.
    Just an idea.

    Take care,
    Chris

    • It Looks fragile but it isnt… that thing is Solid! I mean its small but you can probably throw it at someone… hurt them and it will still survive!

      My motto is to simplify your process as much as possible… and with the centrance micportpro you have the ability to turn xlr directly into usb without having an external soundcard.

  5. Hello again, Mahmoud! (We spoke some time back on the phone using your MagicJack.

    Just listened to your Rode NT1-A microphone and yes, there is a lot to like with this instrument.

    I had been using the ‘elder brother’ NT1 for quite awhile and decided to ‘upgrade’ to the newer model. Then I went one step further and employed the services of a gentleman in Oklahoma who performed modifications on it to make it even better. And I am very pleased! It is both quiet and warm.

    Also, I enjoyed your ‘test’ audio as it captured your voice very well as well as revealing your ‘personality.’ This microphone definitely needs a ‘pop’ filter and from the picture you got one in the kit.

    I’ve intrigued with the MicPortPro too, and may one day buy one to work with a laptop. My home set up is a M-Audio Delta 66 PCI sound card with Omni I/O breakout box. Definitely more ‘cumbersom’ to set up than the little MicPortPro.

    I find working the Rode microphone at a 45 degree angle from the shiney ‘dot’ that indicates the pickup side, along with a pop filter seems to work very well. Sometime we may schedule a Skype chat if you would like to hear it.

    Best wishes for continued success!

    • Hello Dan,

      Yes of course I remember you, we had a grand ol’ chat on the MJ.

      All I can say about that is that I wish there was some easy way for me to contact that gentleman from Oklahoma… but living where I do … one can only count his blessings that I got the new mic in the first place… sending it out for modifications wouldnt be very smart. Egypt’s customs authority are notorious for ‘losing’ things.

      As for capturing my personality…heheh.. yeah I guess I’m a goof ball with Alzheimers at 11:30 pm at night after a full day of work. Did you not get the NT1-A with the pop filter and spider mount set? Maybe you bought it standalone? the non anniversary edition?

      MicPortPro is quick and easy … which is what I prefer… I am not one for cumbersome kits which is why I used to opt for USB mics (fully integrated usb mics that is) in the past. But I was curious as to how different a proper xlr mic and one that was marketed as the Quietest mic on the market would fair.

      We can definitely arrange for a skype chat to test the mics… but If its ok with you …. would you mind recording a test audio file like mine with maybe your modified NT1-a or NT1 and another mic you have? That way other people too can listen to the differences in audio and benefit from your discovery (the gentlman from Oklahoma).

      Tell me what you think.

  6. Love the Rode mics … I use an NT rode 1 for both recordings via final cut pro direct to video and also, on camera. I imagine this mic will do very well.

  7. I understand your reluctance to ship something to the USA and wonder if you would ever get it back.

    (I’ve sent you the fellows name in an e-mail.)

    Yeah, I could record something with my set-up and e-mail it to you. Mine came with a shock mount but not a pop filter as shown in your pictures. I had been using a Steadman Proscreen pop filter until I discovered another one on-line that ‘claims’ to be better. I will send you particulars on it also. I’m sure what you have is just fine.

    Skype is a marvelous service, being ‘free’ world-wide for ‘peer to peer’ users. I’ve done webcam chats that are very sharp and the audio quality excellent. And there are times neither is very good. When it’s good, it is amazing technology!

  8. Hi again Mahmoud or should it be Taji?… please tell us! Way back I when I worked at the BBC, the golden mics were the still-gorgeous 4038 (now Coles) ribbon, AKGs such as C451 and some rare Neumanns. Coming into VO I knew these were all off-budget for me, so I too picked the NT1A on the basis of excellent reviews. Lovely mic. Proud to find I’m in such expert company! It does a fine job. At first I worked close – average 8 inches – to get that rich warm sound, but generally now I keep further off for a less choppsy sound. Close up is great for intimate and compelling stuff, but for narrative this mic is lovely at 15 inches or more. I think with story-type material, you don’t want to be drilling into the ear of the listener. Of course much depends on the audience, the voice, the studio acoustic, and how much you process. I use a P.1 pre and compressor on a mild setting, so I can completely concentrate on performance.

    • Hello Howard,

      My first name is Mahmoud, my family name is Taji (actually Taji is an abbreviation of my family name… its Al-Taji) The Arabic language has 28 letters and a few of them, I have found, are not easy to pronounce for non Arabic speakers. My first name contains a letter that is like that and is often mispronounced by non Arabs (and that often makes me cringe and try to avoid the usage of my first name by non Arabs completely).

      Taji is pretty straight forward and contains no sounds (vowels or consonants) that Non-arabic speakers cannot pronounce. Which is why it is easier to call me Taji rather than Mahmoud. (Wow I took way too much time to explain that… I should prioritize better I should)

      I think microphones react differently to different people’s voices. I mean I am sure that there is a sweet spot for each individual that delivers their range in an outstanding manner but is unique to them. Or at least I would like to believe that to be the truth… at best it might be true that there might be certain recording points around the mic that best serve the female voice and others that accentuate the male voice.

      I will however test those different distances you mentioned with the understanding that we have different preamps and I only put compression on my voice if I find out it needs it (with some microphones apparently my voice seems to naturally have this compressed sound).

      ok… I’m going to go get myself a cuppa!

  9. Please don’t judge me by my poor websites, Taj. I KNOW they’re lifeless but they work and I’m usually too busy to take that task on anymore. I am looking for a dependable web-slinger to make them more cosmetically pleasing, as well as other projects.

    Just wanted to thank you for the report on your new N1-A Rode mic. Purchasing a mic is an extremely personal choice for any VO person, usually requires a personal test or two. But how many times do we get to bring it home and try it out in our environment? Your update was very helpful. Thanks.
    (Here in my home studio, been using the same Sennheiser MD441 I used in broadcasting for three decades now, but am always interested in what’s new)

    • Its tough juggling a career and keeping your website up to par with the rest of the interwebs… But I am curious as to why you started your comment with that… Do I come across as the Website Fashion police? hehe

      anyway… I’m glad you enjoyed my report and the unboxing… I’ve been experimenting with it to find out where the sweet spots are and what amount of gain I can go up to before the ambient noise gets too much. I can’t actually try out microphones before I buy them because of where I live and the lack of availability of these mics where I live (egypt) so its really kind of like going through a box of cracker jacks… you never know what you’ll get until you reach the toy.

      thankfully though I’ve been pretty lucky with the microphones I’ve bought so far… lets hope that continues!

  10. Hello Mahmoud (sorry I got it wrong before) and Bobby. Quickly back as two auditions have come in and I’m getting revved up for them! Those sweet spots – yes I discovered it’s worth walking and talking with the mic then assessing the playback. Also – and I only discovered this when I got a really soundproof pair of headphones – the whirring of the computer can be drastically reduced by mike positioning. Not just the usual thing of keeping the noise behind the mike but also by experimenting with height (and therefore chair!)
    Generally I don’t record until noises-off have dropped to 50dB below the average level of my voice. Would prefer 60.
    I love the idea of a pre-compressed voice, Mahmoud! That’s a very special attribute. Could save a fortune, even make one. Can one learn it?

  11. My first mic was the Rode NT1-A and I still use it occasionally. I did lots of reading and researching before buying it and was chuffed to bits when I got it and found t was exactly what I needed! It took a bit of tweaking until I found the right settings and position, but ultimately I was really pleased.

    • My first mic was the MXL Studio 1 USB mic. That thing was way too sensitive and although I loved the tone it gave me … it was just very difficult to edit out all the environmental sounds. I love it to bits but it just took too much time to edit out all the incidental sounds that it picked up.

      I’m still experimenting with the settings on the NT1-A and I have to say that so far the whole package with the spider mount and the filter have been perfect and I’ve been able to generate some pretty wicked tones out of it.

  12. i have the same mic and the main problem i am having is my computer recognizing my mic and being able to record music with the mic. is the mic portpro that you purchased separately absolutely necessary or is there a way that the mic can be recognized with the materials i have.

    P.S. i have a mixer that i plug into my mic so i am not sure if i really need the mic port pro

    • Hello Amanda,
      The Rode is an xlr microphone which means that although it is an electronic device it will not be ‘recognized’ by your PC since it does not have a built in USB identifier. The micportpro is an xlr to USB converter that allows the computer to see it. So the PC won’t see the mic, rather just the micportpro. Through that the NT1-a’s analog output is converted to a digital signal and fed to your PC. There are other cheaper options to the micportpro that are made by MXL, Blue and Shure. The mppro was recommended by all so I bought that. Unless your mixer is a USB mixer then I don’t see how your mic can be recognized. Right now you are recording analog and your sound card is digitizing it.

      That is all I can tell you with the amount of info you gave me.

    • @Amanda:

      If you use a standard mixer you need something to go between it and your computer. On a very simple level, if your computer has a ‘line in’ input, you could us that to connect to your computer.

      Generally speaking, the sound cards that come with most computers are not of very high quality. If your computer is a standard ‘tower’ you could install an upgraded PCI sound card. And many such cards will come with a ‘breakout box’ to facilitate inputs and monitor out.

      Some new mixers have a USB out port for going directly into a computer. There are ‘external’ sound cards that work with either USB or Firewire ports. M-Audio is a good brand, although there are many companies that manufacture similar products.

      It may be necessary to go to the ‘control panel’ on your computer to specify what sound card you are using.

      The MicPortPro, or a similar device from Shure, will make connecting any microphone to a computer very easy. Standard XLR on one end, USB on the other. Phantom power is available for your condenser mic, even has a mini headphone jack for monitoring. Will work with desktop or laptop.

      Feel free to send me an e-mail if you have further question, Amanda. Dan-Nims@comcast.net

  13. Just a mike update. The NT1A still gets the gigs for me, but I gave into a long-held temptation and added a ribbon mic – the BBC-designed Coles 4038. It’s five times the price and ten times the weight (huge magnet, brass case).
    At first, it sounds amazingly similar, as it should if both have an even response, but then I began to appreciate the ‘smiley’ tone, the extra warmth, so it’s now my go-to for narrative work… with a touch of top-end EQ, as producers are so used to the condenser sheen!
    I keep the NT1A for what good condensers do well: a crisp wave that cuts through music etc.
    Re Dan’s post: I’m still faithful to the iMac’s internal sound card driven by Safesound pre, recording to Twisted Wave. Keeping things simple!

  14. Hi Bro,

    I read your post carefully and it’s really informative.
    I’ve one question regarding connecting this device with the PC. Some people say that It should be connected with this soundcard >> http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000TP57E?ie=UTF8&tag=rp1-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0000TP57E and you’re suggesting “The Centrance MicPortPro”

    I’m just confused, could you please help me?

    I shall be very grateful to you!
    Regards,
    Masoud

    • I prefer the Centrance MicPortPro because of the portability (its tiny) and because of the zero latency monitoring. It plugs into the mic itself so the signal actually reaches your ears before reaching your computer.

      her is an article I found that kind of breaks it down for you http://www.homebrewaudio.com/9454/review-of-the-centrance-micport-pro-audio-interface/

      Some folks like the M-Audio because it interfaces with Protools. I don’t use pro tools cause I have a PC and protools is terrible on the PC. But that is neither here or there.

      There is obviously a difference of $150 USD which have to be justified. I just now that its crazy easy for me to be on the road and record with the MicPortPro… I find its worth the extra cash.

      taji

      • Ahh.. I wanted to use it for vocal recording, songs etc. and Pro Tool is recommended for best composing. So Would Pro Tool work perfectly with MicPortPro? I guess, you use Adobe Audition, but I’m not sure if adobe audition is recommended for recording songs.

        Thanks,
        Masoud

        • I don’t really know if the MicPortPro will work well with the Pro Tools application. I do use Adobe Audition and as far as I know some of the studios out west use it to record songs.

          But I could be wrong.

          regards,
          taji

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