RODE NT1-A Cardioid Condenser
It’s one of the world’s quietest microphones, it sounds like what you put in front of it and it comes packaged as a complete vocalist’s solution… it must be expensive, right? The RODE NT1-A is the best condenser microphone for home recording and believe it or not… it’s become an industry-standard all over the globe. That’s right, “professional” recording studios use this microphone as well. And unlike other microphones in this price range, this one is made in Australia (RODE are an Australian company).
I don’t know how they do it, but RODE manages to provide us with some of the best microphones at an affordable price. The NT1-A simply has no competition in this price range; it’s unbeatable. You’ll be surprised once you find out what RODE has bundled with this microphone. It’s made it extremely attractive to beginners and professionals alike. But what most forget to mention is how versatile this microphone can be. I personally use it for vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and I’ve heard it works wonders as drum “overheads” as well. Basically, this means that you could run a successful home recording studio with just this ONE microphone. Perhaps TWO if you wanted to create some stereo images. So if you’re dying to hear more, keep reading because we’ll be getting into all the details. Let’s discover why the Rode NT1-A is the best condenser microphone for home recording.
- What’s included in the box?
- Electret condenser VS “true” condenser microphones
- The characteristics of a superior condenser microphone
- An all-in-one solution for home recording?
- The best condenser microphone for beginners and professionals
What’s included in the box?
Not many microphones are sold in such BIG boxes, so you may be wondering what RODE had included with the NT1-A. As a complete vocalist’s solution, this microphone includes a variety of accessories that are essential to producing professional vocals.
Upon unpacking your new microphone, you’ll have also acquired… a shock mount, a pop-filter, a dust cover, a high-quality XLR cable and an instructional DVD entitled “Studio Secrets”.
If you ever wanted to create a vocal booth, the only things you’d be missing would be a microphone stand and a portable vocal booth.
Most microphones don’t include ANY of this stuff, so save yourself the hassle and purchase this essential bundle. The NT1-A was my first microphone and is still the one I use the most.
The fact that they include a 10-year warranty as well serves as evidence that RODE has complete confidence in the durability of this microphone.
Electret condenser VS “true” condenser microphones
By purchasing a RODE NT1-A microphone, you’ll have the prestige of owning a rare gem known as a “true” condenser. Most condenser microphones on the market are actually “electret” condensers, but what’s the difference?
Approximately 95% of condenser microphones actually fall into the category of “electret” condensers.
This type of condenser is permanently “polarized” which means that it doesn’t require any external power.
On the other hand, “true” condensers require an external charge, usually from 48V Phantom power. But why do “electret” condensers have such a bad reputation?
It’s simple… they can be manufactured inexpensively at high volumes so we assume that they are inferior.
It was also claimed that some older “electret” lost their charge after a couple of years, which is totally possible.
Although we shouldn’t assume that ALL “electret” condensers are “cheap”, you can rest assured that the RODE NT1-A is a premium microphone.
“True” condensers are simply more difficult to manufacture, so there was definitely no “cutting corners” on this one.
The characteristics of a superior condenser microphone
The RODE NT1-A is characterized by its warmth, extended frequency response, high SPL and low “self-noise”. These are all features you would expect in a microphone exceeding the 1000$ mark.
Coming in at less than 1/4 of the price, it’s no doubt this microphone has been a favourite for home recording studio owners.
- Frequency Response of 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
- Maximum SPL of 137 dB
- Gold-plated output connectors
- Ultra-low noise transformerless circuitry (5 dBa)
- “True” condenser with a gold-plated diaphragm
RODE’s philosophy is all about providing value to the consumer. In this sense, the NT1-A is truly in a category of its own.
Although some have complained about the “harshness” in the high-register, this is to be expected of a condenser microphone.
This “boost of air” is what makes this type of microphone ideal for recording vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitars and to be used as drum “overheads”.
The NT1-A also has a “boost” around 200 Hz which provides some “fatness” to compensate for the “harshness”.
And remember, you can always “cut” frequencies in the equalization stage. I’d rather have more to work with from the start.
An all-in-one solution for home recording?
Can you really get by with just ONE condenser microphone? I’ve been doing it for over 5 years with the RODE NT1-A, so believe me when I say it’s possible.
The only reason I purchased a dynamic (moving-coil) microphone a bit later on was to layer different microphones together.
However, the NT1-A is always connected to bless my tracks with it’s “open top-end”.
This microphone is “virtually” noiseless, so you will achieve incredibly CLEAN recordings even at lower amplitudes.
For a home recording studio, this is essential since we can’t always “crank up” the volume (especially if you live in an apartment).
Another reason I prefer using this microphone is simply that it isn’t priceless. I’m not afraid to take it out of its case because I could easily replace it with a new one.
To be honest, I would even consider getting a pair for stereo imaging techniques.
You’ll only ever need ONE microphone to get started, so make sure it’s the RODE NT1-A.
The best condenser microphone for beginners and professionals
If you’re just getting started, this is definitely the first microphone you should get your hands on. I was recommended the NT1-A back when I was first getting started and it was EXACTLY what I needed.
If you’re in the market for a new microphone and have a few years of experience under your belt, I believe this microphone would be a great addition to your collection.
I believe it should be a staple for every recording studio, home and professional.
The RODE NT1-A has become an industry-standard and if you ask me, it’s WAY underpriced.
When a company puts their heart and soul into a product, it truly makes a world of difference. In this case, it allows everyone to have access to professional-sounding tracks at home.
The only thing that this bundle doesn’t include is a microphone stand. Here’s the best one I’ve used to date…
What do you think is the best condenser microphone for home recording? Let us know in the comments and feel free to share this product review with anyone who needs a new microphone!