Rode NT1000

Condenser Microphone

Published in SOS September 2001
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Reviews : Microphone

RODE NT1000 CONDENSER MICROPHONE

Paul White tests the solid-state counterpart to Rode's recent NTK valve mic.

Rode's new NT1000 is a cardioid-pattern, large-diaphragm studio mic that, from the frequency curve supplied, seems to use the same true capacitor capsule as their recently released NTK tube model, which I reviewed back in SOS July 2001. However, it uses transformerless, solid-state circuitry rather than a dual-triode tube, and the cosmetic styling is a little different. The standard of mechanical and electrical engineering is up to Rode's usual level with heavy machined-metal parts, glass-fibre circuit boards and a welded mesh grille. The body finish is satin nickel and the tapered body and basket give the mic more of a European look than the NTK.

Again, there are no pad or filter switches -- although the maximum dynamic range of the mic is only 134dBA, this is still high enough that a pad will never be necessary under normal circumstances and it compares well with other solid-state mics. However, the absence of a low-cut switch isn't so easily dismissed. The frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz (±6dB) and any very low-frequency vibrations transmitted to the mic body via the mic stand can be heard quite clearly in quiet passages unless a shockmount is used.

An included mic stand adaptor fits onto the base of the microphone via a standard threaded locking ring. There's also a soft vinyl carry bag. Rode's optional SM2 shockmount fits this mic and, given the low-frequency sensitivity, would be a wise investment. Though the mic body sleeve can be unscrewed and removed, there's nothing user-serviceable inside and nothing much to see other than a glass-fibre board with a row of isolating cap

RODE NT1000 £459
pros
Smooth, detailed sound.
Attractive price.
High standard of construction and finish.
cons
No LF cut switch.
summary
The Rode NT1000 costs a little more than the first line of entry-level capacitor mics, but its good build quality and smoothness of tone make it worth the extra.

acitors mounted on it. The standard three-pin balanced XLR connector has gold-plated pins, but you have to supply your own mic cable.

The sensitivity figure of -36dB is just 2dB short of the NTK, while the equivalent noise is 4dB better at 6dB EIN (a signal-to-noise ratio of 88dB) -- the latter is not really very surprising given that tube circuitry tends to be noisier than designs which use solid-state components. The maximum output level is +13dB, some 16dB lower than the NTK, but it's still more than enough for any sensible application and, in any event, few mic preamps are really happy about levels much in excess of this figure. The frequency response curve shows identical presence peaks to the NTK with a small peak at around 5kHz and another at around 12kHz.

In Use

To me, the NT1000 sounds like a hybrid of the NTK and the original NT1, both of which I had available to make direct comparisons. It alludes to the smoothness of the NTK and is noticeably smoother sounding than the NT1 (which in itself is an unbelievably good-sounding mic for the money), but it doesn't have the same warm intimacy of the more expensive NTK. This is to be expected given that the NTK is a tube mic, but exploiting the proximity effect by working closer to the mic helps warm the sound up a little more, as does using a sympathetic compressor.

  Second Opinion  
  The NT1000 shares a family sound character with the NTK, as well as its excellent build quality, and was clean, articulate, warm and present-sounding with my vocals. It also seemed very tolerant of me getting up close and singing quite loud!

However, the difference between the NT1000 and the NTK (which I was trying out in the same session) was immediately noticeable, with the NT1000 having a somehow 'drier', less subtle and delicate sound. For me, the NT1000 doesn't have the elusive magic of the NTK, and you perhaps wouldn't expect it to, as it costs rather less and doesn't have a valve. However, it's clearly a quality mic that anyone would be happy to have in their studio. Debbie Poyser

 

Ultimately, there's nothing at all wrong with the basic sound of this mic, especially when you consider its attractive UK price, and it works well on most acoustic instruments as well as on vocals. The NT1000 isn't going to have things all its own way with so many other competitively priced mics doing the rounds, but if you're looking for a classy performer that's a step up from the week's 'best buys', then this could well be the one to go for.

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