Rode M5

Capacitor Microphone Pair

Published in SOS February 2014
Bookmark and Share

Reviews : Microphone

Making quality stereo recordings has never been cheaper, thanks to the launch of Rode's new M5 mic set.

Paul White

Rode's small-diaphragm NT5 and NT55 models have proven to be very popular in both project and pro studios, though for the past few years the company have been enjoying large-scale success with their video camera microphones, broadcast microphones and some more consumer-style products. Now they have turned their attention back to the project-studio market, with the launch of the new model NT1 large-diaphragm capacitor and the small-diaphragm M5, reviewed here.

With the aim of delivering similar quality to the NT5 but at an even lower price, Rode adopted back-electret technology to develop this new end-fire model. Designed and manufactured in Australia, the M5 has a half-inch capsule with a fixed cardioid pattern, and Rode promote its key attributes as being low noise and a wide frequency response.

Such small-diaphragm microphones are often the best choice for recording acoustic instruments or ensembles and choirs. Since many of these applications require stereo pairs, Rode are presently only selling the M5s in matched-pair sets. They ensure that there's a variation of no more than 1dB sensitivity between any matched microphones.

Rode Works

Externally, the microphone employs Rode's proprietary matte-black ceramic coating, which is both durable and attractive. As supplied, the mics come with WS5 foam windshields and RM5 stand mounts, all packaged in a sturdy cardboard box with a form-fitting cardboard tray holding the mics and accessories. There's no plastic storage pouch.

Internally, the circuitry employs a J-FET impedance converter feeding a transformerless, bipolar output stage, making good use of surface-mount components to keep things compact. The 20Hz to 20kHz response exhibits a subtle, wide presence hump of no more than a couple of dB centred at around 7kHz, but other than that, the response is sensibly flat until it hits the -3dB points at 20Hz and 20kHz. There are no pads or filter switches on the mic, though it can handle SPLs of up to 140dB (at 1kHz for one percent THD). It has a quoted sensitivity of -34dB ref 1V/P, and with its A-weighted noise figure of 19dB EIN, the background noise is not untypical for a good-quality microphone of this type, and will certainly not pose a problem in normal studio applications.

The M5 is nicely compact, at 100mm long and 20mm in diameter, making it easy to position around awkward instruments. Also, not to be undervalued, the 12-month warranty period is extended to 10 years once you register the product with Rode.

Driving The M5

My first test was to use a single M5 to record acoustic guitar, the results of which sounded detailed and articulate, with that gentle presence hump bringing out the transients while avoiding harshness or brittleness. At no time did the tonality give away the fact that I was using a budget microphone. Putting up my NT55 (fitted with a cardioid capsule) produced very similar results, though if anything, the NT55 exhibited a slightly more forward character in the highs than did the M5 so, for that particular instrument in that particular room, I actually preferred the sound of the M5, which came as something of a surprise! The two mics are surprisingly close in character though, with no obvious 'tells' to suggest that the M5 is the poor relation.

One popular technique for testing a mic's high-frequency response is to record a set of jangling keys, as that sound contains a lot of HF (and even ultrasonic) energy. As an alternative to that, though, I recorded a set of miniature bells (also rich in high frequencies), which in my case was a little more scientific as several of my keys have plastic fobs! Neither the NT55 nor the M5 seemed unduly upset, however, and both gave a good impression of the bells as heard in the room with minimal intermodulation artifacts.

As a stereo pair the mics are also very effective, and well matched in sensitivity. They are useful in both spaced and coincident configurations, the low end always sounding tight and controlled. The M5s were very easy to position, as the former are an inch or so shorter than the NT5 and significantly shorter than the NT55. Given their attractive price, the level of performance and that enticingly long warranty, there's little not to like about Rode's new mic. It is a capable general-purpose mic that can handle just about any acoustic instrument source (though it probably wouldn't be my first choice for kick drum), where their ability to sound smooth yet detailed will be appreciated.  .

Alternatives

Most of the familiar names in microphone manufacturing offer small-diaphragm mics, many at a budget price, as with the MXL 606, though the M5's combination of performance, price and warranty surely puts it towards the top end of anyone's shortlist.

Rode M5 £169$199
pros
Surprisingly inexpensive.
Nicely engineered.
Detailed, clean sound.
Long warranty.
Available as matched pairs.
cons
No plastic storage pouch or box included.
summary
Whether used singly or in pairs, the M5 offers a serious level of performance at an entry-level price.
information
£169 per matched pair, including VAT.
Source Distribution +44 (0)20 8962 5080
$199 per pair.
Rode USA +1 562 364 7400
Test Spec

SOS Readers Ads
GRAB A BARGAIN

£471,594

of Second-User Gear for sale now — don't miss out!

Audio-Technica AT4047 MP

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4047 MP

Audio-Technica have added multiple polar patterns to one of their already successful designs, bringing increased versatility in the studio.

Audio-Technica AT4047 MP | Media

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Audio files to accompany the article.

Audio-Technica AT4050 ST

Stereo Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4050 ST

There's more to this variation on Audio-Technica's flagship microphone than the simple addition of a second capsule...

Peavey Studio Pro M2

Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Peavey Studio Pro M2

Paul White explores the capabilities of the understated-yet-powerful Studio Pro M2.

Schoeps VSR5

Microphone Preamp

Thumbnail for article: Schoeps VSR5

Schoeps make some of the most revered mics on the planet, so when they release a commercial version of the mic preamp they use for testing, you have to take it seriously...

Schoeps VSR5 Mic Preamp

Test Measurements

Thumbnail for article: Schoeps VSR5 Mic Preamp

The following charts, made using an Audio Precision Analyser, accompany our review of the Schoeps VSR5 microphone preamplifier.

Blue Encore 300

Handheld Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Blue Encore 300

Designed as a hand-held live vocal mic, this mic has a cardioid pickup pattern, and seems very robustly engineered.

Cartec EQP1A

Mono Valve Equaliser

Thumbnail for article: Cartec EQP1A

British 'boutique' outboard manufacturers seem to be rather thin on the ground these days, but if this Pultec clone is anything to go by, newcomers Cartec look set to make a big impression.

Prodipe TT1

Dynamic Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Prodipe TT1

Prodipe say they wanted to offer a high-quality, live-sound, cardioid-pattern dynamic mic at a very affordable price.

Sontronics Saturn

Multi-pattern Condenser Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Sontronics Saturn

Sontronics mics usually sound as distinctive as they look - and this one looks more distinctive than most!

MXL Revelation

Multi-pattern Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: MXL Revelation

Hot on the heels of the impressive Genesis cardioid valve mic, MXL have unveiled their flagship multi-pattern model, the Revelation. Does it live up to its name?

MXL Revelation | Audio Examples

Multi-pattern Valve Microphone

These audio files accompany the SOS September 2010 review of the MXL Revelation microphone.

Samson Go Mic

USB Microphone

Thumbnail for article: Samson Go Mic

USB mics are nothing new, but the Samson Go Mic is probably the smallest and cutest I've seen to date. This metal-bodied mic,...

AKG Perception 820

Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: AKG Perception 820

Does AKGs Chinese-made Perception 820 maintain the Austrian companys impressive reputation?

AKG Perception 820 | Audio

Audio Examples

Hear for yourself how this mic performed during the SOS tests.

Audio-Technica AT4080 & AT4081

Ribbon Microphones

Thumbnail for article: Audio-Technica AT4080 & AT4081

A-Ts brand-new transducer technology has produced a robust design intended to deliver high signal levels as well as that prized ribbon character...

Earthworks DP25C & DP30C

Snare & Tom Condenser Microphones

Thumbnail for article: Earthworks DP25C & DP30C

Despite the ubiquity of the SM57 for use on snare, there are other options — and Earthworks aim to help you capture a more natural sound.

MXL Genesis

Cardioid Valve Microphone

Thumbnail for article: MXL Genesis

We put MXLs Genesis through its paces alongside a much pricier model, to find out just how good a tube mic can be at this price.

MXL Genesis Mic | Audio Files

Hear For Yourself

To accompany our July 2010 Genesis review, we recorded a series of standard tests with the review mic alongside a more established mic (in this case, the AKG C12 VR).

WIN Great Prizes in SOS Competitions!

 

Home | Search | News | Current Issue | Tablet Mag | Articles | Forum | Subscribe | Shop | Readers Ads

Advertise | Information | Privacy Policy | Support | Login Help

 

Email: Contact SOS

Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888

Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895

Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.

Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 3015516 VAT number: GB 638 5307 26

         

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2014. All rights reserved.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents. The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers.

Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media