Rode’s new desktop mic gives you a broadcast‑ready sound out of the box.
Rode were one of the first companies to take USB microphones seriously, and recently we saw them elevate the concept with the 5th Gen NT1, a new version of their hugely popular studio microphone with USB interfacing, onboard DSP and 32‑bit A‑D conversion.
The NT‑USB+ reviewed here is a little more conventional, but still offers built‑in Aphex digital processing, controlled from the Rode Central app. For more info on how that works, check out our review of the new NT1 5th Gen. Where DSP isn’t required, the NT‑USB+ is a class‑compliant USB device that needs no drivers for basic operation on both computers and mobile devices.
The mic is fitted with a headphone output with a volume control, plus a Monitor knob for balancing the direct mic sound with the sound being returned from the DAW (when used in conjunction with Rode Connect, the monitor mix is always fed from the no‑latency input signal from the mic, to avoid latency issues). DSP settings made using Rode Central are retained after the app has been closed, leaving you free to use the mic with other recording software, such as your favourite DAW.
While many USB mics are built in China, Rode have their own manufacturing facilities in Sydney, Australia and this mic uses an in‑house‑made capacitor capsule, which has a tight cardioid polar pattern. Amplification comes from Rode’s low‑noise, high‑gain Revolution preamp circuitry, and there’s also a powerful headphone amplifier on board, with associated mini‑jack socket. A frequency response of 20Hz‑20kHz is quoted along with a dynamic range of 97dB. SPLs of up to 118dB can be tolerated, which is more than enough for the intended applications. Conversion is at 24‑bit, with sample rates up to 48kHz supported. The mic draws 500mA from USB power.
This is a robust microphone weighing 540g and measuring 184 x 62 x 50mm. It comes with a bespoke pop screen and tripod desk stand. On first unpacking the mic from its eco‑friendly cardboard packaging, the first thing you notice is that it looks to be very solid, beautifully engineered and visually engaging — it will certainly looks the part if you’re doing a video podcast. Its pop screen, which bears a large Rode logo, employs a fine mesh in a moulded plastic frame and fixes firmly to the base of the mic with a screw‑on retaining ring. The USB‑C port is located at the bottom of the mic, while the TRS mini headphone jack is on the left‑hand side, below the two controls.
While the microphone does have the usual internal capsule shockmounting, I found that low‑frequency vibrations from the desk were still transmitted to the mic via the tripod stand, so if you are an habitual desk thumper, buying a boom mount would be a good idea. The NT‑USB+ is also very sensitive, so if you do stand it on your desk next to your computer, you might easily be fooled into thinking the mic is noisy whereas in reality, it is picking up sound from your laptop’s fan or drive!
The sound is very much what we’ve come to expect from Rode: clean and articulate without excessive ‘character’ coloration...
Subjectively, the sound is very much what we’ve come to expect from Rode: clean and articulate without excessive ‘character’ coloration, which makes it compatible with a wide range of voice types as well as making it suitable for instrument recording. Having the Aphex effects on board adds further to its versatility, and is almost like having a choice of four different microphones in one. Adding the Aural Exciter adds just a hint of airiness to the highs, while the Big Bottom processing fattens up the lows. Or you can add both at the same time!
The Rode NT‑USB+ is a very attractive package capable of first‑class results both for music production and for podcasting.