RØDE NT1 5th Generation Large-diaphragm Studio Condenser Microphone with XLR and USB Outputs, Shock Mount and Pop Filter for Music Production, Vocal Recording and Podcasting (Silver)

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RØDE NT1 5th Generation Large-diaphragm Studio Condenser Microphone with XLR and USB Outputs, Shock Mount and Pop Filter for Music Production, Vocal Recording and Podcasting (Silver)

RØDE NT1 5th Generation Large-diaphragm Studio Condenser Microphone with XLR and USB Outputs, Shock Mount and Pop Filter for Music Production, Vocal Recording and Podcasting (Silver)

RRP: £222.00
Price: £111
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Innovation in music technology can take many forms. Sometimes it means implementing features and creating products that have never been seen before. But it can also involve bringing existing developments to new markets, by finding ways to manufacture them more affordably. This latter kind of innovation has always been at the heart of Rode’s business model, but in recent years they’ve also scored some impressive design firsts. The NTR, for example, goes where no ribbon microphone has gone before, with its laser‑cut ribbon, insanely high build quality and extended frequency response.

Few flagship microphones offer both XLR and USB so competently and offer features through software to make the most of the warm sound profile. Don't buy it if... One of the most notable new features of the NT1 5th Generation is its ability to record 32-bit float audio, which allows for a significantly larger dynamic range than standard 16- or 24-bit audio. The dynamic range of 32-bit float audio is so large that it virtually eradicates clipping, which is a type of waveform distortion that happens when audio is too loud. (“Virtually,” because there are multiple reasons for clipping — not all can be avoided by recording in32-bit float.) This means that the NT1 5th Generation will be able to capture audio at any volume level without distortion, making it ideal for situations where there might be unexpected spikes in volume (such as live events). Dynamic range is not the same as resolution, which corresponds to bit-depth. Bit-depth refers to the number of bits of information an audio sample has, or the number of amplitude levels it can capture. The theoretical maximum bit-depth can be calculated by raising 2 to the power of [number of bits] — 16-bit audio can have at most 65,536 steps (2 If you disregard the NT1’s USB capabilities, its obvious competitors include the Austrian Audio OC16 and Sony C80. These are both excellent mics, and a competent engineer should be able to make good recordings with any of them. The NT1 doesn’t have the presence lift of the OC16, or the slightly dry sound of the Sony with its smaller capsule, but it too is a mic you can point at practically anything and expect good results. And not only is it the cheapest of the three, it’s the only one supplied with cables and a pop filter. As was previously mentioned, this means that clipping is never audible within Rode Connect. And if your DAW supports 32‑bit floating‑point signals (not all do), the same applies here. Your recordings may show waveforms that look clipped, but by applying clip gain or normalising, you can always restore a sensible level with adequate headroom. Stay Connected


The NT1’s built‑in Aphex processing can be accessed only through Rode Connect.When it comes to music recording, the 3m USB cable and the option of aggregating further NT1s through Rode Connect mean it’s a more practical option than most USB mics, but for anything that involves multiple instruments or pairing with other types of mic, you’ll need to revert to old‑fashioned XLR connection. You won’t get the Aphex processing or high‑pass filter, and you’ll need a mic preamp, but the good news is that the NT1 is not only super‑quiet, but also sounds really good. It’s clean but not wholly characterless; compared with a Neumann U87, for example, you don’t quite get the same richness in the midrange, but there’s a gentle boost above 10kHz which adds an appealing and relatively subtle air to most sources.

During their massive growth over the last 30 years, Rode have absorbed other companies including Aphex, makers of the original Aural Exciter enhancer and Compellor compressor. Their designers’ know‑how has been put to good use in the NT1 5th Gen, and four icons to the right of the gain control engage simple ‘one‑button’ noise gate, compressor, Aural Exciter and Big Bottom processing. These are implemented digitally and have no controls other than the on/off button, but since they come after the gain control in the signal path, it is possible to manipulate the amount of compression that is applied by increasing or decreasing the gain. The box includes a lengthy red XLR lead and a durable USB-C to USB-C cable for both connection methods. You’ll need to invest in a stand or boom arm for a setup like this, as you don’t get one included. From my time with Rode’s microphones, there’s no better option than the excellent PSA1+ boom arm, which is built with the brand’s suspension mounts in mind and offers a level of versatility needed for streaming and podcasting with how many angles you can get. Performance Every device designed to capture or process audio has a dynamic range: the ratio between the greatest amplitude that can be represented within the system, and the noise floor of the system. The NT1 has an incredibly low noise floor and can accept sound pressure levels of up to 132dB SPL, so considered purely as an analogue device, it has a massive dynamic range. It would take a very, very loud acoustic event to cause the mic’s analogue circuitry to clip; and at the other end of the scale, you’d have to be recording something vanishingly quiet in a completely isolated acoustic environment before its noise floor became apparent.The obvious limitation here is that if you increase the gain too far, you risk making the signal too hot to handle and causing clipping. Except you don’t — and that’s where the unique aspect of the NT1 5th Gen design comes in. Window Shopping

The answer is that the signal delivered by the NT1 to Rode Connect is effectively impossible to clip, because the NT1 5th Gen doesn’t just have one A‑D converter: it has two in parallel, and together these have a dynamic range that exceeds that of the mic and its internal preamp combined. To abuse the window analogy further, it’s as though Rode have placed a second window directly above the first. One of the A‑D converters is aligned such that it’s impossible to make the analogue circuitry in the NT1 generate a signal hot enough to clip it, even at maximum gain; the other is aligned such that its noise floor is lower than that of the NT1’s capsule and electronics at minimum gain. Adding the gain range of the preamp to the dynamic range of the mic itself suggests that this dual converter would need to have a total dynamic range of nearly 200dB to completely eliminate clipping. That is way more than can be represented in a 24‑bit fixed‑point signal, and so the native digital output of the NT1 is a 32‑bit floating‑point signal. This is what Rode Connect works with. If you’re after a truly top-of-the-line broadcasting option, then the iconic status of the NT1’s latest revision is hard to argue against when plugged into a proper audio interface. As a definitive all-in-one solution, there’s a lot to love here, with a few small caveats that shouldn’t bother the seasoned recording veteran. Should I buy the Rode NT1 5th Generation? Buy it if… Having used my fair share of studio gear before, I can confidently say that the Rode NT1 5th Generation is the best-sounding microphone I’ve ever used through its native XLR input. Whether you’re running this condenser mic through a dedicated audio interface and mixing board such as the Rode Procaster II or something more humble like the Razer Audio Mixer, the sound quality you’re getting is second to none. That’s not surprising given the 4dBA sensitivity, as the manufacturer claims it’s “the world’s quietest studio condenser microphone”. Everything from the softest whisper to a regular speaking voice and screaming comes across crystal clear.

This long established mic has had a significant upgrade

Rode Connect is designed primarily for use with the RodeCaster Pro podcast production suite, hence the buttons for triggering sound effects! Rode made the Rode NT1 5th Generation for use in whisper-quiet studio settings, so don’t invest in this microphone if your home setup can get noisy.

Unlike many USB mics, the NT1 5th Gen is an input‑only device, and doesn’t have a headphone output of its own. Nor does it have a physical gain control. As we’ll see, this isn’t necessarily an issue, and for spur‑of‑the‑moment recordings where you don’t need to monitor anything, you could just plug in and go. For most use cases, though, you’ll want to install the Rode Connect utility. This allows you to aggregate multiple Rode USB devices and perform low‑latency cue mixing. It also reveals that there’s a lot more going on inside the NT1 than mere A‑D conversion.

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