Rode M3

Australian company Rode have a more-bang-for-the-buck reputation of turning out quality microphones at affordable prices.

Their latest, the M3 (a small-diaphragm cardioid response, end-fire condenser), certainly falls into the affordable category at just £89.

Technically speaking, the mic is an electret design, which means it has a permanently polarised capsule giving it the capability of being able to run from an internal 9V battery as well as from phantom power.

This facility makes it a very practical choice for location recording or situations where phantom power is not available and a dynamic mic not the preferred choice.

The M3, plus mic clip and foam windshield, comes in a large moulded plastic carry case giving it a nice level of protection.

The mic is reassuringly solid and almost nine inches long with a high strength mesh head and an internal shock mount for the capsule, which could reduce handling noise, although the mic's cylindrical shape doesn't make it feel at all comfortable as a hand-held mic.

In use

Should anyone choose to use it as a hand-held, however, they're unlikely to accidentally switch it off mid-performance as the on/off switch is recessed into the body. That switch has three positions - off, on with a flat response and on with a high-pass filter engaged, rolling off the extreme low end below 80Hz at 12dB per octave.

A red LED in the same recess indicates low battery power. A 10dB and 20dB pad are also available but these can only be accessed by unscrewing the mic in its centre position revealing the PP3 battery compartment.

The three-position switch is a little fiddly requiring the use of a pen or a small screwdriver. It would have been a more practical proposition if placed externally on the mic body but Rode placed it inside to guard against 'unauthorised or mistaken activation'...

While a large diaphragm condenser would be the choice for recording vocals, the M3 works really well in capturing a natural vocal sound that's well-balanced across the frequency range.

The published frequency response plot is resolutely flat across most of the range with a couple of humps in the high end, most notably around 10kHz, which is borne out by a pleasant degree of airiness in the voice.

That crisp response also lends itself to use for hand-held percussion, hi-hats and as a drum overhead - a pair of M3s would represent an inexpensive way to acquire a condenser stereo pair.

Decent results were also obtained recording acoustic guitar and the M3 had no problems with a loud guitar amp. I could also see it being put to good use on brass or woodwind.

If you're recording vocals and other acoustic sounds, it goes without saying that you need a mic - but which one? If you can afford to buy several different mics you'll be assured having the tools at hand for any number of studio tasks but if you're on a very tight budget you're more likely to be looking for one decent all-rounder that can cover plenty of options.

The M3 is a practical choice that won't let down those looking for their first mic, and a worthy option for anyone looking to extend their arsenal with a small, affordable diaphragm condenser (or two).

MusicRadar Rating

4 / 5 stars
Pros

Decent quality at a budget price.

Cons

Fiddley position switch.

Verdict

The M3 is a-value-for-money versatile performer that's a sound choice as a first mic.

Features

Directional Pattern: Cardioid. Frequency Range: 40Hz 20,000Hz. Selectable High Pass Filter: 80Hz 12dB/octave.Three stage selectable pad (0, -10dB, -20dB). Sensitivity: -40dB +/-3dB re 1V/Pa @ 1kHz. Equivalent noise: 21dBA SPL (A - weighted per IEC651). Maximum Output: +9.22dBU (@ 1% THD 1k).Dynamic range: 121dB. Maximum SPL: 142dB (@ 1% THD into 1k). Signal/Noise: 73dB SPL (@1kHz, rel 1Pa).

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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