Rode's revised NT1 condenser microphone might look similar to the NT1A but it has been completely redesigned from the ground up – the only feature it shares with the NT1A is its mesh grille.
The redesign comprises the new HF6 capsule, which is designed to feature a sound signature similar to vintage mikes but with extremely low noise.
The transducer is then suspended inside the microphone using Rycote's Lyre system, thus minimising external vibrations. The high-grade electronics at work help keep the self-noise level down to 4.5dBA. Indeed, Rode claims the NT1 is the world's quietest 1-inch cardioid condenser.
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Dark and unmarked
The NT1 has a sleek, fuss-free and clean design – with no switches for bass roll off or a pad. It is finished in a very dark shade of grey. The machined aluminium body is nickel-plated to resist corrosion, while a military-grade ceramic coating makes the whole finish resistant to scratches or marks.
The tough, protective design extends to the black outer mesh basket, while a small gold inlay offers clear indication as to which side of the mic you should aim the sound source.
Rode's SMR shock mount is included in the package, and it features a unique double-Lyre suspension system in which the second Lyre acts as a tensioning element so that each Lyre is held in the optimum position for cancelling vibration.
The microphone sits comfortably in the shock mount and is held in place by a screw collar at its base. Angled adjustment of the whole setup in relation to a mic stand is easily carried out via a lever that doesn't require much pressure to hold everything firmly in place.
Also included is an all-metal pop rectangular filter that fits in the cradle about 5cm in front of the mic.
Our initial thoughts confirm Rode's claims regarding noise. There is hardly any here – Rode's R&D efforts bear fruit here. We would wager that most people in the market for a condenser mic of this type would have vocal recording in mind – they wouldn't be disappointed.
For vocals, the NT1 is crisp and detailed, with plenty of warm low-end body in the mix and nothing absent or poking out in the midrange. There is an airy clarity in the top end and the double-meshed pop shield is both unobtrusive and effective.
The NT1 is not just a vocal mic. It lends itself to a variety of tasks – although be mindful that the lack of a pad might well preclude it from close-mic'ing some very loud sources such as drums or amplified guitars.
There are, whoever, some fantastic results to be had when recording six-string and 12-string acoustic guitars. The NT1's top end silkiness is crucial here. Similarly, various items of hand-held percussion were captured beautifully. We would happily used it as a drum overhead or perhaps on piano.
Anyone who wishes to primarily record vocals should place a decent large diaphragm cardioid condenser mic at the top of their shopping list. This reworked NT1 is one of the best we have heard and it is reasonably affordable. Expect to pay £200 or thereabouts for a what is an excellent mic and pop shield combo. No complaints here.
MusicRadar verdict: The performance from this affordable large diaphragm condenser is truly exceptional, making it a smart choice for vocals, guitars and more.