The Rode NT2-A is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone released in 2010. This microphone is an upgrade on the Rode NT2, released in 1992, which was marketed upon release as a technological upgrade to previous microphones while remaining true to the tones of microphones of the ’50s and ’60s.
Evidently, the NT2-A is presented as a refinement upon RØDE’s long line of condenser microphones. It’s 1” diaphragm being a hallmark of the company, but how does it vary from previous models?
Being a condenser microphone, the NT2-A requires 48v to power the internal capacitor. It functions on the pressure gradient acoustic principle (meaning both sides of the diaphragm are exposed) allowing for multiple polar patterns to be utilized.
This microphone has a larger frequency and dynamic range than most dynamic microphones, making it a staple for high-quality vocal and instrument recording in both home and professional studios around the world.
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The NT2-A offers a frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz, and a dynamic response of 140dB meaning it is more than capable of capturing natural and clear sounding vocals in a podcasting scenario.
It offers 3 polar patterns (cardioid, figure of 8, and omnidirectional), and the option of a high pass filter either at 40Hz, or 80Hz. The microphone also has a toggle for its inbuilt passive attenuation device, which serves as overload protection when recording loud audio.
The plethora of controls that this microphone affords makes it incredibly versatile. The use cases and scenarios in which these controls prove useful are discussed below.
When recording with the NT2-A the vocals sound both clear and natural. The high-end peaks in the frequency response give any recorded voice a greater presence without drastically altering the vocal profile, and the lows remain clear regardless of the range of voice. Having used the NT2-A to record both screaming female punk vocals, and quiet baritone pieces, I can safely say this mic will withstand whatever challenge you may throw at it.
RØDE prides itself on manufacturing low noise microphones, and the NT2-A is no exception. Being a condenser microphone, it already has the advantage of needing less gain due to a higher signal output thanks to phantom power. That being said, the NT2-A still boasts 87dB SPL making its self-noise incredibly low, even when the gain is at extreme highs.
As mentioned earlier, RØDE markets this microphone as “Evoking the silky smooth character of the legendary microphones of the 50s and 60s”. The way they emulate this “silky smooth” tone is through the voicing of the transient and frequency response.
The NT2-A diaphragm has high inertia due to its size; this means that it has a slow transient response, which colors signals to sound fuller due to the longer attack and extended tail, this is due to the time the diaphragm takes to stop moving once in motion.
The transient response, while being less audible on vocals than a drum kit for instance, still colors sound profiles. Due to the softer transient and prolonged decay, the sound has a smoother character.
The frequency response also plays a part in sound characteristics, such as the peak at 500Hz warming the mids. At 5kHz there is a peak which increases sibilance in vocal recording and at 10kHz the air of the sound is boosted.
These two factors complement one another, with the peak at 10kHz being justified when factoring in the slow transient response dulling any potential harshness.
For podcasting with the NT2-A, you can expect a warm and full characteristic to be audible in your vocals.
Use in Podcasting
Being a studio-grade condenser microphone, the NT2-A is ideal for podcasting in terms of vocal clarity. Another bonus to using this microphone in a podcast scenario is the high pass filter options. By rolling off the lows at 40 or 80Hz, you can eliminate the sound of footsteps, cars, and any other unwanted domestic noises when recording in an untreated room.
Another useful feature when podcasting is a variety of polar patterns. By utilizing a figure 8 pattern, two people may record into the one microphone sat opposite to one another. For larger groups, an omnidirectional polar pattern may be useful, however, if using multiple microphones, the cardioid pattern provides a focus on frontal sounds while rejecting most surrounding noise.
When podcasting, it would be prudent to use a pop filter and shock mount, as the NT2-A is sensitive to small noises, both unintentional in speech, or domestic. Luckily the microphone comes packaged with both accessories, which will be discussed later.
Comparison to SM7B
To properly put this mic into context, let’s compare it to a podcasting staple, the Shure SM7B. The SM7B is arguably the go-to podcasting microphone. It is a dynamic microphone that most notably offers a wide and flat frequency response, as well as an internal shock mounting system, and in-built pop filter.
This microphone is both convenient, having the accessories of the NT2-A built-in, and also offers a choice of bass roll-off, presence boost, or flat frequency response, meaning you can adjust to suit your needs. While the NT2-A offers largely the same features (minus the presence boost) it is undeniably trickier to set up in comparison.
Where the NT2-A beats the SM7B is in its self-noise. Being a dynamic microphone, requires much more gain to achieve a signal like that of the NT2-A, meaning there must a careful consideration of preamps or gain boosters. To read more on condensers vs dynamics see our head-to-head.
It is worth mentioning how the NT2-A works when paired with different preamps. For this test, I have used the Yamaha D-PRE, and Focusrite Analogue preamps found in the Steinberg UR22mkii, and the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 2nd gen respectively.
As discovered in our in-depth comparison, the UR22 is the noisier of the interfaces. Putting the NT2-A through a stress test with the UR22 however, only solidified how quiet this microphone really is. At its extreme, there was an audible amount of noise. At a reasonable level, however, the noise was almost unnoticeable.
The 2i2 also produced a small amount of noise at extreme levels, however both these budget-friendly interfaces provides a high-quality, low noise vocal recording, perfect for any commercial podcasting scenario.
Shock Mount and Pop Filter
The shock mount and pop filter packaged with the NT2-A is of a sturdy metal build. The pop is affixed to the shock mount, which is convenient in saving time setting up, however, if you plan to travel with these accessories, it may prove quite bulky.
This accessory perfectly complements the microphone’s features, as the shock mount in conjunction with the 40Hz bass roll-off eliminates nearly all mechanical noise transmission. The pop filter compliments the slow transient attack, further reducing any plosives in speech. with the mic docked in this accessory, you can confidently produce clear high-quality audio, even in noisy bedroom studios, or on location.
To maximize clarity when using the NT2-A, it is worth considering a reflection filter. We discuss this in full in our reflection filter test.
Getting the Most with EQ
When it comes to editing the recorded vocals, the first step is knowing your microphone. The next step is working to compliment the recorded voice. While this section will explain an approach to getting the most out of vocals on NT2-A with EQ, it is important to note that this is specific to my voice, and every voice will need treating a little differently.
I started with a high pass filter at 80Hz, to remove rumble (I recorded using the default flat response mode), and a low pass at just over 10kHz to remove any unwanted highs.
I also cut slightly at 500Hz as my tests were conducted facing a noisy window, therefore I recorded close to the mic to maximize signal level and minimize noise by using less gain. This left me with a bit too much warmth in the mids due to the frequency response peak.
Finally, the highs have been boosted to add presence to my voice, as the pop filter and transient response left my quieter vocals somewhat lacking in presence. This was easily rectified by a subtle boost to bring out the clarity and detail in the highs.
From this review, I hope you have gained a clear insight into the RØDE NT2-A and its strengths and weaknesses. This microphone is a great podcasting mic, with a low self-noise, and clear and detailed audio recording capabilities.
One final point for consideration is the price. At the time of writing the RØDE NT2-A will set you back $399 at Sweetwater. While on the expensive side, this microphone offers a slight upgrade on the NT1-A ($229 at Sweetwater), however, its main advantage is the option for polar patterns, high pass filter, and PAD.
The NT2-A’s multiple controls and high-quality audio recording capabilities make it a versatile microphone in-home and studio recording. This microphone is an asset to any podcasting setup.