The RODE NT-USB Microphone Needs No Audio Interface
Simplicity. That’s what we covet these days, with all the technological advances that enable us to do more, better, faster. Every time a new piece of gear comes out, the excitement quickly wears off when it's time to learn how to use the new tool, rather than create with it. In the case of the RØDE NT-USB Microphone, your brain will get a break because, in a word, this microphone is beautifully simple. I recently had the opportunity to use one myself for an extended period of time, and I was impressed with both its sound and build quality.
The NT-USB is a cardioid condenser microphone that doesn't require an external audio interface to get sound into the computer—because the microphone itself is the audio interface. Powered by the USB port on any computer, this microphone is all the hardware you need to get your analog sound waves into the digital realm. It's also compatible with the Apple iPad, with a separately available Apple Camera Connection Kit.
When I first took the mic out of the box, I was impressed with its beautiful, all-black metal design. The NT-USB comes with a sleek but highly effective metal pop filter, a desktop tripod stand, a six-meter USB cable, a soft case, and a ring mount for use with microphone stands. Everything exudes the professional quality and style for which RØDE is known, and it looked gorgeous just sitting unobtrusively on my desk.
I used the NT-USB to record to my laptop, and I also used it with my main computer. I kept the mic on my desk at all times. I have other traditional XLR mics I can set up when the need arises, but for a quick VO it was nice to already have something set up. RØDE spent a year developing the NT-USB, and all that hard work is evident in what I heard every time I recorded with it. In addition to recording, I also used it for Skype calls or in Google Hangouts, rather than the built-in mic on my web camera. The sound quality was dramatically better, and the closer proximity to my mouth resulted in much less ambient noise. I had good results recording with the NT-USB on my desktop computer as well. The mic has an articulate, neutral sound that makes the voice sit nicely on top of the mix.
Of course, one can EQ the recorded tracks to suit any sonic color. One thing to be aware of when using the NT-USB with the included tripod desk stand is that any bumping of the desk with one’s hands or feet will result in low rumble in the recording. That’s typical of all condenser microphones. The mic is very sensitive and will pick up everything. Personally, I just use the tripod mount and take care not to bump my hands and feet when recording but, if this is going to be your main mic, I suggest getting the RØDE SMR Shockmount and a boom mic stand. A boom stand will bring the mic to you, whether sitting or standing, and the shockmount will deaden any rumble from thumping feet or touching the boom stand.
For people on the go, and people who don’t like a lot of clutter, the NT-USB is a perfect solution. If you’re traveling with only a laptop, you can just throw it into your bag and you’ll be able to do professional-quality voice-overs, or record instruments and vocals in your hotel room, at a job location, or even in the great outdoors. It’s compatible with any mainstream recording DAW for both Mac and Windows, or with the iPad using the RØDE Rec app, Garage Band, or any other app that accepts external microphones. Podcasters will love the extremely high sound quality this mic provides, its rugged build quality, and its compact size. Musicians and VO artists will love it for the same reason. It’s not just a great-sounding USB microphone; it's a great-sounding microphone, in general.
Optionally, the SMR shockmount is available, which features Rycote’s Lyre shock damping. With a cardioid polar pattern and a 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response, the NT-USB delivers both high-fidelity sound and off-axis rejection of sounds behind and to the sides of the capsule. There are two adjustment knobs and a 3.5mm headphone input on the side, for easy access. The top knob is for mixing the balance between the mic signal and the music playing back in the DAW (if there is any), and the lower knob adjusts the overall volume in the headphones. To get the mic armed to record, one simply selects the NT-USB as the audio device in the chosen recording app’s preferences, and you’re ready to record. It doesn't get any simpler than that.
All in all, I think the NT-USB is one of the best-sounding USB microphones available. With the sound quality, build quality, and the simplicity of use, this microphone deserves a listen.
If you have any questions about the RØDE NT-USB, we encourage you to submit a comment, below.