Rode NT1-A Review: A Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package

The condenser microphone was invented back in 1916. Since then, it has revolutionized the audio industry in a way that only a handful audio equipment can. Today, this review is about a condenser microphone, too, a product that was a true game-changer back in the day.

If you watch podcasts or streams on the internet, you should notice that Rode's microphones are used regularly. Now, one such condenser microphone that has been around for quite a long time is Rode's nt1-a. Whether it's music, streaming, podcast, or voiceover, this microphone has always been a jack of all trades with its detail and accuracy.

So, now you might be wondering why I am even discussing a microphone from 2003 all these years later. Well, that's because this microphone still packs enough punch with excellent value for money. The question here is, is Rode nt1-a still good enough to compete with current industry standards? That's what I will be trying to answer in this discussion below.

Rode NT1-A Specification

  • Weight: 326g
  • Dimensions: 190.00mmH x 50.00mmW x 50.00mmD
  • Acoustic Principle: Pressure Gradient
  • Capsule: 1.00"
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Address Type: Side
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Output Impedance: 100Ω
  • Maximum SPL: 137dBSPL
  • Maximum Output Level: 13.7mV (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load)
  • Sensitivity: -31.9dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (25.00mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz
  • Equivalent Noise Level: 5dBA
  • Power Options: +24V phantom power, +48V phantom power
  • Output: 3-pin XLR
  • Warranty: 1 year with free extension, 10 years following registration
Rode NT1-A

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The Benefits & Drawbacks of the product

Now that you know the technical specifications let's discuss the advantages and drawbacks of Rode nt1-a in short. This section will help you compare your priorities and decide about this microphone.

Benefits of Rode NT1-A

  • The first benefit of Rode nt1-a lies in its shape. Due to the cardioid polar shape, Rode nt1-a does an amazing job of isolating audio from different sources. Also, this shape allows this microphone to work great in single-source making conditions like podcast and music recording.
  • Low self-noise is another impressive quality of Rode nt1-a. Usually, anything under 10 dB is considered super quiet for condenser microphones. In that regard, Rode nt1-a has an impressive self-noise of 5 dB. This low self-noise allows different benefits, including microphone placement freedom.
  • Rode nt1-a has a pretty flat frequency response rate. That means the audio recorded by this microphone stays natural without any sort of coloring. As a result, it's much easier to equalize the recording. Overall, it indicates the accuracy of the microphone.
  • I know build quality and look don't matter much for microphones like this, but still, I couldn't help appreciate the build quality and slick design of this microphone enough. The stainless still construction makes Rode nt1-a one of the toughest microphones on the market.
  • The sheer value Rode nt1-a provides for the price tag is one of the selling points here. It's definitely not cheap, but if you are seriously considering an upgrade on a budget, this is a great microphone you should check out.

Drawbacks of Rode NT1-A

  • The lack of USB power might not exactly be a drawback, but it surely is an inconvenience who don't have access to phantom power. If you don't, you'll need a separate audio interface with preamps to power this microphone.
  • Rode nt1-a can be a bit bright for some people, especially those with high-pitched voices. Unfortunately, this brightness emphasizes higher frequencies, therefore messing with the recording's purity.

Related: Best Live Condenser Vocal Mic 2022

Rode NT1-A Features and Ratings

Design and Build

Rode NT1-A design

Despite being a budget condenser microphone, the beautiful design and build quality impressed me a lot. To be honest, some of you might not care about this aspect much, but it's good to see Rode offering such good construction at a low budget. A good-looking microphone can always uplift the beauty of your audio setup.

This microphone has an all-metal stainless still build, which looks pretty cool. It's arguably the strongest material for any microphone on the market, so you shouldn't have to worry about the durability factor here.

However, you should be careful about dropping it despite the metal build, especially when you are using this microphone on stage. It won't break into pieces, but different parts can get separated because it's a condenser microphone.

There is a still mesh grill at the top of the microphone, and the rest of the body is fully metallic with an XLR port underneath the microphone. For convenience, the front of the microphone is marked with a white dot.

Because of the all-metal build, the microphone will not be lightweight at all at 326g. But despite being heavy, it has a surprisingly compact form factor. With a dimension of 190 mm x 50 mm x 50mm, you can toss it into your backpack anytime and get going.

Rating: 5/5

Recording Quality

Now let's talk about the most important aspect of any microphone, the sound quality. Rode nt1-a has quite a few handy features that make it a really good microphone for the price. Like the predecessor NT1, nt1-a seems to continue the performance with design and hardware refresh. Though the design change wasn't anything major, the change in internal circuits gave Rode nt1-a a huge performance boost.

Let's start with the cardioid polar shape of Rode nt1-a. This shape allows the microphone to work extremely well from a single sound source. As most of the podcasts, recording or streaming have a single source of the sound, that's one feature Rode nt1-a has got right. 

Next, the flat frequency response is another reason why this microphone is so popular in recording studios. This flat response will allow you to record the purest sound possible with minimum coloration. Later, it leaves you more room for fine-tuning the audio in post-production. 

Lastly, I would like to mention the extremely low self-noise of Rode nt1-a. For a self-noise of only 5Db this low, it has to be the quietest microphone at its price segment. And this low self-noise translates pretty well into performance too.

For example, if you are recording any instrument with this microphone, it does a great job of picking up even the most subtle sound frequencies. Afterwards, when you listen to the recording, you'll be surprised to see the details you didn't even know existed.

Rating: 4.5/5


The last thing I would like to talk about this Rode nt1-a is its value for the money. Of course, this is not a cheap microphone, but you'll have a hard time finding any condenser microphone at its price, forget about good ones. Rode nt1-a is just a budget beast if we talk exclusively about condenser microphones.

Admittedly, there are some lackings here too. Unfortunately, features like switches and pads are missing, which can be a deal-breaker for some buyers. But still, Rode provides a shock mount with it, and there is one to ten years of warranty under different conditions, which should make up a little for those missing features. The mount is also a high-quality one too, don't mistake it with those cheap plastic ones you buy from third parties.

Lastly, I would like to mention features like flat frequency response and the low self-noise again. Even some more expensive condenser microphones don't have these features, which makes Rode nt1-a a really great deal for the money.

Rating: 4.5/5

Rode NT-1 Alternatives

Now that I have discussed different factors, let's see what other alternatives of Rode nt1-a you should consider. It wasn't easy to find a condenser microphone at such a low price, but below I have discussed two options shortly, which can give tough competition to Rode nt1-a.

Audio-Technica at4040 Cardioid Microphone

If you are looking for a true externally biased cardioid microphone like Rode nt1-a, you are in luck. Audio-Technica at4040 condenser microphone offers a lot of great performance features similar to the Rode one. Furthermore, an attractive price tag identical to Rode nt1-a is hard to ignore.

LEWITT LCT 440 PURE Condenser Microphone

Another great condenser microphone that can compete with the pricy options. If you are looking for a microphone for exclusively studio use with different instruments, this mike is definitely a worthy competitor of Rode nt1-a. With a 1″ true condenser capsule inside, it'll record every bit of sound you need for your music production.

Final Verdict

After the in-depth review, I think you'll agree with me that this microphone is definitely proving more than it's worth. Considering the flat response and accurate sound representation, it's hard not to recommend this microphone, even if you have a higher budget. The sound quality is accurate, clear and you'll have enough space to work with the audio later too. If you are stepping into a condenser microphone setup for the first time, Rode nt1-a can be a great stepping stone for you.

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