(May2007)A few years ago when the first reviews appeared
for Rode microphones everyone seemed very excited by their matched
pair of small diaphragm, condenser, cardioid mics the NT5s.
It looked very similar in size and style to the Neumann
KM 84s and was designed to provide a similar range of applications
such as a pair of drum overheads or a stereo pair for recording
a small choir or ensemble. All the reviews were positive and
both the mobile and the studio decided to buy a pair as at just
over £200 for a pair they seemed too good to miss. The
mics are very nicely made and come in a foam lined plastic hard
case with a couple of clips and simple foam shields. I have
experimented with these mics as a stereo pair in different configurations
and as single point mics for recording instruments. I think
that they are just terrific value for money and with the exception
of voice/over work they get used on all the sessions with the
mobile and in the studio. I tend to set them up on a stereo
bar in ORTF
and I am particularly happy with them as drum overheads
though they don't really match up to the Neumann KM 84s. They
get used for general stereo instrument work and give a lovely
clear picture with a bright smooth top end though they are perhaps
a bit light at the bottom. However it would be churlish to criticise
these mics at their price.
I recently had one take a hit distorting the vents which slightly
dropped the output of the mic and while it wasn't the end of
the world I thought it would be good to see if Ii could get
a replacement capsule. I spoke to Rachid Amini at the UK distributers
and he sent me a replacement capsule for free. That's what I
call good service! JR
(oct 2008)I'm always aware, when writing
about mics, that I am in the lucky position of having access
of them so making direct comparisons between models is easy.
Also I don't generally buy these mics-they may be part of the
studio collection, they may be loaned by to me by colleagues
or sent by manufacturers for use and review on a long term basis.This
luxury of choice is probably not available to many recordists,
particularly home studio owners and I understand fully the deliberations
which go on regarding mic purchase and the consequence of making
the wrong choice on a limited budget.
If this sounds like I'm about to slate the NT5 then rest assured
I'm not but it is a mic which certainly flatters to deceive
in some areas.
Fairview Studio bought a pair of NT5s when one half of their
matched Neumann KM84s was irreparably damaged. Now I obviously
never expected the Rodes to be as good as the Neumanns but I
was certainly quite surprised when I started using them.
First outing was as overheads on a kit. I had listened to the
drums in the room and positioned mics accordingly. On opening
the channels I was amazed at the brightness of the mics-a very
shiny sound indeed and bags of gain (I think a 10db pad facility
would'nt go amiss on the NT5-Rode do suggest it as suitable
for drum overheads). I was initially a little concerned about
the lack of some mid-range detail but pressed on with the set
On its own the kit sounded good and the metalwork sweet but
as I added other instruments into the monitor mix it became
apparent that there was very little body in the cymbal sound...plenty
of splash and attack but no substance. I experimented with repositioning
the overheads but there was little improvement.
Given that I tend to work on the sound source and record generally
flat I carried on through the session. The next day, by which
time two songs had been fully tracked, I was struggling to define
the cymbals at all unless their tracks were disproportionately
loud in the monitors and I had to work hard at the mix to get
some definition into the sound.
The second outing was recording an acoustic guitar around which
we were going to build a full-on track. The guitar sounded really
sweet with the NT5s and if it had been just a guitar or guitar/vocal
track then I would have been very happy with the sound. However
deja vu struck and six hours and several overdubs later I found
myself unable to pick out the acoustic guitar at all in the
The body of the sound had been swallowed entirely by the other
instruments. Again much work at the mix was required.
These are two instances where an initially impressive sound
failed to hold it's ground sonically because of an emphasis
in the high frequencies and a lack of integrity in that all-important
mid range....something to definitely be aware of.
Of course the NT5 has many good points. I recorded a piano/flute
combination with them, also a fiddle/vocal session and was very
pleased with the results
It seems that as long as the recorded NT5 instrument does'nt
have to compete too much with other instruments then it can
deliver the goods well. But you may struggle to sit that acoustic
guitar into an electric track without some serious eq'ing.
Many people ask about which mic for which purpose. My stock
reply is that wherever possible beg,steal,borrow or hire a selection
before buying. Some manufacturers have a trial scheme in place
which is always worth taking advantage of. There have never
been so many microphones available to the public at such good
prices so take your time and look around. If your mixes are
going to end up as MP3 files on your Myspace site then they
need all the help they can get at the recording stage.
One last thing on the NT5. I used a pair in an ORTF setup in
front of a childrens choir recently (alongside a Soundfield
and Hebden Omni rig) and was very impressed with the detail.
I recorded all the mics to seperate tracks and was able to add
the Rodes successfully into the final mix at the studio. I also
know that JR has used them extensively on the mobile with good
results but our studio pair hasn't been out of the cupboard
for some time.
The NT5 is part of a large Rode collection and I hope we can
get some other models to review at some point.