Using a USB mic for its convenience doesn’t mean you must put up with a substandard sound. The NT-USB from Rode is proof if you ever needed it! Here, the Australian brand promises a mic packed with high-end components for a condenser-quality tone that’s perfect for so many applications. Because of this, it’s no wonder that the NT-USB is one of the best USB microphones you can get your hands on.
From the moment you unpack and assemble the NT-USB, you can tell it’s a serious piece of equipment. With a sophisticated all-black design, the chassis of this slim mic is made of a quality aluminum and features impeccable attention to detail. The only thing breaking up this stealthy look is the shine of the blue power LED when it’s on.
It’s quite a simple mic, with a large two-piece side-address grille covering half of the length, while the controls are on the side of the body for easy access. When it’s sitting in its tripod on a desk, it looks pretty awesome and just oozes confidence. While aesthetics alone shouldn’t sell microphones, it doesn’t hurt that it looks this good.
Diving into the hardware and specs, we are confronted with a delicate 0.5” condenser capsule attached to a solid A/D converter, for a full condenser experience albeit with the convenience of a USB mic package. The raw specs tell a familiar tale, with the frequency response ranging from 20Hz to 20kHz and a max SPL of 110dB. In other words, there is plenty of scope with this mic right off the bat.
Controls aren’t too extensive, with just a rotary knob for headphone output volume, as well as a control to balance the sound between mic input and DAW output for a latency-free monitoring experience. As you may expect, this mic is bus-powered, so no additional power cables are necessary – very convenient for a busy workspace.
Finally, Rode ship this mic with a ‘studio in a box’, offering a simple but effective tripod desk stand, a very functional pop shield, a 6m USB cable and a storage pouch. Simply plug your headphones directly into the mic and you are ready to go! It’s not the cheapest USB mic on the market, but these extras really add to the value.
When put to use, the NT-USB shows it means business! To say that it handles vocals well would be a bit of an understatement. The NT-USB’s raw performance puts it up there with the best in its class and even among some XLR condensers in terms of quality. The key here is that fantastic capsule combined with a great digital package, enabling the capsule to walk through the entire range with ease.
With a 16-bit/48kHz recording resolution, this mic delivers a clear and rich sound replication, and proves ideal for all sorts of vocal applications – from singing to podcasting. In addition, the max SPL means this mic works very well for recording acoustic instruments too. Note that it’s also fully compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems, with no additional drivers required.
With the NT-USB, Rode’s track record of delivering rock-solid performance at a reasonable price stays intact. If you’re serious about recording quality audio at home, without having a bulky setup, this mic is worth looking at. Manufacturers who produce mixers and audio interfaces should also pay attention – if people can get such a complete audio recording experience with just a USB mic, they have a lot to be concerned about!