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NT-1...Too Quiet???

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by Paul, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. Paul

    Paul Active Member

    I got my Rode NT-1 today. I opened up the box, read the manual and properly set it up (meaning that I connected an XLR cable to my Alesis io4 interface into GarageBand on a MacBook). It didn't seem to work so I cranked the gain to 11. The signal was barely detected.

    I then tried the same setup with a different interface and had the same result.

    I then tried the same setup with a different XLR cable with and had same result.

    I then tried the same setup with a different condenser mic and immediately had to turn the gain down before blowing everything up.

    I sent a message to Rode support and am waiting to hear back.

    It feels like there is something obvious that I'm missing here but can't seem to figure it out.

    On the box, it says that the Rode NT-1 is "The world's quietest 1" cardioid condenser microphone". Is my problem that the mic is actually working correctly but is simply too quiet?
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Paul,

    I'm not familiar with your interface but I am with the mic. It could be faulty? What was the other mic you tried?
    Don't you need a mic pre for this interface, you didn't mention you had one? :whistle: One that is at least of any value? $15 per channel can't be doing you much justis, that's for certain. Is this it? http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004NMVUV4/?tag=recording.org-20

    I don't see it having a pre-amp in it?
  3. Paul

    Paul Active Member

    Yes, that is exactly the Alesis io4 I am using. I also used my Alesis io2 to make sure that the interface wasn't the problem. I have used these many times before with no problems using an AT4040 and a Sterling S50. The AT4040 was the mic I replaced the NT-1 in the setup mentioned above. I've never used a mic preamp in any of my projects before with this setup and have not needed one. This is why I'm confused about the NT-1.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm thinking you need a pre-amp.
  5. Paul

    Paul Active Member

    Ok. Which one do you recommend? But, ya know, I'm still a bit confused. Is there any reason why an AT4040 would work right and an NT-1 would not work in the same direct-to-interface-without-a-preamp setup?
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm not a tech guy but it could be the other mics have a lot of output or you had the gain, (maybe it was set on -10 on the interface?) which boosted the level enough for the mic to produce sound. Did you plug those mics in the line input?

    Somewhere you had to of had a lot of boost to get those other mics to work like you say. Are you using the exact same cable for the RODE now?
    Never the less, if you invest in a good preamp, you will get much better sound.

    I'm not the guy to recommend anything in or around your budget but there will be others in the morning that will surely chime in with more help for you.

    What is your unexpected budget for a pre-amp now? How many channels do you need to record at one time?
  7. Paul

    Paul Active Member

    So I got the Alesis io2 (2-channel) a few years ago to record my own stuff. I really liked what it did so I recently got the Alesis io4 (4-channel) because I now have a business which requires me to record more than 2 tracks at once. For now, I only need the 4 channels (I would not be running more than 4 tracks simultaneously. I had some experience with the NT-1 in the past and loved it but that was with a friend's interface (I don't remember which one he used). He didn't use a mic preamp either. I mean, it's the same 48v powering the mic, whether you're using a $60 interface or a $600 one, right? 48v is 48v.

    As for my current unexpected budget, it's between $50 - $150 right now. Like I said, I've never used a mic preamp because I've never needed one so I'm unsure where to start.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Lets see what a few other members have to say.
  9. Paul

    Paul Active Member

    Ok. Thanx! :)
  10. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    According to Rode, the NT1-A should work just fine with Phantom Power as low as 24V.

    Your Alesis allegedly provides 48v. (but manufacturers exaggerating voltages is not uncommon)

    So, unless I'm missing something, I'm inclined to say you might have a bad mic - considering that you did a test where everything was the same except for a different condenser mic and the result you got was extremely loud volume from it.

    When they say "quiet" in the ads, they're referring to self-noise, not low output.
    I own an NT-1 and it's fairly sensitive and very easily delivers plenty of output. (provided that the Phantom power is turned on).
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Look at that, 38 years in music, I never knew you didn't need a pre with phantom power.
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Here's what I think is going on.

    Are you using XLR to XLR microphone cable? Or do you have some kind of 1/4 inch to XLR cable adapter in use? Because If you are? The problem is right there. It won't work that way. It's not supposed to work that way. Other microphones might possibly work? And you'd be extremely luckyIf they did.

    When you say you haven't used a preamp... you obviously haven't read any of your operational manuals nor anything else. The XLR inputs on your ALESIS gizmo are preamps. Microphones have to have preamps. They don't work with a preamp. Read a book for God's sake. You're a big boy.

    I've never used a preamp. Right. Check. Got that.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    You really need to pay closer attention to what Paul said in his original post before you start blasting him, Remy.

    And I quote:

    "I got my RODE NT-1 today. I opened up the box, read the manual and properly set it up (meaning that I connected an XLR cable to my Alesis io4 interface into GarageBand on a MacBook). It didn't seem to work so I cranked the gain to 11. The signal was barely detected."

    "I then tried the same setup with a different interface and had the same result."

    "I then tried the same setup with a different XLR cable with and had same result."

    "I then tried the same setup with a different condenser mic and immediately had to turn the gain down before blowing everything up."

    So obviously:

    It's not the pre - I/O.
    It's not the cable.
    And, if his AT4040 works fine through his existing pre and existing cable, and the newly-arrived Rode does not, what - pray tell - would your audio physician diagnosis be?

    FWIW, I believe that Doctor Hawk has already come up with the most logical and likely diagnosis.
  14. Paul

    Paul Active Member

    audiokid - thank you for all your help

    dvdhawk - thank you for your input. So, basically, if I'm reading you right, either Alesis is lying to me about the io4 having 48v or my mic is actually bunk. Yes?

    remy - yes, I'm using an XLR - XLR cable.

    DonnyThompson - thank you for getting my back :)
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I think Remy thinks this is cute, but I find this kind of wording very unsettling, belittling. If you stopped talking to people like this, Remy, it would look better on you, better for our forum.
  16. Paul

    Paul Active Member

    Thanx, audiokid... Just for clairity's sake, when I said that I've never used a mic preamp before because I never needed one, I was referring to an external mic preamp. Of all the interfaces I've used in the past, their descriptions stated that you can plug a mic into it via XLR and then plug a USB into your computer and it will show up there. Like most product descriptions I find, not everything was made clear. I never knew that a smaller mic preamp IS the thing inside the interface that makes the signal get to the computer via USB.
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    In layman's terms and just some discussion for you,
    I don't believe your interface has a preamp but it must amplify the signal. I wasn't aware phantom power actually did this in such a way you didn't need a mic-pre. I'l like to learn more about this now.

    Your interface is relying on a high signal of the mic which leads to anywhere from (very poor, good to better ) audio results. I never like high output mics, even a $5000 Neumann M-149 or M-147. I had one and hated it. It was however, most likely a great mic for overheads in the most ideal acoustic setting but I'll never know. It was terrible for vocals compared to other mics I have with less output. And thats why I bought it. I also have really nice pre-amps and like the sound of them and pushing gain there, rather than the opposite.

    I'd much rather have a good preamp and a lower output mics for more control of the gains over one product so hot that it off sets the balances of other products in a signal chain.
  18. Paul

    Paul Active Member

    Great info, audiokid...thanx! So then are you saying that the NT-1 is not a high output mic?
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Well I'm terribly sorry again that whatever comedy that was intended, wasn't received as such. Right, check, got that. Thanks. It's an expression I use all of the time. It's a whimsical and a naïve confusion of the deed already done.

    And the question whether there were any 1/4 inch TRS adapters being used was a valid question.

    I will assume (no I won't assume anything) that the gizmo by ALESIS provides +48 V phantom power, it may not deliver enough current for all condenser microphones. This has been a problem in the past with other devices similar to those such as the ALESIS that could not deliver the current to power Neumann U-87's. Such may be the case with the NT-1 A?? Unlike learned people like Boswell and other fine members here, who may just look up the data when not certain? I respond through experience and not necessarily immediately looking data up and doing your work for you. I can give you the hint. Then you can investigate, postulate, propagate and have a date. And hopefully not with the Murphy audio devil? Which is likes having the same awful blind date twice with the same person.

    I guess I should know better that everybody here, investigates every word within a sentence, in the English language, much like everybody investigates the specifications and internal parts of their audio equipment? And maybe the Three Stooges in my younger years? Sure it was violent. But we all knew it was supposed to be funny. And not to hurt anybody. Except maybe with a pie? And sometimes those tasted good.

    Better tasting than my feet.
    Wrong Way Nancy
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    dvdhawk thinks it should work, which sounds like its a faulty mic but I don't know. I think this mic is neither hot or a low output (like most ribbon mics per-say). Its right in the middle and needs a preamp to do it justice.

    If you don't use a a good pre-amp, this mic and most lower end mics usually sounds like tin. The mass who buy lower end mics also use lower end converters and and preamps. Most mics rarely get accurate and justice reviews because the mass use substandard gear more than they do, pro.

    Most mics sound way better with a good to excellent micpre. ALL mics sound tinny through cheap pre-amps and poor converters.

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