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Rode NT4...The Aussies get it right again!

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Cucco, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Okay, so I know there's nothing new about the NT4, but it's new to me.

    My first "REAL" experience with Rode Mics was the K2 (which some here have recently expressed issues with). I still own the K2 and I am infinitely pleased with it. It is not all mics to all people, but it is a warm, full, non-hyped and non-rolled-off mic that, to me, works in a LOT of situations. I then began exploring many of the other RODE large diaphragm mics. Though I don't own any other than the K2, I've used (with great results and pleasure) almost every other Rode LDC.

    So...just on a whim, I bought an NT4. I got it as an open boxed special which helped lower the already bargain-basement price.

    I first used it today on acoustic guitar and more recently (about 15 minutes ago...okay, maybe an hour ago) on woodwind quintet.

    All I can say is..."WOW!!!"

    This is one very nice stereo mic! It has a full sound, a tad bit of sheen on the top end (not bad in any way) and a very realistic depth and width! Dare I say, I enjoy this mic (so far) more than the Neumann KM184 (which I've gone on record as bashing in the past anyway, but still...the price difference is staggering!)

    Granted, there are limited applications for the NT4. Realisticly, it didn't blow wind up my skirt on the WW quintet, but it certainly sounded good! (I just don't dig XY on quintet but everyone else in the group commented on how real it sounded!). On the guitar, however, it's a no brainer! The stereo field is simply amazing as is the depth!

    If you're in the market for a stereo mic or a stereo pair of inexpensive mics, you owe it to yourself to consider this mic!!! I'll try it on drums later today or tomorrow and band (wind ensemble) this weekend. I don't usually use XY overheads, so it will have to really rock my world to get me to use it there but the wind ensemble ought to come out nicely!

    My only beef with it is the cable. The stereo mic cable that it comes with kinda sucks. I'll be building a new one (stereo Mogami) in the next couple days. I just have to wait on the 5 pin XLR.


  2. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    i'm interesting in reading your review
  3. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    You know, I haven't heard a R0DE SDC yet. I have an NTK which I love, but I have heard some bad things about the NT5. If you've got some clips showing the brilliance of the NT4, which I believe is the same capsule as the NT5 (?), please share.

    I'll tell you one thing.. if they come out with an affordable fig-8 cap for the new NT55, I'm there.
  4. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    Their stereo mic is ok for the money for down and dirty remotes. It is too noisy for critical recording.

    You have to be careful reading their specs. When they rate test their mics, the electronics are not always in the chain. What you sometimes see printed is the diaphragm alone. Also, add 10dB(!!) to any dB-A noise spec.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I'm with you on the fig-8! I'm likely going to get a set of the 55s anyway, but it would still be nice.

    As for the clip, here's what I've done.

    I'll post a 1 minute segment of audio from the guitar session. I would do the WW quintet, but frankly I was sucking something fierce today (that's what decongestants do to horn players), so please don't take it personally that I don't want to post a clip of myself sounding bad...

    The chain was -
    NT4 -> Aphex 107 (modded) -> Waves MAXXBCL (used only for A/D conversion - no effects were used on the box) -> Sequoia at 24/44.1

    No effects (eq, compression, limiting, spacializing, etc.) have been added to this. Each channel was panned 6 dB off center.

    The high frequency is most noticable on finger movements on the fret board but are exaggerated by the instrumentalist's dry fret board and dry fingers (no Fingerease).

    The vox is hitting both mics off-axis, so disregard any vox - it sounds wierd and it wasn't our primary focus. This wasn't a "REAL" session. He was coming over to check out my new acoustic room in the studio as well as to play with the new mic. I spent no time tweaking placement - I just put it where I thought I'd like it - one cap pointing up the fret board around the 10th fret the other hitting just above the sound hole and the mic about 20" back. If I were to tweak some more, I might consider giving it another 4-6 inches.

    Here's the clip:
    (Dead Link Removed)

    If you'd like additional samples, let me know. Also, let me know if you have any specific kind of ensemble in mind for me to try it on. I'll definitely see if I can. I'm hoping to try this on a few other things before I get to use it on a real gig. (I'm doing the Washington Sinfonietta again on February 16 and I may use this to pick up the woodwinds as a spot mic.)

    BTW - I don't really dig the sound of his guitar in general. It's good for coffee shop playing, but it does not record well. This is perhaps the best sound I've ever coaxed out of his instrument and it's the least time I spent on it. (I've used a Royer SF12, Beyer M130/M160 in Blum and MS techniques, Schoeps CMC 64s, Gefell M300s, and Neumann KM184s all with only mild success.)

  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I don't find this to be the case at all....

    I find it more than adequate - actually downright nice for critical recording. How are you coming up with this figure and based on what? I certainly have not experienced this at all. Granted, I only worked with it for a few hours today, but my acoustic room is DEAD quiet (14 dB ambient noise when the AC is on) and I could hear NO trace of the microphone even through a mediocre preamp.

    David -

    How's this - you be the judge.

    When I'm done with it on Feb 16, I'll send it to you for a little bit. You try it on whatever you like. (Since you have a phenomenal hall to work in and musicians running around all day, I don't think you'll have a hard time trying it out.)
  7. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Cool, Jeremy! I'd love to try it out. Man, I have a harp concert to do soon, a perfect use for an XY mic, but it's on the 18th, just two scant days after you're done with it. After that, there's always piano and piano + something concerts, but I really haven't found anything I like using XY for besides guitar and harp. Certainly it has to be something you're close micing since XY is so narrow. Anything I'm overlooking? Besides the classical, I'll be recording some pop acoustic guitar stuff soon enough, so I will definitely have a chance to try it out.

    Yeah, I don't much care for his guitar tone either, but the mic seems to have created a rather decent representation of what was placed in front of it.

    Thanks for posting this. If you have anything else that shows the mic producing something that you spent some time on and have decided is a 'good sound', I'd be interested in hearing it. I'd also love to hear it on drum OH.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I have a pair of NT5s and they made a huge improvement in my acoustic guitar recordings. I can understand that some people are feel the top is a little crispy, but I agree with Jeremy - I kind of like it. At the very least, I like it enough that better mics for AG has gone way down the list of priorities for studio upgrades.

    Jeremy- I'd be very interested in how things go with the WW quintet. What do you play? How do you position things for the recording?
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey Bob - to answer your questions in order...
    I play horn
    To set up and record WW quintet, I usually keep the instrumentalists seated as they would normally (arc - horn dead center bassoon to my immediate left, oboe to my immediate right, flute far right and clarinet far left.) This allows for proper line of sight for crucial communication.

    For mic'ing, I like blumlein or ortf - usually I lean towards ortf though. Both Blum and XY seem to emphasize the middle image (horn) which more often than not, does not need it. (Especially since I play a Lawson which doesn't need any emphasis...)

    Because of the vast amounts of direct and indirect sound involved in a WW quintet, I truly prefer AB, but it must be a nice sounding hall, otherwise, it's just a jumbled mess of instruments with no definition. (I feel even with AB and a good room, you can still get fantastic stereo imaging and depth with a woodwind quintet.)

    On a side note, I'm beginning to think that, if Rode were to charge significantly more for their mics (like $2499 for the K2 and $1200 for the NT5), they wouldn't be considered "average" or "mid-level" contenders. I truly feel that it is only their price which distinguishes them from their higher cost bretheren. And frankly, I'm okay with that.

  10. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    Put them up against DPAs and you will see the benchmark.
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    double post...sorry
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Uhh....well, let's see...Rode - $400...pair of DPAs....$4000. That's a tad ridiculous, don't you think?

    1 - The mics are evaluated based on IEC 268-15 standards which do not allow for the unloaded evaluation of electronic equipment
    2 - The self noise figure of 16dB a-weighted with a sensitivity of 12mV/Pa, even a 10 dB self-noise discrepency is certainly not capable of rendering it useless as a critical recording tool.

    In fact, I have since put up the NT4 against my Schoeps CMC64 (which are rated just a little less noisy and also a little less sensitive) - they CERTAINLY were not 10 dB noisier. In fact, I noticed VERY little difference between them at all going through a Millennia HV3D at full gain.

    Perhaps you either have a defective mic or you are just blowing smoke - one of the two, but certainly there is no validity in the statement that their measurements are skewed by 10dB.

    In fact, I will (later today) post a clip of the Schoeps at full tilt and the NT4 at full tilt through the Millennia later today.
  13. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    My name is J*** and I too am an NT-4 user. I keep telling everyone I can stop at anytime, but for some reason, I still come back to it again and again. :wink:

    But seriously, folks, I'm in total agreement with Jeremy about this mic. I was a total skeptic at first, but I needed something quick and dirty for stereo work, spot mic'ing, etc. It's been put into use now many many times with wonderful results. (Self noise?!?! Come on...many of the places it's been used have noise floors higher than 35-40 db anyway. I'm not recording gnat-farts anyway, so what the heck...)

    Just this past week, we were recording a live production of the opera "Der Freischutz" in a concert setting - orchestra onstage, singers in front, supertitles above. We couldn't fly or hang mics because of the supertitles, and were forced to use long booms (with DPA-4006 TLs) from the side balconies, which left a serious hole in the middle for the orchestra. The NT-4 on mid-sized stand directly in front of the conductor saved our butts, and provided a nice stereo fill on the strings - ESP the viola solo/obligato in the third act. With everything going on in a production of this size and dynamics, I assure you, the alledged "self noise" of this little workhorse was not an issue at all.

    It's also not a bad mic for percussion, when you need a stereo-spot mic on things like marimba, vibes, etc. (Don't want to get it in TOO close, of course).

    I've also used it in noisey pubs and small coffee-house style venues with traditional Irish musicians (some in a circle around it, pointing straight up, and some in a 160 degree arc around it). Again, self noise is the least of my concerns in a quick & dirty situation like that; I still have over 7 hrs of audio to sort through from my last trip over there, all of it done with the NT4 straight to the Marantz digital chip recorder..

    It's a fine mic for what it's intended for, and you shouldn't feel the least bit embarrased to use it right alongside a couple of DPA 4006's, if the situation warrants it.

    And Jeremy, while you're at it, can you make an extra stereo cable or two for me as well? (One 25' and one 50' would be great; ya never know where you'll have to run it, and I too dislike that weird stereo cable they give you with it....I'm always afraid I'll lose it or damage it. Hate when that happens! :roll: )
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hey David -

    Here's the clip of the drum overheads.

    Very little was done to manipulate the sound (light compression only).

    The cymbals sound a tad splashy - some of that is the MP3, some is the room (8' cielings with no treatment...yet and some is the mic. Although, very little should be attributed to the mic.)

    The setup was -

    NT4 over head about 3' above the drummer's head. AT 4040 at a 45 degree angle from the head 4" back on the beater side.

    Here ya go:
    (Dead Link Removed)

  15. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    The link's not working for me.
  16. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    Neither for me.

    Cucco, many thanks for this. It's not common to see you playing with lower priced pieces.
  17. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fixed it...download at will.

    My personal overall impression of the sound...

    Not bad, but not great. I think the room has the greatest impact on this assessment though. This room was designed for vocalists and acoustic instruments (guitar, violin, clarinet, etc.) It also works well for electric guitar provided I'm not working with a 200 watt full stack marshall.

    Anyway - If I tweaked a bit more with placement, I could have gotten a better sound, but my approach to this was what I feel the vast majority of NT4 users would do - throw it up where it looks about right, tweak for no more than 5 minutes then go. I wouldn't have done a kick mic at all except for the fact that I had the 4040 out of the case and sitting close by. Agreeably not my first choice in kick mics (the Soundelux U195 is my first choice.)

    If I were doing this in a much better room, I think the results that I would have gotten could have been borderline fabulous. My ONLY gripe is that the pattern seems a little close in - an artifact of the XY, but still, a tad center focused. If I could have gotten a foot or more distance than I did, I'm sure it would have opened up a bit, but then the immediacy of the drums would have been lost - perhaps there's a middle ground trade off there.

    Anyway...rambling aside, I am very pleased with this mic and will likely be picking up more Rode stuff in the future! (My eyes are on the NT55 next).

    Cheers -


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