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NTK vs. Baby Bottle vs. U97?

I have the money for a (primarily vocal) mic in the price range of a Rode NTK, the Blue Baby Bottle & Soundelux U97. Of course it would be great if it did other things well in my bottom feeder analog desk to DAW studio. I have a Rode NT-2 & a pair of A-T 4033s now. The U97 is the only one that is multi-pattern. I've seen some Soundelux R-1 broadcast mics around. Are these good for vocals? I suppose the A-T 4050 is in there too, but was thinking that's somewhat in the same sphere as the NT-2. I've been recording mostly modern rock these days, but get everything from puppet show soundtracks to singer/songwriters to acoustic ensembles to heavy metal. Any recommendations? Thanks!

Larry Larraga
The Pneumatic Attic

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Member for
51 years 5 months

faithful Wed, 01/23/2002 - 13:32

I have not heard any of these mics myself. I am rather fond of the Soundelux stuff but I don't think they're making the U97 anymore. If you know where to get one let me know.

As far as your application goes I can only go on the response of the countless forums I frequent. I think you could do a quick search of these places and get a good variety of opinions. You will find the most on the NTK. Not many people have the U97 and the Blue mic is pretty new. Some of the forums are here at RO others include RAP, audioforums, musicplayer, prorec, homerecording, etc.

Maybe Nathan can chime in here since I know he has experience w/ the NTK and the BB and has probably at least heard the U97.

Good Luck!

Profile picture for user atlasproaudio
Member for
20 years 4 months

atlasproaudio Wed, 01/23/2002 - 21:28

The NTK has an extended silky top with more coloration, the Baby Bottle has attenuated highs and lows with a mild midrange boost. The Baby Bottle is more clear and less soft sounding than the NTK. In general I think the NTK works better on less agressive (acoustic, regular voxs, piano) types of music, the Baby Bottle works better on more agressive types with hard hitting drums/marshall cabs, etc. Both are pretty good utility mics, and can yield professional results with all other things in the chain being professional also. I personally think the NTK couples with a cleaner preamp better (ie Millennia, Great River...the RNMP is supposed to be in the clean camp too with mucho gain), and the Baby Bottle really benefits from something with color and iron in the path (ie Vintech-Neve). This is a generalization from what I have observed and my preferences, you may see (or hear) it differently though. I haven't heard the U97, it is out of production so it's going to be extremely hard to find. Soundelux is constantly evolving with new designs. Good Luck, I hope this helps a bit.

Member for
19 years 4 months

Sir Bob Wed, 01/30/2002 - 19:38

Nathan, That was a very thoughtful reply. I was wondering what your feeling was about the Rode NTK as a "tube" mic. Most tube stuff in the low price range isn't very good although everyone seems to like this mic.

The Baby Bottle seems pretty interesting in light of my having a Neve mic preamp. Is the Baby Bottle a tube mic also or is it transformerless. What is your opinion about these two styles of mics in general?

Member for
51 years 5 months

jeronimo Thu, 01/31/2002 - 02:10

Hello guys, I have a question.
My pre-amps right now are:

Joe Meek VC6
Tascam 2524
Digi 001
Korg 880

And I'm about to get one of those mics:

AT 4033
AT 3035
AT 4047
Baby bottle
TML 103

What are the consequences of having a good mic on a bad (or regular) pre amp?

Member for
19 years 4 months

Sir Bob Tue, 02/05/2002 - 20:59

Okay, let's try another question:

Compare the AT 4033; AT 4047; AT 4050 and AT 4060.

Member for
20 years 3 months

GZsound Tue, 02/05/2002 - 23:13

In my experience using both an AT 4033 and a Rode NT1 on the same live recording of acoustic bluegrass groups, I would not waste my money on the 4033. Both the NT1 and the NT2 smoke it.

Profile picture for user atlasproaudio
Member for
20 years 4 months

atlasproaudio Fri, 02/08/2002 - 21:11

Originally posted by Sir Bob:
Nathan, That was a very thoughtful reply. I was wondering what your feeling was about the Rode NTK as a "tube" mic. Most tube stuff in the low price range isn't very good although everyone seems to like this mic.

The Baby Bottle seems pretty interesting in light of my having a Neve mic preamp. Is the Baby Bottle a tube mic also or is it transformerless. What is your opinion about these two styles of mics in general?

Not being a tech (yet...I'm working on it), I don't quite understand the complete differences between how different designs utilize a tube in different ways to cause more even order harmonic distortion. As a recording engineer, I know that a tube can pretty much mean nothing with how much 'warmth' there is in a mic. There are tube mics that are very clean, and there are tube mics that are very colored. I do notice though that the 'modern' designs tend to be cleaner, whether or not that's from an age factor being new, or headroom, or the designer's vision...I really don't know. The Rode NTK has a nice soft airy sheen to the highs which is what I would expect from most tube designs, but it is transformerless which to my ears is the most determining factor in 'classic' coloration. Off the top of my head this is probably the silkiest transformerless mic that I have heard. The Baby Bottle is less silky, and more clear & hard sounding...but it EQ's well so it's a toss up. The NTK really holds it's own up to about the $1000+ range of mics, and even then IMO it surpasses some mics 2x's or more it's price. This is subjective of course, but I have noticed that people agree more than not on what they like from a mic when all gathered in the same room listening critically. I think Rode is getting better with their products and are really evolving just like a few other talented companies out there. Another company that is really taking off is Soundelux. I'm not sure if any of you remember Soundelux 3 to 4 years ago but they didn't even have the U99 or U95s, and now those models are being replaced with what Mr. David Bock feels is an improvement. So we all benefit, because things just keep getting better. Where else can you get a U47 (ie E47 or U95s) for $3500?? I'm looking forward to hearing the Rode NT5's & NT'4. I think they are going to be an extremely huge bang for the buck for utility acoustic or drum overhead mics. Good Luck, I hope this helped. :)

Member for
19 years 4 months

Sir Bob Sat, 02/09/2002 - 09:07

:tu: Yes, thank you Nathan. I think your comparison of the Rode NTK and Baby Bottle is very informative.

Shouldn't the Blueberry be considered in this comparison test as the original post was about vocal usage. (And I am interested in the Soundelux models as well.)

Are there any generalizations that can be made as between transformer and transformerless mics? Are most mics in the under-$1,000 transformerless?

When it comes to mic pre-amps, I've heard it said that the sound comes from the iron (transformer). Is this the case with mics? Or am I mixing apples and oranges?

I read something by Klaus Heyne who said he is only interested in mics with transformers. What is he implying?

Profile picture for user atlasproaudio
Member for
20 years 4 months

atlasproaudio Sat, 02/09/2002 - 11:39

Originally posted by Sir Bob:

Shouldn't the Blueberry be considered in this comparison test as the original post was about vocal usage. (And I am interested in the Soundelux models as well.)

The Blueberry is extremely bright from the high mids into the highs. I find it to be extremely specific in it's usage. Imagine a 414 with extra highs. :eek:


Are there any generalizations that can be made as between transformer and transformerless mics? Are most mics in the under-$1,000 transformerless?

It seems the trend it going that way, and even in more expensive mics. A transformer based mic to my ears is usually more smooth and sweet than clear. But again, it goes back to the design. A Transformer based mic can be extremely clear. It just seems like a very efficient way to raise levels in a design as opposed to IC's. But some IC based units are crap, and some are incredible.[/qb]


When it comes to mic pre-amps, I've heard it said that the sound comes from the iron (transformer). Is this the case with mics? Or am I mixing apples and oranges?

I read something by Klaus Heyne who said he is only interested in mics with transformers. What is he implying?

See Above.

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