Why is Rode NT4 (stereo) priced more than the matched pair of NT5?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by thrillscience, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. thrillscience

    thrillscience Active Member

    Sunnyvale, CA
    The capsules in the Rode NT4 and NT5 have identical specs, and every review I've seen says that the matched pair of NT5s, when mounted for coincident stereo recording sound identical to the NT4.

    So why is the NT4 priced 25% more than the NT5 Pair?

    I'd like to get a pair for recording on-the-road; the NT4 looks more convenient for Stereo recording, but the separate mics in a pair of NT5s may be more flexible. Is the NT4 a better mic than a pair of NT5s for any technical reason?
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    I think you'll find it one of more just a difference of convenience. In some applications where you need to hang microphones, sometimes it's easier and less obtrusive if you hang a single microphone. When used on stage for acoustic guitars and such, it's a lot more convenient than having a gaggle of two microphones on two stands blah blah blah.

    Most of these small capsule condenser microphones made by companies like Rode are frequently the same capsules with different body shapes and configurations. The difference in price may be in the complexity of assembly? More than anything else? Different kinds of machining are required. Duplication of circuitry has to be included, to fit a tighter space. So there's probably no difference in their tonal quality than in their configuration.

    Greater differences will lie with other manufacturers. But many of these other bargain priced small diaphragm condenser microphones all have their capsules manufactured by just a couple of common Taiwanese companies that they all purchase their capsules from including companies like Crown, it doesn't make budget microphones that utilizes the same budget Taiwanese capsules as those installed by Radio Shaft in their $20 bargains. It's actually much more difficult and resource intensive to make a decent dynamic microphone. Good quality condenser capsules can now be punched out in mass production. Where the only real differences lie in their associated circuitry and aesthetic capsule enclosures. Because if you make it look fancy, it will sound fancy. If you just stick it into a metal tube, it will look like any other microphone available on sale now at your local Radio Shaft store. The former Crown $375 Pressure Zone Microphone and the $30 (later $40) Radio Shaft Pressure Zone Microphone both shared identical condenser capsules from the same Taiwanese manufacturer. And this is not passed on rumors. This is what my direct conversation with Crown design engineers.

    I like and have had some stereo microphones. I found I used them far less of the time than any of my larger individual microphones. And as such, I sold and gave them away. One was a Sony and I forget what the other one was? When I recorded large concert halls, I frequently hang microphones at places like the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. When I want that center XY/ORTF/MS microphone, I just take out my stereo microphone mounting hardware and put what I want together. Microphone cable and monofilament fishing line makes everything worked great. And when not doing it that way, a 12-14 foot, lightweight aluminum collapsible stand also works out quite well. That gets a little dicey though if I tried to mount a pair of Neumann 87's on a single lightweight collapsible aluminum stand. With that, you also need theatrical sandbags to put on the tripod legs. But certainly not 100% necessary for KM 86/84's and NT 4-5's, light weight pencil style SDC's. No problems either with my SM 81 SHURE's.

    What's your favorite? Boxers or jockeys? None? My my...
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome to RO.

    It certainly wouldn't justify all of the extra cost, but the NT4 does come with 2 specialty cables. One that breaks-out from the 5-pin XLR on the mic to a pair of standard 3-pin XLRs. Plus another cable that goes from the 5-pin to a stereo mini (1/8" TRS). Neither are particularly long, but would be awfully hard to find elsewhere ready-made. The stereo mini cable does have some electronic circuitry inside the connector as well.

    I have an NT4 and a pair of NT5s, both great for their specific jobs. The NT4 is the one I use the most, for the convenience of a fixed XY pair without messing with special stand mounts and fussing with the angles.

    But you can't go wrong with either.

    Good luck!
  4. thrillscience

    thrillscience Active Member

    Sunnyvale, CA
    Thanks! I think I'll go for the convenience of the NT4, even if it is more expensive. Most of the recording I'll be doing will be simply recording myself at the piano. The quicker to setup and take-down, the easier.
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    If it helps your decision making, the NT4 has the option of using an internal battery instead of phantom power. Using a battery instead of PP reduces the maximum SPL that the mic can handle before overload, but it's still plenty for anything that your ears can tolerate.
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    I might add to what Boswell just said, that the NT 4 is an actual non-polarized capsule. This means the capsule wants to see 48 V to work at its optimum. And even when you could get the 22.5 V pair of batteries for each Neumann U87 (back in the day), they really didn't last terribly long either. And they don't make those kinds of higher voltage small package batteries anymore. So an additional bit of circuitry is required to take a lower voltage and convert it to a higher usable voltage for the microphone still not yet quite high enough. Which is why its performance is slightly reduced on batteries. And why it would be better to feed that microphone from a mixer or a plug into the wall outboard phantom power supply, supplying a full +48 VDC. Remember you are actually supplying voltage for two microphones in a single case structure.

    And to quote Boswell " anything that your ears can tolerate." tolerate indicates it may not be what you want it to be? And then you are back to go. As in go get a 48 V phantom power supply or a mixer that can supply that.

    You can't record Phantom of the Opera if you don't have phantom power.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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