Whether you own a recording studio, are trying your hand in the voice talent industry, or simply want to improve your current set-up, having a professional microphone has its merits.
If you’ve done a little research, you probably encountered brands such as Shure, Sennheiser, and Rode.
Rode mics have been known for their premium sound quality. And, I must say, it’s one of the best gears recording artists and musicians can own.
For this review, we will compare two microphones hailed as THE BEST in their field: the Rode NT1A vs. NT2A.
While these two microphones belong to the same reputable brand, they also have different features that bring value to particular needs.
Read on to see which one will suit you better!
Rode NT1A Overview
The Rode NT1A is a widely praised cardioid condenser microphone. It is an affordable microphone known to deliver warm and extremely clear high-end quality sounds.
This microphone is perfect for recording all kinds of sounds, not just vocals.
1. Cardioid Polar Pattern
The cardioid pattern is named this way as it has a heart-like shape.
A cardioid pattern is useful for capturing dry sounds and making sure background noise (such as a fan that is turned on) is not heard.
This pattern makes the Rode NT1A perfect for recording vocals and instruments. This microphone definitely brings acoustic guitars, pianos, and other instruments to life!
As seen in the image above, the microphone is extremely sensitive to sound when speaking directly in front of it, less when audio comes from the sides, and the least sensitive when sound comes from behind it.
This microphone can be used for at-home, studio, and live sound recordings.
2. Low Self Noise
The Rode NT1A delivers ultra-low self-noise at 5dBA, meaning that the microphone may pick up the sound of a faint whisper.
A recording made with this mic will sound both CLEAN and CLEAR.
3. Box Inclusions
There is no need to worry about your new microphone collecting unnecessary dust, as the package comes with a dust cover.
Although it’s not padded, it still safely covers and protects the mic from unwanted elements.
It also includes an XLR cable for your microphone to connect to a power source (as phantom power of 48 volts is required).
1-inch Gold Sputtered Capsule
What puts the NT1-A ahead of other mics is the 1-inch gold-sputtered capsule situated inside the microphone.
The capsule is in charge of converting sound waves into mic signals.
Rode carefully crafts this capsule, allowing the mic to deliver warmth without compromising other aspects such as frequency response or SPL handling.
Their gold-sputtered capsule features a tight cardioid pattern which helps eliminate unwanted background noise.
Rode SM6 Shock Mount & Detachable Pop Filter
Not only does the Rode NT1A offer low self-noise (it is one of the quietest microphones, by the way), it also comes with an SM6 shock mount with a pop filter attached.
The SM6 shock mount and pop filter aid in creating plosive-free sound recordings.
SIDE NOTE: Common plosive sounds in the English language are t,k, p (voiceless), and d, g, b (voiced). A pop filter will help you mitigate these.
Due to the microphone’s high sound pressure level capability, a sound recording of an electric guitar and drum comes out with much CLARITY.
The Rode NT1A has a max SPL of 137dB, which is a lot higher than a lot of its competitors.
Heavy condenser microphones may cause low-quality mic stands to sag.
However, with the Rode NT1A, this will not be a problem as it only weighs 326 grams.
With all its world-class features, this microphone is highly affordable for someone just starting out as it sells for roughly around $229-$300, depending on where you get it.
#3 Wide Frequency Response Range
The usual frequency response of a good condenser microphone ranges from 80hz to 15khz.
As you can see from the frequency response chart above, the NT1A has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, which means it is good at picking up sound at low frequencies.
In line with this, the NT1A is known to sound brighter in the treble range.
#1 Extra Essential Accessories
The Rode NT1A, unfortunately, does NOT come with a carrying case.
#2 Simple Design
The NT1A only has one polar pattern (cardioid) as opposed to its successor, the NT2A.
It also does not go with a high pass filter. While it is not required for a cardioid condenser microphone to have, some may want that extra feature.
Rode NT2A Overview
The Rode NT2A is an extremely versatile condenser microphone, which is something I personally love about this model.
Similar to the NT1A, it is deemed as a large-diaphragm condenser microphone that offers even clearer audio quality like no other.
1. Ultra-Low Self-Noise
The Rode NT2a has a slightly higher self-noise level of 7dBA. This is still considerably low and only 2 notches higher than the NT1A.
Mics with self-noise this low allow for a CRISP and CLEAR recording. It is also perfect for recording both vocals and instruments like an acoustic guitar or piano.
2. Full Frequency Response
The NT2A also features a frequency response range of 20Hz to 20kHz, making it a workhorse condenser microphone for music production.
With this wide range of frequencies, higher frequencies are easily recorded by the mic (like the highest note of an acoustic guitar).
Even with many high ends, higher frequencies are recorded in such a way that it DOES NOT sound harsh.
NOTE: Dealing with high frequencies like an electric guitar and upright bass may result in harsh-sounding recordings.
What sets the Rode NT2A apart from its predecessor, the Rode NT1A, is its three-position variable pad and three polar patterns.
In mics, a pad (sometimes called an attenuator) helps reduce signals that may be too loud for your mic to handle.
If your source of vocals or instruments is extremely loud, it may result in an overload of sorts, which is where the pad comes in.
The NT2A comes with a three-position pad (0dB, -5dB, and -10dB).
This is highly beneficial for your condenser mic, as it makes it safer from getting damaged by high frequencies.
High Pass Filter
A high-pass filter allows higher-frequency signals to pass while blocking those with low-frequency signals.
Low-frequency signals will have a much harder time passing through a high-pass filter.
While this may seem like a disadvantage on the user’s end, it is important to note that the frequency range of the NT2A is very wide, so this will NOT be a problem.
The Rode NT2A boasts three polar patterns. In contrast to the Rode NT1A, which only has one polar pattern, it has three: Cardioid, Omnidirectional, and Figure-8.
#1 Cardioid Polar Pattern
As mentioned above, this polar pattern is the most common among microphones.
#2 Omnidirectional Polar Pattern
Of all the patterns, the omnidirectional polar patterns have the flattest frequency response. It takes sound from ALL directions and does not have the proximity effect.
They are best used in the studio or a good-sounding room.
The omnidirectional pattern is an advantageous feature for those who have the NT2A as the sensitivity is equal throughout all sides.
With this feature, it would not matter where your position is. It could be useful in a recording studio if two or more artists present recording their vocals.
#3 Figure-8 Polar Pattern
The Figure-8 pattern, as its name suggests, shares the same shape as the number 8.
It has the same sensitivity in front and the back of the mic. It is most weak when one records from the sides of the mic.
This pattern is usually used for stereo recording techniques (like mid-side).
It is known to have the weakest bass sound and is the most sensitive to the sound of air in the background.
Dual 1-Inch Cardioid Condenser Capsule
Like the NT1A, the Rode NT2A also has a gold-sputtered cardioid condenser capsule. Because of its structure, the mic’s character is known to give off silky smooth output.
The capsule also comes with an internal shock mounting, assuring that the microphone does not accidentally get overloaded.
High Sound Pressure Level
As mentioned above, this mic also handles high sound pressure levels well without distorting your audio output.
It is an essentially good microphone for all kinds of vocals like belters, rap vocals, and more. The max SPL is 147dB.
What’s better than two polar patterns? Three!
The additional pattern makes the NT2A a lot more versatile than other high-end competitors. It adds dimension and flexibility for those who use it.
#2 Full Frequency Response
To add to why this mic is so versatile is the frequency range it offers, which is from 20Hz to 20kHz.
The NT2A is known to give off an airy high-end boost to recorded audio.
#3 Condenser Capsule
The NT2A does not only have a state-of-the-art crafted capsule, but it also has a built-in shock mount to ensure quality recordings.
#1 Steep Price
Due to its extreme versatility, this microphone comes at a hefty price of around $339-$400.
#2 Extra Essential Accessories
Even though it is more expensive, the Rode NT2A package does NOT come with an XLR cable and dust pouch for the mic.
Weighing almost three times as much as the NT1A at 860g, this may cause a sag when mounted on weaker mic stands.
Rode NT1A vs NT2A: Performance Showdown
Now that you already know how the microphones are individually, allow me to illustrate how they are side-by-side.
I’ll compare and contrast these mics using three criteria: build quality and design, sound quality, and price.
1. Build Quality and Design
Regarding the build quality of each microphone, both are made of sturdy construction (with metal switches too).
The NT1A is a lot lighter, weighing only 326g, while the NT2A is 860g. They both come in silver and feel very much durable.
The Rode NT1A microphone is made of a 1-inch gold-sputtered capsule with a tight cardioid pattern.
While the NT2A boasts the same gold-sputtered capsule but with three patterns available.
I must admit that the available patterns is the clear advantage of this model from the other.
2. Sound Quality
Both mics give the audio a wonderful presence boost and have the same max SPL and frequency range.
Some cardioid condenser microphones may have difficulty picking up low-frequency sounds, but this isn’t a problem for both mics.
The presence boost they offer lets your vocals and instruments shine through.
While the NT1A and NT2A have a slight bump in frequency (at 100-200Hz) plus a deep cut, they still reach close to the 0dB line.
SIDE NOTE: Presence boost increases the presence of mid-range frequencies and usually occurs during high mids
The Rode NT1A is more affordable as it retails for $229-$300, while the NT2A model is priced at around $339-$400.
I suggest beginners try out the NT1A first before jumping to the NT2A, mainly due to the price difference.
But, if you have more budget and want more versatile gear, I’m not stopping you from investing in the NT2A.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the Difference Between the NTA1 and NTA2?
A big difference between the two is that the Rode NT2A is a more versatile mic due to its multi-pattern feature and variable pads.
These added features allow the user to do more with it than the NT1A, which is a more basic microphone.
Are Rode Mics Good for Singing?
YES, they definitely are! Both mics are great for singing, thanks to their low self-noise and capability to handle high SPLs.
They both produce output close to the natural sound recording.
When Do I Need to Purchase a Rode Mic, and Where Can I Use It?
If you’re looking to improve your audio set-up or are interested in entering the music industry, it is a good time to invest in a Rode mic.
As long as you have the correct attachments and sufficient power supply (both require 48 volts of phantom power), the two Rode mics are straightforward devices to use.
Plug and play! They work well at home, in studios, and at live events.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: You may still need an audio interface.
What Kind of Microphones Are the Rode NT1-A and NT2-A?
The NT1A and Nt2A are both classified as condenser microphones.
Final Verdict: Which Rode Mic Is Better?
Choosing between the Rode NT1A vs. NT2A will largely depend on your budget, personal taste, and purpose for getting yourself a professional microphone.
The Rode NT1-A is packed with features that give you premium microphone performance at an affordable cost.
Meanwhile, the Rode NT2-A is a microphone that also offers world-class sound like its predecessor. It is a BIG UPGRADE from the Rode NT1-A with its 3 polar patterns.
Both microphones have low self-noise and can generally handle high SPL.
Get the Rode NT1-A If…
If you are just starting out and your budget is tight, I recommend going for the Rode NT1-A.
It is best to invest in a microphone that you can afford first.
Get the Rode NT2-A If…
Now, if you’re deciding entirely on features alone, I highly suggest you opt for the Rode NT2-A.
Though it comes at an additional cost, the slight boost in sound quality is well worth it.
After this in-depth comparison of these two mics, I hope that you are able to decide which high-end microphone suits you best!
November 21, 2022 – minor formatting edits