I just finished testing out the RØDE NT-USB+ microphone. Details are below. But I’ll just state up front that this mic sounds amazing!
What Is It?
The first thing you need to know is that it’s a USB microphone. What does that mean? See my post here – What Is A USB Microphone? – for details. But basically it is a less expensive mic (compared to standard/XLE mics) that you can just plug into a computer via USB and start using it.
Until very recently, USB mics just could not compare to the sound quality of a standard microphone. But I believe that is now debatable. I recorded some audio samples later in this review so you can decide for yourself.
Let’s get to the review already!
Okay here goes. As you are probably already aware, high quality audio is super important for content creators – podcasters, YouTubers, voiceover actors, and musicians alike. The RØDE NT-USB+ microphone is an excellent way to get you into that “professional sound” arena.
In this review, I’ll talk about this mic’s features, sound quality, improvements over its predecessor, and discuss the pros and cons of this remarkable microphone.
One more time but with feeling – what is the NT-USB+?
It is a large diaphragm condenser USB microphone designed for studio-grade audio recording. It has a cardioid polar pattern (for what that means, see my post Directional and Omnidirectional Microphones – What Are They Good For?). It focuses on capturing sound from the front while minimizing background noise, making it suitable for a wide range of applications such as vocals, podcasting, voiceovers, and instrumental recording.
How does it sound?
Of course the most important thing about any mic is how it sounds. What is the audio quality? As I said earlier (at least once), this mic sounds incredible. It records in 24-bit/48kHz digital audio resolution. It is as quiet as my much more expensive RØDE NT2-A. The main problem with USB mics, normally, is how noisy they are. there is almost always a constant low-level hiss in the background. But not with this mic!
The NT-USB+ also has a wide frequency response range of 20 Hz to 20 KHz.
What is the difference between the NT-USB+ and the original NT-USB?
The NT-USB+ builds on the success of its predecessor, the NT-USB, which came out a few years ago. The + version has several notable improvements.
One significant enhancement is the inclusion of a built-in headphone amplifier with a 3.5mm headphone jack on the microphone itself. This allows for real-time monitoring while recording, without latency issues. Also, the NT-USB+ includes a mix control dial, letting you adjust the balance between the microphone input and the audio playback from the computer (or mobile device).
Another improvement is the 24-bit/48kHz digital audio resolution, compared to the original’s 16-bit.
It also now includes digital signal processing (DSP). So you can use any or all of the following effects in any combination while you are recording or streaming: Compressor, EQ, Noise Reduction, Sound Presets (via Software). The DSP is available through RØDE programs, RØDE Connect, RØDE Central and RØDE Reporter.
Did you say mobile device?
Why yes I did :-). In the not-too-distant past, USB mics usually could not be used with phones and tablets, unless they were specifically designed to do so. But mobile devices these days have tons more power than they used to. So most USB microphones (possibly all) can be plugged into phones and tablets.
The NT-USB+ uses a USB-C cable. So for Android devices, you just plug it in and you’re off to the races!
Things are a bit more complicated with iOS though.
You can’t just put an lightning adapter on the end of the cable that comes with the NT-USB+. It doesn’t work. Neither can you use the new standard iOS cables, which are now USB-C to lightning. I don’t know why not.
The only adapter that worked with the cable in the box was the iOS Camera Adapter kit. And for that, I first had to put a USB-C to USB-A adapter on the cable. Then I plugged that into the camera kit adapter, and then THAT into the iPhone. Sigh.
RØDE recommends using the SC19 cable, which you have to buy separately. I did that, and that DID work in my phone. This was confusing and frustrating. Just because the plugs fit does NOT mean it will work with iOS. Has to be one of the above options.
Pop Filter and Desk Stand
This mic comes with a desk stand and a pop filter. The latter is already on the microphone, which is convenient But you can also remove it, which is especially handy when putting the mic on a mic stand with a shock mount, which I highly recommend.
One quibble I have with the pop filter is that its proper location is a bit off-center. You have to take the loosen some screws and things to get the mic onto the desk stand. And it is too easy to misalign the pop filter when you are putting things back together. You must look down from the top to make sure the pop filter is actually right in front of where you speak into the mic (which is on the side – this is a side-address mic like most large diaphragm condensers).
Pros and Cons of the NT-USB+
- Superior audio quality with excellent clarity and detail.
- User-friendly setup and operation, great for beginners.
- Versatile: can be used for just about any recording application, as well as live video or podcasts.
- Built-in headphone amplifier and mix control dial enhance convenience.
- Sturdy construction and sleek design.
- The headphone output level may require adjustment for some users.
- The included tripod stand may not be ideal for all recording situations. In fact unless your setup lets you get your mouth super close to the mic (3-5 inches or so), don’t use the desk stand. Use a boom stand – preferably a swivel desk boom – instead.
- Windows desktop computer caused loud static noise in the headphones plugged into the mic. Luckily this doesn’t get recorded. But it is still unacceptable. Others have had this problem and I still have not found a fix other than to just not record with headphones on – something I recommend anyway.
- iOS connectivity. I mentioned this above. the included cable is USB-C. And you would think all you’d need to do is put a little USB-C to lightning adapter on the end. But nope. that doesn’t work. You need a very specific cable (RODE SC19, sold separately) or an iOS camera adapter kit.
I compared this mic to the Blue Yeti USB mic and also the RØDE NT2-A standard (XLR) mic, which is far more expensive and is my everyday studio mic.
The RØDE NT-USB+ is an awesome microphone! Its audio quality is about the same as the the Blue Yeti I think, but it doesn’t have the problems that the Yeti has. So the NT-USB+ is my new favorite USB mic.
It is an excellent choice for beginners and professionals alike. With its studio-grade audio performance, robust construction, and added functionalities such as the built-in headphone amplifier and mix control dial, the NT-USB+ is most definitely outstanding value for its price. Which, by the way, is $169.
CLICK HERE to buy yours from B&H Photo/Video/Audio.