If you know anything about audio, you know about Australian audio brand Rode. I've long been a bit of a Rode fanatic, I'm not going to lie, not least because I know that all Rode products are fantastic quality and have best-in-class features. As a result, Rode equipment is often not cheap; however, the NT1 Signature Series, a new condenser microphone from Rode and the subject of this review, aims to change that.
The NT1 Signature Series is the more affordable sibling of the world's first "unclippable" microphone, the NT1 5th Gen, featuring the HF6 large-diaphragm condenser capsule, XLR connectivity, and more. Plus, for the first time, the mic also offers the NT1 in a range of limited-edition colours, including red, green, purple, pink and blue.
Is the Rode NT1 Signature Series the ultimate affordable condenser microphone? It might just be...
Rode NT1 Signature Series review
Rode NT1 Signature Series review: price and availability
The Rode NT1 Signature Series Condenser Microphone was launched in November 2023 and is available to buy now via third-party retailers. The recommended retail price is £159/ $159/ AU$ 299, which is a really good price for a mic with such specifications (see below). For more info, please visit Rode today.
Rode NT1 Signature Series review: specifications
- Capsule: RØDE HF6 large-diaphragm (1-inch) condenser capsule
- Pattern: Cardioid
- Address Type: Side
- Frequency Range: 20Hz - 20kHz
- Output Impedance: 100Ω
- Maximum SPL: 142 dB
- SPL Equivalent Noise (A-Weighted): 4dBA
- Sensitivity: -32 dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (25 mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1 kHz
- Analogue Power Requirements: P48
- Analogue Output Connection: 3-pin XLR
- Weight (grams): 313
- Dimensions (millimetres): Length: 52 Width: 52 Height: 189
Rode NT1 Signature Series review: design and build quality
The Rode NT1 Signature Series is almost the spitting image of the NT1 5th Gen microphone. Indeed, the main difference between the two is that the former only has an XLR input as opposed to the dual USB/XLR connectivity of the more expensive model. Another key difference is the lack of 32-bit float digital output, which makes the Rode NT1 5th Gen an 'unclippable' microphone.
Despite the lower asking price, the Rode NT1 Signature Series has a rugged aluminium body and high-grade finishes, highly resistant to scuffs and scratches. And, of course, another new and exciting feature is the available colour options, allowing people to buy a microphone that most closely matches their (online) persona.
Better still, the Rode NT1 Signature Series comes with a studio-grade shock mount and pop filter and a premium XLR cable included in the box. Two things you'll still need before you can start using the mic are some sort of stand (I highly recommend Rode's own PSA1+) and an XLR interface with a phantom power option. Rode's AI-1 Single-channel Audio Interface is probably your cheapest and best-quality option.
The only thing you need to know about phantom power is that the interface you use – in my case, it was the Focusrite Vocaster Studio – needs this function. Look for the 'P48' button, or better still, ask someone in your local audio store to recommend a unit that's phantom power capable.
Rode NT1 Signature Series review: performance
The Rode NT1 Signature Series might miss out on a couple of premium features, but this really shouldn't come as a surprise, considering the price difference between this and the NT1 5th Gen.
The NT1 Signature Series does have a tight cardioid polar pattern, though, for excellent background noise rejection, smooth frequency response, high sensitivity for incredible balance and clarity, and extremely low noise (4dBA).
I haven't used the microphone for anything too adventurous, but spoken word reproduction is beyond clear. You can talk, whisper, or even shout, and the mic will capture it all in high fidelity. It's not quite the unclippable level of the NT1 5th Gen, but the NT1 Signature Series can tackle a broad spectrum of sounds (20Hz - 20kHz).
I'd discuss ease of use, but there really isn't anything to talk about, as the NT1 Signature Series offers plug-and-play functionality, and once it's connected to the interface, it's good to go – it doesn't get much easier than that!
There are no dials or headphone outputs on the microphone, which might be strange to those used to USB mics, which often offer this functionality. It makes sense for the Rode NT1 Signature Series to delegate these functions to the interface; it's not like you can connect the mic directly to the computer anyway, so you might as well keep the microphone unit as straightforward as possible.
This also allows the mic to focus on its primary role, which is capturing lifelike sound, something the Rode NT1 Signature Series does well. Really well, actually.
Rode NT1 Signature Series review: verdict
Rode is busy establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with in the ever-growing streaming scene, made evident by the launch of the Rode X sub-brand last year. While the Rode NT1 Signature Series isn't part of the Rode X family of products, I look at it as a bridge built to entice streamers and content creators to move towards using premium XLR audio equipment.
And, between you and me, the NT1 Signature Series does a mighty fine job in that. It's easy to connect and operate – as long as you have the phantom power-capable XLR interface and a mic stand/boom arm – and the sound reproduction is second to none.
If you're looking for an accessibly-priced yet premium microphone for music recordings, streaming, video recording and more, you need the Rode NT1 Signature Series. It's becoming my go-to XLR microphone for recording YouTube videos, not just because it comes in pink...
Rode NT1 Signature Series review: also consider
The Joby Wavo POD Streamer Kit offers a one-stop solution for beginner content creators. It's easy to set up and use and has enough personality to help you stand out from the crowd. Audio quality is good for a USB mic, not to mention the two pickup patterns and easy controls. A very decent offering overall. Read my full Joby Wavo POD Streamer Kit review.