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Not matter what is your purpose of using the Rode USB microphones. Knowing your primary usage purpose is the most critical step in choosing the right USB mic to get your vocal and recording jobs done perfectly for better sound quality and recording efficiency.
Buyer’s Guide: What To Consider When Buying Rode USB Microphones
When choosing a USB microphone or any other microphone, you need to consider the following essential factors to zero in on the right mic for your needs:
Applications: Are you using the Rode USB mic for podcasting, voice- calls, interviews or singing recordings? You have to know the purpose of using the mic. Currently, Rode has two brands of a USB mic. The “NT-USB” which is optimized for speaking voice such as podcasting and voiceover related tasks. And the “Podcaster” which is optimized for singing and music recordings.
Polar Patterns: Mics come with different polar patterns that often color their usage. The various polar patterns include cardioid, omnidirectional, and Figure-8 polar patterns. Omnidirectional mics are known as pressure microphones because their diaphragms measure sound pressure at a particular point in space. It doesn’t have directional information; it is equally sensitive to any sound signal from any direction. Thus, if you need to record a sound coming from a group of people, the omnidirectional might be your best option.
The Figure-8, on the other hand, is a pressure gradient microphone. It measures the pressure difference between either side of the mic’s open diaphragm. This polar pattern means that it is very sensitive to sound from rear and front but is oblivious to the sounds on the sides. A mic with a figure-8 polar pattern makes your voice sound like a radio voice with a low-end boost that is very flattening.
The cardioid polar pattern combines the signals of figure-8 and omnidirectional, and the resulting pattern is a heart-shaped polar pattern. Hence, it is called the cardioid polar pattern. If you are recording in a room with a highly reflective wall, then a cardioid pattern might do the trick for you.
Latency: When using a USB mic, you will notice that its most significant drawback is when you are engaged in overdubs. You will notice the latency. Despite pulling the buffer down to its minimal setting, you will still hear that irritating delay in your headphones. Most USB mics come with a dry DAW switch or knob that lets you monitor the DAW return signal and the live signal. Nevertheless, you need to switch every time to monitor the playback and the dry signal alternately.
Pre-amps?: Most USB mics consist of internal preamps. It’s just a matter of how well the built-in pre-amps are capable of amplifying sound into PC. Does the selected USB mic need additional pre-amps to amplify its sound for better quality audio output?
Budget: To be honest. USB mics by Rode are not cheap if compared to other USB mic manufacturers such as Blue Microphones and Sennheiser.
Rode USB Microphones For Singing and Podcasting
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1) Rode NT1 Condenser Microphone & AI-1 One-Channel USB Audio
The Rode NT1 is a diaphragm condenser mic engineered to create a detailed midrange response and smooth high frequencies. It also produces round and warm bass, which makes this mic stand out among mics within the same categories.
It features a transducer suspended inside the mic via Rycote’s Lyre system. This feature minimizes the external vibrations within the capsule. This mic also adds studio-quality output and input capabilities to your computer settings. You can also create multiple mic podcast setup with this microphone.
The Rode NT1 has a shock mount, RODE XLR cable, pop shield, USB -C/A cables, and 48V phantom power. It features a complete kit for beginners who want to engage in home recording. It is also stacked with unbelievable technology to make sure that recording to a computer is quick and easy.
2) Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone
Rode’s “Podcaster” USB mic deserves its name, as it’s a premium USB mic that designed for podcasting. It’s a dynamic mic that more suitable for spoken tasks such as podcasting, voice calls, and voiceovers.
Like NT-USB model, it converts the analog sound signal to a digital stream and then amplifies the audio signal via its internal built-in A/D converter and pre-amp.
It only picks up the sound source from in front of the mic. Thus, you have to make sure your mouth is close enough to mic during recording. Thus, it’s the Rode USB mic that only suits for podcasters and voiceover professionals. You won’t be getting fuller and richer sound quality if you use it for recording singing and musical performance.
If you are a podcaster, running your personal radio talk-show, it’s “must-have” USB mic in your studio. Perhaps you will need an additional external USB audio interface if you want to record fuller and richer sound beyond podcasting specifications.
3) Rode NT-USB USB Condenser Microphone
This Rode NT-USB is a cardioid condenser mic that suitable for record singing voice and musical instrument sound. It can easily pick up the sound sources from the area around the mic surrounding evenly. And the sound quality of recording podcasts and voice-over is quite good.
The feature I like the most is the “zero-latency stereo headphone monitoring (3.5mm) jack” where the user can control and monitor the mic input while recording.
In my experiment, I found that NT-USB mic is capable of produce fuller and richer sound with its built-in audio interface/pre-amp. Thus, you don’t really need to buy an extra external preamp to boost its sound quality. This is all you need to get your recording job done quickly without scarifying its sound quality.
The NT-USB Mic does come with the tripod stand, pop filter, and ring mount. The pop filter is very useful to filter the popping sound during singing or speaking.
It’s not only compatible with the Mac & Windows-based PCs. Furthermore, it is also compatible with most of the recording applications on Mac and Windows-based PCs like GarageBand, Apple iPad with RØDE Rec, and all the other recording apps that can work with an external mic. However, you will need a compatible USB connection adapter (Apple Camera Connection Kit), if you want to connect it with iPad.
4) Rode NT-USB-Mini USB Microphone
If you want a compact USB microphone that is studio-grade, you should consider the Rode NT-USB-Mini USB Microphone. This mic is designed to allow users to record to their computers or tablets directly.
The Rode NT-USB-Mini delivers audio signals that are professional-sounding. You can use it to record vocals and instruments. Moreover, you can use it for gaming, voiceovers, and live streaming. It is easy to set up, and comes with a class-compliant USB output.
You don’t need any software or drivers to use this USB mic. It also comes with a desk stand with a magnetic base that you can detach for quick mounting on studio arms or mic stands.
5) Rode PodMic
The PodMic is a dynamic microphone that is of broadcast quality. It offers a rich and balanced sound that is optimized for podcasting. It exhibits a balanced, rich sound, and it comes with an internal pop filter for minimizing plosives. Besides, it comes with an internal shock mounting for reducing vibration.
It comes with a design for use with the Pro Podcast Production Studio. Moreover, it offers great results when used with a quality microphone interface. It is robust with its all-metal construction. Once you try this mic, you would surely love its use, especially if you are podcasting.
In my opinion, both Podcaster and NT-USB are great USB mics in terms of their sound quality. But, the final decision is all came down to one fundamental aspect. “What is your primary usage?”
If you are using it heavily on voiceovers and podcasts, you should buy the Rode Podcaster microphone. However, if you plan to use it more on the music recordings and vocals, Rode NT-USB mic is the one you should choose.
Hence, if you are a beginner and want to engage in a quick setup with your computer, these microphones will surely come in handy. USB mics, of course, have a long way to go to be at par with other types of mics, but USB mics would surely catch up, for the potential for their usage is great.