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Rode NT1 5th Gen review

In this review, I’ll be taking a look at the 5th generation installment of Rode’s NT1 microphone. This microphone has picked up a modestly “iconic” reputation since it was one of the first genuinely affordable large-diaphragm condensers to come out right around the time that home recording started to become more prevalent.

I’ve found that this is a historically divisive microphone, sparking either love or hatred in those who have used it, but let’s get into it and see what it has to offer.

About the author

I’m a producer, audio engineer, and songwriter with over 10 years of experience with a wide range of gear and recording techniques. I’ve worked with a huge variety of microphones from Shure, Electro-Voice, Neumann, and AKG, among others.

Rode NT1 5th Gen condenser microphone review
Image: Rode
  • cardioid condenser
  • 20 Hz – 20 kHz range
  • 142 dB max SPL
  • 4 dBA self-noise
  • 100 ohms impedance
  • XLR
  • USB-C

Final verdict on the Rode NT1 3.7

My experience is somewhat lukewarm here. When it works it’s quite enjoyable, but when it doesn’t it can be pretty lifeless. I’ll leave it to your preferences as to whether or not it’s a great mic.

The 32-bit floating point A/D conversion, while undeniably cool, isn’t really that useful for me and, I imagine, won’t be for most people out there.

What I like

  • Lively high-end.
  • Affordable.
  • 32-bit floating point A/D conversion.
  • Low self-noise.

What I don’t like

  • Not super-versatile.
Buy Rode NT1 5th Gen at: SweetwaterAmazon


Use these jump links to navigate to the desired section of the review.

Polar pattern and frequency response 4.0

The Rode NT1 5th Gen is a cardioid large-diaphragm condenser microphone with a frequency of 20 Hz – 20 kHz, a max SPL of 142 dB, and a low self-noise of 4 dB (A-weighted).

The lows and lower mids seem to be a bit unruly to my ears, and I more often than not found myself reaching for the EQ to tame them when testing this mic out.

The response here is mostly flat up until around the 4-5 kHz mark, where there’s a bit of a presence peak at play. Overall, I felt this mic to be rather mid-forward in spite of its flat response. It’s definitely enjoyable to use and listen to in most situations, but worth taking note of.

Now, let’s go over some common applications for the NT1 5th Gen microphone.

Studio vocals 4.0

Recording vocals with this microphone was quite fun actually. I found it worked with my voice rather nicely. For the price, it’s a good vocal mic. Would I recommend it for every singer? Most likely not, although I wouldn’t shy away from shooting it out with a few other options.

Live vocals 4.0

The cardioid pattern here will help with rejecting feedback, and the high SPL of 142 dB means it can take quite the auditory beating without having to worry about distorting the capsule. It definitely wouldn’t be my first choice for live vocals, but it’s more than capable.

Guitar amps 4.7

I really enjoyed recording electrics with this mic. The mids and presence peak added this liveliness to the tone that stuck out to me. Especially with slightly more metal-centric tones. 

Bass amps 3.0

If you want a slinky metal bass tone, go for it. This wouldn’t be my first choice but I support anybody willing to experiment.

Acoustic guitars 3.5

Again, for the price, it’s good for acoustic guitars, but this is not my favorite application with this mic. The low-end and lower mids were a bit overwhelming, and ultimately I found the performance somewhat lifeless and flat.

I think that if the mic had more of a high-shelf boost rather than a presence peak that the acoustics could shimmer a bit more. It’s not the worst-sounding mic for this, but absolutely not the best.

Drums 4.0

The NT1 5th Gen works really well on snare in my opinion. Others might disagree but I was fairly pleased with the results of my fooling around. I didn’t find much more that I really liked on the kit, so it’s not the most versatile drum mic, but maybe I was feeling lazy.

Build quality 4.0

The body is metal, and the grille is solid and has no give. You could probably drop this thing off a building and have it be fine. Don’t hold me to that, but I think it’s possible.

This microphone not only connects to XLR as one might expect, but tucked away in the XLR port is a USB-C port. What makes this a particularly interesting feature is that the USB-C connection actually offers 32-bit floating point A/D conversion. This means that if you’re recording via USB, you can actually salvage your audio if you accidentally run into clipping.

This hasn’t been possible until recently, and while this is undoubtedly an extremely cool technological innovation, it won’t be useful to a large majority.

It may be useful to voice actors who quickly switch between whispers to full out belting and shouting, or gamers who find themselves yelling at their teammates. However, for the rest of us, it’s pretty easy to set your gain properly. Also, this feature only comes in handy if you’re not expecting to run the mic through an interface.

Lastly, while we’re still on this subject, not every DAW is capable of supporting 32-bit floating point. So if this feature is at all interesting to you, at least make sure whether or not you can make use of it beforehand.

The microphone comes with a dust cover, a shock mount, a USB-C to USB-C cable, as well as an XLR.

Compared to other microphones

The NT1 5th Gen is a moderately versatile microphone: it’s a great choice for recording vocals and acoustic guitars on a budget. It also works surprisingly well for electric guitar amps and snare drums.

Anyway, here are a few comparisons to the NT1 that might be worth your consideration.

Rode NT1 5th Gen vs NT1 4gen

The 4th Gen iteration of the NT1 goes for $270 while the 5th Gen goes for $250. There’s not so much of a difference, although the 4th Gen sounds slightly darker and flatter to my ears. You do have to wonder how the money was saved in making the newer model, or if the 4th Gen is simply overpriced. 

Rode NT1 5th Gen vs NT1-A

I would personally have the NT1 over the NT1-A. I find the NT1-A to be pretty harsh and sibilant at its worst, and requiring a lot of effort in post at best.

Rode NT1 5th Gen vs Shure SM7B

The NT1 is a pretty bright-sounding condenser that is very sensitive to background noise. The SM7B is a warm dynamic mic that rejects close to all unwanted noise and requires a good amount of gain. They’re both worthy mics, but it totally depends on your needs and what you’re after.

Read the full Shure SM7B review

Rode NT1 5th Gen vs Audio-Technica AT2020

I’m pretty partial to the AT2020 since it was among some of the first microphones in my collection, and I’m very used to its sound and character. It’s warmer than the NT1, which isn’t a bad thing, but it could be depending on preference. It’s also half the price of the Rode.

Read the full Audio-Technica AT2020 review

Who is the Rode NT1 5th Gen best suited for?

The NT1 5th Gen microphone is best suited for anybody looking for a cheap large-diaphragm condenser to add to their collection.

Buy Rode NT1 5th Gen at: SweetwaterAmazon