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Rode’s NEW NT-USB – The PERFECT Home Studio Mic For VO?

Insider Articles Voiceover

Regardless of what level you're at in the voiceover industry, choosing the correct tools for the job is absolutely VITAL for success.

One of the most important tools for any voiceover artist is the microphone they use - and with hundreds out there, it's an incredibly daunting task narrowing down which mic is best suited - not only to your voice, but to your level of technical ability and of course - your budget!

When I first started out in the VO industry 8 years ago, the ability to record great sounding demo reels and auditions from home was reserved for the chosen few.

Not only did you need to have deep pockets, but you also needed an in-depth knowledge of audio equipment - mics needed to run through boxes known as pre-amps and mixers before they could be used with a desktop computer and the cost of these could easily run you into the £thousands.

USB, often known as 'plug and play' mics simply didn't exist - and when they started to emerge, they were awful quality and certainly NOT suited to voice work.

Over the last 2 years things have got better and better on the 'plug and play' market - largely down to one company that I'm a huge fan of - Rode Microphones!

Rode's first 'broadcast quality' USB microphone was called the 'PODCASTER' - a dynamic, end-address USB microphone, designed for podcasting, that allowed recording direct to a computer without the need for an additional digital interface.

After just one test recording with the PODCASTER, I just had to buy one and I now record ALL of our podcasts at Act On This with these amazing mics.

I was so impressed by the quality of the PODCASTER that I actually ended up approaching Rode to work with us directly on all of our audio needs and to this day they have been amazingly supportive!

For those geeks amongst us, the PODCASTER contains an audiophile quality 18-bit resolution, 48kHz sampling A/D converter - and the mic processes all of the analogue-to-digital conversion internally, bypassing your computer's lower quality on-board sound controller altogether.

Simply put - the mic does all the work for you and provides a great quality, rich sound to your voice.

For podcasting and the like - the PODCASTER is unbeatable - but wouldn't necessarily be appropriate for all voice work.

Well a few weeks back, Rode released a brand new USB mic that just might be!

Let me introduce you to the 'NT-USB'

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iPad compatible

The NT-USB is fully compatible with the Apple iPad*, for use with RODE Rec, GarageBand and other audio apps.
*Apple USB Camera Connection kit required.

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On-board Monitoring

The NT-USB features a zero-latency stereo headphone monitoring jack, with both level and mix control, providing studio-level control over your performance.

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Pop shield and desktop stand included

Everything you need right out of the box, including all- metal pop shield, stand mount, desktop stand, zip case and extra-long 6m (20') USB cable.

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Just like the PODCASTER, the NT-USB is 'plug and play' and allows you to record directly to your Mac or PC - even your iPad - if you buy an Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit.

I saw the mic had been released and bought one from Amazon instantly.

You see, although I don't have a full-blown studio at home, having the ability to record demos and auditions at the drop of a hat puts you in an incredibly powerful position as a voiceover artist.

My agent will often email me a script at 11AM in the morning, asking for a test read to be submitted to a client WITHIN THE HOUR!

Now yes, I could just record this with my iPhone as many artists do, but when a SINGLE JOB can literally be worth £thousands, wouldn't you want to submit something of real quality?

On paper, the NT-USB certainly is quality - the condenser capsule on the mic is the same as that found in many of Rode's studio-grade microphones that are in use by hundreds of thousands of artists and engineers daily.

So how does it sound?

To put the mic through it's paces, I recorded the following samples:

Test 1 - RAW Audio Direct From The Rode NT-USB

In this first test you'll hear the RAW audio direct from the Rode NT-USB.

I haven't tampered with it AT ALL - this is pure audio as it was recorded!

Sounds nice eh?

Test 2 - Original Audio With EQ & Soundtrack

In this second test I simply added what is known as 'compression' to the audio via an editing program and added a simple, upbeat soundtrack.

This honestly took me less than 60 seconds!

Now, I record voiceover daily and record on microphones that cost £3k - £4k in some of the studios I work out of.

The Rode NT-USB is a mere £129.00 from Amazon.co.uk and with compression and music added to that original recording, I would be hard pushed to tell the difference between that recording and pro-studio recordings, recorded on kit costing 20 times that!

Now I'm not saying that the NT-USB could be used for all professional engagements - of course it couldn't.

BUT, it is THE PERFECT mic to record your voice reel on at home!

It's the PERFECT mic for recording VO auditions on - and will certainly be my personal, home recording mic of choice from this point onwards.

As I mentioned earlier, it's 100% compatible with iPad and this means it opens up professional audio recording to SO many actors new to the VO industry.

If you invested in this mic and booked JUST ONE VO job on the back of it, you are more than likely to cover your initial investment, if not top it.

If you want to try your hand at recording VO in the comfort of your own home, without spending £hundreds on professional studio time - THIS IS THE MIC FOR YOU!

It sounds great, is simple to use, is robust, with an all-metal construction and is versatile enough to work with multiple hardware set-ups.

And before this sounds like just one long sales letter for Rode, I want to assure everyone reading that I purchased this mic out of my own pocket - this is in NO WAY an endorsed review.

Here's my invoice from Amazon:

Rode NT-USB Invoice

Check out Rode's official NT-USB video and if you have ANY questions on home recording or how I recorded the tests above, please leave a comment in the comments section below!

  • Lee Petcher

    AHHH I want it I want it I want it lol. Need to get £129 to purchase it, but I want it I want it I want it. Hehe, not only does it look great for voice over work/demo reels but I can also put it to use when playing and recording songs!!! Looks like a fantastic investment!!

  • Anna Wilson-Hall

    It does sound great Ross!

    This is the mic I use:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/RØDE-Podcaster-Large-Diaphragm-Microphone-Connection/dp/B000JM46FY/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1426539178&sr=8-5&keywords=rode+microphone

    Wish I’d known about the one you use! It’s pretty good though. I didn’t add anything at all (in terms of post) to the demo I sent you earlier. I was just wondering if you had any tips re compression etc..for garage band (I don’t use Adobe or audacity)…

    And thanks for the tips re delivery – winner!

    :o)

    • The Rode Podcaster is still a great mic Anna!

      I still use them for the podcasts recorded on this very site!

      The NT-USB is a newer mic, they were released just last year.

      In terms of GarageBand, it has some great compression settings to make your voice nice and rich.

      Let me create a little video tutorial over the next couple of days and I’ll post it up!

  • Martine McMenemy

    Hi Grant

    Thanks so much for all the info and experience you share. It really is valuable. Please can I pick your brain on the mic above…

    1. Is this still your mic of choice
    2. Would you favour this over an XLR compressor mic like the Rode NT1-A for recording lower end voice over and audiobook content from home?
    3. Do you have any experience of using this mic for recording songs?

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Thanks again

    M :o)

    • Hi Martine!

      Here are the answers to your questions:

      1. Absolutely – this mic is my ‘go to’ mic for all home recording and demos.
      2. Rode’s NT1-A is a great mic and XLR adds way more flexibility, but would require more kit and tech experience. You would need to route the XLR through an audio interface with a decent pre-amp – which adds expense. Totally depends on budget and level of experience.

      I would also say here that the room you are recording in is WAY more important than either mic.
      A great mic can sound poor if used in a large echoey room – which hasn’t been acoustically treated.

      Really spend time looking at where you will be recording.

      3. Unfortunately, I have no experience of recoding songs, but Rode do a great demo of all of their mics – including samples of singers over at http://www.rodemic.com

      Thanks again for stopping by and best of luck! 🙂