For new recordists, getting started is hard.

With so many components to buy, and countless options to choose from, recording often takes a backseat to research. Rode hopes to fix this with the NT-USB, an all-in-one recording package that boasts studio-quality sound at a budget price.

Everything You Need To Start Recording


At its core, the NT-USB is a condenser microphone with a built-in sound card and direct-monitoring capabilities. This is a handsome device; black all around, and hefty (at 520 grams), the NT-USBs design and build feel like they belong to a more expensive microphone. The microphone itself features:

  • Recording at 16bit 48kHz with a frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Recording levels up to 110dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KO load)
  • A 0.5 cardioid capsule.

Each box includes a pop filter, a tripod desk stand, a ring mount, a storage pouch, and a 6m (20) USB cable. Compatible with Windows, Mac, and iPad devices over USB, this microphone includes everything it needs to be a quick-start, portable recording solution.

A Sound Vocal Talent Will Fall For

With so many extras and accessibility options, you would imagine the NT-USB might suffer in the sound department. Thankfully, thats not true. Rodes budget entry sounds full, clean, and bright. Up against the more veteran (and pricier) Rode NTK, the NT-USB offers more clarity and sparkle in the vocal frequencies, making it particularly useful for podcasters, voice actors, and potentially singers.

Rode NT-USB (Direct / No Processing)

Rode NTK (Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 / No Processing)

Easy to Use, Every Step of the Way

Great sound makes the NT-USB an easy recommendation, but its convenience factor makes it a must-have. Normally separate purchases, the NT-USB comes with a detachable desk stand for quick setup and storage, a premium pop filter to ensure plosive-free recording, and additional hardware to mount the device to microphone stands. The extra-long USB cable is a great touch as well, allowing you to configure the microphone most anywhere in small recording spaces.


New recordists or those travelling light may find themselves without a sound card, and the NT-USB has you covered for that as well. Each unit has a sound card built in, allowing you to monitor and record audio through one device. Even better, should your audio lag when tracking, you can turn a mix knob on the microphone to hear the incoming sound in real-time–an incredibly valuable tool for keeping you timing tight.

Much like everything else, device integration was seamless. On an iPad, the microphone is ready to go as soon as you connect with a Apple Camera Connection Kit. On a Windows 7 machine (and presumably later releases as well), you plug in the microphone, the drivers are installed automatically, and youre done.

A Small Wishlist


While the NT-USB hits the sweet spot on many points, there are a couple of things Id love to see in future revisions: hardware gain controls and a low-pass filter. On Windows 7, input gain is buried deep in menus; each time you want to change the input level, you have to visit Control Panel, Hardware and Sound, Sound, Recording, the properties window of the NT-USB, and finally, the recording tab.

Software mixers can handle some of the work, but that makes for sloppy gain staging and avoiding peaks becomes a pain. For podcasting, its not as much of an issue, but for voice actors, singers, and other dynamic recording applications, you might spend a lot of time digging through menus. A gain knob would fix this handily.

The included tripod is a welcome addition for new studios and for travel, but that makes the microphone prone to low rumbles and pops that resonate from its resting surface. Shock mounts could work, but that would boost the price of each unit considerably. A low-pass filter would be an easy fix for many applications, especially for live broadcasters who aren’t running their sound through filters or equalizers.

Record Quality Audio Without Breaking the Bank

The Rode NT-USB offers great sound and amazing convenience in a package that should be more expensive. Any shortcomings are minor, and at $165.00, its a steal for anyone who wants to start recording right now.

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