For the past few days I have been borrowing a Rode NT2-A microphone from a friend. I am not neccessarily in the market, but its rare that one gets to demo these kind of things, especially in your own home with your own gear. So I figured it would be a good opportunity.
The Rode is a large diaphram condensor mic, with multiple patterns, a high pass filter, and a pad. It feels solidly built and retails for around $400.
My friend who lent me the mic was raving about its low self noise specs, which according do the web literature are around 7db. So I was interested in that, especially since most of the time I will be recording fingerpicked guitar, which is not a relatively loud source. I have not used enough mics to really know if there is a difference between 7db and say, 15db. I would think recording in my house there is probably enough ambient noise that it doesnt make a differenence. Its far from a professional studio.
The Rode is switchable between omni, cardoid, and figure eight. I chose the cardoid pattern, it probably being the most common for acoustic guitar. From what I hear Omni can be nice in a good room, and it does not exhibit a proximity effect.
I first attempted to record in my front room, which is about ten by ten feet, with wood floors and bare walls. Not a good idea, to much boominess. So i went into my living room, which is about 10 x 8, and rectangular shaped. Its much more full of things, a rug on the floor, big couch, chairs, and some things to absorb sound. I shut the door to the closet and piled some blankets in the corner, to perhaps further reduce bass frequency build up. This seemed to work out much better, and with a little bit of tweaking I got a sound that initially was not to bad. My friend William Bajzek has gotten good results with a CAD M179 placed 27″ away from the guitar. Check out his recording of the Leo Brower studies, I think it sounds fantastic. So I decided to try a similar setup when using the Rode. I experimented a variety of distances, but ultimately got the best result with the mic about 20″ away. Its set to the cardoid pattern. Its still a bit boomy and dark sounding, which I think may be the room. Below are the tracks, the verb one has a bit of reverb applied and the volume boosted.
I think it sounds ok enough, I would like something a little brighter. Now I am no recording engineer, just a guy with some budget priced gear that wants to layout his next cd at home. That way when I go into the studio I will have a good plan for what I want to do. For folks that don’t know, I have a Presonus Mobile interface, am using Logic Pro on the Mac, and have a pair of KRK RP5 monitors.
I like the Rode, if only because I was able to get a fairly pleasing sound with it in a short amount of time. The other mic I had in mind was the CAD M179, which I have used before. They are cheap, and have multiple patterns as well. The self noise is rated a bit higher, but not much, and I seem to remember it being fairly quiet.
There are a ton of mics out there in the sub $500 price range, and for me it can be hard choosing one from the other. Reviews in magazines are nice, but i find it hard to form an opinion based on those. So if you happen to be in the market for a mic I hope this blog post and audio examples give you a little more information.