USB mics are everywhere these days, with the emergence of podcast and gaming as a legitimate force in audio and as DAW workflows become increasingly streamlined. Røde came to the party a few years back with their impressive NT-USB microphone, jam packed with accessories and features. It was a great mic, and with the NT-USB mini, Røde are looking to expand this customer base even further, with the mini coming in at around three quarters of the price. But how does it stack up?
When you purchase a Røde, you’re not just buying a microphone. The heritage of a proud Australian brand comes along with it, and this is immediately evident upon opening the box. There are no corners cut, and not a single penny pinched. The solid steel chassis of the NT-USB Mini gives it a marvelous heft, weighing 585 grams without even considering the sturdy base. Paired with the remarkably strong magnetic mounting system, once planted on a desk or attached to a stand this beast isn’t going anywhere unless you make it so.
When it comes to the sound quality, there are a few takeaways. Before any treatment whatsoever, the frequency response comes across as reasonably flat. The positive of this, is that it in no way suffers from harsh sibilance that a lot of cheaper condenser microphones do. With its smaller diaphragm the NT-USB mini does lack some of the cool, mellowness of its big brother the NT-USB, but if you are the fiddly type and are happy to do some post-production, some tactical EQ cuts at 300-400Hz and boosts at around 10-12kHz will really work wonders for this microphone, bringing it up into the big leagues.
The inbuilt pop filter does do its job well, and considering the NT-USB Mini was never designed to be right up close to the mouth for something like live vocals, plosives are not something to worry about here. When placed more than 50cm away from the voice however, the noise rejection begins to show some limititations. The slight roomy echo, such is a calling card for all USB desktop microphones, is still present and unless your room is very well treated with acoustic foam or the like, it is more than likely that this will always be the case, but for most applications I found the rejection on the NT-USB Mini to be more than workable. I tested the noise rejection further by turning on a moderately noisy fan a few metres behind the microphone. It was definitely audible, but didn’t distract too much from the main vocal signal other than the low rumble which can easily be abated with the help of a high-pass filter.
At this pricepoint, the Røde NT-USB Mini is a steal really, especially when you consider the quality of craftsmanship on display here. If you’re willing to put in a little work to get it sounding the way you want it to, it can impressively punch above its weight. For the entry-level podcaster, or the singer/songwriter looking to record their first tunes, you need something which will last a lifetime and not take years worth of busking to pay for. The NT-USB Mini more than delivers on that front.
Hits and Misses
Impressive mounting system
Inconsistent noise rejection