Rode is a big name in the audio industry. You’ve probably at least heard of them, even if you don’t have much interest in microphones. Rode released a USB mic for us to review back in February of last year, intent on competing with the mid to high-end offerings from Blue, HyperX, Razer, and Elgato.
Now, they’ve just released a new control software that goes with it and sent us one for review. We’re fans of Rode’s microphones here at High Ground Gaming. In fact, the lavalier mic that I use for HGG’s YouTube channel is a Rode, so we were more than a little excited to see this little guy in action and share our experience with you.
Zoom In: Specs
- Type: High-quality condenser capsule
- Microphone: Directional cardioid
- Pop-Filter: Built-in
- Software: Rode Connect
- Mounting: 360-degree swing mount
- Included: Magnetic base stand
- Connectivity: USB Type-C connectivity
- Compatibility: Headphone passthrough
- Price: $99.99
Rode NT USB Mini Mic [Video Review]
Unboxing and Build Quality
The box contains a quick start guide, some safety information, a USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable (they sell a C-to-C cable separately), the microphone itself, and a magnetic base. The base has rubber grips on the bottom. It feels like it’s made of a very light plastic on its own, but the microphone adds enough weight when it’s snapped into place that it holds it down well enough.
During our review, the Rode NT USB Mini mic looks clean and feels sturdy. Everything about the build quality feels premium and professional, from the 360-degree swing mount it sits in, to the volume dial that also serves as a button to turn headphone audio passthrough on and off. Two complaints I had were the lack of a mute button (you can mute it through the software, but a button would have been considerably more convenient), and the fact that it doesn’t come with a shock mount. Rode recommends their SMR Shock Mount as a compatible option, but that will run you an additional $79 — a high price for elastic bands and some plastic.
Rode sent us one of their PSA 1 Boom Arms to use along with the NT USB Mini as well. We were incredibly impressed with the PSA 1 on its own. It’s smooth rotation and quiet spring make it the best boom arm I’ve personally ever used. Unfortunately, it depends on a certain amount of weight from the microphone attached to it in order to hold it down. The NT USB Mini doesn’t appear heavy enough, even with the tension tightened as far as it will go.
This Does-NT Sound Half Bad!
The raw audio from the Rode NT USB Mini mic sounded fantastic during our review. Mids, and highs come through clearly without any of that tinniness one generally associates with cheaper microphones. Low tones could be a little bit better, but are still much fuller than what you get from a majority of USB microphones.
The cardioid polar pattern pickup is designed for recording a single source (you). That makes it ideal for podcasts, streaming, and voiceover work where you are recording vocal audio from a single person. It filters out reverberations and some background noise. It does not work with omnidirectional sound.
The built-in pop-filter also does an excellent job mitigating plosives (the loud puffs of air from “p” sounds.) That’s essential for quality audio. Having it built in also keeps you from having another thing in your face and keeps the design of the microphone looking sleek.
Connecting It Up to Rode Connect
The new Rode Connect software is a nice addition. It has multi-channel volume control and muting, a noise gate, compressor, exciter and big bottom. It also has built-in recording. You can even set markers for important moments you might wish to edit later. It has a lot fewer options than the Elgato Wave software, but any kind of control software is a rarity among USB microphones and what few features it has give it an edge over most of the competition.
This software feels like it’s targeted more towards podcasters and other users who wish to use it for an edited final product than people who are streaming or producing other live content.
High Ground View
The Rode NT USB Mini MSRPs at $99, making it cheaper than the Elgato Wave, the Blue Yeti, and the HyperX Quadcast S. It doesn’t have multiple pick-up patterns, but cardioid is the main one that gamers are concerned about, so it’s the one we’re interested in, too. The sound quality is phenomenal and the addition of control software makes it one you shouldn’t miss.
We might just be looking at the newest addition to our list of the 10 best microphones for gaming and streaming.
Zoom Out: Verdict
The Rode NT USB Mini is a well-built microphone with excellent sound quality. The software is a little feature-light, but it’s a nice addition nonetheless. The price makes it extremely competitive.
- Top tier sound
- Premium build quality
- 360-degree swing mount
- No mute button
- Only one pick-up pattern (cardioid)
- Software isn’t as good as Elgato’s for streaming