RODE NT1 vs NT1-A vs NT2-A (Differences & Features Compared)

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  • The RODE NT1, NT1-A and NT2-A are large studio condenser mics 
  • All three of them are known for being quiet mics
  • Find out what their differences are and which is best for you
  • While you’re here, also check out our review of RODE’s brand new headphones, NTH-100

RODE is a well-known and reputable microphone brand that offers quality solutions at an affordable price. 

The RODE NT1, NT1-A, and NT2-A are excellent choices for those looking for quiet large-diaphragm condenser microphones

While all three of these mics look similar, there are differences between them.

This is particularly true of the RODE NT2-A, which has features not available on the NT1 and NT1-A (and is slightly more expensive as a result).  

RODE NT1 vs. NT1-A vs NT2-A: Which Is Right For You?

The RODE NT1 and NT1-A are very similar mics, from their price to their features.

However, the NT1 is a more natural-sounding mic, while the NT1-A displays a bit more coloration.

Rode NT1-A Microphone Package
$220.26

RODE has truly made the NT1-A the complete recording solution by including a premium shock mount with integrated pop filter, high-quality 6m (20') XLR cable, microphone dust cover and even a bonus instructional DVD.

Why We Love It:
  • 137dB SPL
  • One of the world's quietest microphones
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As far as sound, it largely depends on what you are looking for and on your preferences regarding these two mics.

On the other hand, the NT2-A separates itself from the NT1 and NT1-A for several reasons. The NT2-A comes loaded with features not available on the other two mics.

This large-diaphragm condenser mic offers three polar pickup patterns, while the NT1 and NT1-A are cardioid only. The NT2-A also offers a high pass filter.

All of these extra features are accessed via switches on the NT2-A and make the price of this mic considerably higher.  

Commonalities

The RODE NT1, NT1-A, and NT2-A are comparable mics, all intended as fine large-diaphragm condensers.

The three of them are excellent for capturing details and nuances that a typical dynamic microphone is not capable of capturing.

The RODE NT1, NT1-A, and NT2-A all share the same frequency response, ranging from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

This is a reasonable frequency response for condenser mics and will let you record vocals, guitars, electric guitars via cabinets, acoustic instruments, and more with clarity and detail. 

The NT1 and NT1-A are nearly identical in every aspect, and even their differences are minimal. The outlier in the group is the NT2-A, in a variety of ways.  

All three of these mics require 48V Phantom power to operate. 

Differences

The NT1A is eight dollars cheaper than the NT1, which is a negligible price difference. In contrast, the NT2-A is over 150 dollars more expensive.

Naturally, this is a significant price difference, but you get more features on the NT2-A, making it a far more versatile mic than both the NT1 and NT1-A. 

All three of these mics feature a diaphragm size of 1″, which is a standard for condenser mics in this range.

  • The quietest mic of all three is the NT1, with a self-noise of just 4.5 dB.
  • Similarly, the NT1-A has a nearly imperceptible 0.5 dB increase in self-noise, at 5.0 dB.
  • On the other hand, the NT2-A has a 7 dB increase in self-noise.

That said, all three of them are still considered quiet mics. 

SPL

The maximum SPL (sound pressure level) of the RODE NT2-A is 147 dB. However, it comes with attenuation pads that have a choice of -5 dB or -10 dB.

  • This means when the pad is engaged at -10 dB, the maximum SPL of the NT2-A goes up to 157 dB.  
  • On the other hand, the NT1 features a max SPL of 132 dB
  • The NT1-A’s SPL is 137 dB

In other words, the RODE NT2-A can handle more sound pressure or hotter sources before it begins to distort. 

This mic is therefore the top choice of the three to record really loud electric guitar cabinets, bass cabinets, drum, trumpet, etc.

That said, both the NT1 and NT1-A have the capacity to record very loud sources thanks to their respective max SPL levels. It’s just that the NT2-A can take the loudest sources.

Rode NT1KIT Microphone Package
$265.00

RØDE’s design engineers approached the NT1 as a marriage of innovation and tradition, starting with the capsule which is a completely new design.

Why We Love It:
  • Well-balanced sound
  • Extremely low machine noise
  • Includes shock mount
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Polar Patterns

Here is where the RODE NT2-A distances itself from the other two models. While the NT1 and the NT1-A come in a cardioid pickup pattern only, the NT2-A has three pickup polar patterns.

These are selectable via a switch on the body of the NT2-A microphone.

The NT2-A offers you cardioid, omni, and figure-8 polar patterns, which makes it far more versatile than the other two.

With the NT2A you can use different recording methods that cannot be accomplished on a cardioid-only mic.

For instance, you can record two singers doing harmony at the same time while facing each other, by using the figure 8 pattern.

That said, the question then becomes whether you want to increase your budget significantly in order to have the two extra polar patterns that the NT2-A offers. 

Sound

When it comes to sound, the NT1-A is more colored than the NT1, due to the fact that the RODE NT1-A features a small boost at around 150 Hz. It also is boosted around the 3.5 Hz area, as well as 5.0 kHz.

Additionally, the NT1-A has a drastic peak in the air frequencies around 14 kHz, while the NT1 begins to roll off around 10 kHz. All of these factors make the NT1 a much more neutral-sounding mic than the NT1-A.

The NT2-A has a similar amount of detail in the higher upper frequencies as the NT1-A, but it is a bit smoother.

It features a boost that starts around 2 Khz, is dialed back a bit at 3 Khz but then steadily rises from that point until 6 Khz.

From there it comes back down, to then go up to almost 5 dB at approximately 13 Khz, where it then starts to steeply roll off.

It also has a warmer and rounder low end, to complement the boost in the higher frequencies. 

Storing and Accessories

Just like all large-diaphragm condenser mics, the RODE NT1, NT1-A, and NT2-A are sensitive to impacts and misuse.

They cannot be treated or handled like dynamic mics, which are rougher and intended mostly for live use. 

Part of the security of condenser mics comes from how they are stored. 

Unfortunately, none of these three microphones come with hardshell cases for maximum protection.

Therefore, your best bet is to keep them in their boxes when storing them. 

That said, it’s also important to mention that the NT1, NT1-A, and NT2-A are entry-level microphones, which is why they don’t come with hardshell cases, as adding a hardshell case would likely raise the price of all of these mics.

As a result, a higher price would make these three mics less attractive to consumers.

As far as accessories, both the NT1-A and the NT2-A come with a shock mount, pop filter, a 20′ microphone cable, and a dust cover.

On the other hand, the NT1 comes with just a shock mount and pop filter. 

Wrapping Up

The RODE NT1, RODE NT1-A and RODE NT2-A are good large-diaphragm pressure gradient condenser mics, especially at their respective prices.

The differences between the NT1 and NT1-A are small. The main differentiator here is their sound, with the NT1 offering a more neutral sound, while NT1-A is a bit more colored.

This difference does not make one better than the other, as it will largely depend on your preferences.

Of the three mics, the NT2-A is clearly the best because it has more features. The RODE NT2-A is similar in sound to the NT1-A but smoother and more natural sounding.

It also has the great benefit of adding two polar patterns besides cardioid. 

Additionally, the NT2-A has high pass filters and up to 10 dB of padding.

Naturally, better sound, more polar patterns, and better features also result in a higher price. Is it worth the higher price? Yes, it is.

Rode NT2-A

The Rode NT2-A is a professional large capsule condenser studio microphone with a variable pick-up pattern, variable highpass filter, and variable pad. 

Why We Love It:
  • Packed with features
  • Great sound
  • Three pickup polar patterns
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FAQ

Is the NT2-A better than the NT1-A?

The NT2-A is indeed a better-sounding mic, and far more versatile than the NT1-A. It is also more expensive.

What is the difference between the Rode NT1 and the Rode NT1-A?

The main difference is that the NT1 is a more neutral-sounding mic, while the NT1A is more colored. There are other differences in their specs, but they are minimal.

Which one is better: the Rode NT1 or the Rode NT1-A?

It depends. Do you want a lively high-end for your voice or guitar? Then stick with the NT1-A. If on the other hand, you favor neutral mics, pick the NT1.

Does the Rode NT1/NT1-A/NT2-A need 48V phantom power?

Yes, all three mics need 48V phantom power. 

Enjoy this article? Make sure to check out AKG P120 vs P220 vs P420 (Differences & Which Is Best?) and our Shure SM58 vs Rode NT-1A mic shootout!