There are three primary areas where the NT2-A differs from the NT2. When you open the box, you’ll notice the first right away—there’s way more control built into the microphone itself. Three-position slider switches are offered to select the mic’s polar pattern (omni, cardioid, or figure-8), high-pass filter (flat, 40Hz, or 80Hz), and pad (0dB, –5dB, or –10dB). The NT2-A follows in the footsteps of other recent Røde mics by posting a low self-noise spec of 7dBa. It is also substantially heavier than the NT2, because of its cast-metal housing and steel grille. Finally, the NT2-A is built around the Australian designed and manufactured Type HF-1 dual-diaphragm capsule—the same transducer used in Røde’s wonderful K2 large-diaphragm tube condenser. (Search for EQ’s December ’03 K2 review at eqmag.com. The K2 currently streets for about $699.)
Since the advent of the Type HF-1 capsules, Røde mics have all had a markedly different sound from their predecessors. The recent generation sounds smoother, more even, and richer, and that goes for the NT2-A, as well. While there’s a gentle high-frequency lift, this tends to open up the sound, rather than make the tone harsh. On male vocals, the NT2-A has a fat tone with round mids and full low frequencies. The top is open and detailed, with plenty of presence, but without harshness and hyped treble.
As I received a pair of NT2-As, I set to work stereo miking a variety of sources, including nylon- and steel-string acoustic guitars. The imaging was excellent. The sound was full, open, and detailed, and the dynamics followed the sound in the room nicely. I hate to repeatedly and redundantly repeat myself again and again, but I keep coming back to the word “smooth,” because it’s an apt descriptor of the top end of the NT2-A. Another would be “natural.” On crunchy electric guitar, the NT2-A was chunky sounding—with plenty of low-end thump and thick midrange presence—without any top-end “fizz.”
The New Deal
Forget what you’ve heard from Røde mics in the past. It’s not that the older models don’t perform very well in their own right, it’s just that the new generation of Rødes are simply stellar performers that provide excellent, smooth, dynamic sound with lots of control capability, lots of flexibility, and literally no self-noise. It would have been nice to include a shockmount—rather than a stand mount—with the mic, but this is a minor complaint. Whether you’re looking for your first pro-studio mic, or are searching for the best model to fill out a microphone locker, the NT2-A bears strong consideration as it excels in almost any application. A winner? Oh, yes.