Building up your own home recording studio when you’re on a budget can be a challenge, especially when you want the best quality that you can get. If you’re looking for the best vocal microphone under $500 – well-priced yet of excellent quality – you’ve come to the right place.
Here we will give you the lowdown on the RØDE NT2-A vocal microphone.
Don’t worry, it’s definitely possible to fully show your talent by purchasing the best vocal microphone in this price range. You don’t have to spend thousands to get incredible recordings in your studio.
The RØDE NT2-A Microphone
RØDE is an Australian-based company founded in 1967 as Freedman Electronics. The company first started out mainly making loudspeakers and amplifiers. Nowadays the company mainly concentrates on microphones, along with iOS audio software and microphone accessories.
RØDE developed the first NT series of microphones in the early 1980s. The company’s manufacturing suppliers were based in China but later moved to Australia to upgrade its microphones. To start distributing their devices, RØDE started cold calling musical recording studios in Los Angeles. This resulted in the company’s very first international order of 100 NT2 RØDE microphones.
Since the development of the NT2, it has undergone numerous upgrades. They now use Australian internal parts instead of the original Chinese components. This resulted in the new RØDE NT2-A mic. During this change the quality of the microphone improved, yet the price remained virtually the same as it’s predecessor. It’s one of the reasons this model is so popular.
The RØDE NT2-A is essentially a condenser studio microphone with multiple polar patterns. It can be used to record various instruments but is mainly used for recording vocals. You can also get great success with it on other instruments that carry lots of high-frequency detail, like acoustic guitars and pianos.
The NT2-A has been upgraded quite significantly over the years, not only externally but internally as well. You can now choose between a 40 Hz or 80 Hz low-cut frequency, which is mainly used to filter out movement, low rumbles, or background noise.
You can also switch between cardioid, omnidirectional or figure-of-eight polar pattern modes – the pattern you choose will depend on what you’re recording and how you’re recording them (most home studios will stick to cardioid as this will record most of the direct sound and little of the room sound).
With these new added switches to the upgrade, you’re able to quickly optimise your recordings without spending too much time on the technical side of your engineering.
As an added extra, the new RØDE NT2-A comes with a pop shield and an SM6 shock mount that cradles the microphone. Along with the high-pass filter they also help to remove any unwanted bumps, knocks, and low-frequency rumbles.
As with any studio microphone, you’ll need a mic stand to position it correctly when you’re recording. You can easily pick up a decent mic stand these days that won’t break the bank, so I’d always recommend picking a stand up when you purchase a new mic.
It also comes with an added downloadable video tutorial on:
- How to properly use the NT2-A
- How to correctly position the microphone
- Tips on how to record vocals and various instruments in the studio
What makes this microphone so brilliant is even though the new and improved NT2-A comes with added accessories, the value of it is virtually the same as the older version. Here is a detailed un-boxing video of what you will get when you purchase this microphone package:
The Best Vocal Microphone Under $500 – Overview And Features
The new and improved RØDE NT2-A has a large 1″ capsule and is a condenser studio microphone, so it will need a source of phantom power. Any decent audio interface will provide you with this at a push of a button.
It’s durable exterior makes it suitable for almost any recording environment. The head of the microphone also has moisture control (as do most vocal microphones these days).
The NT2-A is very secure when clipped into the shock mount so there will be no issues in the recording studio in terms of noise from movement of the mic. This product can be set up through any audio interface which makes it ideal for computer-based recordings in a home studio. All you need is an XLR cable to connect the mic to the interface.
All internal and external components are manufactured in Australia to an extremely high standard. This helps you identify the credibility and trustworthiness of all RØDE microphones.
- Solid cast metal construction
- Locking ring at the base for shock mount installation
- Steel mesh screening
- Rectangle shaped frame
- Adjustable polar pattern switches on the side panel
- Heavy duty SM6 suspension mount, with pop filter
- 6m XLR microphone cable
- Dust cover for storage
- Frequency range of 20-20,000 Hz
- Output impedance of 200 ohms
- Gold sputtered 1-inch large diaphragm
- Pad adjustments of – 0dB, -5dB, or -10dB
- Condenser transducer
- Low-noise microphone
- High-pass filter
How To Use The NT2-A Microphone
The RØDE company was kind enough to include a detailed downloadable tutorial which will be included in the microphone package you purchase.
If you’re still deciding whether or not you should get one of these vocal mics, then check out this video that explains how to set up a small home vocal booth using the NT2-A:
As an added bonus this tutorial also shows you how to set up your own home studio. Setting up a home studio can be quite daunting at first, but with a few key pieces of equipment you can get started really easily.
The RØDE NT2-A is not an expensive piece of recording equipment, which makes it perfect for home studio use and vocalists on a budget. However, due to it’s technical nature there may be a more affordable and user-friendly alternative that you can use.
For an entry-level microphone you could use the MXL 990. It’s also a high-quality condenser microphone that comes with all the extras you need, such as a sturdy shock mount and a carry case. The MXL 990 is used in both digital as well as analogue recording studios. It’s just as capable as any other condenser microphone, only with fewer features included with it.
The MXL 990 doesn’t have as many polar pattern adjustments as the RØDE NT2-A but it definitely caters more for the novice home studio recorder. The MXL 990 can be used for:
- Acoustic guitars
- Drum overheads
- Various other instruments
So you could try the MXL 990 microphone as a starter and perhaps work your way up to using the RØDE NT2-A somewhere further down the line. It’s totally up to you and where your budget currently sits.
But remember that you don’t actually need much to get started making your own music. The basics to get the ball rolling would be:
- A studio computer with a DAW (Reaper is very good and is also free)
- An audio interface
- A microphone
- A part of monitors or a pair of headphones
Once you’ve started you can add more to your studio set-up over time, but you don’t need a huge amount to get things going.
Having the ability to record vocals in your home studio, whether it’s your own singing or you’re recording another talented vocalist, is a true privilege we have. But without the correct equipment your goal of sharing your music with the world would not be possible. Using incorrect or unsuitable studio equipment could be detrimental to your new budding career as a vocalist or producer.
Finding equipment on a budget is easy, as the RØDE NT2-A is an extremely versatile microphone to have in your home studio. It’s the best vocal microphone under $500 that I’ve come across in a very long time.
So whether you’re looking to become the next Beyonce or if you’re just looking to record your own music as a part-time hobby, you’ll still want top-notch sound quality. Get hold of the RØDE NT2-A microphone and let your journey begin.