The Complete Studio Kit from Rode offers, as the same suggests, a complete package for audio recording.
The kit includes the company’s AI-1 audio interface as well as their NT1 condenser microphone, it also includes accessories such as the SMR shock mount, pop-shield, dust cover and Rode-branded XLR cable to get you up and running.
I purchased this kit as a replacement to my Blue Spark Digital, which suddenly stopped working. I decided upon the Rode kit as it was XLR, not USB, and had a generous 10-year warranty for the microphone.
The NT1 features a simplistic design, with a sleek matte black finish that looks discrete and tidy. The microphone is around 19cm tall and 5cm in diameter, so it takes up a relatively small footprint.
There is not too much to the design, with some Rode branding on the front and back, a gold disc on the front side indicates which side of the microphone to talk in to so that sound is picked up well. The ends of the microphone are home to the key parts of the microphone, at one end is the microphone capsule and the other the XLR jack to connect the microphone to your audio interface as well as a screw thread to attach the microphone to a mount.
Overall, I really like the design of the microphone. The build quality feels excellent and it is a full metal construction which ensures that it will be long lasting and durable if transported around.
The NT1 is a condenser microphone, which makes it fantastic for recording vocals or, in my case, voiceovers and features a cardioid polar pattern, which means it picks up audio from in-front of the microphone. The microphone has a 20Hz-20kHz frequency range and 4dB of self-noise, which is great for a microphone in this price range. It is powered by 24- or 48-volt phantom power, which the AI-1 audio interface takes care of.
I am extremely impressed and pleased with the quality of the audio that the NT1 manages to capture, especially considering that my room has had little to no acoustic treatment until a month or so ago. The audio is clear and captures my voice well, with excellent clarity throughout the frequency spectrum, the microphone manages to capture deep and high frequencies equally as well, with warm bass and clear top-end frequencies.
The quality that Rode has packed in for the price is certainly worth it, I personally have no complaints with the capture quality that the microphone offers for voice work.
As I previously mentioned, the kit also bundles a collection of useful accessories to ensure that you can use the microphone to the best of its ability. The kit includes a shock mount, pop filter and dust cover for the NT1.
The shock mount and pop filter is Rode’s SMR product, which suspends the microphone to reduce and vibrations from the surface your microphone is resting on from reaching the microphone capsule, ensuring that there is no bass rumble detected by the microphone due to changes within the recording environment.
The metal pop filter features two layers and works well at reducing the impact of plosives being picked up by the microphone. Unfortunately, the pop filter is specifically made for this shock mount, so it is not possible to use it with a different setup, if desired.
When not using the microphone, the NT1 has a dust cover to protect it. The cover can also double up as a carrying case if you’ve got to move the microphone around but it is very thin so if you’re going to be moving around with the microphone a lot, I would recommend getting something with some padding.
Despite all these accessories, there is no microphone stand included – you’ll need to provide that yourself. I’ve mounted my NT1 on a Rode PSA1 boom arm which I can bring to my mouth when I wish to use the microphone, which I’ve found to work well for a number of years.
The AI-1 is Rode’s offering for an audio interface to connect the microphone to your computer. It has an extremely compact design, coming in at around 4cm tall, 12cm wide and 9cm deep, making it portable as easy to take on the go – but this smaller form factor does sacrifice some features in comparison to the competition. The audio interface, like the NT1 microphone, has a metal outer-casing which ensures that it is durable and long-lasting.
Features and Functionality
On the front is an XLR/¼ jack combo input, so you can connect a microphone or a guitar, for example, but unfortunately this is the only input found on the audio interface. If you want to record guitar and vocals at the same time, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo may be a better choice, but for my use-case the single input works fine.
There is also a ¼ jack headphone output for headphones on the front as well as balanced speaker outputs on the back of the device. I use this audio interface with my Mackie CR3 speakers, and it does a good job and general audio output. When you plug in a pair of headphones, the output will automatically be switched over.
The audio interface supports phantom power, which can be turned on by pressing the gain dial, as well as support for direct real-time monitoring of the microphone by pressing the output gain dial.
A great aspect of this audio interface is that it is bus powered by USB, so it does not require an additional power source. A USB Type-C port can be found on the back to power the device and no specialised drivers need to be installed to get going.
For my use, the Complete Studio Kit has provided everything I need when it comes to recording a high-quality voiceover, I cannot really fault the experience I have had – it has been exceptional. If you are looking for a setup to record vocals or instruments, I would highly recommend the kit and I really like how there is a 10-year warranty on the microphone.