Can You Tell The Difference Between A $15 Microphone and a $200 Microphone?

by Ed Ting Updated 1/5/03

Mystery Microphone #1: Realistic Highball 7 by Radio Shack The Radio Shack mics
Mystery Microphone #2: Rode NT-1 The Rode NT-1s

Now that you know the results, I can tell you what I hear. Listening to the wav files, which are more revealing than the mp3s, the Radio Shack mics have a lot of noise. Raise the volume, and you can hear the mic's internal noise. Also, the Rode's have much tighter and more refined bass. There is a low G natural in the Chopin that registers with much more authority on the Rodes than with the Realistics. The Rodes are a little less nasal, a little smoother, and have more top end. It's a little easier listening to the Rodes than the Radio Shacks. Having said this, the Realistics did much better than I expected. I thought the difference would be night and day; it isn't (even on the wav files.) The sound is more alike than different. Also, those who possess high end equipment would probably like to see a more expensive mic than the Rode on a test like this (one guy I know is fond of saying "You can't spell Rode NT without "rodent.") I also have Rode's NT-4, their permanent X-Y stereo mic, which I like a little better than the NT-1. I chose the NT-1 for this test because it's so popular and a known quantity. Finally, I'm saving up for a pair of Neumann KM-184s. Hopefully I'll have them sometime this spring. I may do a three-way test then; stay tuned. How did you do? Let me know, I'm curious.
-Ed Ting
E-mail me about pianos, telescopes, or recording Back to Piano Section of Scopereviews Back to Scope Reviews Home Page