The Rode NT2
Why doesn't it sound the way it looks?
The Rode NT-2 came out around 1995. It has obvious design similarities to the Neumann u87 but those similaritiies are only skin deep. Or are they?
The NT-2 has been around since about 1995 and many people have them in the mic closet. As you can see in the photo the mic really looks a lot like a u87. But that is where the similarity ends.
This mic has a bit of a controversial history.It turns out that Neumann patented that angled grill shape in the u67/u87 headbasket. When the NT-2 came out the headbasket caused the lawyers at Neumann to do what lawyers do and now we have the Rode NT-2A. Say no more.
The NT-2 may look like a u87 but inside we find a completely different animal. Where the original u87 is a single Field Effect Transistor (FET) driving a transformer, the NT2 uses the FET in a phase splitter circuit which drives two bi-polar transistors to create a transformerless balanced output.
This same circuit has been copied by numerous manufacturers. It works well and is cheap to manufacture.
Like the u87, the NT2 capsule is a K67 style design and for those of you that read my web sight and others, you know what that means. That means the capsule has a rising response usually starting around 2KHz.
So we measured our NT2 and the graph below confirms that it is a K67 style but the lift occurrs more around 3KHz. Nice smooth bottom end on these capsules.
But check out how high the lift goes! That is an 8dB push at 11KHz.
Now to be very honest I have never liked the sound of this mic. Even my old ears don't have the need to lift the high end that much. I have never really understood why so many microphone makers don't equalize their K67 capsules. Anyway... so what to do?
We have had some success creating a u87 style mic using the APEX480. But the NT2 circuit is completely different and actually a bit of a pain because it's has balanced output signal right out of the FET stage.
We did some playing around and found that with the addition of one .02 uF cap, we could create a shelf in the NT2 preamp response that looked like this:
It's not a perfect fit to the capsule, but takes that big bump down by 4.5dB at the 11KHz centre point.
So with the EQ cap in place we swept the mic again and here is the result:
I like this sound much better. Call me old fashioned but if is looks like a u87 it should sound like a u87.
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