The dual output snug together on Rode’s updated NT1 microphone is one example of podcasting’s influence on audio engineering.
Rode has released an updated version of its NT1 large diaphragm condenser microphone, a standard in the company’s lineup and one of its first products debuting back in 1991. The microphone has mostly the same design that makes it a good choice for small budget vocal recordings, but this year’s model comes with a fun twist: the microphone now supports both XLR and USB-C outputs, all within the same slot.
This dual-connect upgrade has been a common addition to podcasting and home recording microphones for the past few years, allowing the microphone to be used for multiple recording gear setups. But Rode has designed the NT1’s multiple output jacks in a clever way by fitting them snug right on top of each other inside the circular XLR connector. You can thank the age of the podcaster for this innovation.
Changes like this don’t happen without reason. Most dynamic condenser microphones were designed way before podcasting and USB ports existed, and many companies have integrated USB into a traditional microphone body in sloppy ways. The Blue Yeti has been infamous for USB cables breaking frequently from the stress of the cable sticking out underneath the microphone with no support — an accidental tug on a cable can potentially snap the connector right off.
Many USB microphones (and other USB products!) suffer from this problem. However, with the NT1 fifth generation, the pins from the XLR connectors act like a stabilizer to the cable, keeping the connector from being bent if pulled. I’m unsure if this was intentional or not, but it seems to be a slight benefit to the design.
One flaw of the NT1’s new design, however, is that you cannot plug in both XLR and USB-C at the same time, something the dual-connect Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB can do with its side-by-side ports. Though the need for this is not so common, it can be useful when you want to plug the microphone into a computer for a video call and send the analog audio separately into a recorder (aka podcasting).
Could this mean there will be a custom dual USB-C / XLR cable for the NT1? I asked Rode, and apparently there are no plans for such an accessory. But here’s what that could look like:
It’s already inspiring more innovation.
Photography by Andrew Marino / The Verge