If you are looking for a truly top-notch condenser microphone that you can rely on for crystal-clear quality vocal recording, you make no mistake by considering to get either Rode NTK or Neumann TLM 102. Both of them are available in a similar price range, though Neumann TLM 102 is usually a little bit pricier than Rode NTK. Each of the two products has received quite a lot of positive reviews from the users, praised for the superior performance and output quality. So, now, between Rode NTK and Neumann TLM 102, which is the one that you should choose?
Both Rode NTK and Neumann TLM 102 have a cardioid polar pattern. They pick up sounds the best from the front and slightly from the sides due to the rather wide pick-up angle, while attenuating the rear. One thing that can be worth a note, even though Rode NTK and Neumann TLM 102 are both condenser microphones, the two feature slightly different internal designs. Whereas Neumann TLM 102 is a condenser microphone with a pressure gradient transducer, Rode NTK is a tube condenser microphone. Having an internal tube impedance converter system, Rode NTK becomes quite bulkier and heavier than Neumann TLM 102. Rode NTK, measuring 55 mm x 55 mm x 208 mm, is rather long. With a mass of 760 grams, the mic is also quite heavy. On the other hand, Neumann TLM 102 is relatively more compact and lightweight, with a diameter of 52 mm and length of 116 mm. The mass is barely 210 grams. When it comes to handling and ease of placement, Neumann TLM 102 has the better edge here than Rode NTK.
|Rode NTK||Neumann TLM 102|
|- Frequency Range: 20Hz - 20kHz||- Frequency range: 20 Hz - 20 kHz|
|- Sensitivity: -38.0dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (25.00mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz||- Sensitivity at 1 kHz into 1 kΩ 11 mV/Pa|
|- Output Impedance 200Ω||- Rated impedance 50 Ω - Rated load impedance 1 kΩ|
|- Equivalent Noise Level (A-weighted) 12dB-A||- Equivalent noise level, A-weighted 12 dB-A|
|- Maximum SPL 158dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1KΩ load)||- Maximum SPL for THD 0.5% 144 dB|
|- Maximum Output Level 29.0mV||- Maximum output voltage 13 dBu|
|- Weight 760.00gm||- Weight Approx. 210 g|
|- Acoustic Principle: Pressure Gradient||- Acoustical operating principle Pressure gradient transducer|
As we have mentioned before, Rode NTK is a tube condenser mic, while Neumann TLM 102 is a condenser mic with a pressure gradient transducer. For sure, they deliver different output characteristics.
Rode NTK, like most other tube condenser mics, breathes some warmth into the audio reproduction. This is great if you want to somewhat smoothen the vocal. The mic has a very low noise level and a wide dynamic range. It can capture lows, mids, and highs very well, with satisfying accuracy and cleanliness.
On the other hand, Neumann TLM 102 sounds more natural. It reproduces the original tones more accurately. The audio reproduction is bright, crisp, and clear. When you want to have the utmost sonic accuracy and retain the original color of the vocal, Neumann TLM 102 is the weapon to choose. Neumann TLM 102 also has a similarly very low noise level, only the maximum SPL that is slightly lower than Rode NTK’s.
Rode NTK Vs Neumann TLM 102
In general, Neumann TLM 102 makes the best way to go. The natural output quality makes it flexible and versatile for different vocal types. If you want to have warmer sounds, you can simply pair it with a tube preamp. On the other hand, Rode NTK is also great, and is a viable choice if you want to have a tube condenser mic instead.