After the great success of the RØDE NTG3 shotgun microphone, Rode has come out in favor of smaller and cheaper products.
Smaller, lighter, better? RØDE NTG5
The RØDE NTG5 is a short shotgun microphone from the Australian microphone manufacturer RØDE. Compared to the NTG3, the new NTG5 is around 50 mm shorter than the NTG3 and a total of 203 mm long. It weighs just 76g, which is almost half the weight of the NTG3. Surprisingly, it costs 20% less when a full set of accessories is included. These factors make the NTG5 seem too good to be true, so we took a closer look at this.
The new NTG5 with its black coating looks very robust, lies very comfortably in the hand and is well built. The aluminum body helps to reduce weight. The new design of the acoustic tube looks advanced and should provide better frequency response for the microphone. The black design also goes perfectly with the RØDE VideoMic NTG, the NT-SF1 Ambisonic and the RØDE TF-5 pencil microphone. I think this is a new image that Rode wants to show customers: black, cool, simple and sturdy.
New NTG5 microphone with accessories. Source: RØDE
The box also contains a shock absorber mount with pistol grip and an XLR cable with “Connbox” design, a simple microphone clip mount, a foam windshield, a WS10 windshield in “Softie” style and a small pocket to protect the microphone Transport. All of these accessories are well built, very sturdy in the hand, and I've found that they can even handle extreme situations.
- What is RF technology?
RF stands for radio frequency; This type of technology is also known as RF radio frequency technology. With AF audio frequency or LF low frequency technology, the fluctuations in capacitance of the capacitor capsule are not converted directly into audio signals, but rather modulated by a high frequency signal (high frequency signal) generated by the oscillator with FM or AM modulation. This signal is then immediately demodulated and the audio signal is recreated with a very low impedance. We can easily understand this process because there is an ultra-small wireless transmitter and receiver in the microphone.
Due to the very low impedance and low RF voltage, the RF condenser microphone can be used in humid weather conditions, which can cause problems with DC-biased microphones. It also has much less interference with the radio signal and is much more stable in extreme temperatures.
Sennheiser MKH-8060 and Rode NTG-5, photo credit: Cinema5D
Specification comparison to Sennheiser MKH-8060
The RØDE NTG5 has some very impressive specifications that put it in the top tier of microphones:
To give you an impression, let's take the Sennheiser MKH-8060 as a comparison, which costs more than twice the price.
Made of paper, the RØDE NTG5 and the Sennheiser MKH-8060 both have an output impedance of 25 ohms, since both are HF condenser microphones. The Maximum sound pressure level the RØDE NTG5 is 130 dB SPL, which is 1 dB more than the Sennheiser MKH-8060, and the Noise floor of the RØDE NTG5 is 10 dB SPL (A-weighted), which is 1 dB less than the Sennheiser MKH-8060. This means that the RØDE NTG5 can process 1 dB louder and has 1 dB less noise. Even from a psychoacoustic point of view, the human ear cannot hear the 1dB difference, but that tiny difference can make the RØDE NTG5 work even better in some extreme situations.
In addition, the current consumption from RØDE NTG5 is 2 mA with 48 V phantom power, which is 1.3 mA less than with the Sennheiser MKH8060. It is a very small amount compared to the power consumption of a camera sensor and other parts. However, using this microphone with a portable recorder such as the Zoom H5 can add a few minutes of extra run time before the battery runs out (mind that this is a passive microphone, hence the need for phantom power).
Here is the polar pattern and frequency response of the RØDE NTG5
RØDE NTG5 polar pattern and frequency response
Source: RØDE microphones
How is the sound?
Specifications don't mean everything. Now let's get to the most important part: sound!
Sound is a very subjective judgment, and everyone has their own definition of "natural sounding" or "warm sounding" microphone. But there is also some kind of “industry standard” for sound that you hear every day on TV and in the cinema. Hence, you will mainly see Sennheiser, Schoeps, DPA or RØDE microphones, chosen by audio professionals and filmmakers for two reasons: First, people in audio post production are much more familiar and knowledgeable about the sound of these microphones much better how to deal with it. Second, the audience's ear is much better trained for the sound of these microphones.
Back to our RØDE NTG5 test: Over the years, RØDE has established its microphones in entry-level and medium-sized businesses. Almost every filmmaker and audio professional has heard of, or even used, their microphones. The RØDE NTG3 was one of the most popular shotgun microphones in its price range. Given their experience and industry-proven sound quality, I doubt there will be a better choice than the RØDE NTG5 for the price.
RØDE NTG5 – Photo credit: RØDE-Mikroone
How does the RØDE NTG5 sound compared to the Sennheiser MKH-8060?
The Sennheiser MKH-8060 is the newest member of the legendary MKH family. The MKH-416 shotgun microphone has been THE industry standard for many decades. Since I was considering using the Rode NTG5 as a backup and on-camera microphone for my Sennheiser MKH-8060, I tested the RØDE NTG5 next to my Sennheiser MKH-8060 both in the studio and in the field.
The focus of my test was on the off-axis coloring of the sound and how the microphone works on a real movie set. Sounding good at the perfect angle and distance is not enough for a good all-round shotgun microphone. Much more critical is the sound that comes from outside the axis. When the microphone is mounted on the camera, the sound source often comes from off-axis. A good all-round shotgun microphone only sounds a little "far away" and "quieter" without coloring the sound and losing many details.
Audio comparison clips
You can hear the comparison audio clips here:
- Sound comparison
This is a pure sound comparison between the Sennheiser MKH-8060 and the RØDE NTG5. Both are connected directly to a Zoom H-5 handheld recorder and set at the same distance from the sound source. The sound source started in front of the microphone and moved in a circle around the microphone.
Here are the audio clips, you can hear the difference and judge which is better for your ear. For me, the MKH-8060 has a little less off-axis coloring, but the NTG5 seems to have a little better rear noise suppression. They both sound very good and very similar when the sound source is in the front.
- In the field – real test
I have used the microphone as the main microphone for some documentaries. In situations such as rainy weather and dust, the NTG5 worked perfectly as expected in a rainy, humid and dusty environment.
In one scene the microphone was very close to an induction hotplate. When the induction plate started at full power, there was interference with the microphone.
Aside from this little noise, the NTG5 worked perfectly under various weather conditions during my real world test. It sounds very close to the Sennheiser MKH-8060, which made it very easy for me to judge whether my boom was 100% pointing to the talent. The small size and light weight made it easier to hold it on a boom for longer interviews. I can relax in outdoor locations on rainy days because the microphone is rain and dust proof.
Ritt NTG-5 in the real test, Credit: CineD
Some disadvantages of the RØDE NTG5
Lots of good things about the RØDE NTG5, there is also something you need to know before making your final decision.
Built in aluminum, sensitivity to noise
The microphone is made of aluminum, which means that in extreme situations it can still have RF interference. Because of the very light, short body design, the microphone is more sensitive to noise, which can be problematic in some situations.
Pistol grip made of plastic
The pistol grip is made of plastic, which only offers a certain isolation from driving noises. In my test with a professional boom pole, it picks up more driving noise in the higher frequency range than the Cinela Pianissimo suspension system (but the Cinela Pianissimo suspension system costs almost $ 1000 alone without a microphone).
And due to the high sensitivity and the short housing design, the microphone is very sensitive to wind. If you are taking photos outdoors, you will need a good windshield (the foam windshield is only good for indoor use).
Conclusion – NTG5 review
After many tests and a comparison with the Sennheiser MKH-8060, both in terms of processing quality and sound quality, the RØDE NTG5 microphone is child's play in its price range. RØDE has made another product that could become the industry standard at an incredible price for the market. This microphone is for now THE BEST All-round shotgun microphone in the price range we know. With the NTG5, RØDE showed us that it is possible to make a very, very good shotgun microphone at a really affordable price.
Let us know about your experiences with the RØDE NTG5 and other RØDE microphones. And if you're considering buying one, what else would you want to know about the NTG5? What do you think of our NTG5 test?