CUE THE NEW KID
Now that you’re up to speed on a bit of mic history, let’s talk about the latest entry into the marketplace from RØDE. I find several features of the NTG-3 to be quite innovative. The engineers at RØDE utilized RF (radio frequency)-bias technology in their design for the microphone. Without getting super-technical on you, RF-bias microphones use relatively low RF voltage generated by a low-noise oscillator to charge the microphone diaphragm. The main benefit of the RF-bias design is almost complete resistance to moisture in comparison with DC-bias, the technology that most shotgun microphones use except the Sennheiser MKH series, which also use RF-bias. The NTG-3 is quite resistant to humidity and moisture, two conditions that often are found in location shooting. An additional benefit to RF-bias design is much better immunity to external RF noise from cell phones, walkie-talkies, DTV broadcasting and the like.
Of additional interest to boom operators is that the NTG-3 has extremely low-handling noise.
AT THE END OF THE BOOM POLE
Weight is an important consideration that’s often overlooked with shotgun microphones. Suspending a microphone on a mount with a zeppelin, fur windscreen and cable at the end of an aluminum or fiberglass pole that’s typically between seven to 14 feet long and holding it over your head all day means that every ounce counts. The NTG-3 weighs 163 grams, about 5.7 ounces, very light. The Sennheiser MKH 416 weighs 165 grams, about 5.8 ounces. Of additional interest to boom operators is that the NTG-3 has extremely low-handling noise. This becomes especially important when using the microphone with an externally cabled boom pole.
The microphone comes packaged in a very sturdy aluminum storage cylinder that reminds me of a Maglite flashlight. The cylinder provides peace of mind when traveling or flying with the NTG-3 and is a nice touch. The NTG-3 features a silver antiglare finish. The standard finish for most field-production microphones is black, mainly so that glare and reflections don’t become an issue. It really doesn’t matter too much since shotguns are always used with a microphone mount and typically are encased in either a full zeppelin or a slip-on windscreen that obscures most of the microphone.
While I haven’t had a chance to test the NTG-3 in the field yet, tests reveal that it has a more forgiving pickup pattern than the MKH 416, more akin to the pickup pattern on the MKH 60. This means that if you don’t have a top-level professional boom operator, you have a better chance of being able to successfully track scenes with multiple speakers or in two shots.
This brings us to the sound quality. Just how good does the NTG-3 sound? In evaluating the NTG-3, it becomes apparent to me that RØDE has succeeded in producing a shotgun that sounds as good as some of the highest-priced shotguns on the market, if not better, and they produced it for considerably less money. The addition of low-impedance RF-bias design, light weight, a more forgiving pickup pattern and the slick case included in the purchase price define exceptional value to me.
16 CFR Part 255 Disclosure: I obtained a copy of the RØDE NTG-3 at my own expense through normal retail channels. No hardware was sent to me by RØDE for the review. No material connection exists between RØDE and myself; RØDE provides no compensation to me for reviewing equipment and hasn’t influenced me with payments, discounts or other blandishments to encourage a favorable review.
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