My Evolving Review of the RØDE NTG-4+ (last updated 5/10/2015)

     Emulating the style of the independent filmmaking god himself (aka: Philip Bloom), I decided to make an Evolving Review of the RØDE NTG-4+. As usual, please read my ethics statement.

Disclaimer

     Before I say anything, I would like to point out that I am not an audio expert. I've picked up some tricks/techniques while working with cinema and video over the past three years, but I primarily work with the visual aspect of filmmaking. That being said, I am no stranger to how audio editing works and how it impacts a film. If a film has good audio and horrible visuals, it's sometimes forgivable. But if the reverse happens, it makes the film unwatchable. For Portrait of a Linguist, I knew that I needed solid audio. Given my limited access to resources at the time, I only had my iPhone 4S with me to record audio. But let me tell you, the audio that comes off that thing is SO much better than the in-camera audio from my T1i (which wasn't designed to record decent video in the first place).

The interview audio was recorded on my iPhone 4S and then synced with the scratch track from the camera.

3/23/2015 Tech Specs

Product photo of the NTG4+

Product photo of the NTG4+

     After getting that disclaimer out of the way, I can now talk about the RØDE NTG-4+. For a long time, I've wanted to purchase a proper shotgun mic and use it on my films. But I've always resorted to borrowing mic's like the RØDE VideoMic. While it's a great mic, it's not as expandable as I would like for it to be (i.e: you can't connect it to a sound board without converting the 3.5mm jack to XLR, which causes electrical interference). With the XLR's, I can use this with my Canon T1i (with an adapter), and when I upgrade to a proper video camera (C100 Mk2 or similar), I can still use the NTG-4+.

     As far as Tech Spec's go, here's what I found on B&H:

  • Directional Pattern: Super-cardioid (Similar to a reverse heart shape)
  • Frequency Range: 20 to 20,000 Hz (selectable HPF at 75 Hz)
  • Sensitivity: -32 dB re 1V/Pa (25 mV at 94 dB SPL) ± 2 dB at 1,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 200 ohm
  • Equivalent Noise: 16 dBA SPL (per IEC651)
  • Maximum Output: 7 dBu (at 1 kHz, 1% THD into 1 kOhm)

  • Dynamic Range: 119 dB (per IEC651)

  • Maximum SPL: 135 dB

  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 78 dB SPL (per IEC651)

  • Battery: 150 hours of phantom power on a 2-hour charge

  • Output Connection: 3-pin XLR, balanced output between Pin 2 (+), Pin 3 (-) and Pin 1 (ground)

  • Dimensions: 0.87 x 10.94" (22.00 x 278.00 mm)

  • Weight: 6.21 oz (176.00 g)

     Hope that means something to you audiophiles out there. For me, this translates into: Highly directional, reliable, self-powered audio source. Hope my interpretation is accurate and doesn't upset any professional sound recorders.

Screen shot of RØDE NTG-4+ on B&H Photo's site.

Screen shot of RØDE NTG-4+ on B&H Photo's site.

     This is just the tech spec's review and doesn't mean squat until I get to actually use the NTG-4+. Check back on this post in a few days to see my unboxing/initial thoughts on this microphone. Until then, peace out.

3/24/2015 Initial Thoughts

     Nothing is as exciting as getting a new piece of gear arrive in the mail. And today at 11:22 AM, the UPS guy dropped off this little beauty:

     The RØDE NTG-4+. Right off the bat I 'm going to say that this thing is built like a brick wall. I would imagine that if this thing gets dropped (déjà vu), it'll take the hit. After playing around with it for an hour, I can honestly say I fell in love with this mic. The sound quality right off the bat is really clear and is clean even when I pull the audio files up from -30dB to -12dB.

3/30/2015 Sample Files

4/07/2015 Song Recording

     Knowing that I wouldn't be able to take full advantage of the microphone without using a proper external recorder, I picked up a Zoom H4N Audio Recorder and began using it with the NTG-4+. Once I had this setup, I got two of my friends together and we recorded a song. 

My man Harley while we're recording  The Soundmaker  by  Rodrigo y Gabriella

My man Harley while we're recording The Soundmaker by Rodrigo y Gabriella

     The song isn't done at this point, however while I'm editing the tracks I can certainly say this: It sounds incredible. We were recording outside our local library and unknown to us, it was cleaning day for the park across the street. There were lawnmowers mowing, weed-whackers going, leaf blowers blowing etc. Suffice it to say... it was loud. But for the most part, the NTG-4+ didn't even pick it up. This microphone is so directional that it blocked out the noise that wasn't directly in front of it. This, along with the Zoom H4N's ability to record in 24bit/48kHz allowed me to record incredibly clean audio and make editing a piece of cake.

     Three weeks in to my using the RØDE NTG-4+ and I'm very pleased with the results so far. Check back next week when I go over how it sounds in a Podcasting situation. Take care everyone!

4/15/2015 Podcast Recording

     After getting the song somewhat done, I was ready to test how the NTG-4+ handles Podcasting. And to be honest, this one kind of surprised me...

Karl & I recording the podcast into the two mic's

Karl & I recording the podcast into the two mic's

     As you can see in the photo above, I'm using the NTG-4+ to record my voice into, while Karl is talking directly into the H4N. Both of our levels were set to around +75, and I was recording to 24bit/48kHz WAV files (my go-to settings). You can listen to the podcast below:

     After listening to the finished podcast, I noticed that my audio (using the NTG-4+) didn't sound as well as Karl's audio (using the built-in H4N mic). But after playing around with the audio files in Logic, I realized something interesting. Since the NTG-4+ is a directional mic, you can hear my voice, but not Karl's through my mic. However, the H4N's mic isn't directional. Meaning you can hear both of our voices through that one mic. This makes my track have more of an echo, while leaving Karl's audio sounding MUCH better. So essentially... My mic is making Karl sound better. I have to be honest, I was not expecting that. 

     Now almost five weeks in to my review, and I have to say I feel ready to close the end. Not yet though! I have one more update I want to do on this mic before I officially seal it. Check back in a week to see the final installment of My Evolving Review of the RØDE NTG-4+.

5/10/2015 Final Thoughts

    As far as the song goes, I'm not going to share it just yet. I want to refine my sound editing skills before I share that out to the world. But as far as the podcast goes, things have been working out really well. I talked to RØDE and figured out an ideal way to record the podcast without our voices interfering with each other's tracks. You can listen to episode 2 down below:

     It has been nearly two months since I started this review of the RØDE NTG-4+. And I have to say, it's incredible. In every scenario I've used it in, it has not only surprised me, but blew other mic's I've used at this point out of the water. From the podcasting, to the song recording, to just general use, the RØDE NTG-4+ excelled with flying colors. Would I recommend it? Absolutely!

     And with that, I am going to conclude my Evolving Review of the RØDE NTG-4+. Check back next week for a more timely update on what's going on with Tem.Teen Studios. Until then, ¡Adios!