The Rode NTG3 is the latest in the NTG shotgun series and Rode's answer to expensive broadcast supercardioid mics. It follows Rode's tradition of solid construction and good value, but can it compete on a level with equipment that is usually much more expensive?
I will state here and now that my decision to purchase the NTG3 was not made under normal circumstances. I had recently purchased some other mics and had no plans for further purchases at the time until Rode announced their $1 Blimp offer. I already own a Rode Blimp and I have been so impressed with it that I was planning on buying another in the new year. Rode's $1 offer and the fact that under certain circumstances a second shotgun mic would be extremely useful made the decision easy for me. I had already looked into the NTG3 and it would most probably have been the shotgun I would have chosen. Their special offer just brought my decision forward a few months. I guess that's good news for Rode, but I can't fault an offer that saves me a couple of hundred dollars, and I was happy to make the purchase as my experience with Rode equipment has been nothing but good so far.
My very first impression of the NTG3 was that it had a very crisp sound. Its first trip out was a horribly wet and cold day and I was thankful for Rode's claim of high resistance to moisture. I was recording a series of vintage vehicles so it was a good test of both frequency and dynamic ranges as there were a great many clicks and clanks mixed in with low rumbles of the various vehicles. The results were quite surprising, not that I didn't expect the mic to capture good quality sound, but characteristically the sound was quite different from the Sennheiser MKH60 I usually use. The mic itself comes with a good selection of standard equipment, and I personally really like the metal "cigar" case it comes in to protect it. This is a very practical solution that protects the mic without having to carry an entire hard-case around. The NTG3 slips inside easily and the case screws shut from either end. This fits nicely into my gear bag without wasting space. My only worry is that it looks a little like a pipe bomb from a computer game, so it might be interesting to get through customs security.
I had someone say to me that I would be pleasantly surprised by the quality of sound from the NTG3 and I have to say that after some use I am surprised. I'm not surprised that it is a good quality piece of equipment. I have used enough things produced by Rode to know they make damn good gear, it was more just how good the NTG3 is for its price range.
The crispness of sound achieved by the NTG is of a quality I would expect from a microphone closer to twice the price of the NTG3. My first real outing was in the pouring rain with me stumbling to keep things dry and still get good material. It was certainly a trial by fire as I doubt I ever truly aimed the thing properly as I was too busy feeling miserable for myself, and yet the material I got back was beautiful and had an excellent presence. It captured the high frequency material of some old vehicle engines with a sharpness to the sounds without making them harsh. This made it an instant hit in my books. I am sure I will submit the NTG3 to many more challenges in the future, so far I am confident I can trust it to capture a true representation of anything I point it at.
In the real world
I use shotguns because they are directional and they capture a good sample of the things I point them at. These characteristics can sometimes be critical to a days work. The work I have been doing lately to capture some vintage aircraft has really been a test for most of my gear and definitely my skills, but when it all goes right the results make all the effort worth it. Recordings like this make me very confident to take this mic out in the field day after day.
Sound quality equal to more expensive microphones
Includes excellent accessories
They don't make a stereo version