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Rode NTH-100M Professional Over-ear headset Review

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Rode NTH-100M Professional Over-ear headset Review

The Rode NTH-100M is what happens when a company that specialises in professional audio for broadcast, studio and streaming takes years of expertise and crams it all into a truly versatile and impressive headset. Originally released as the NTH-100, the addition of M to the name just means Rode added a ‘broadcast-grade’ detachable microphone. Now I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same thing until I actually tested out the new mic. It’s fantastic.

Retailing for $299, the NTH-100M adds $60 to the base headphones price which isn’t a small amount. You could get a proper full-sized USB mic for that money. However, if you want an all-in-one solution for gaming and chat, this is better than most gaming headsets at this price point. What’s more, these aren’t even USB powered headsets nor do they have any fancy PC software gimmicks to improve the audio quality. So, if you are a streamer, budding podcaster or just an audiophile gamer who wants some of the best sound, then this just might be the headset for you.

Rode NTH-100M Review

The NTH-100M is Rode’s debut into the headset space which makes it all the more impressive. Starting with the design, the headset looks the business — expertly capturing the professional look without being dull. It’s made with premium materials like stainless steel, Alcantara fabric and durable plastics. It’s only available in black at the moment though with the new Rode X brand, I suspect we’ll see something more gamey in the near future. For now, it’s a clean and elegant looking headset.

The NTH-100m is an over-ear design with great coverage though not as big as my Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X. The cushions are super plush with memory foam covered in Alcantara fabric that feels wonderfully soft. Rode say they have CoolTech gel but I found them to get pretty hot on my ears this time of 33-degree Aussie summer. Apart from that, I wore these all day without any discomfort on my ears or temples which is saying something since I wear glasses. The cups have some tilt but can’t swivel flat for easier storage or just resting on your neck between sessions.

The headband is also pretty unique; not just because of the same plush Alcantara finish but more so, the Fitlock adjustment system. The system has a lock on each side of the headband that you twist clockwise to release and then adjust the sliders to your desired fit. After that, twist anti-clockwise to lock into place so you never have to worry about the band going slack over time. It’s simple yet very effective set-and-forget system.

Each ear cup has a 3.5mm cable attachment port and can be used interchangeably to suit your setup. The provided cable is extremely long — 2.4m to be exact — and uses a locking mechanism to ensure it won’t get yanked out when you jump up in a fit of gamer rage. It’s cool how you can customise these cables with coloured plastic rings for the cable tips — you know, for style. But these ports are also where you plug in the NTH-Mic, a sturdy, removable microphone that surprisingly has no flex for adjustment.

Rode says it’s designed for optimal placement near your mouth but some will find it frustrating that you can’t adjust it whatsoever. Additionally, the mic only fits in the right ear cup by design so, you can’t use it in any other placement like the main audio cable. The mic uses the same twist and lock mechanism that ensures it remains firmly attached to the headset. The NTH-100 also come with a cloth bag for storage when not in use which you’ll need to keep that Alcantara dust and flint free. Over time though, it will certainly look quite unattractive but I suppose a standard flint brush would help keep it clean.

Audio performance

The NTH-100M is marketed as a Professional headset which means, it’s designed for mastering audio for content, podcasts and streaming. So does it sound any good? Yes, very much so. While I don’t have much experience with studio headphones outside of my DT 900 Pro X, I can say the NTH-100M sounds fantastic across the board. The sound signature leans on the warm side with powerful bass that’s expertly balanced with warm midtowns and crystal clear highs. The frequency response is 5Hz – 35Khz, much wider than your garden variety gaming headset and it achieves this with a low power requirement of just 32 Ohms. So even if you plug it into your console control pad, the sound you get is powerful and punchy.

Helping that tone is the fact that the NTH-100M is a closed back headset. This gives it a limited amount of passive noise isolation but is still surprisingly wide soundstage and excellent imaging. In games like Call of Duty Warzone, that means you’ll get a good sound spectrum with excellent positioning and clarity. In open world titles like Horizon Forbidden West, you will hear all the detailed sounds of animals scuttling in the bushes or the distant rumble of a Talkneck doing its rounds.

Explosions, gunshots and the like are suitably bombastic thanks to the bass but it never overwhelms subtler audio cues like a reload or footstep. Listening to music has been a joy too, as you can imagine. From huge orchestral set pieces to Hip-hop trap, the NTH-100M makes everything rather bombastic without exaggeration or distortion. It’s clean audio all the way and sincerely, one the best sounding headphones I’ve tested yet.

Mic check 1, 2, 1, 2

Which brings me next to the NTH-Mic attachment. When Rode said it’s a broadcast-quality microphone, I rolled my eyes in expectation that this was more marketing gobbledegook that would never live up to the hype. But lo and behold, it actually lives up to the hype. This little plastic attachment produces shockingly good audio. My voice comes through in excellent detail without any hint of compression or tinniness normally associated with detachable mics. Just listen to the sample below.

Rode NTH-Mic sample

Voice reproduction is natural, not too warm but very clean. I was also surprised at how clean the audio was with no background hiss or ticks and yet Rode doesn’t mention any noise suppression or cancellation and there isn’t any accompanying software with EQ’s or noise gates. This is truly the best detachable microphone I’ve tested on any headset and it’s as good or even better than many USB microphones too. Rode certainly nailed that here. I dare say that you can even use this to record VO’s and after throwing on some post processing, no one will be the wiser.

Verdict

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this review of the Rode NTH-100M but at the end of it all, I’m a believer. The excellent audio reproduction, comfort, build-quality and of course, exceptional microphone performance make this one helluva package. It’s aimed at professionals but I dare say all you gamers, amateur streamers and podcasters will benefit greatly from this single purchase. Now, don’t get me wrong, a full-size USB or XLR microphone will sound much better than this but most people just need to sound good in games or work video calls and the NTH-100M will make you sound great. This headset is a stunning breakout for the company’s first product and I can’t wait to see them launch a more gaming specific headset under the new Rode X brand.

Rode NTH-100M
LIKES
Tasteful design & quality build
Exceptional audio quality
Best-in class microphone
Works with every platform
Very comfortable
Generous cable length and accessories
DISLIKES
Boom mic isn't flexible or adjustable
Ear cushions get really warm
Where's the Rode X edition?
5
Professional gamer-grade