REVIEW: RØDE TF-5 Premium Condenser Microphones

In this set is a pair of Rode’s TF-5 condenser microphones, as well as a set of mic clips, and a stereo bar, allowing the set to be mounted on one microphone stand. The stereo bar also has handy markings for distance, as well as angles for optimum positioning. This is a great feature, being able to keep track of mic placement from session to session, without having to mark up or use painters/masking tape to mark settings.

The microphones themselves are a matched pair, giving a true stereo image when used together. As these are condensers, they will require 48V phantom power. The capsule is a small format diaphragm with a cardioid pattern, and the internal circuit is a JFET design, giving plenty of clarity and no tonal coloring by the microphone’s electronics itself. There are no external switches or modes to be engaged, leaving it to be a simple “point and shoot” scenario when using them.

We put this pair through their paces capturing some acoustic sources in small-to-medium sized rooms, and were really impressed with the results, especially as we experimented in mic placement, specifically with the distance of the microphones to the sound sources. First off, we used a djembe, with the mics about two feet away, it really delivered the boom. It didn’t get overwhelming, but it was really present, but what was amazing was when the player went for a more subtle attack, the clarity was still there, with enough bottom-end warmth to be felt. Moving them further away opened things up naturally, reducing that low-end response, and giving that extra space that still maintained depth. Using these as a set of room mics for any drums and percussion is a super smart application of these TF-5’s.

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Switching to acoustic guitars, we placed one mic with a tighter angle on the fingerboard, and angled the other mic further away from the sound hole — using the stereo bar at an angle made this very easy. The results were fantastic, and predictably there was more high-end coming in from the mic close to the fingerboard. We then reversed the angle, putting the sound hole mic closer, and it really yielded some great results, with an overall bigger sound with more punch and a bit more present midrange. Placing them at the same distance from the soundhole and fingerboard gave a good spread with plenty of separation. The good thing is that using these together really allows for separate EQ curves to be applied if need be, but getting a solid, balanced sound from the start is always best practice. Pairing this set with a large format condenser would be a great application for ultra-potent acoustic tracks.

We tried another track, placing each mic 180 degrees from each other and having an acoustic guitar on one side, and the djembe player on the other side. We got plenty of clarity and separation, but the djembe’s low end did bleed into the acoustic guitar’s mic a little bit. Placing more bass heavy instruments further away would remedy this – so as always, placement and experimentation is key. However, it did show that a pair of these would be great for a set of mics in a field recording scenario, capturing a true stereo image with plenty of warmth and clarity on any multitude of sources.

Overall, the set is incredibly well-balanced, and for capturing nuanced acoustic instruments this pair is downright impressive. It’s hard to see where a pair of these wouldn’t get used in a session. Even better, the whole kit is just $1500, and that’s beyond reasonable for a PAIR of amazing condensers.

PROS:

Great clarity, plenty of depth and warmth. 

CONS:

None. 

STREET PRICE:

$1499

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