The headphone market is dominated by a selection of key brands. But now there is a new contender on the block. The legendary microphone manufacturer Rode has thrown its hat into the headphone ring. And for a first outing, it is rather impressive.
The Rode NTH-100 aims to deliver a comfortable fit with sound you can rely on. Check out the quick pros and cons before we take a closer look to see if they have succeeded.
The Australian-based Rode has a fantastic reputation for high-quality microphones. And that quality now extends into the headphone space. Below we take a closer look at what the NTH-100 has to offer.
The marketing for the Rode NTH-100 places a lot of emphasis on its ability to be used for monitoring, mixing, and mastering. And to be fair at this price point it does a stellar job.
The wide frequency range of 5Hz – 35kHz highlights that these can reach low and high. But how good does it sound through that range? Better than I expected.
The highs offer plenty of clarity. They are also quite accurate in the top end. Not overly bright and if anything a little subdued compared to a lot of studio-focused headphones. For my ears, I like the top end a little more restrained as it leads to less ear fatigue. Enough precision without any harshness.
The NTH-100 offers impressive sound at its price point.
The mid-range is also very clear. The upper mids provide plenty of life and fullness. They also blend well with the rest of the range. But as you start to creep into the lower mids some issues present themselves. The supreme clarity starts to wane as you move into lower frequencies.
The bass response is probably the weakest component of the sound profile. As you creep lower it doesn’t quite offer the punch and clarity some may expect. It’s warm and full but lacks kick. For certain genres of music, this is totally acceptable. But for bass and kick-heavy genres like EDM you may want a little more precision.
The imaging and soundstage are also impressive for headphones at this price point. Even more so for closed-back cans. The sound doesn’t feel cramped and the balance between the two earcups is on point.
The volume level is also rather high topping out at 110dB. Distortion is minimal even at higher volumes. But as always you should not be listening to anything at such high levels for extended periods. When you come down to more reasonable volume levels there isn’t a hint of distortion.
When taking everything into account these are rather impressive. Capable enough for monitoring and mixing. For super serious analytical work these do fall a little short. But it is hard to be too critical when you factor in the price.
These are ideal as a workhorse set of cans. A pleasant sound profile that is neutral enough to make educated decisions in the studio.
The Rode NTH-100 gets a lot right in the comfort department. But as is often the case there are some fringe situations where these will not be ideal.
First, the padding itself is fantastic. Both the ear padding and headband padding are very comfortable. They offer Alcantara memory foam that adapts to your head shape well.
The padding on both the ears and headband is excellent.
There is a decent amount of clamping force but it doesn’t feel excessive. Just enough for a secure fit. But as always people with larger heads may feel a little pressure. But the memory foam goes a long way to alleviate the issue.
Breathability is also high. Especially for closed-back headphones. Heat build-up is restrained leading to good comfort levels over long sessions. This is helped along with CoolTech gel within the padding to disperse heat.
I really enjoy the innovation on display here. Most manufacturers have given up on trying to make closed-back cans breathable.
These are circumaural headphones. In other words, they are over-ear cans. But this is where some people may experience issues. The triangular ear cups are innovative. And at first glance, they seem better suited to the shape of ears. But the interior space does lean on the smaller side. If you have large ears you may not have enough room.
The vast majority of people will find these to be supremely comfortable. A great set of headphones for long sessions in the studio. And an especially appealing option for people that hate heat build-up on their ears.
There are many notable elements of the Rode NTH-100 worth discussing. Not only in appearance but also in functional design.
First the aesthetics. While highly subjective, most people love the unique and streamlined presentation. And I’d have to agree.
The triangular ear cups are a nice departure from the round or oval options out there. The gloss finish on the iconic O symbol adds a little flair without falling into gaudy territory. These are smart and professional-looking headphones.
The NTH-100 includes many innovative features.
Beyond appearance, the NTH-100 also features a FitLok system on the headband. This ensures that your headband and earcup setting remains firmly locked in. Finish a session and know that when you return everything will be in the same position.
The detachable cable is also another highlight. You’ll have the ability to choose left or right connection points. This adds flexibility and allows these to adapt to any studio environment.
At just 32 ohms these play nice with all devices. Equally great through a headphone amp as they are with a smartphone.
From top to toe Rode has approached headphone design and attempted to improve on the past. And in my opinion, they have succeeded. Sophisticated modern design backed up by intelligent engineering.
This is another area where the NTH-100 exceeds expectations. Headphones in this price range tend to be decent but certainly not high-end. But the Rode NTH-100 is exceptionally tough.
High-quality materials and superior craftsmanship are evident throughout. The 40mm drivers feature a custom voice coil and rare-earth neodymium magnets. The all-metal headband is another highlight and a welcome departure from plastic options. Plus the choice of padding is also a step above what other headphones offer at this price point.
The NTH-100 is well-constructed with high-quality materials.
These look and feel tough. Every connection point and potential point of failure is secure and robust. These also offer a unique cable lock mechanism. The lock is secure and prevents accidental unplugging.
But once again the nod towards innovation is on display. The connection is pliable. If there is excessive force the connection will stretch. This protects the headphones. Yes, you’ll need a new cable but it is a much better alternative to having to replace your headphones.
There are some exposed wires here. Not an uncommon sight for headphones and normally a cause for concern. But even here the cabling feels tougher and more dependable than other headphones.
In a world filled with flimsy plastic headphones, the Rode NTH-100 sets itself apart. A dependable set of headphones that can handle the rigors of frequent use.
The price to quality ratio of the Rode NTH-100 is superb. When lined up against competitors at this price point it is hard not to be impressed.
The included pouch is decent. Not amazing but still a solid inclusion. It is worth noting that the NTH-100 doesn’t collapse so it may not be the most ideal travel companion.
The NTH-100 comes with a carry pouch.
The long 7.87 ft. (2.4 m) straight cable might be a bit much for some applications. A short or coiled option would have been a nice extra. But once again at this price point, you can’t expect everything.
The NTH-100 offers excellent build quality and backs it up with a more than capable sound profile. Yes, there are more refined options out there but dollar for dollar these are among the best.
For a first-time headphone offering the Rode NTH-100 is already gathering up plenty of positive reviews. Lots of 4 and 5-star reviews highlight the excellent comfort level and good sound quality.
The Joy Of Memory Foam
One of the highlights of the Rode NTH-100 headphones is the excellent memory foam earpads. Memory foam is a common material used for a wide range of applications. But utilizing it for headphone padding is among my favorites.
The memory foam padding is great for long sessions in the studio.
Memory foam molds and sculpts around your head. Something that is critically important for headphone comfort. Everybody has a different head shape. And those differences can cause some headphones to have pressure points that lead to discomfort.
Memory foam pads offer a tight yet comfortable seal. And they are especially great for people that wear glasses. If you spend hours in the studio you’ll already know how important comfort is. So if you need high levels of comfort, headphones like the NTH-100 with memory foam pads are a perfect choice.
If you are looking at headphones for mixing there are some great choices out there. Below are some other headphones to explore.
AKG K553 MKII Review
The K553 MKII from AKG is another popular pair of closed-back headphones. It offers an exceptional soundstage and a sound profile ideally suited for some studio tasks like monitoring and recording.
- Precise mid-range delivery that is clear and concise.
- A spacious soundstage that rivals that of some open-back headphones.
- The bass response is lackluster compared to some other studio cans.
AKG K553 MKII
Sennheiser HD 300 Pro Review
If you need a pair of headphones that offer high isolation these are a good choice. The HD 300 Pro also folds for easy travel.
- Satisfying sound profile with a generous low-end response.
- High isolation makes it a good choice for recording.
- The high clamping force might be uncomfortable for people with larger heads.
Sennheiser HD 300 Pro
Shure SRH440A Review
If you prefer to spend less money on your headphones the SRH440A is a good alternative. It ticks many of the right boxes and is a capable choice for studio work.
- Well-balanced sound profile that features tight bass and defined mids.
- Firm fit that is still comfortable and provides good isolation.
- These don’t fully collapse. Not ideal for traveling.
Should You Buy?
The Rode NTH-100 is an impressive pair of studio headphones. The attention to detail is high yet it still manages to come in at an affordable price.
The sound profile is pleasant and while not ultra-refined more than capable. Couple that with a high level of build quality and it is hard not to recommend these headphones.
If you want a reliable and well-constructed pair of mixing headphones these are a great choice.