RØDE Classic II, June 2000

LARGE-DIAPHRAGM TUBE MICROPHONE
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Designed and manufactured in Australia, RØDE microphones have
earned an enviable position among recording professionals. The
company's Classic, NTV, NT1 and NT2 models can be found in leading
studios worldwide, and with the recent introduction of the new Classic
II, RØDE could once again be on the road to repeating its earlier
successes.

The RØDE Classic II is a tube condenser mic developed from its popular original
Classic model. In developing the Classic II, RØDE's goal was to
elevate the mic to the next level, while retaining the character of its
predecessor.

Everything about the Classic II points to the fact that it is a
high-end recording tool. The microphone ships in an
industrial-strength, foam-lined aluminum flight case, which houses the
various system components. In addition to the microphone, the package
includes a dedicated power supply, a 30-foot, double-shielded,
oxygen-free multicore cable with custom-tooled military-grade
gold-plated connectors, a stand-mount adapter, and a shockmount
suspension.

Weighing in at just over two pounds, the Classic II is a heavy,
magnificently crafted instrument. The microphone's body is
machine-tooled from solid brass and encapsulates two grille meshes-a
finely woven inner headscreen and a heavier gauge, outer screen. A gold
dot indicates the front of the microphone. The combination of a new
capsule and further refinements to the microphone's electronic
circuitry are the principal factors that distinguish the Classic II
from the original.

The Classic II features a 1-inch dual-pressure gradient capsule with
an edge-terminated, gold-sputtered diaphragm. Further, the microphone
incorporates a low-noise, 6072 twin-triode tube preamplifier that feeds
into a custom Jensen output transformer. There are no controls on the
microphone, yet the Classic II provides a wealth of options for
securing your desired sound.

The Classic II has both -10dB and -20dB pads, along with a two-position highpass
filter
—both of which are remotely switched from the
microphone's power supply. The highpass filter offers -15 or -21 dB of
roll-off at 20 Hz.
Similarly, there are nine polar patterns that range from omni with the
control in the counterclockwise position to cardioid at the midpoint to
figure-8 pattern when turned fully clockwise.

Specs include a stated frequency response of 20 to 20k Hz, with a
sensitivity rating of 13mV/Pa. Maximum SPL handling is 130 dB, noise is
less than 22 dB and impedance is 250 ohms.

INSTRUMENT SETUP
Like the microphone, the Classic II's external power supply is solidly
built and comes factory-set for 120V current in North America. The unit
can also be set for 220-240V operation. A ground lift switch is
provided should you encounter a ground loop hum.

A multicore 12-pin cable connects the mic and its power supply by
aligning a series of notches on the connectors. A white dot is also
provided for visual assistance. All connectors are gold-plated to
ensure optimum signal quality. Audio output is routed via a standard XLR connector on the rear
panel of the power supply.

After powering the unit on, you need to allow several minutes for
the microphone to warm up and stabilize. The power supply's LED drive
circuit feeds off the filament voltage of the tube, becoming brighter
as the instrument approaches optimum operating level, thus providing
visual indication that the Classic II is ready for use.

IN SESSION
With nine polar patterns to choose from, the Classic II provides
considerable timbral variation. Overall, the instrument's frequency
response is generally flat, but as is typical for a figure-8 pattern,
high-end performance appears slightly diminished when placed into this
mode. For vocal recording, the cardioid pattern exhibits a mild boost
in the mid to upper midrange-a quality that does wonders for delivering
presence to the human voice. In omni mode, the mic exhibited roughly a
6dB bump at around 10 kHz. With a variety of intermediate positions
between these three main polar patterns, combined with the two-position
highpass filter and the -10dB and -20dB pads, this microphone provides
ample opportunity to find the right sound for numerous recording
applications.

I used the Classic II on a number of vocal and instrumental
recordings. I recorded a series of dialog tracks, vocal tracks, solo
flute and acoustic guitar. I also miked a Fender Stratocaster played
through a Yamaha guitar amp.

For both close-proximity dialog work and the recording of vocal
performances, the Classic II was absolutely terrific. For dialog, I
used the cardioid pattern with the talent placed roughly 7 to 8 inches
from the mic with a sheer nylon pop filter placed between. The Classic
rewarded me with big, detailed and full-sounding takes that were "ready
to go." Using a pop filter to help reduce the occurrence of high-level
plosives is recommended: The same material without the pop filter
exhibited quite a bit more plosive sounds and sibilance, which would
have required more effort after the fact to fix.

Vocal performances were met with equal success, exhibiting a warm,
natural texture with a rich lower end. The microphone's off-axis
response is exemplary, delivering even-sounding performances even as
the vocalist moved somewhat in order to hit the high notes and generate
the vocal inflections we were looking to capture.

This was similarly the case with the flautist. The Classic II
delivered a very even, full-sounding tone, yet with an open, "airy"
quality that made the instrument sound extremely musical-even with a
fair amount of movement from the player.

The Classic II delivered exceptional results with acoustic guitar.
The instrument was recorded on a hardwood floor with the mic placed
just far enough away to capture both direct and reflected sound. The
Classic II picked up a detailed composite sound where finger movement,
room ambience, harmonics and fundamental tones all blended together
with astonishing accuracy.

For a tube mic, I found the Classic II's self-noise to be low. While
the Classic II wouldn't be my first choice for critical classical
recordings, it's not likely to be an issue for any other
application.

On electric guitar, the Classic II delivered its best performance
when it was placed roughly 18 inches and slightly off-axis from the
speaker enclosure. This mic is very sensitive, and with the high sound
pressure levels generated by the cabinet, the -10dB and -20dB pad
settings were called into service to more effectively manage signal
levels. The Classic II sounded really big, with loads of detail and an
awesome sheen to the overall sound.

CONCLUSION
The Classic II's ability to capture all the nuances of a performance
makes it an outstanding choice for instrumental and vocal recording.
Its off-axis response is excellent-delivering uniform, consistent sound
quality-and its ability to handle relatively high sound-pressure levels
makes it that much more versatile.

The RØDE Classic II has a world-class look and feel and comes
with first-class accessories-all packaged in a beautiful flight case
that could probably withstand a Volvo driving over it. With nine polar
patterns, two pad settings and its two-position highpass filter, it has
the flexibility to tailor the instrument to deliver the sound that best
suits your needs. Further, the microphone's $1,995 price tag strikes me
as quite modest. Bottom line: The RØDE Classic II is a
full-featured microphone with a big, full sound that delivers stellar
results.

RØDE Microphones, www.rodemics.com