Rode NT-4 + Rode Blimp = Love

Field Recording with Rode NT4 and Rode Blimp
The Rode “Dead Wombat” mic kit used in the field with a group of actors

We’ve posted earlier about our love of recording on location, but we wanted to pause to gush a little bit about our preferred kit: the Rode NT-4 loaded with the Rode Blimp and Fishpole.

We’ve been using the NT-4 since 2007, for our first field recorded production Dark Passenger, but in those days our shock-mounting came from a DIY homemade style contraption made from a pencil case holder, painter’s roll, several elastic bands and a feather boa. It looked something like this:

Rode NT-4 with DIY shockmount

Mad props to sound man Randall Farr (pictured), who built the device which served us well for locations including beaches, woods, and lighthouses in Southern Maine. This wonderful prototype met its end during the recording of The Troll of Stony Brook and we found ourselves looking for a replacement.

It was actually Randy who suggested the Rode Blimp to me, and since I have a fondness for the brand (I had earlier that spring recorded some delicious M/S tracks with two NT2A’s for The War on Poverty), I began my research on the Blimp.

Reviews from Sweetwater were rave, and I found myself buying a boom kit that cost nearly as much as the microphone (~$428 with free shipping).

Two things made me decide not to go the DIY route again:

1 – The thing is backed with a ten year warranty so I consider this basically a once-for-life kind of investment (as opposed to recorders, computers, ProTools, etc. which I upgrade every couple of years)
2 – I really wanted to look professional on the set. I had some really top talent with me this time and I wanted there to be no doubt as to the professionalism of FinalRune.

To be honest, with the Rode kit and my Marantz recorder (recently upgraded with new Oade brothers pre-amps) we were recording with a very similar kit to what I had worked with on a BBC Radio 4 production a few months earlier. The only difference was that the BBC’s kit retailed for a little over $8,000 whereas ours, even after the Blimp, was around $1,500. So, I took the plunge.

Sweetwater delivered it in a matter of days with loads of candy. Yum. Now to get the thing unboxed.

While the Blimp is clearly intended for shotgun-style microphones, we find it works just fine with NT-4 after deciphering their directions (this video helped). I had to do a little hack to get the cable routed through the handle, but within a matter of minutes everything was hooked up. Then, to go out and record stuff.

Our first recording with the Rode NT-4/Blimp combo was in September, 2010, for the pilot of our new serial, The Cleansed. We were at a regional airport with steady breezes all day, necessitating the wombat to come out and play on some occasions:

The Cleansed - Prologue

I’m not sure how to vouch for the quality of this set-up other than to share some comments on our production:

“The quality of your location production is breathtakingly stunning” – Roger Gregg of Crazy Dog Audio Theatre

“Having done a few location recordings, I know how much time & effort goes into it, and all the quirks one has to deal with including unwanted extraneous sounds etc. Super job. I am impressed.” – Tom Lopez of ZBS

“In so much drama it’s just about the voices. Here you connect with the sheer physical effort. You can sense the actors sweating.” – John Dryden at BBC Radio 4

So, yeah. While we could have gotten results with inferior equipment, I was proud to run 30 hours of sessions knowing that we had real quality gear behind us.

In fact, I’ve enjoyed the kit so much that I’ve been taking it places it probably doesn’t deserve to go, such as outside of my house in the middle of a good ol’ Maine Nor’Easter this winter:

Maine Winter Recording with Rode NT4 and Rode Blimp

Here’s the sounds of our results:

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That load ‘clack clack’ ing, by the way, isn’t the sound of handling noise, that’s pine trees snapping under heavy snow load. Awwwww yeah.

This bit of fan love was not paid for or subsidized by Rode in any way. However, we do hope that maybe one day they will send us some schwag. Like the Videomic. Or the Procaster. The BH Photo Video links will support us if you clickthrough and end up buying something. We hope you will.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/haveudonethis Tony Stamp

    I would Love to have seen the video that went with that audio clip in the snow :o) Well I finally got my Rode Blimp With the NTG 2,and well my clips on you tube show the first tests/playing about with it in silly conditions,All I can say is for its money it woth every penny,only a couple of niggles the link lead is too thick and transmits handling noise,so I changes it for a thinner homemade silver 2 core overall lap screen ,the other is the small silicon rubber cable retainer that can be lost, with a dab of clear bathroom sealent solveed that problem,and to be really picky I would prefer the Wombat (Deadcat) fur to be longer and thicker,more plush you might say. All said and done the Rode Blimp is worth the price,and ye we KNow the like of The Rycote Sets and Reinhardt’s softzepp kits will out-perform the RODE BUT ..you only have to look at the price.

  • http://www.finalrune.com Fred

    The video you’re talking about is over here: http://www.finalrune.com/joe-gunther-videos/ :) Thanks for the careful notes/tips using the BLIMP and NTG-2. I use the BLIMP with the NT-4 and the RODE “Deadcat” with the NTG-2. The NT-4 is a bit heavy for the BLIMP but it works. Hardest part is threading the non-standard stereo XLR cable through the pistol grip, but now that we have the whole thing together it works.

    Agreed, BLIMP is a terrific piece of equipment for the money. A few hundred bucks for a windshield *still* seems a bit pricey sometimes, but then, you know it lasts 10 years so it’s a lifetime piece of equipment practically.

    - Fred