RØDE NT1 Origin Story
To mark the launch of the NT1 Signature series, we pulled up the NT1 origin story from the AT archive.
Back in 2004 I had the opportunity to interview Røde Microphones boss, Peter Freedman, as the first in a series of articles we were doing called Name Behind the Name. His was a full-blown Lazarus story and the full interview is well worth a read.
But to coincide with the NT1 Signature series, I thought it’d be cool to republish the NT1 origin story as told by the man himself:
Peter Freedman: Well, that story dates back to 1981 when I went to a trade show in Shanghai. Freedman Electronics [the original PA install and retail business started by Peter’s father] had a lot of dealings with China – we were building our own speaker cabinets and importing various components from there – and on this occasion I saw what looked like a Neumann U87 copy and I bought one as a sample.
At the time we weren’t in the studio market. I’d sold the odd recording mic but there were hardly any home studios at that time. There were ‘porta studios’ and then there was the upper end of the market that bought Neumanns and AKGs – so there wasn’t a market. So I stored this mic away. Around 10 years later when I was thinking about what else we could sell, I pulled the mic out and I said to Colin [Hill, Røde’s original Sales Manager], ‘take this around to some of the shops and see what they say’. He came back and said, ‘there’s a lot of interest in this thing’. So I brought in 20 of those Chinese mics and… they were shit – noisy, two out of the 20 weren’t working at all… I opened them up, and saw they’d used crappy components, and the soldered joints were bad. So we fixed up the parts, made a board mod here and there and got them to a point where we could sell them. They weren’t super quiet – about 25dBA noise, which is kinda like hearing a shower in the background compared to what we’re doing now – but they worked. And that was the beginning of Rode.
CH: That was the first NT1?
PF: Nothing to do with the current NT1, but, yes, the NT1. They were Chinese and we just imported them. Our core business was still club installs, but we set aside a service bench in the warehouse so we could pull them apart, clean them up, have the Rode name engraved on them… pop in a brochure and away they went. That started to bring in a little bit of money – nothing to write home about, but it started to grow.
CH: What sort of numbers are we talking about?
PF: We were doing 100 a year – and that was pretty good for that type of thing. I remember thinking ‘if we can do 500 mics a year we’ve made it’. I just couldn’t get my head around that kind of quantity then. Now we do more than 12,000 NT1As a year [in 2004]!