Røde NTH-100 Headphones Review

Røde NTH-100: What is it?
The NTH-100 is Rode’s first foray into the world of headphones.

Røde NTH-100: What’s great?
Articulate, revealing and confident sound. Comfortable. Good-looking (in a rugged sort of way).

Røde NTH-100: What’s not?
Sonic balance won’t suit everyone. Shorter cable is somehow a cost option.

Røde NTH-100: The bottom line
If it’s insight into a recording you want, but not insight of the dry and analytical kind, these Røde could be just the ticket.

Røde NTH-100: Equipment
Rode is an Australian company (the ‘ø’ is a nod to the founding Freeman family’s Scandinavian heritage) – it was established in the 1960s and had its first successes with condenser microphones. Anyone with even a passing interest in professional audio and/or recording equipment knows exactly what Røde is capable of.

And it’s safe to say the company isn’t chasing any kind of modish area of the headphones market with the NTH-100 – this is a closed-back, hard-wired over-ear headphone of the sort that was popular back in the last century.

Røde NTH-100: Build quality
There’s nothing remarkable about the materials Røde has specified for the NTH-100 – sturdy, quite tactile plastic, some exposed and complex angled metal for the arms of the headband, and alcantara-covered memory foam where the headphones contact the wearer at the ears and the inside of the headband. And until you remind yourself the NTH-100 cost just £149, there seems nothing remarkable about the way they’re put together either – but once you keep the asking price in mind, the Røde seem disproportionately robust and well-made.

The black-on-black colour scheme is businesslike (or dour, depending on your point of view) – but you can spend a little extra on differently coloured headbands, earcups and cables if you want to jazz things up a little. And on the subject of cables, the NTH-100 are supplied with a 2.4m cable with a 3.5mm connector at one end and a ‘twist/lock’ version at the other – it’s a sensible length for those who want to use the headphones in a professional environment, especially as the cable can attach to either earcup. But the fact that a 1.2m alternative is a cost-option seems a bit mean.

At 350g the Rode aren’t the lightest headphones around, but they’re comfortable for extended listening sessions. This is thanks in part to the ‘CoolTech’ gel in the ear-cushions that prevents the pads returning your own body heat for an impressively long time. And they stay adjusted exactly as you like them using ‘FitLock’ – a physical headband-locking mechanism that’s a strong contender for a ‘so simple it’s brilliant’ award.

Røde NTH-100: Sound

Inside each earcup, Røde has fitted a 40mm full-range transducer with a claimed frequency response of 5Hz – 35kHz. You don’t need to spend long inside the NTH-100 to realise those numbers are entirely reasonable.

The Rode are an obsessively detailed, painstaking and thrillingly open listen. Their soundstage is so spacious you might be fooled into thinking you’re listening to open-backed headphones. They organise a recording with almost military precision, giving its every element enough space to express itself unhindered. Height, width and depth are described explicitly, too – but integration is impressive at the same time. It’s not easy to combine a sense of space with a feeling of unity and singularity, but the NTH-100 manage it almost casually.

Tonality is equally impressive. The company’s ‘pro’ heritage is obvious in the swift, controlled and unshowy way they hand over low-frequency information – and bass stuff is so well-behaved that the midrange has more than enough space to do its detailed, expressive and revealing thing. At the top end, too, there’s precision allied to bite – and, as everywhere else, prodigious detail levels.

Dynamic headroom for big volume changes is more than adequate, and the Rode pay proper attention to the more nuanced harmonic variations apparent in pretty much any piece of music too. Rhythms are expressed with absolute certainty, and the low-frequency rigour the NTH-100 demonstrate means tempos are always on the front foot too. Some listeners will undoubtedly find these headphones wanting when it comes to outright bass presence, but those who value realism over unnatural, overheated and overconfident low-end sounds will realise the Røde are giving them a complete, but uncoloured, picture.

Which is not to say the NTH-100 are in any way dispassionate, overly analytical or prissy. They understand full well that music is entertainment that’s meant to be engaged with rather than a puzzle that’s there to be solved.

Price and availability
The Røde NTH-100 are on sale now, and they’re priced at £149 per pair.