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Rode M3

Test & Review

Do you want to acquire a professional microphone of a versatile and multi-power model? Why not opt ​​for the Rode M3 microphone? This microphone offers a versatile electret cardioid polar pattern that has dual power supply (phantom and battery). Discover through this guide our complete test of this microphone as well as our opinion on its quality.

Rode M3 microphone test and review

🎤 by Kevin Jung

Summary of the Test 👇

The Rode brand has been on the electronics market since the end of the 1960s. It began offering ranges of microphones in 1998. It is this type of product that has made it successful. What sets Rode apart from other brands is the offering of items with excellent value for money .

Moreover, its Rode M3 microphone is very affordable and is considered to be one of the best microphones on the market . It is a versatile electret cardioid pattern. It's sort of a variation of the NT3 which is hypercardioid.

The Rode M3 has a lot of positive reviews, but is it really a good versatile cardioid microphone ? We tested it and we take stock of it in the following lines.

Rode M3 Microphone
Picture from Rode.com

Introducing the Rode M3 Microphone

The Rode M3 microphone is a versatile, multi-power . You can use it for a live performance or to record vocals or instruments. It can be powered with 48V phantom power or with a 9V battery. The latter is not supplied with the microphone.

The inside of the microphone is made up of a high-pass filter which eliminates parasitic noise and low frequency noise. To this filter is added a variable and selectable pad (2 positions). This pad allows for high quality recording. The microphone is also equipped with an ON/OFF button and an LED indicator light which indicates the battery level.

The price is the element that attracts attention first when talking about the Rode M3. It is very affordable and this sometimes scares sound professionals. This is normal, because a quality microphone is often very expensive. Afterwards, there is also another aspect that scares sound engineers: battery power. A battery-powered microphone often sounds like a low-end gadget.

If we look at user feedback and the features presented by the brand, the Rode M3 is not really low-end. Its reduced price and dual power supply do not really impact its quality. It is a microphone designed to meet the needs of all sound creators ranging from live enthusiasts to studio recorders.

RODE M3 Overview

The Rode M3 comes in a sturdy, complete plastic case. The case includes a foam windshield, holder clip adapter, brass socket, windshield, plastic bag and reducer wire. Added to this is a detailed guide to sound recording .

When we look at the Rode M3 in the photos, we have the impression of seeing a boom microphone with a small diaphragm due to its dimensions which appear compact. Plus, the diameter of the cone is only half an inch. Please note, however, that this is not a boom microphone at all and it is not really compact.

What is most surprising when you unpack the microphone is its length. It is 22.5 cm long and 3.3 cm thick . It is definitely longer compared to most models of the same type, but it is still a little short compared to microphones like the NT3 for example.

In addition to this length, it is massive with a weight that can reach 400 g with the battery. Given these characteristics, the Rode M3 looks more like a large membrane model .

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Phantom power and battery power

With its fixed cardioid polar pattern , the Rode M3 becomes a versatile model that can handle all studio recordings. It is flexible because it can work with both phantom power and battery power.

  • Phantom Power : You can use any P24 or P48 power supply to power this microphone. It is a common power supply for the majority of synths, sound cards, mixers, etc.
  • Battery powered : the microphone can also be powered with a 9V battery. According to Rode, a battery of this type connected to this microphone can last up to 300 hours. To insert the battery, you must open the microphone by unscrewing the lower part. You will then have access to a clip that keeps the battery in place.

When phantom power is detected, the battery is automatically turned off. The microphone will therefore not draw on this reserve.

Interesting guide : How to build your own studio microphone easily? Through this guide you can discover the essential things to understand before building your own studio microphone, the type and model that best meets your recording needs, as well as the steps to follow to build a microphone with a woofer .

Design and handling of the Rode M3

Regarding the design, the microphone looks nice at first glance. The brand has added a satin gray finish to the body of this model. We also find Rode's gold drop on the upper side of the microphone.

However, this drop does not indicate the axis of the capsule, whereas this is the case for most of the brand's side-addressed microphones. The Rode M3 is actually a traditional final-fire . You have to point it towards the source to hear the sound better.

Below the gold dot, there is a three-position slide switch including ON/OFF, No Low Cut and Low Cut. The latter is the high-pass filter. There is also a red LED light below the gold dot, just above the switch to let you know the battery level.

Rode M3 Packaging
Picture from Andertons.co.uk

Concerning handling, to integrate the battery, you must open the microphone. You also have to open it to access the pad switch with two levels of -10 and -20 dB of attenuation if you want to use the microphone near a loud noise source.

This switch is labeled. To access it, however, you have to use a screwdriver or a pen for example, because its location is quite narrow. The other control elements are outside (ON/OFF button, No Low Cut and Low Cut).

Please note, however, that there is no marking on the microphone. You must follow the user guide to better understand it. You must slide the switch to the lower position to turn off the microphone if you are using the battery.

This position also cuts the microphone output when connected to phantom power. Once the switch changes position, the LED light will flash to indicate battery status. If the voltage is low, this indicator lights up constantly.

Sliding the three-position switch to the center position activates normal mode . If you move to the upper position, the high pass filter (12dB/octave) is activated . The mic then eliminates rumble and handling noise and attenuates heavy bass sources by operating at 80 Hz .

Concerning the capsule, it is protected by a robust and stable basket since the entire microphone is made of metal. At the end of the microphone, there is an XLR jack equipped with gold-plated pins. At its core, the Rode M3 is a sturdy microphone , but it's unstylish compared to other models on the market.

Focus on sound quality + model

The Rode M3 is a small diaphragm microphone considering its is half an inch. It is equipped with a permanently polarized capsule as is the case with most modern microphones. The frequency response of the mic is between 40 and 20,000 Hz with a slight increase of 12,000 Hz for the Air range.

According to the microphone frequency table, there is also a slight drop of 3 dB at 100 Hz and -10 dB at 40 Hz . When the frequency is between 100 Hz and 4 kHz , the sound becomes a little flat and extended unlike moving coil microphones like the SM58 microphone from Shure or models like the C1000S from the AKG brand.

Despite this small point, the Rode M3 achieves a fresh and spatial sound, because certain frequency ranges are not pronounced. The A-weighted noise level of 21 dB makes it possible to record quiet sources, but the microphone is also compatible with loud sources such as wind instruments or drums.

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Concerning the self-noise, it is 21 dBA. This is also the case for microphones like the AKG C100S and this is normal given that it is the clean noise that is best suited to an electret design of this type. Note that the NT3 displays a higher figure.

As for the sensitivity, it is quite low if we compare the Rode M3 to the condenser models used in the studio. However, it is quite high when compared to the C1000S. As for the maximum SPL, it is 142 dB with 1% distortion. This Rode model can therefore handle close vocals, as well as electric instruments, drums, overheads and amps without distortion.

The Rode M3 with acoustic guitar, drums and percussion

With an acoustic guitar in a recording studio or just at home, the Rode M3 , rich , detailed sound . It picks up percussive strikes well and reproduces the natural, rhythmic sound of the guitar.

We only hear the instrument. It offers the same performance when placed near a drum or percussion. It captures all the details. You can also control the sound with the high-pass filter and attenuator.

Overall, this is an excellent microphone for recording drum overheads , hats , etc. The only downside is the length of the microphone. It is difficult to attach or aim it towards the hi-hats or above the snare drum.

The Rode M3 with an electric guitar amp

You can plug the Rode M3 into an electric guitar amp. It sounds very good and offers clear and crisp sound , even if the source is loud. The mic offers so much detail that you will be able to hear all the sound variations.

You can improve the sound even more by adjusting the microphone (moving it closer, moving it further, or moving it further). Its high-pass filter, however, is not very effective when recording in the studio , but it is still useful for adjusting low frequencies and obtaining a more or less balanced sound.

Rode M3 package
Picture from Ebay.com

Recording vocals with the Rode M3

The Rode M3 is truly a versatile microphone as it also delivers detailed, balanced and clear sound when recording vocals. For vocals on the other hand, it doesn't really compete with the Rode NT1 , NT2 and NT3, because it doesn't capture the atmosphere around it.

The sound therefore seems a little flat. This makes mixing complicated after recording. In any case, if the atmosphere is not vital in the recording (like during podcasting for example), the M3 will be able to amply satisfy you during vocal recordings .

Using the Rode M3 as a Mic for Live Vocals and Instruments

The Rode M3 isn't really intended for live vocals and instruments. Unlike microphones like the Shure SM58 for example, it is not really suitable for stages. In fact, to get a clearer sound with the Rode M3 on stage, you have to bring it as close as possible. It is still suitable for quiet styles and studio vocals and instruments. In this context, it offers a soft, full sound with a little high note.

In short, if you are on a tight budget and looking for a versatile microphone for your studio, the Rode M3 can do the trick. Of course, it is not really suitable for live singing and recording of instruments or even remote recording, but it allows you to record different sources with reasonable sound quality . It could even compete with professional microphones like the Shure SM57, the Neumann KM184 or the Sennheiser MD421.

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Alternatives to the Rode M3

The Rode M3 is a good studio microphone . It is versatile, in addition, it has a dual power supply and is very robust. As an alternative there is the AKG C1000S. The noise and sensitivity of the latter are almost identical to that of the Rode M3. The difference is that the Rode M3 has a wider and smoother bandwidth .

Afterwards, if you are looking for affordable moving coil alternatives, you can turn to the Shure SM58 or the AKG D3800. Note, however, that these do not offer the recording flexibility that the Rode M3 offers, but they are much better on stage.

There is also the SE Electronics Mini MIC. It's an interesting microphone if you're looking for an alternative in terms of versatility for recordings , but it does not have a dual power supply.

The technical characteristics of the Rode M3

  • Acoustic principle: pressure gradient transducer
  • JFET impedance converter bipolar output buffer
  • Directivity: cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40 Hz 20,000 Hz
  • Selectable High Pass Filter (HPF) @ 80 HZ 12 dB/octave
  • Output impedance: 200 Ω (ohm)
  • Signal/Noise: 79 dB SPL (A – IEC651 weighted)
  • Noise equivalent: 15 dBA SPL (A – IEC651 weighted)
  • Maximum SPL: 130 dB (@ 1kHz, 1% THD 1Ω load)
  • Mic sensitivity: -44 dB re 1V/Pa (6.3 mV/Pa @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 3 dB @ 1kHz
  • Dynamic: 115 dB SPL (A – IEC651 weighted)
  • Power supply (Voltage): 7 mA , 9 V DC Alkaline battery , (NSI: 1604A or IEC:6LR61)
  • Battery life: 120 hours
  • Phantom Power: 24-48V
  • Output connector: 3-pin XLR , balanced output between Pin 2(+) , Pin 3(-) and Pin 1 (ground) .
  • Weight: (Microphone only-Excluding battery) 360g
  • Packed weight: 480g
Rode M3 microphone review
Picture from Aallegrolokalnie.pl
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Our Overall Opinion

Overall Sound Quality

4,8 /5
4.8/5

Value for money

4,6 /5
4.6/5

Global mark

4,7 /5
4.9/5

Our opinion on the Rode M3 microphone

The Rode M3 is a versatile and affordable cardioid electret microphone. It can handle almost everything, from instrument recordings to vocals, but it is limited in terms of remote recording or even live on stage. The sound it delivers is smooth, clear and detailed, plus its frequency response is extended including smooth extremes. For shots on stage, you have to bring the microphone closer to obtain more or less quality sound. For remote recording, the sound is too noisy.

In terms of design, the Rode M3 convinces with its quality finish and robustness. As for ergonomics, the dual power supply (phantom and battery) is very practical, as is the three-level switch located on the exterior and the LED indicator which indicates the battery status.

However, there are some problems in terms of handling. The switch for the 2-level pad is only accessible by opening the microphone and using something thin like a pen to reach it. The dimensions of the microphone also make setup for miking hi-hats and snare drums difficult. Overall, it's a good microphone that does the job if you're on a budget.

Rode M3S Demo

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