Neumann KMR 81 and Rode NTG-2
on Foley. Short comparing test.

May 5, 2020


Yuri Pridachin
Own and Operate at
Foley First

Hi everybody,

Today I had a great opportunity to compare 2 super-cardioid condenser shotgun microphones on Foley. On the one hand, we have Neumann KMR-81, which we often use to record steps and props in our Foley studio, and which is still an audio post-production standard in many countries. On the other hand, the popular inexpensive Rode NTG-2, which we had never worked before, but I was always curious about what Rode could offer in this price segment and why people choose it. Undoubtedly, both are from different leagues, but let see if both worth the money.

I will be trying to figure out how big the difference is in the sound of both microphones, the level of their noise, and the frequency response of both using the room tone of our Foley stage.

As the audio interface, we use build-in preamps of Discrete 4 from Antelope Audio without any realtime processing. Just a clean signal in full range at 48/24. That is great that both microphones located to each other have approximately the same peak level signal at the same gain level.

Ok. The first thing I would like to do is to measure the room tone and to take a look at the frequency curve of both microphones. At the same gain, Rode looks more linear but has no boost on low-end as Neumann has. Good to know that they are pretty similar in the high-end range. But as many mixers do high cut on Foley, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for our purposes.




I tested both microphones from the same distance and position (1.5-2 meters) on the steps in our Foley room for several surfaces, such as concrete and hardwood. In the video below you can see how the steps for a picture from different microphones work. I also did a pass on the surfaces like dry leaves and gravel to see how Neumann and Rode capture these high transient surfaces.

Which works better?

Well. For me, the difference seems pretty big. Neumann sounds denser and has an excellent presence. This microphone also has a “body” of shoes on low-mid, which gives weight and emphasizes the character of the boot. I want to use it on some shoes or heavy boots to get the mass. Possibly do Foley recording in a higher sample rate to pitch it and to get nice “monster” lows for processing. Actually, this mic is just great for many typical surfaces and often used shoes.

For all the short testing time, I wanted to put Rode half a meter closer to the surface to increase the articulation of performing footsteps. It is great that Rode has a smoother curve, but in fact, it sounds a little boring and flat, unlike Neumann.

By the way, Neumann KMR 81 costs $1333 in Thomann while Rode is just $179

Does they both worth the money? I think absolutely!
What think you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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