Read about the Rode M3 condenser microphone before you buy and see if it’s for you.
The Rode M3 is an excellent all-purpose microphone. But there are some uses it’s more suited to than others.
✔️Great all purpose microphone
✔️Sounds best recording miked-up instruments and amps
✔️Solid metal body and a 10 year warranty
|❌Not great at capturing vocals
❌Not suitable for capturing a balanced room sound
|🎤Sound quality: 9
🎤Build quality: 9
🎤Value for money: 10
Total score: 9/10
The Rode M3 is a small diaphragm condenser mic designed for home recording and live performance.
It is a great mic that is incredibly versatile. If you’re just going to have one microphone, then the M3 is quite possibly the best option out there.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that this jack of all trades is a master of none. It provides professional quality and the overall sound is detailed, clear and articulate in any situation.
But there are some things that it does better than others—check out our test results below to find out more.
In this review:
Here’s a rundown:
- Condenser capsule
- Wide frequency range
- Heavy duty metal body
- Comes with a foam windshield, mic clip, stand mount, case and Rode M3 manual
- Powered by 9v external phantom power battery
- Red LED light shows phantom power and battery status
- Onboard high pass filter and pad
- Attenuator with -10db and -20db settings
The build quality of the M3 is excellent. Its solid metal casing makes the mic body feel very robust. On my M3, the light on the high pass filter switch no longer works, but the switch itself still works fine.
The M3 also comes with a wind shield that works well for eliminating environmental disturbance as well as some pops.
Let’s look at some of its features in detail:
The Rode M3 includes phantom power or battery power options.
Phantom power can be used on any P48 or P24 supply. This is common on most mixers, synths and soundcards.
The microphone also has a 9 volt battery slot. This is sound in a cavity inside the microphone body. According to Rode, a 9 volt battery should last 300 hours.
Fitting the battery simply involves unscrewing the lower part of the body. There’s a clip to hold it in place, which is useful for reducing self-noise.
location operation using the 9V battery supply.
High Pass Filter
For the tech-heads, the high pass filter has a range of 40Hz ~ 20,000Hz @ 80Hz 12dB/octave.
I don’t know what any of that means. But what I do know is that the high-pass filter is awesome.
It can helps add clarity where there is too much muddiness and helps lift instruments in a mix.
The high pass filter is controlled using the power switch. There are three options: off, on with a flat response and on with a 80Hz cut.
An LED light on the side of the microphone shows whether you are using phantom power or battery power. Unfortunately, my light stopped working some time ago – but it doesn’t really bother me!
The attenuator offers a -10 or -20 dB reduction in sensitivity.
To access the PAD switch, you have to unscrew the body’s lower section to reveal the switch. You then need to use a small screwdriver or pen can be used to alter the switch positions.
This part of the microphone is pretty well hidden away. I didn’t even know it was there for the first few months!
Rode recommends starting with 0dB selected. You can then assess the sound quality before
making further adjustments.
Rode M3 Test results
I’ve been using the M3 for a number of years now and I’ve had the chance to test it in a variety of situations.
Let’s take a look at how it performs at each.
Mic up an acoustic guitar for recording
The Rode M3 is excellent for tracking acoustic guitars in home or studio recordings. I’ve used it many times for this and it sounds great.
In particular, its sturdy build means it has low self-noise – so you’ll only ever hear your instrument and not the mic shaking.
The sound is clear, detailed and rich. I particularly like the way it picks up the percussive strike of the guitar – it produces a great rhythm guitar sound.
For the same reason, it’s also good for recording drums and percussion. It picks up a lot of detail in the sound, while the high pass filter and attenuator give you lots of control. This makes it a good mic for recording drum overheads and hi-hats.
This aided by the built-in high pass switch. It helps lift the sound by controlling the string strikes and any low-end warble.
This gives it a lovely balanced sound – which you can hear in the recording below.
Mic-up electric guitar amps
The M3 also sounds great when it’s used to mic up an electric guitar.
Once again, it sounds clean and crisp – even when recording loud sound sources.
You can get plenty of sound variation by moving it to different areas of the speaker or moving it further away.
The sound remains clear and balanced even when recording amps on very high volume.
The highpass filter isn’t quite as effective as it is when recording acoustic instruments but is still good for controlling low frequencies and creating a more balanced sound. This is especially useful when recording distorted guitars.
The M3 isn’t great for capturing vocals in music. It picks up the clarity of the voice, and it’s easy to get a balanced sound with few pops and clicks – the foam head cover helps with this a little. As usual, a pop filter helps immensely.
But it’s quite directional and doesn’t pick up much room ambiance. As a result, vocals sound flat and are difficult to mix well.
I would recommend the M3’s sister mic, the Rode NT1 or NT2 for this kind of application.
This is less of a problem when recording vocals in situations where ambience isn’t important – for example podcasting. I often use my M3 in this way.
I wouldn’t recommend it to pro podcasters but it does a serviceable job. It’s directional enough that you could use two of them to capture two separate speakers – although there would be some bleed.
Mic up live vocals and instruments for a PA
The M3 does a pretty good job here. You need to get quite close, but the sound is good and it doesn’t feedback easily.
I’d recommend it for quieter music styles where the clarity of the microphone can really shine through.
Recording a live band
Here’s where the M3’s limitations become more pronounced. The sound is very directional and usually picks out whatever it’s pointed at and captures noticeably less sound from the periphery.
Check out this excerpt of a live recording I made using the M3. The microphone was pointing at the bass amp. The bass is overwhelming compared to the rest of the band.
I’ve managed to get better results using a Zoom H2n for this kind of recording.
Rode M3: Conclusion
Rode microphones have a great reputation and the Rode M3 doesn’t disappoint. It is a great all-purpose condenser microphone for any guitarist – professional or amateur- to have in their arsenal. I would recommend it for podcasters a home studio and gigging musicians alike.
And at less than $100, there’s no way you’ll find a better, more versatile condenser microphone at this price point. It’s great for those on a tight budget, as you’ll get many years of use out of it.
But it’s ultimately a directional microphone. This means that it has a number of limitations when it comes to capturing room sound, ambiance, and depth.
I hope you liked this Rode M3 review and found it useful. If you have any questions or comments, write them in the comments.