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April 25, 2012

Newsletter Sponsor: Audio-Technica

Audio-Technica AT4050/LE

Audio-Technica has been in business for 50 years. They're celebrating their anniversary like every microphone vendor should: by giving away commemorative limited-edition gear. :) We've nabbed one of the new AT4050/LE condenser microphones, which we'll award in May to one lucky MIC NEWS subscriber.


The AT4050/LE is Audio-Technica's flagship multipattern condenser. It is a three-pattern mic (Cardioid, Figure-8, Omni), with onboard pad and filter, making it fantastically versatile. It is acoustically identical to the AT4050, which has been a top seller for years, and which is the subject of my most recent mic review.


The AT4050 had been reviewed by all the major reputable audio magazines already, so we tried to come up with something new, something that really exercised the microphone to reveal its strengths. As a first step, I reprised my drum overhead technique comparison test, at least in part. I recorded AB, XY, Recorderman, Mid-Side, and Blumlein configurations, to demonstrate how a single pair of mics can capture 5 different drum sounds. The Blumlein and MS worked real well, I think because the AT4050's figure-8 mode is clean and uncolored. They sound good in my small room; I'd expect them to sound incredible in a big room.


The review also has a section by Tony SanFilippo of Oxide Lounge, which describes a couple neat tricks that leverage the mic's alternate polar patterns. For example, using the Figure-8 pattern on a guitar, to keep the voice out of the guitar track. This is a great example of why multipattern condensers are so useful in a studio.


Although my published review didn't mention it, I did some voice testing on the AT4050 as well. At 10 inches, in Cardioid mode, I prefer the AT4050 to the Bock 195 in "Fat" mode. I would not have called the 195 "colored," but next to the AT4050, it is. The AT4050 is much more natural-sounding on my voice, with full low-mids that give weight to the track. The Bock 195 sounds almost scooped by comparison.


Overall, I found the AT4050 to be a great workhorse mic. Whoever wins this AT4050/LE next month will no doubt discover numerous favorite uses for it.


The drawing happens in mid-May. If you've received this newsletter via email, you're already entered. If you haven't already subscribed, do so here.

Did you miss me?

For some of you, this is the first issue of MIC NEWS that you've seen for a while. If so, it's not because I haven't written; this is the 9th consecutive monthly issue. It's because your mail provider decided this newsletter was junkmail.

Yo, Yahoo and Google: turn down the Bieber and put my mail where it belongs!

Today's issue is being sent through a service that should ensure better "deliverability." So, if you'd forgotten us, welcome back. Feel free to check out all eight glorious back issues. Load 'em up on your smartphones for later. (It beats the hell out of Gearslutz. ;)

DIY Mic Upgrades

RK-67, RK-12, RK7, and RK-47 Capsules

I've recently taken over a DIY microphone parts store called -- wait for it -- microphone-parts.com. Original name, no?

We stock four large-diaphragm capsule models now, with several more in development. The RK-12 and RK-47 are the best way to restore life to those cheap imported condensers getting dusty in the back of your mic locker. Seriously, stick an RK-47 into that old "stupid deal of the day" $60 condenser, and you'll find uses for it more often than not.

Write "SAVE10" into the comment area on your order, and we'll kick you back $10 off your next order (expires April 30).

News from the Shipping Depot

I've been lusting for a pair of small-diaphragm tube condenser for years, but I've held off until I had a chance to hear a few of them in person. That time has finally come.

My pal Adam Sullivan (he wrote a nice review of the Cloudlifter, despite being, let's say, extremely skeptical about it beforehand) expressed interest in tube SDCs, so I've procured the Mojave MA-100, the Avantone Pro CV-28, the Lauten Torch, the Telefunken Elektroakustik Ela M 260, and the Chameleon Labs TS-1 -- stereo pairs of all. I have a single Sterling ST-44 coming too, and maybe a few more models besides. (Yeah, the UPS guy hates me. And if I stack up any more of these gigantic stereo tube mic shipments in the den, my wife will hate me too.)


The other over-the-top review that's in the works is Jason Miller's shootout of inexpensive USB audio interfaces with the Shure SM7B (a famously low-output dynamic mic). He's got a room full of gear from Mackie, Presonus, Centrance, Focusrite, and hopefully soon, Avid/M-Audio. Our goal is to identify killer low-cost signal chain options for the SM7B (and other favorite low-output mics).

Stay tuned!

Ear Trumpet Labs "Edwina" Winner

Ear Trumpet Labs "Edwina"

We've had a lot of fun working with Philip Graham of Ear Trumpet Labs lately. First we started adding the ETL mics to the Mic Database. Then came Don Gunn's fantastic review of the Edwina. Since then, there have been some great exchanges on Twitter about the mics, like Jason Miller live-tweeting his DIY copper mic clip project.

Anyway, it is finally it is time to announce the winner of last month's Edwina giveaway: congratulations to Mat Leffler-Schulman of Baltimore's Mobtown Studios! Mat is a drummer, engineer, producer, and, oddly enough, a collector of theramins (he has three!). If you're in the Baltimore area, watch for his new Edwina microphone at an upcoming Mobtown Microshow -- a studio "house concert." I predict the mic will sound great.

Follow Mat on Twitter: @mobtownstudios.