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Audio-Technica AT4031 – The Tape Op Review

TapeOp Issue #49/September, 2005 | by


The discontinued AT4031 was an early microphone in Audio-Technica’s extremely popular 40 Series. It is a small-diaphragm, end-firing microphone that was eventually replaced by the AT4041. It is cardioid-only (unlike its more expensive sibling, the AT4051, which has switchable capsules), and it features a recessed hi-pass switch in the microphone body and a comfortably snug clip.

The AT4031 is sonically bright (typical of many small-diaphragm models) but pleasantly so, and it compares favorably to the venerable AKG C 451. It has a very clear and accentuated top end and a useful proximity effect for exaggerated bottom. It is also a hard-sounding microphone, especially in the midrange, which makes it useful for keeping the edge in aggressive-sounding instruments.

It has a fairly high output and is sensitive to extreme SPL’s, like those inherent in loud drums. I find the AT4031 to be extremely useful as a drum overhead when clarity and detail in the cymbal playing is appropriate, such as for jazz and acoustic music recording, and as an area mic for multiple percussion instruments. The AT4031 also excels as a hi-hat mic. While I generally prefer the sound of a meaty dynamic mic underneath a snare drum, the AT4031 is excellent for capturing the crisp sound of the snares in this application, and it makes for an excellent top mic for brushes or quieter playing. The mic also sounds fantastic for toms, but the internal electronics tend to overload when exposed to loud playing.

The AT4031 is terrific for maintaining detail and clarity on acoustic guitars, mandolin, upright and grand piano, and even upright bass. While the AT4051 exhibits more distance sensitivity and clarity, the AT4031 shares the same pleasant sonic qualities and makes for a nice substitute at a fraction of the cost. (Approx $100 used; Audio-Technica)

Read more about the Audio-Technica AT4031 Cardioid Condenser microphone.

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