All hobbyists and professionals in the recording world would love to have high-end studio microphone staples as part of their line-up. That being said, the privilege of owning one comes at a price – and a very costly one at that.
Audio-Technica has bridged that gap by bringing the vintage microphone sound into the modern studio environment at an affordable price. The brand’s 40 series has an illustrious history of outputting amazing studio microphones, many of which have been widely accepted in the world of recording as some of the best affordable mics on the market today.
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Despite not being a German tube condenser of vintage ilk, the 40 series has been notably used to record the vocals of major recording artists including Bono, Elton John, Barbara Streisand, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and John Legend, just to name a few.
Units in the range include the famous AT4033 (voted Microphone of the Year in 1992 by the Audio Engineering Society, now discontinued), AT4033a, AT4040, AT4050 and many more in the series. Now, Audio-Technica introduces the AT4047SV into the 40 series range, and we’re happy to have two units on hand to set up as a matched pair for this review.
First thoughts out of the box, the AT4047SV looks and feels elegant, with a silver matte finish, which is quite reminiscent of the stylings of vintage studio microphones. This may be a minor detail for some, but as someone who is particularly anal when it comes to stand the shock mount is incredibly well built.
The shock mount is made out a of metal frame and the microphone is secured with rubber bands with a central slot where the microphone can rest without the fear of it slipping through. Once in the shock-mount, you still have easy access to the necessary switches at the rear of the microphone. Seriously, it’s a great shock mount, and it’s a pleasure to use such a contraption with microphones this nice.
The AT4047SV is a large diaphragm condenser with a cardioid polar pattern, and has the usual pleasantries of a high pass filter at 80Hz with a 12 dB per octave slope and a -10 dB pad. The AT4047/SV boasts a maximum input level of 149 dB SPL and increases to an impressive 159 dB SPL when the pad is switched on. It also has a frequency response of 20 Hz -18 kHz with a slight presence increase between 5 kHz and 10 kHz.
Even though the AT4047/SV can be used in broadcasting and live sound situations, it’s in the studio environment where it truly reveals its potential as a sophisticated audio tool. Putting this microphone through the usual rigours of daily studio life, it’s immediately apparent that this microphone is able to stand on its own as a reliable workhorse.
From the get-go, this microphone exhibits the usual cardioid polar pattern, it responds well on axis and has great rejection at 180 degrees off axis. More importantly, because of the dual-diaphragm capsule design, it responds just as well when you’re off axis from the sound source, without losing a lot of high frequency information.
Testing the AT4047/SV was an exciting experience, and the opportunity to have two units on hand made things even better still. On drums, it handled itself extremely well as overhead microphones, where there wasn’t any harshness from the cymbals and gave a natural sound without any hype around the high frequencies.
When applied to a rumbling bass amp, it was very well rounded around the bottom end with a clear definition around the low mids. In regards to placement, there was a slight proximity effect when placed closer to the bass amp, however the effect was not as apparent in comparison to other cardioid microphones.
On an acoustic guitar, using stereo techniques showed how easily this microphone really captures clear, natural and highly responsive sound. The recessed top-end provided by the AT4047’s FET design also makes it a no-brainer for tracking audio sources in non-treated and unflattering recording environments, such as the average bedroom or rehearsal space.
On that note, this FET construction also makes the AT4047 a killer solution for recording single-coil electric guitars – a source which can often be problematic to track for those without advanced studio knowledge. Simply apply a bit of trial and error mic positioning and a slight touch of strategic EQing, and before you know it, your Stratocaster will sound as spanky on record as it does in your head – all thanks to the humble AT4047.
The specifications detailed a limited frequency response of 20 Hz – 18 kHz, however upon testing there was plenty of high frequency information which made it quite easy to process in the mix. The AT4047/SV was tested alongside other big name brand studio microphones within a similar price range and it was amazing to see that this microphone was able to match the performance of the other microphones, yet still have a unique sound of its own by bringing the sound of vintage FET microphones into the modern day studios.
The AT4047/SV is highly versatile microphone and could be used for most applications, it has a sound that is warm, clear and natural and is a great addition to Audio-Technica’s 40 series.
For more specs and details on local availability and pricing, head across to Audio-Technica Australia.