For this installment, we’re diving deep into the world of studio microphones, exploring the massive range of ribbon, condenser and dynamic options on the market for savvy producers, engineers and project studio enthusiasts.
Category: Ribbon (Active) | Pattern: Figure-of-eight
Key Features: It’s no big secret that the world of ribbon microphones is largely dominated by prestigious European builders, which makes the Japanese-made Audio-Technica AT4081 a fresh breath of air for many devout studio purists. A core part of Audio-Technica’s formidable 40 series, the active AT4081 is an updated take on the classic instrument ribbon microphones of yesteryear, with Audio-Technica adding in a range of hyper-modern appointments to make for one of their most impressive pencil-type microphones to date.
Featuring a handcrafted, ultra-robust capsule, the AT4081 is infinitely more durable than a regular ribbon microphone, with its inconspicuous stick design making it a choice solution for live and studio use. The microphone makes use of Audio-Technica’s pioneering MicroLinear ribbon imprint with a figure-of-eight polar pattern, ensuring the dual ribbons are protected from distortion and lateral flexing, while a higher output makes the AT4081 a perfect fit for most microphone preamps.
On the technical side, the AT4081 features a practical frequency response of 30Hz to 18kHz with an open-circuit sensitivity of -42dB (7.9 mV re 1V at 1 Pa), while the maximum SPL clocks in at 150dB with an input noise at 25dB SPL, with the dynamic range sitting at a maximum SPL of 125dB and the signal-to-noise ratio at 69dB (1kHz at 1Pa). It also comes with an AT8471 isolation clamp for 5/8”-27 threaded stands, a 5/8” -27 to 3/8” -16 threaded adapter, a windscreen and a carrying case for safe transportation.
Mixdown Says: The Audio-Technica AT4081 is a wonderfully versatile ribbon microphone, and presents itself as a great option for applications such as drum overheads, strings and horns, as well as for bringing the best out of a chimey acoustic guitar without delving too far into scratchy top-end territory.
The AT40481 also excels in front of a guitar cabinet, where its high maximum SPL makes it a mean option for those who are looking to use a ribbon microphone on their guitar amp for a fuller alternative to a dynamic microphone. I found the AT40481 to be an awesome option for recording overdriven guitar sounds, with the attack of my picking being much more defined and dynamic than other ribbon microphones I’ve tested in the past.
Overall: A worthy addition to any microphone collection, the rugged nature of the AT4081 makes it a killer option for live sound, while its unique sound will see you use it time and time again in varying studio settings. Another winner from Audio-Technica!
Head to Audio-Technica Australia to check out the full microphone range today.