Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gear Review: Audio Technica AE5400 & AE6100

Last week I got the chance to demo a couple Audio Technica mics. The artist I was working for had a package to test out.  I should state that I am in no way compensated for this review (although theoretically if you click on a link I may eventually receive several hundredths of a cent for it.)

The act was a rock band with two brothers out in front. Drums, bass, two electric guitars, one acoustic and keys doing piano and Rhodes was the line up. Both singers are widely known for their ability to overwhelm a system with the lows in their voices. In fact, in our neck of the woods you can tell an engineer to take out some "last name of artist withneld" and they'll immediately reach for 180 Hz.

That said, these mics did a great job minimizing the proximity effect and had a smooth, clean response right up through the vocal range. Taking a look at the response curves on the data sheet I feel like they're telling the honest truth. Both mics lived on stands for this show so I can't tell you about handling noise.

The 5400 is a condenser and it's definitely on the list of "stuff you want to save up for". The difference between this mic and the $100 mics so frequently seen around is clear. It's got the same large diaphragm as the old AT4050 and the cardioid pattern is nice and tight. I could ramble on but it's shorter to say that a vocal I usually have to work on went out with the EQ flat and we moved on.

The 6100 is a dynamic mic and honestly it was hard to tell the difference between the two. If you're on a budget but need a better mic you might want to consider this one. In front of a singer who can peel the paint of a mic it behaved beautifully and brought out nuances that I hadn't ever heard before. The only warning I'll give is that the hypercardioid pattern means you can't park a wedge right behind it. In this case I was using two wedges, one for music and one for voice. It took a minute to place the voice wedge in a spot that would settle it down but once I did we could go right to the limits of sanity as far as volume was concerned.

I have to admit that I don't often think of A-T mics as I go about my daily business, despite owing a handful myself.  Having a couple added to the input list at the last minute proved to be a pleasant experience and I'd encourage anyone looking into a Sennheiser 845 or 865 to take a look at these while they're at it.

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