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Audio Technica AT4040 Microphone Review

audio technica at4040 review

TL;DR:

Audio Technica AT4040 Review. The 4040 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that offers outstanding mid-level sonic performance in a solid enclosure.


Review Preface:

Here at The Pro Audio Web Blog, Audio Technica is a slick and familiar brand that has made a huge impact on us for their ability to manufacture a highly articulate product range that combines excellent sonic performance with premium build quality. Usually many of the products that Audio Technica have developed are expected to be seen at higher cost and, yet again, we believe that this so for the AT4040 cardioid condenser microphone.


Unboxing:

Arriving in the signature Audio Technica teal and white tones, the retail packaging makes a classy statement that continues to impress on the inside with the striking inclusion of a sharp black and chrome embossed presentation case that is secured with a single popper. Inside this beautifully made case sits the AT4040. Adequately enveloping the microphone with a low density dark-grey foam, the presentation case (Audio Technica Type R1) appears to have the ability to protect the microphone from modest environmental incidents and, due to this being a hard case as apposed to soft, if the worst happens and you drop the product, blunt force trauma will be reduced. It is with merit here that Audio Technica have included an 'on stand' microphone veil that prevents dust build-up when the microphone is in a critical recording position and cannot be moved for an extended periods of time. This protection device is something that I have not seen to be included in the package of any microphone of this price. This item is made out of a soft velvet material, has the Audio Technica logo stitched to the front and features a Velcro tie so that the AT4040 can be lightly protected from most airborne hazards at 360 degrees.


Completing the overall product, Audio Technica includes a complex shock mount that goes against the fabric elastic grain and opts for a rubber band spider system known as the AT8449. Experience with this shock mount was a tricky one that made me question if the amount of teasing and pressure I was applying would damage the product in some way. After some confusion, the microphone was in its place and appeared to be very secure when affixed at the end of the boom - with thanks to the friction generated between the elastic bands and the matte AT4040 finish. Although this typically should be an issue that is raised within the 'build quality' section, it feels more at home to discuss here where upon delivery you need to examine the immediate capabilities, it is also for this reason as to why the AT4040 package has lost half a star.


Build Quality:

The whole package on offer here has clearly been manufactured to a first class 'no holes barred' standard. An overview of the microphone reveals a smooth surface that tightly fits together without noticeable seams and importantly the internal structures conforms to this same standard. During the review period we found no evidence of mismatched external or internal alignments that could cause recorded circuitry or capsule rattling (and damage) when in use at high SPL sound source levels; such as on bass or guitar cabinets. As for the microphones resilience, the grille on the AT4040 is made out of a material that feels harder than the usual and is contorted into a shape that reduces damage if dropped. This is a further quality that is repeated within the security of the microphones body with a matte black finish and is extremely hard. As mentioned previously, the AT8449 shock mount that comes within the package uses a spider rubber band system that happens to compliment the AT4040's of Matt finish by adding a higher, more secure, degree of resistance. However, although these findings may be so, I still believe that this shock mount design is too tricky to use on a daily basis and I doubt that or could last as long as other designs. If this element was amended then this overall package would be an award winning package for us. Moving on to some of the smaller details, I personally quite like that the -10db attenuator and low-cut filter switches are discreet but still noticeable and accessed at the bottom of the microphone edge. You may need long nails or some other small object to engage these functions but it is nothing less than expected and can indeed stop accidental engagement if you have one of those 'handsy' vocalists who still think that a studio mic is the same as a live mic. Furthermore, the addition of a high quality protection display case (because it's not one of those 'lets throw one of those in to sweeten the deal') actually feels well made and looks the part.


Coming to the end of the build quality section now I would like to discuss some of the internal facts and specifications of this microphone before committing to the next section. The AT4040's internal circuitry is unsurprisingly harboured on a printed board that is matched with a condenser gold Mylar capsule and gold terminated XLR pins. The capsule design appears to be very tidy indeed and is obviously free of machine marring, dust, or any factors that could prove to later arise as an issue. From a build quality perspective the AT4040 demonstrates first class design with the minor exception of the shock mount being a difficult beast to regularly handle.


AT4040 Sound Quality:

It has to be said that the AT4040 is truly a workhorse microphone that has a great sonic signature, and response, that allows the user to implement this little wonder on a plethora of instruments. Importantly, during our extensive performance testing, the AT4040 returned results of having a low noise floor, can handle fast transients at a high SPL (post 130db) without significant distortion, and has a really very transparent nature. Now the AT4040 does have an articulate presence but offers this quality with smoothness and grace. I particularly found this microphone to compliment both female and male vocals where it sounded true, well represented, airy and very personal. However, it has to be said that plosives were a little forward, but when I clicked in the low-cut filter and paired this with an sE Electronics dual pop shield these artefacts were reduced. I doubt that this will be an issue as a pop shield should be mandatory with all vocal recordings.


Noting that this is a single diaphragm cardioid microphone is probably where all the value for money comes with this microphone as others in this price-range have to account for the cost of twos diaphragms and slightly more complex circuitry. If you are using this for standard directional procedures then you won't be let down at all, especially of you use it in a pair when recording acoustic guitars. In this application you will notice a bright and detailed sound that responds well to in-the-box EQ'ing. The sound essentially sits within the accurate but slightly forgiving territory; almost the character of the AKG C414. Additionally if you are to use this mic on a guitar cab, at a close centre or offset range, you won't be disappointed with the shine. Taking in the findings from use on acoustic guitar, vocals and guitar cabs, this leads me to believe that a pair of these would be killer as drum overheads if you engaged the -10db pad. Saying this I have found the inclusion of the pad and low-cut filters as so useful for such wide range of applications. Audio Technica were obviously exceptionally focused on producing a great overall microphone that, hands down, beats the other industry standards with class and sophistication. Pretty much whatever we could throw at the AT4040 it could handle with ease and the cardioid capsule was quite directionally focused so it rejects a higher than usual amount of sound coming from the rear; so overall an awesome microphone.


Review Conclusion:​

The Audio Technica AT4040 is a highly sophisticated microphone that performs at an exceptional level. With a build quality, sonic attention to detail, and package that is on par the only exception is the shock mount. We believe that at the current marketed price the AT4040 clearly sets itself above the rest and holds a strong ground. If you are looking for a great overall microphone that is transparent in recording a wide variety of instruments then look no further, the AT4040 is your best bet. Overall The Pro Audio Web Blog rates the Audio Technica AT4040 a four and half out of five.


Edd Harris

US RRP: $495.00 | UK RRP: £340.00

Editors Rating:

Four and a Half Star Award
Audio Technica AT4040
4.5/5 stars
Audio Technica AT4040 Review. The 4040 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that offers outstanding mid-level sonic performance in a solid enclosure.

Edd Harris - 17th May 2013