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PROS: Great sound, unobtrusive size, solid mounting hardware included.
PRICE: $299-$349 depending on configuration▼ Article continues below ▼
Getting a small mic to give a big sound is very difficult; there are usually comprises, either in construction or tone. Even worse are some companies’ definition of “small.” Audio-Technica delivers in every regard with their ATM350a cardioid condenser microphones and mounting systems.
This mic is so small, it could almost be mistaken for a lapel microphone, but it’s meant for capturing the dynamics of acoustic instruments at close range (and potentially) high volumes, such as horns, pianos and drums, but it’s articulate enough to be the new go-to for almost any acoustic instrument. With a cardioid capsule that’s meant to reduce the side and rear response in order to make the “focus” of the mic very strong, the ATM350a excels at eliminating residual noise. The 80Hz Hi-pass filter keeps the frequencies in the musical area, while washing out those spiky ones. [Editor’s note: we even sent a few of these on the road with Boston-based band The Macrotones, so be on the lookout for their social media coverage and final testimonials, as well.]
We were provided a kit from Audio-Technica that had EVERY mount they offer for this mic and two goosenecks. These systems, depending on which instrument you’ll be miking, feature various methods of attachment, such as clips, Velcro, and magnetic (for the metal soundboard of a piano) as well as a great clip for drums that still allows adjustment of the drum head. The one constant, of course, is the mic itself. Since it’s so tiny, it doesn’t get in the way of any performance or feel like it weighs anything down (which is great if you’re affixing it to the bell of your horn, for example).
Sound wise, it’s a dream. It’s rich, nuanced and full, without a lot of placement adjustments physically, or need for much EQ at the board. It’s nice to have a mic that can fill so many roles, without all sorts of tweaks from the FOH. It can handle high volumes easily without flubbing out, and external noise is very minimal. In a live situation, it can really de-clutter appearances as well. Using it on rack toms in the studio or on stage, it’s small enough to be out of the line of fire of drum sticks, but close enough to grab tight percussive sounds, while rejecting everything else. Attack was pleasantly punchy and well-defined in our tests.
A studio or live act would greatly benefit from having at least one of these kits in their arsenal (bands with a horn section will want to stock up). Being able to capture the natural timbre of your acoustic sound while ignoring outside noise can make the mix easier later on, or in-the-moment if you’re on stage. The street price ranges depending on which mounting system(s) you require, but each package is really affordable, and it’s worth it considering for the applications this little mic excels at.
For more info, check out the ATM350a instrument mic and mounting kits from Audio-Technica.