Sometimes I wonder where I come up with my titles, but in this case it was simple. I believe many of us having heard the phrase “short and sweet” and in this case I was trying to think about what I could say about my experience over a number of years regarding the use of Audio-Technica microphones.
To be perfectly honest, the admission of any reviews I write regarding any product “from a players standpoint” is actually the truth. I don’t have a degree in microphone design, guitar building, tuner technology, or know much about the composite material in a capo. However, over the last three decades as a touring musician, I have had the opportunity do some comparative testing of multiple products of varying qualities. Many times, because I had no other choice, I would use the equipment the venue offered regarding my sound requirements.
Then, several years ago Audio-Technica was kind enough to begin sponsoring me during my tours and, in addition to becoming friends, I have also found that as a company – simply put – they are a collection of really cool and talented people.
As always, I try to be open-minded and I was curious if their Artist Elite series microphones (my AE 6100 voice mic and AE 5100 guitar mic) really could out do the many other models that were offered to me during sound checks at various venue sites. I gave them all a fair shake and was genuinely curious. After attempting precise mic positioning for the guitars in multiple locations and A/B- ing the assortment of mics throughout tours, the Audio-Technica mics always shined and surpassed all the others I sampled.
I even tried adjusting other competing mics with equalization and level details in a serious attempt to beat the quality of sound I got with the AE5100 and I could not do it. Even the sound engineers agreed to stick with my mics in every setting. Consistently. Here’s the crux of it. Why do they sound better? I don’t know. I don’t even want to know. It’s like asking a magician to show you his trick. It would ruin it.
So from a player’s perspective I have to say that if I were on an island and could have any mic I wanted…
I will say, however, that something comes from years of absorbing a simple gut feeling and instinct. As an engineer once said to me, “Learn to listen with your stomach and your body – not your eyes and ears”. I have often thought of his statement and once I start a tune or run a mic test, I allow myself to take the time to relax, close my mind to outside interferences, and sense and feel how my body is reacting to the aural experience. The hands become invisible and the only thing that ideally exists is the music being produced in the room and how my body reacts to it over a reasonable period of time – perhaps a minute or two and sometimes longer. And I often allow myself to play a bit, take a break after assuming things feel right, and re-visit the same scenario while playing to sense if my initial and previously final gut instinct still feels right to me. Basically it’s all for the sake of the ticket buying audience. If the sound is good, I know I stand a good chance of having a good time as well.
My last thought regarding another product by Audio-Technica is that their ATH-ANC76 Quiet Point Active Noise Canceling Headphones turn the distant shrieks of babies on airline flights into singing sirens. Well, let’s not go that far, but there’s always tomorrow’s technology.
Find our more about Audio-Technica microphones at their home site.