Recording - May 2013 - 35

What’s inside stays out of the way
The AT5040 is a transformerless design
with a pair of matching linear amplifier
circuits which use all-discrete components
and through-hole circuit board design.
Each circuit feeds two of the diaphragms,
and since the power load is spread out
between the two it results in a lower operating noise floor.
Also worth noting: there is no equalization present in either circuit. All of the
sound and tuning of the mic happens at
the capsule level. Similarly, the mic features no pads, filters, switches or added
functions of any kind—again, think purity.
Specs and graphs
The AT5040 has a fixed cardioid polar
pattern, a 20 – 20,000 Hz frequency
response, an open circuit sensitivity of
–25 dB (56.2 mV) re 1V at 1 Pa, a 50
ohm impedance, a max SPL of 142 dB, a
self-noise level of a mere 5 dBA, and 137
dB dynamic range. As is commonly the
case with high-end electret condenser
mics, it still requires 48V phantom power
to operate.
Looking at its frequency graph, three
areas jump out: a low-end bump between
20 and 80 Hz, a strong mid rise from 1.5
to 4 kHz, and a smaller high-end plateau
from 8 to just above 10 kHz. All of this,
particularly the pronounced mid peak, fits
perfectly in line with this mic’s intended use
as a vocal mic. While it does have a touch
of 10 kHz sparkle, it is nowhere near as
bright as many modern condensers that sit
high in the 8 to 15 kHz range.
In the sweet spot
A rectangular diaphragm has the
advantage of an extremely linear off-axis
response, and this is one of the first things
I noticed about the AT5040. Moving from
the rear and around the mic, its off-axis
rejection is smooth and linear but equally
pronounced and quick.
This gives the AT5040 a very narrow
sweet spot. The upside of this is a very
focused and present sound devoid of
extraneous noise and sonic clutter in the
soundfield; the downside is that a singer
must remain in said sweet spot, making
this mic a tad troublesome for those
singers who like to bob and weave to the
music.
When other sources are positioned offaxis this mic is very successful at ignoring
them, making this a great choice for those
who like to track live with a band in one
room as well as for those who prefer to
track while listening to monitor speakers
and not use headphones. Yes, there is
some bleed, but I found the volume of the
off-axis source to drop 60 to 70% in volume, ending up roughly equal to much of
the overly loud headphone bleed that
often creeps into vocal tracking sessions... in other words, manageable.
RECORDING May 2013

35

Plosives, pops and spits
The AT5040 is a very clean and clear
mic, and it has a strong output. On loud
instruments and even some very loud
singers, I would recommend an inline pad
or a mic pre/console with a pad that is
pre input rather than post; otherwise clipping of your mic preamps could occur.
Interestingly I found that despite this
microphone’s low bass bump which lives
in a range we typically filter out, the
AT5040 does not have as strong a lowend proximity effect as I was expecting. I
found I had to get right up on the mic with
lips almost on the grille to get a deep
chesty DJ or Barry White tone.
In my tracking sessions, I did find that
the mic was quite prone to popped “P’s”

and “S’s”; I found the ensuing effect similar to what you’ll get from many classic
small-diaphragm mics like the Neumann
KM84 or the Shure SM81, where a blast
of breath can cause the signal in the mic’s
head amp to clip and “fart out” for a second. This problem is easily solved with
even a cheap nylon pop filter, but it is still
something to be aware of when using the
AT5040.
A sound all its own
So with the technicalities and practicalities behind us, it’s time to ask: how does it
sound? I have over a dozen different largediaphragm mic flavors in my collection,
including mics large and small, costly and
relatively affordable, from companies like


http://www.gracedesign.com

Recording - May 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2013

Recording - May 2013
Fade In
Contents
Talkback
Fast Forward
Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Readers' Tapes
Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Intro
Recording - May 2013 - Recording - May 2013
Recording - May 2013 - Cover2
Recording - May 2013 - 1
Recording - May 2013 - 2
Recording - May 2013 - 3
Recording - May 2013 - Fade In
Recording - May 2013 - 5
Recording - May 2013 - Contents
Recording - May 2013 - 7
Recording - May 2013 - Talkback
Recording - May 2013 - 9
Recording - May 2013 - Fast Forward
Recording - May 2013 - 11
Recording - May 2013 - 12
Recording - May 2013 - 13
Recording - May 2013 - Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Recording - May 2013 - 15
Recording - May 2013 - 16
Recording - May 2013 - 17
Recording - May 2013 - Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
Recording - May 2013 - 19
Recording - May 2013 - PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
Recording - May 2013 - 21
Recording - May 2013 - 22
Recording - May 2013 - 23
Recording - May 2013 - How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Recording - May 2013 - 25
Recording - May 2013 - 26
Recording - May 2013 - 27
Recording - May 2013 - 28
Recording - May 2013 - 29
Recording - May 2013 - 30
Recording - May 2013 - 31
Recording - May 2013 - 32
Recording - May 2013 - 33
Recording - May 2013 - Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 35
Recording - May 2013 - 36
Recording - May 2013 - 37
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Recording - May 2013 - 39
Recording - May 2013 - Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
Recording - May 2013 - 41
Recording - May 2013 - DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Recording - May 2013 - 43
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Recording - May 2013 - 45
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Recording - May 2013 - 47
Recording - May 2013 - 48
Recording - May 2013 - 49
Recording - May 2013 - Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 51
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Recording - May 2013 - 53
Recording - May 2013 - Readers' Tapes
Recording - May 2013 - 55
Recording - May 2013 - 56
Recording - May 2013 - 57
Recording - May 2013 - 58
Recording - May 2013 - 59
Recording - May 2013 - Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
Recording - May 2013 - 61
Recording - May 2013 - 62
Recording - May 2013 - 63
Recording - May 2013 - CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Recording - May 2013 - Advertiser Index
Recording - May 2013 - 66
Recording - May 2013 - 67
Recording - May 2013 - 68
Recording - May 2013 - 69
Recording - May 2013 - 70
Recording - May 2013 - 71
Recording - May 2013 - Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Cover3
Recording - May 2013 - Cover4
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