Audio-Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Microphone Review

AT4040 is another masterpiece from Audio-Technica sitting in the middle-end price range. It is a large diaphragm, condenser mic with a cardioid pick-up pattern and a smooth, uncolored sound. This mic will work for any situations, both for home and professional studios alike. Conversations or singing, instruments, percussions or drums – there’s nothing it cannot handle. With the pad on, it can record even the loudest sounds with minimum distortion. A specification of maximum SPL is 155 dB, which is probably just enough to handle a shotgun burst or a jet take-off.

Sound, Quality, Build

Audio-Technica seems to really excel at making quality condenser mics. They already have a number of low-end models that perform quite well, so a more expensive AT4040 set our expectations on high. After conducting a couple of tests, the results got us impressed: the difference was quite obvious! This mic has an excellent sensitivity as well as noise characteristics; the sound response is also crystal clear. As it is a large diaphragm microphone, it naturally gets warmer towards bottom end. Of course, it is not Neumann but the sound quality is still very nice!

at4040AT4040 microphone is fairly massive, measuring 6.7 inches in length and 2.1 inches in diameter. It comes with its own shock mount and overall it is a solid build. I especially liked this shock mount, although installing it can be a little bit tricky. With this model, you get a 5-year manufacturer warranty from Audio-Technica, so it’s certainly meant to serve for a long time. Like many other condenser microphones, it comes with two standard controls: a minus dB pad to reduce sensitivity, and a low frequency roll-off. Though as it handles the loud sounds naturally, you will hardly ever be using that pad.

Application hints

This mic has a somewhat wide cardioid, which works particularly well for picking up voice and instruments in the same manner. The frequency response is fine, though it has a slight bulge peaking at around 6.5k, which may result to accentuation of “s” sounds aka sibilance. However, with AT4040 this is almost unnoticeable and that I cannot say about other LDCs. Sibilance is mainly caused by harmonic distortions, whereas in this case we get only an accentuation mainly due to a specific frequency response. This means, you will only need a slight EQ tuning (which you’ll do anyway) to get that perfect sound response. General tips would include recording at a slight angle to the right / left or using de-esser, but for this mic it’s not really necessary.

Despite this tiny little nuance, I’m very happy with the sound, and I did use it for vocals a lot. We’ve tried it on an acoustic guitar and it sounded just amazing… natural, smooth and transparent. It also produced a first-class sound for grand piano, although it took me some time to find the best suitable position. You may use it for drums with an overhead placement too for a mind-blowing experience, but this would be a costly solution! Comparing to a number of similar large diaphragm mics, AT4040 is not demanding and can actually work for every typical scenario that I can imagine.

Pros

  • Works great for every possible scenario
  • Amazing sound quality
  • Can hold a nice amount of sound pressure
  • Comes with a free shock mount

Cons

  • There are better mics at this price, see Rode NT1

Review score
  • Very good! - 8/10
    8/10

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