Audio-Technica AT4040 and AT4050 Microphone Review

Every month or so, we here at ProAudioLand like to give back to our customers by means of a prize giveaway. In the past, we’ve given lucky winners everything from a brand new Fender Stratocaster to numerous amps and pedals. This month is no different! In fact, we currently have two different drawings in the works right now. First off is the Xotic Dream Pedal Giveaway which gives four lucky winners a choice of any 3 Xotic pedals. Entry period ends on March 31 so better get to it for a chance to win! And the second of the two is the Audio-Technica Microphone Giveaway which you should definitely enter right now this minute! What do you have to lose?? Anyways, for this giveaway, four lucky entrants will be taking home a brand new AT4040 microphone while one grand prize winner will receive an AT4050 mic! The AT4050 even made a recent nation-wide public appearance when Jack White and Ruby Amanfu used it during their Grammy performance earlier this year.

Anyways, today, we will be taking a look at both the AT4040 and the AT4050 to give you guys all the details on what you very well might win. Or if lady luck isn’t always on your side, you can always purchase any of these two microphones through us here at PAL for the lowest prices guaranteed! Let’s get started.

I have had some experience with both of these mics before, particularly the AT4050 which has been one of my go-to workhorses for years now since it works well on a number of different situations. A lot of people tend to mention this particular microphone for vocals although from my own experience, it seems much better suited for instruments. Don’t get me wrong, the AT4050 always sounds good with vocals, but it never really knocked me out before, at least not as much as other similarly priced mics have. I once heard someone describe the mic as kind of stiff and brittle for vocals, and for the most part, I would agree. There’s definitely something going on in the high-end frequency range, kind of like a weird dip and peak right next to each other. Granted, if that’s the sound you are looking for or if that kind of response best suits your own vocalist, it is by no means a flaw. It’s simply a trait you should be aware of.

Anyways, for almost everything else, it’s a great microphone. I’ve used it for recording a number of different instruments in a number of different ways – kick on drums, overheads, bass, a variety of guitars, piano and even a few wind instruments. Technically speaking, it’s a multi-pattern cardioid, omni-directional figure-8 microphone which makes it very useful in a variety of different situations – not to mention it also offers switches for -10 dB and a low-cut filter. No, the AT4050 might not become one of your absolute favorite microphones of all time, but for me at least, it’s a versatile workhorse that gets the job done.

Moving on to the less-expensive of the two, the AT4040 is by far the one that shines brightest. From the moment I first used it, I honestly loved it. It’s strictly a cardioid and like the AT4050, offers both the -10 dB and low-cut filter options. After taking a look at the AT4040’s frequency response graph, I noticed it showed some major peaks around both 6 and 8 kHz, but from my own experience, I haven’t found the microphone to be harsh sounding at all. The first time I used the AT4040 was on an acoustic guitar. Once I played back the recorded track, the first thing that came to my mind was just how authentic it sounded – pretty much exactly what I just played – and that is definitely a plus to my ears. Adding some of that high end boost gave me a sound just as real, but with a touch of shine. Suffice it to say that the recordings sounded very good.  

I have also tried this mic with both male and female vocals and the results were similarly impressive. More recently, I tried using the AT4040 to record drums. Using the three-mic drum kit recording technique, I placed the mic over the snare while using two AKG C-33E’s as overheads. It sounded pretty good, but there was a lot of muddiness at around the midrange frequencies. I then noticed that the same problem was happening with the AKG’s, which meant that the culprit was probably not the microphones. After actually taking room acoustics into consideration and moving the kit around a bit, the microphone sounded great. There was plenty of that thick crunch which is exactly what I want in a snare sound.

All in all, both microphones are worthy of your time. While the AT4050 is a versatile workhorse that can perform well under tons of different situations, the less-expensive AT404 definitely offers plenty more bang for your buck. Seriously, at only $299.00, the AT4040 cannot be more recommended. The AT4050 meanwhile is also a great deal at the PAL price of $699.00 – about $200 off list. Both microphones also include shockmounts. But hey, simply enter the giveaway and you might end up with one of these bad boys for free!

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