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Audio-Technica AT4050ST Stereo Condenser Microphone

Capture a realistic sound field when you record in middle-side stereo with the Audio-Technica AT4050ST, or select a left/right stereo output. (1) Read 1 review for this product | Rate and review this product
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Product Description

Offering the realism of a live sound field, the AT4050ST is a side-address condenser with cardioid and figure-of-eight elements configured in a Mid-Side arrangement. This innovative stereo condenser allows sound recordists the choice of selecting a left-right stereo output or choosing discrete Mid-Side signals for later manipulation, a remarkable flexibility. The microphone's dual-diaphragm capsules maintain precise polar pattern definition across the full frequency range. Its transformerless circuitry virtually eliminates low-frequency distortion.

Features:

- Innovative side-address Mid-Side stereo microphone engineered for professional recording, broadcast and sound reinforcement
- Independent cardioid and figure-of-eight condenser elements
- Switch selection of Mid-Side mode and two internally matrixed stereo modes
- Dual-diaphragm capsules maintain precise polar pattern definition across the full frequency range of the microphone
- Transformerless circuitry virtually eliminates low-frequency distortion and provides superior correlation of high-speed transients
- The 2-micron-thick, vapor-deposited gold diaphragms undergo a five-step aging process so that the optimum characteristics remain constant over years of use
- Open acoustical environment of the symmetrical housing assembly minimizes unwanted internal reflections
- Integral 80 Hz high-pass filter switch and 10 dB pad switch
- State-of-the-art design and manufacturing techniques ensure compliance with A-T's stringent consistency and reliability standards
- Custom shock mount provides superior isolation
- Certified by the METAlliance (Music Engineering and Technology Alliance)



zZounds is an authorized dealer of Audio-Technica products.

Specifications
- ELEMENT: Externally-polarized (DC bias) condenser
- POLAR PATTERN: Cardioid and Figure-of-eight
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20-18,000 Hz
- LOW FREQUENCY ROLL-OFF: 80 Hz, 12 dB/octave
- OPEN CIRCUIT SENSITIVITY: Stereo 90*: -42 dB (7.9 mV) dB re 1V at 1 Pa
- Stereo 127*: -41 dB (8.9 mV) dB re 1V at 1 Pa
- Mid: -36 dB (15.8 mV) dB re 1V at 1 Pa
- Side: -36 dB (15.8 mV) dB re 1V at 1 Pa
- IMPEDANCE: 50 ohms
- MAXIMUM INPUT SOUND LEVEL: Mid and Side: 149 dB SPL, 1 kHz at 1% T.H.D.;
159 dB SPL, with 10 dB pad (nominal)
- NOISE: Stereo 90*: 25 dB SPL
- Stereo 127*: 16 dB SPL
- Mid: 15 dB SPL
- Side: 17 dB SPL
- DYNAMIC RANGE (typical): Mid: 134 dB, 1 kHz at Max SPL
- Side: 132 dB, 1 kHz at Max SPL
- SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO: Stereo 90*: 69 dB, 1 kHz at 1 Pa
- Stereo 127*: 78 dB, 1 kHz at 1 Pa
- Mid: 79 dB, 1 kHz at 1 Pa
- Side: 77 dB, 1 kHz at 1 Pa
- PHANTOM POWER REQUIREMENTS: 48V DC, 6.4 mA typical (both channels total)

SWITCHES: 90*, 127*, M-S;
Flat, roll-off;
10 dB pad (nominal)

- WEIGHT: 517 g (18.2 oz)
- DIMENSIONS: 193.0 mm (7.60") long,
53.4 mm (2.10") maximum body diameter
- OUTPUT CONNECTOR: Integral 5-pin XLRM-type
- CABLE: 5.0 m (16.5') long, 8-conductor, shielded, vinyl-jacketed stereo cable with 5-pin XLRF-type connector at microphone end and two 3-pin XLRM-type connectors at output end
- ACCESSORIES FURNISHED: AT8449 shock mount for 5/8"-27 threaded stands; microphone dust cover; protective carrying case
- AUDIO-TECHNICA CASE STYLE: R1
Dimensions and Weight in Packaging
Shipping Weight: 4 lbs
Shipping Dimensions: 11 x 10 x 5 in
If you have additional warranty questions, please contact the manufacturer at 330-686-2600
zZounds Expert Review
I have an AT 4050 in my mic locker, so I was very interested to see how this stereo version would perform. The side-address AT 4050ST contains two discrete capsules, one Cardioid, one Figure-Eight, offering a few different options for stereo recording. In standard Left-Right mode, you have two stereo widths to choose from: a tight 90-degree angle for more intimate recordings, and a wider 127-degree angle when you want extra ambience. Both of these settings are internally matrixed, meaning the output from the microphone is already separated into the stereo image. Audio Technica supplies a special stereo cable with a five-pin connector on the microphone end which splits off into two standard three-pin XLR connections for the left and right channels.

For more control over the stereo imaging, the AT 4050ST also operates in Mid-Side mode, with the Cardioid capsule capturing audio directly in front of the mic and the Figure-Eight capsule capturing audio out to either side of the center. In this configuration, the output is not matrixed. You're getting the center audio on one channel and the side audio on the other channel. You'll have to matrix your audio on your mixer to get the stereo effect, but you'll have much more precise control over how wide you want the stereo image to be, and how the side ambience relates to the center audio.

If you're unfamiliar with how to set up an external matrix, it basically involves routing the output from the Figure Eight capsule to a pair of channels on your mixer. You then flip one of the channels 180-degrees out of phase with the other, and pan them hard left and right. The output of the Cardioid capsule stays centered. By increasing the volume of the side channels in relation to the center channel, you widen the overall stereo separation. If your mixer doesn't allow you to flip the phase, you can accomplish the same effect in a digital audio environment. Simply copy the audio from the Figure Eight capsule into a new track, flip the phase, and use the same panning/volume control to set your stereo spread.

Other than the stereo operation, specs and features are about the same as the mono 4050. They both weigh about 18 ounces, have the same 20 Hz - 18 kHz response, and come with a -10 dB pad and 80 Hz filter to cut the lows. You don't get the same selectable polar patterns as the 4050, but it's a small price to pay for the stereo capabilities of the 4050ST.

In The Box
The packaging is decent, with a hard case containing the mic, stereo XLR cable, suspension mount, and dust cover.

In Use
According to Audio Technica, this mic is suitable for virtually any situation that traditionally employs stereo recording. String quartets, acoustic folk music, Acapella vocal ensembles, solo acoustic instruments such as piano and guitar, and up over the top of a drum kit. A warning about the drum overheads; the mic seemed a bit wobbly in the suspension mount when I had it tilted at an angle on a boom stand. I'm not sure I trust the mount in any position other than straight up and down.

As is typical with Left-Right stereo recording, the AT 4050ST performed best in these modes when positioned up close to the audio source. This limits the scope of the recording to the intended source without a lot of external ambience, and maximizes the stereo image. The Mid-Side mode does a good job from farther away, allowing you to adjust the width of the stereo field from the external matrix.

My first test involved capturing an ad hoc percussion kit with a cajon, snare, cymbal, and shakers. I positioned the 4050ST at about head-height (standing) and angled down towards my seated position, using the wider of the two Left-Right modes. As previously stated, I was concerned about the mic's stability in the mount, but once I had it set I knew there was little chance of bumping it and went ahead with the test. Results were clean and transparent, with plenty of detail in the stereo image. The positioning of the mic and the wider angle allowed a healthy amount of natural ambience into the take, and I didn't feel the need to enhance with any artificial 'verb. I switched to the 90-degree mode and halved the distance between the mic and the kit, shallowing the angle to compensate. As expected, the stereo spread became more exaggerated, and the reduction of ambience made the track a bit more raw and intimate.

Finally, I switched to Mid-Side mode and moved the mic out to the edge of the room, high up in the corner about 10 feet away. I've improvised this type of setup with a pair of studio mics several times, and always had good results. The AT 4050ST performed really well in this position, and sounded much more natural than my two-mic experiments had. The track was a little anemic in the bass range for my taste; my two-mic setup always had plenty of low end. I left the 4050ST in position and tracked a stand-up bass, acoustic guitar, and fiddle each in a different spot in the room to simulate a Bluegrass band. In some cases, I supplemented the 4050ST with a close-up ribbon mic to fatten the track. After monkeying with the phase and the stereo spread of each instrument track, I was able to create a pretty believable ensemble performance.

Back in Left-Right mode, I tracked some close-up tenor guitar, mouth harp, and washboard, engaging the 80 Hz filter to tighten up the sound. It was fairly easy to layer these on top of the Mid-Side tracks, and really helped fill out the overall sound. I made a few passes in each of the Left-Right modes, and swapped out the widths for different passages in the tune. The shifting stereo field added a nice new dimension to the flow of the song. I used the same technique (again, supplemented with a close-up ribbon mic) for the vocal takes, and was very pleased with the outcome.

Overall, the versatility of the AT 4050ST stereo microphone really shined through. Trying to find a pair of mics to perform as well in each of the three stereo modes would likely cost much more money, so the value was clear to me. My only real complaint was the lack of bass response from farther out in the room, but there's definitely more upside in the equation.
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Customer Reviews
5 out of 5 (1 ratings) Rate and Review This Product
"An excellent microphone with features unavailable in this price range until now."
Sound: I just bought this microphone a few days ago, and I have tested it playing solo violin, concert band, and vocal (spoken and sung). The microphone compares favorably with several very expensive (and well-known) mono microphones I have used in professional recording studios. This microphone records a sound very similar to live performance. I recorded throughout the four-octave range of my violin with great satisfaction. I also used it as a live microphone amplifying my violin and was very pleased with the result. I combined it with two AKG 1000 microphones for a concert band performance in a large auditorium. The final result is very natural, with excellent dynamic response throughout the pitch and tonal range of tubas, timpani, cymbals, xylophone, woodwinds, and brass. The tone is very clear, with undetectable distortion in every type of music ranging from very loud to almost inaudible. I am anxious to continue using this microphone, exploring its seemingly unlimited possibilities. Feature: This microphone includes a hard case, shock-mount, dust cover, and cable, all that is needed. Everything is attractive and utilitarian. I am somewhat dubious about the shock-mount, which seems barely up to the task of holding the microphone vertically but not in any other position. The microphone is rather heavy, making me uncomfortable when I need to place it on a boom and elevate it to a high position. Ease of Use: This microphone is very easy for an experienced person to use. The switches on it are self-explanatory and sturdy. They are also recessed, which makes it unlikely to accidentally change settings in normal handling conditions. It is also a forgiving microphone, allowing considerable latitude in placement without severely damaging the recorded performance. Quality: Having used this microphone for only a few days, my impression is that it is very well made, reliable, sturdy, and long-lasting. (I have already mentioned my doubts about the shock-mount.) Value: I carefully researched all available microphones in my price range, and I believe this to be the best value. Manufacturer Support: I have not had occasion to deal with company with any problems, so I am assuming that a "10" rating is appropriate. The Wow Factor: It has a professional appearance which does not attract attention. I lusted for it after trying it out. Overall: I own quite a few microphones, each desirable for certain purposes. There is nothing like this microphone, which means that I will probably keep it as long as I need professional recording gear.
Style of Music: Many, but classical is my favorite.
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