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Audio Technica's New Bi-Direction Ribbon Mics

By Radim McCue Published October 26, 2009

Among the choice bits coming out of the recent AES event (Audio Engineering Society) was news that Audio-Technica, a leading innovator in transducer technology for over 45 years, unveiled its first-ever ribbon microphones, the AT4080 and AT4081 Bidirectional Active Ribbon Microphones. Both offer smooth, warm and natural sound with precise, articulate detail to meet the critical requirements of today’s recording, broadcast and sound reinforcement professional. Audio-Technica’s innovative ribbon transducer advances the evolution of ribbon microphone technology, combining remarkable durability and high SPL capability (needed for capturing snare drum "crack") with smooth, rich audio quality. The AT4080, whose footprint is that of a classic “suspension cradled” side-address condenser, is recommended for vocals, horns, strings, acoustic instruments, drum overheads, orchestras, ensembles and guitar cabinets. The AT4081, with an appearance more like that of a pencil condenser, is optimized for strings, saxophones and other horns, acoustic instruments, drum overheads, orchestras, ensembles and guitar cabinets; its low-profile stick design maximizes placement options. Both mics excel in recording studios as well as in live-sound settings.

The AT4080 and AT4081 are side-address active ribbon microphones with bidirectional polar patterns. Delivering the versatile performance and warm, natural sound of classic ribbon microphones, the AT4080 and AT4081 each feature a robust build for long-lasting performance and offer active electronics for easy use with microphone preamplifiers. Extremely powerful N50 rare-earth neodymium magnets provide high output levels, and the mics’ innovative dual ribbon construction offers increased sensitivity and SPL handling capability. The bidirectional polar pattern of the mics makes them equally sensitive to sounds originating in front and back of the mic. Both feature extended frequency response for natural audio reproduction, and the AT4080 utilizes an acoustic baffle system and an extra-large output transformer, providing extended low-frequency response and dynamic range.

Each microphone is handmade in Japan, including ribbon corrugation, imprint and assembly. Both models feature a rugged and durable construction, making them far more robust than other ribbon mics. And like all 40 Series microphones, each and every AT4080 and AT4081 microphone is individually tested and inspected for 100 percent quality assurance.

While the application of phantom power was prohibited for typical ribbon microphones, the AT4080 and AT4081 in fact require 48V phantom power for operation. The phantom power, however, is used not for the microphones’ dynamic ribbon transducers, but for their active electronics, which bring their output to near condenser microphone level. This high output and stable impedance make the microphones easy to integrate with microphone preamplifiers. The output of each microphone is a 3-pin XLRM-type connector. Output is low impedance (Lo-Z) balanced.

The AT4080 and AT4081 Bidirectional Active Ribbon Microphones will be available November 2009 with respective U.S. MSRP’s of $1,245.00 and $895.00. For more information, please visit http://www.audio-technica.com.

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