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Studio Microphones 2016 Round-up

The Shure KSM8 Dualdyne Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone.
The Shure KSM8 Dualdyne Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone.

A number of new studio microphones were put on display at NAMM last month. We’ll look at three that seem intended to displace the ubiquitous Shure SM57 and SM58. One of the most interesting announcements was the Shure KSM8 Dualdyne Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone. Shure asserts that it’s the most significant advance in dynamic microphone technology in 50 years. It’s a big claim but the microphone may just have the unique design elements to back it up. The KSM8 is the first dual-diaphragm dynamic handheld microphone. The inspiration for the microphone comes from the classic Shure Unidyne 55 and the SM58 models.

The KSM8 studio microphone is available in brushed nickel or black.
The KSM8 is available in brushed nickel or black.

Shure KSM8 applications

Many of the Shure KSM8’s features lend it to live applications, although several of these features also make it useful in the studio. The dual-diaphragm design reduces the proximity effect and provides strong off-axis rejection. It also provides flat reproduction, steering clear of presence peaks or roll-offs typical of other dynamic mics. This mic is intended to provide honest reproduction even for performers who don’t have the finest microphone technique. The dualdyne cartridge features two ultra-thin diaphragms – one active and one passive – and an inverted airflow system. The mic’s pneumatic shock mount offers rejection of handling noise without loss of low frequency response.

The mic has a dent-resistant, hardened carbon-steel grille and is lined with hydrophobic woven fabric to provide plosive and wind protection, as well as water resistance. The KSM8 can be purchased as either a wired or wireless mic. The wired models are available either brushed nickel or black. The wireless versions are available for the following systems: Axient, UHF-R, ULX-D, and QLX-D. A wireless capsule for use with other Shure wireless systems is also available. The RRP for the mic is $499.

A close-up of the AE2300 studio microphone.
The Audio-Technica AE2300.

New studio microphones from Audio-Technica

Audio-Technica released a pair of studio microphones last month, namely the AE2300 and ATM230. Both mics may well compete for market space with the SM57, although they are both more specialised than the trusty all-rounder from Shure. The Artist Elite AE2300 Cardioid Instrument Microphone is intended for use on instruments live and in the studio. It has a range of features that are clearly designed with this purpose in mind. The AE2300 has a RRP of $419. It features a double-dome diaphragm construction. Audio-Technica state this gives is high-frequency and transient response far beyond typical dynamic microphones. The mic has a 60–20,000 Hz frequency response and has a high SPL rating. It has minimal off-axis coloration – the frequency response is nearly identical at 0°, 90°, and 180°. This helps to maintain phase cohesion in various microphone setups. The mic also maintains directionality across the frequency range.

Intelligent feature set on AE2300

The Artist Elite AE2300 has a switchable low-pass filter, which can be engaged to remove harsh, high frequency hiss. Audio-Technica state it does this without negatively affecting the overall tone of the instrument. The feature could be especially useful when using the mic on guitars and drums. The low-profile design enables easy placement both on stage and in the studio. The mic appears to be suited for applications such as guitar amps, brass, woodwind and drums/percussion. The mic has a rugged brass construction. It includes an AT8471 isolation stand clamp for 5/8″-27 threaded stands, as well as a 5/8″-27 to 3/8″-16 threaded adapter and a soft pouch.

The Audio-Technica ATM230 studio microphone.
The Audio-Technica ATM230.

ATM230 for use on the kit

The ATM230 Hypercardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone is focused on close miking for drums and percussion. The RRP is $249. The capsule is designed for use in high-SPL applications. The frequency response is 20–12,000 Hz. Audio-Technica state it delivers a full, well-rounded sound with exceptional low-end. The hypercardioid polar pattern cuts pickup from the sides and rear, providing sound isolation. The ATM230 has a low-profile design, which is a sensible choice for its intended application. Audio-Technica pegged the mic for use on toms, snare and other percussion sources. The mic has an all-metal design and its rare-earth magnet provides improved output and transient response. The mic comes with an AT8665 drum mount and soft pouch. It is also available in an ATM230PK pack, which features three ATM230s. It will be available from March 2016.

Both Audio-Technica seem to have a focused design and intelligent feature sets to match their intended uses. For those looking for quality instrument mics on a budget, these could be a winner.

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