Tuesday 17 September 2013

Audio Technica ATM510 Microphone

Audio-Technica ATM510 Hands On

A Little About Me

My name is James, I'm 22 and I am currently studying to be a sound engineer at university.  I am on the verge of returning for my third and final year of my degree this September.  I have become very passionate about my course over the past two years and I hope to graduate with flying colours.  When I found out I had won a free microphone from the legendary Audio-Technica (courtesy of MusicTech) I was THRILLED to say the least, every piece of gear I can get my hands on is potentially aiding my future career.  But enough about me, let's take a look at the ATM510 and how I've been using it!

Unboxing and Presentation

Upon delivery of the ATM510 (which was delivered in a large, well padded brown Audio-Technica branded box) the first thing that caught my eye was a large white sticker on the box offering a "Lifetime Warranty" when registering the microphone with Audio-Technica online within 30 days.  Small touches like this really shows the confidence Audio-Technica have in their products and it really helps maintain the excellent reputation they've developed in the industry. 
Upon opening the ATM510's box up the first thing I was greeted to was the paperwork (specification sheet, printed polar pattern document etc), under that lay the microphone itself in foam padding along with a sturdy mic clip and a lovely Audio-Technica branded leather pouch. 

The main contents of the ATM510's box, ready for testing.

In Use - Electric Guitar

After unboxing the ATM510 (and getting excited like a child on Christmas morning) I wanted to put the mic through its paces straight away.  I connected the mic to my Focusrite 2i2 audio interface via an XLR lead and I created a blank session in my educational copy of Pro Tools 11.  The mic was fixed to a small boom stand I had lying about and placed up against my Marshall 1960b guitar cabinet ready for some recording.

The ATM510 positioned on the top left cone of my Marshall 1960b cabinet.

I played a few notes on my guitar and monitored the mic's signal through a pair of noise isolating headphones.  I then moved the mic around until I found a position which gave an accurate sounding representation of the cabinet.  Once happy with the sound I was getting I hit record in Pro Tools and had a relaxed jam on my guitar.
After listening back to my recording I was surprised how accurately the ATM510 picked up the guitar tone from the cabinet.  There were no annoying or harsh frequencies that stood out and there wasn't any noticeable colouration to the cabinet's sound.

A top view of the ATM510's placement.

Overall I was very happy with the outcome of the guitar recording.  I've included two very small snippets of audio that I recorded so you can hear the outcome for yourselves. (I thoroughly apologise for the poor guitar playing, please bear in mind I've only been playing for a very short time :D )

Two short guitar clips can be heard via the links below:

A side view of the ATM510's placement.

In Use - Guide Vocals

This is where I was really interested to see how the ATM510 performed.  I invited my cousin Gareth and his new three piece band into my university recording studios as they were keen to record a song demo.  I told the band we would be tracking the song via overdubs, Gareth (the lead singer/guitarist) would be singing live in the control room with the ATM510.  The drummer and bass guitar player on the other hand would be hearing his guide vocal through their headphones whilst they were being recorded playing in the live room next door. 
It was very important to me that Gareth was able to freely move around the control room whilst performing guide vocals because although the majority of the band were in the live room, they could all still see each other and communicate through the studio's large glass window.  Having good communication in the studio is crucial to retaining a band's natural rock and roll energy. 
The ATM510 worked a treat for this application, Gareth moved freely around the studio control room full of energy mic in hand whilst singing (as he naturally would live at a gig) and his vocals came across the studio's professional monitors natural, with a clear top end and lots of presence (no doubt due to the ATM510's impressive 90Hz - 16,000Hz frequency range).  I was also pleasantly surprised how clear the low-mid frequency range sounded when compared to my usual guide vocal mic (the university's "industry standard" Shure SM58) and based on this experience it would lead me to believe this mic would make a perfect partner for an on stage vocalist.

A photo from the live room of the recording session.

The ATM510 didn't falter one bit during the entire recording session and the work got done fast and effectively.  The dynamic and cardioid design of the mic came in really useful in this particular application, Gareth was able to use the microphone in the control room very close to the studio monitors without even a trace of feedback.  Also as an impressive bonus there was no handling noise to be heard from the mic which was very pleasing.

The end result of Gareth's recording session can be heard via the link below:

Overall I'm very happy with the ATM510, I was surprised how well it performed on guitar, but it really shined on vocals and it's clear that's where this mic is tailored.  I've taken great satisfaction in adding this workhorse mic to my small collection of microphones that I've acquired over the last two years and I can't thank MusicTech and Audio-Technica enough, truly appreciated.  Two thumbs up :)

The ATM510, a great workhorse mic added to my small microphone collection.

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