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Review: Audio-Technica BP40 Large-Diaphragm Dynamic Broadcast Microphone

Taking a closer look at the latest broadcast mic from Audio-Technica...

By M. Erik Matlock December 16, 2015

The BP40 from Audio-Technica

The announcement of the new Audio-Technica BP40 large-diaphragm dynamic broadcast microphone last April didn’t really catch my attention.

My first impression was “just another broadcast mic,” something I don’t have much need for. At least until recently…

With a new podcast series on ProSoundWeb in motion, I’m considering a lot of gear that never hit my radar before.

So when I finally saw this new mic in person at the recent AES show in New York, I was more curious. And now with a BP40 sitting on my desk, I have a much greater respect for a device that’s proven to be much more than “just another broadcast mic.”

A-T recently sent me a unit to try out, and after a quick plug-and-play session, I looked deeper into the specs to see what was different about this one.

With an impressive 50 Hz to 16 kHz frequency response, reproduction of my voice sounded quite accurate, whether through my trusty headphones or my monitors. No hiding that redneck vocal pattern behind any weakness in the high or low range. I’m no James Earl Jones, but the lower range felt like it was all there.

The A-T engineering team has also created a patented floating-edge design that manages to make maximum use of the diaphragm surface and improve performance. As one observer at AES pointed out, “It eliminates the inconsistency, distortion and general weirdness from cheap mics.” OK. Makes sense to me.

Whatever they’re doing works. The initial impression is that the mic is open and honest, with sound quality rivaling some of the best mics I’ve heard. It was definitely cleaner, with much better definition, than any of the large-diaphragm mics that I own. To go a step farther, it was better than the other standard dynamic and condensers in my kit.

It’s hard to describe how the BP40 manages proximity effect. It’s there, but not in an exaggerated way at all. Getting within an inch or two made my voice gain a few pounds, but in a good way. Richer, fatter, even warmer. Not Darth Vader-ish at all.

And, in case you’re a bass monster like Barry White or Richard Sterban, don’t worry. There’s a 100 Hz roll-off switch included to control those deep frequencies.

In contrast, from a couple of inches to almost a foot away, the level and tone was impressively consistent. It didn’t trail off as soon as I adjusted in my chair, as I expected it to do. I can see the value of that much merciful real estate to podcasters, broadcasters, and DJs. Other applications for this mic would obviously be on bass cabinets or kick drums.

The BP40 also incorporates a humbucking coil to eliminate the EMI issues that force many “broadcast” mics into retirement. I don’t have a million miles of random copper wire running through the studio to verify the effectiveness of this, but even cranking the preamps didn’t seem to draw out any type of noise. Nice.

A few minutes of monkeying around on the Ampex stack proved the bass theory. Again, clean and accurate. Very full, something I would feel equally comfortable with in the studio or on a live stage. The hypercardioid pattern should be very effective regardless of stage noise. This is simply a very well-designed mic.

Based on the response and ability to suffer through intense SPL, it might also be a good choice for snare and toms as well. The only concern in this regard is size (6 x 2 inches) and weight of almost a pound and a half—it could also be used to bludgeon zombies. (You know… in a pinch.) With that consideration in mind, it might be more appropriate for the studio than the stage where wedging into tighter spots is sometimes a concern.

Another thing worth mentioning is the shockmount. My demo model arrived with the optional AT8484 locking suspension mount, which has a unique twist-lock feature with balls. (Pun intended) Twisting the collar forces the balls into an open slot on the body of the microphone. Effective and tight. I experienced no transfer of my mindless shuffling of the random junk on my desk through the mic, once loaded into the mount.

The mic also ships with a standard rigid mount that attaches directly to the base, which should be fine for most applications. However, in a broadcast or recording situation, the shockmount would be worth the extra investment.

All in all, I believe Audio-Technica has produced a winner with the BP40. As a former small studio owner, I see it filling in a lot of gaps as a utility mic. Plenty of possible applications and accurate sound quality make it a critical component in most project studios.

The only real problem I anticipate is trying to pack it back up for the return. This is one mic that seems entirely too comfortable right where it is. Decisions, decisions…
For a street price around $350 for the BP40 and another $99 for the AT8484 shockmount , it’s probably a logical choice.

Audio-Technica

Senior editor .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) has worked in professional audio for more than 20 years in live, install, and recording. Read more of his random rants and tirades here.


About M. Erik

M. Erik Matlock
M. Erik Matlock

Senior Editor, ProSoundWeb
   
Erik worked in a wide range of roles in pro audio for more than 20 years in a dynamic career that encompasses system design and engineering in the live, install and recording markets. He also spent a number of years as a church production staff member and Media Director, and as an author for several leading industry publications before joining the PSW team.
https://www.prosoundweb.com/author/m-erik-matlock/

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