The author didn't actually use the AT8004L to drive nails — perhaps fearing to bust his mic flag instead. ZAREPHATH, N.J. The AT8004 is Audio-Technica's most recent offering in the ENG audio market. It's an omnidirectional handheld dynamic microphone, about as simple and straightforward as one could get for this application.
No phantom power required, no switches, no rolloff, no fuss, no muss. Just plug it in and talk. It comes in two versions. The AT8004 is about six inches long. The AT8004L simply adds about another 3-1/2 inches to the body to provide additional space for a mic flag. Each version comes with a protective vinyl pouch and stand adapter.
At first glance, the AT8004 looks similar to the venerable Electro-Voice 635A, affectionately known as "The Buchanan Hammer" for its durability and simplicity. The 8004 feels every bit as rugged. I was half-tempted to actually try hammering nails with it. I would recommend the AT8004L in this case, as its longer body makes it better balanced for such an application. (The fact that I had to return these mics to Audio-Technica prevented me from going through with this particular test.)
In short, the mic feels very solid. The shorter version is ideal for a compact mobile setup, fitting in a purse or fanny pack with a portable MiniDisc or flash recorder. For television, the charcoal finish looks good on camera. Personally, I thought it was better-looking than the 635A.
So it looks good. How does it sound?
I tested it with both male and female voices and found that it reproduced both faithfully. I A/B'ed it with another handheld stalwart, the Shure SM58. It sounded brighter, owing in part to its omnidirectional pickup pattern. Omnidirectional mics don't suffer (or benefit, as the case may be) from the proximity effect, that bass boost directional mics exhibit when placed close to the sound source.
As far as handling noise, it performed well. If you handle it like an epileptic octopus on a caffeine jag, you'll get some significant handling noise; but if you use it the way they taught you in broadcasting school, you'll be fine. The handling noise I could generate was mainly in the midrange, which would make it difficult to eliminate using the bass rolloff on any mic processor. But as I said, normal use makes this practically a non-issue. I also tested the mic with a Sony portable MiniDisc recorder in a noisy environment. Despite being omnidirectional, it did an excellent job of capturing the sounds I wanted without burying them under a bunch of sounds I didn't want.
I was happy with the mic's performance. It serves its intended purpose well. With a street price around $100 for either version, it's an easily affordable addition to any radio or TV station's mic locker.
For information, contact Audio-Technica at (330) 686-2600 or visitwww.audio-technica.com.
Curt Yengst is assistant engineer for WAWZ(FM).