As you may have seen recently on the GonnaGeek YouTube channel (or on the main GonnaGeek podcast), I recently received the Audio-Technica BP40 Large Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone to review. In this article I’ll be focusing primarily on the specifics of the microphone as my Unboxing Video of the BP40 covers the unboxing and my initial impressions.
What is the Audio-Technica BP40?
The BP40 is a new microphone that Audio-Technica recently released. Although Audio-Technica has a large variety of microphones currently available on the market, many of them are handheld Cardioid style Dynamic Microphones on one hand or alternatively Condensers microphones on the other. The BP40 is Audio-Technica’s first attempt at a Large Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone, a type of dynamic microphone that you’d often find in a radio station.
One of the advantages you may find with a large diaphragm dynamic microphone (versus a smaller diaphragm, such as those in handheld units) is that there tends to be a larger frequency response. For example, the Audio-Technica BP40 features a 50-16,000 Hz response, versus the Audio Technica AT2005USB, which features a 50-15,000. While this is just one factor in the what makes the sound of a microphone, a larger frequency response range can help contribute to a better sound.
Another feature present on the the BP40 is roll-off switch, something that’ll allow you to cut the lower frequencies of the microphone – specifically the sounds below 100 HZ. This can be helpful if there is low rumbling noise near caused by distant traffic, air conditioning, or something similar. It’s important to note that this switch is only for low-level noise in 100 Hz and below range (this won’t help you with the Air Condition Unit in the same room, or that train passing your Window every hour.)
Keep in mind that just like most other microphones that are in this price point, the Audio-Technica BP40 is exclusively an XLR connection, meaning that users will need some form of microphone preamp to properly work it. As with most dynamic Microphones, the BP40 does not require phantom power which should open up your opportunities when shopping for a preamp.
So, what do I like about it? (The Pros)
I’ll start with a point that many users don’t care too much about – the look of the Audio-Technica BP40. Personally, I like the look of the BP40 much better than other microphones in the large-diaphragm category. To me, it combines the classic broadcast look of Electro-Voice Microphones (specifically coming to mind the RE320) with the thicker, heavier feel of the Shure SM7B. I’ve used the Audio-Technica BP40 on camera for several GonnaGeek Podcast episodes and I think the BP40 looks better on-camera look than either microphone mentioned above. The black paint used on the BP40 is flat, something that helps prevent unnecessary glare on screen once studio lights are going – a good move by Audio-Technica. The microphone itself also carries some weight, something that I feel should be present with a microphone in this price range.
Moving on to a more important category – the sound of the BP40 – one of the first things that I noticed about this microphone was that I seemed to be able to achieve a much more even-toned sound than with my previous microphones, with a fairly consistent sound as I shifted in my seat during recordings. In the past I’ve found that Dynamic microphones often have a bit of a proximity effect, meaning that as you move closer or further away the sound gets bassier or conversely thinner. I know that some folks actually look for a proximity effect so that they can play with and manipulate this, but for me, I find it very irritating when I hear a noticeable tone change through a podcast as the host naturally shifts around during a show.
Another area that the Audio-Technica BP40 excels in (and perhaps one of my biggest likes about the microphone) is that I’ve noticed that the BP40 does extremely well without a pop filter. I’ve operated the BP40 for several weeks doing tests both on and off of podcast recording, and when positioned right, I’ve never felt the need to use a pop filter with the BP40. This is important to highlight as I’ve noticed often users of other Large Diaphragm Dynamic microphones have had to use various windscreens/pop-filters with their microphones. I always think it’s shame to spend a good amount of money on a Large Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone only to cover it up with a piece of nylon or foam. I’ve attached a screenshot below to illustrate the position I used the BP40 on as I did find talking directly into the microphone did yield various plosives (however, talking directly into the microphone is considered by many as an incorrect microphone technique).
The final pro in favor of the BP40 that I have on my list is that overall I do feel that Audio-Technica has done a great job of achieving a much fuller sound with this microphone than something that you would notice in the $100 to $150 price point. Yes, this may seem obvious given it’s $400 price point, however, since price does not always translate to sound, it is important to point out. I personally noticed an immediate improvement in quality from the first test I conducted with the BP40. While I have a lot of experience using a variety of tips and tricks to fully utilize and maximize the sound of cheaper microphones, I feel confident that no matter what equipment and processing I applied to a cheaper microphone, the BP40 just offers an overall better, clearer and crisper sound. In fact, over the course of my experience with the BP40, fellow GonnaGeek Gearnut Stargate Pioneer made several comments about how he thought I sounded terrific using the microphone.
So What Would I Change (The Opportunities)?
After my review time with the Audio-Technica BP40, the first opportunity for improvement that I have to comment on is once again, perhaps something not too important to some user – the included microphone clip. While the included clip feels very sturdy (I believe it’s made of some form of metal), it leaves a lot to be desired. The included clip offers very little noise reduction, with every desk bang coming through to the microphone. Now while the clip does appear to be metal and offer more strength, it’s close quarters to the microphone does make me worry that over time it could damage the unit. There is a solution for this con though, as Audio-Technica does sell separately a shock mount for this microphone, but at a bit of a price tag.
The second opportunity that I’ve noticed on the BP40 is that it does appear to require a fair amount of gain to achieve that fuller sound that I mentioned earlier. Although turning up the gain may seem like a feasible solution, it’s important to remember that higher gain comes with some other downsides (such as more outside noise pickup). In addition, I’ve always found that with increased gain usually comes more variations in levels between the loud and quiet points in your recordings, something that could mean adding a compressor to your setup if you do live recordings (luckily for me I already have a compressor in line).
The third and final opportunity I’ve noticed on the Audio-Technica BP40 is that the microphone appears to be fairly bottom heavy. If you’ve ever heard any of the podcasts that I’m on, what you may not realize since I EQ my podcasts, is that naturally I do not have a lot of bass in my voice. I’ve noticed often when podcasting with it that I’m surprised how much extra bass I have in my voice versus what I know my true voice to be. For someone like myself who wishes he could have “that boomy voice-over actiony sound”, the microphone is a good fit. However, I’d fear how it sounded with someone with a bassier voice. With that said, I have noticed that running the microphone with more gain does seem to yield less bass, something that I’ve noticed is true to a degree on any microphone. I also suspect that a large amount of the bassyness could be rectified using EQ, but it is still something to consider if you have a fairly bass-heavy voice (I encourage you to be realistic with yourself as this could be something you want to have on your microphone – it’s ok that not everyone has the big-action-thriller-style-voiceover-type-voice).
So, You Want To Hear, Right?
If you’ve stuck around this long through the article, I’m sure you’re really itching to hear some tests from the Audio-Technica BP40. Below are a series of audio clips demonstrating the microphone.
Test Number 1 – The Pop Test
In this test I demonstrate the lack of pop filter moving my head from facing way to the right of the microphone gradually moving directly into the microphone and continuing through to facing away to the left of the microphone (and I’ll do a return trip from left to right, once again crossing direct into the microphone).
As you can hear, it seems to illustrate that unless directly into the microphone, a windscreen or pop filter does not appear to be needed.
Test Number 2 – The Microphone Clip test
In this test I’ll demonstrate the noise discussed that comes by using the stock microphone clip.
Test Number 3 – Proximity Effect
In this test I’ll shift around in my seat to help illustrate any proximity effect you may get with the BP40.
After having close to a month with the Audio-Technica, overall, I think that Audio Technica has done a great job with their first entry into the large diaphragm dynamic microphone market. The company has been able to develop a good sounding, great looking microphone.
With that said, I think it’s important to reiterate that there are some serious considerations to make before buying it. For example, if you do have a naturally boomy voice, are you OK applying some EQ to bring down the bottom end? Additionally, what are you expecting to get out of a microphone in this area? Do you think you’ll need to buy the additional shock mount? Since every purchase comes with it’s own set of considerations, I’m hoping that I have helped outline some you may have to make with the Audio-Technica BP40.
Of course even with everything considered, I do feel that the audio quality in the BP40 is worthy of the $400 price point especially since at the end of the review period I can say I’ve had a fairly good experience with it. If you’re looking for a longer sample, take a look at this GonnaGeek.com Podcast episode where I record the episode using the Audio-Technica BP40. I hope that my review, samples and comparisons help you with your consideration of the Audio-Technia BP40.