Microphone technology has advanced steadily (if slowly) over the past century, with changes occurring at an evolutionary-rather than revolutionary-pace. However, as DSP control becomes an integral part of the transducer chain, we can expect major advances in microphone design. A recent example of the shape of mics to come is the Audio-Technica AT895, unveiled six weeks ago at the NAB show in Las Vegas.
The AT895 is intended as a replacement for the parabolic dish and shotgun mic designs used in location recording, where long-range pickup is required. However, unlike the 60Degrees acceptance angles (from 200 to 2k Hz) typical of shotgun mics, the AT895 uses DeltaBeam[superscript]TM technology, with a single A-T MicroLine short shotgun design and four cardioid capsules set in a co-planar diamond configuration combined with a DSP-based controller. The result is a mic with an ultranarrow 20Degrees pattern and off-axis noise cancellation performance up to -80 dB.
Using a revolutionary software algorithm, DSDA-PRO[superscript]TM, an acoustically tuned element microphone array and analog circuitry, the AT895 provides adaptive directional acquisition of sound sources. The system allows for the isolation of specific sound sources, even in high ambient noise environments or extreme wind conditions. And, unlike traditional shotgun mics, the DeltaBeam mic offers three modes of polar response: an X and Y beam adaptive lobar for an extremely narrow pickup angle; X or Y beam adaptive response in only the X or Y plane; or MicroLine lobar for a wider, more natural response in less noisy environments.
OUTSTANDING LF DIRECTIONALITYSpecs include a frequency response of 60 to 12k Hz, self-noise of 24 dB (A-weighted), maximum SPL of 117 dB (1 kHz at 1% THD) and open circuit sensitivity of 70 dB (1 kHz at 1 Pa). Among the AT895's performance benefits are improved sensitivity, greater pickup distance and gain-before-feedback as compared to currently available microphone technology; unprecedented off-axis rejection, even in high-interference environments; outstanding low-frequency directionality (up to 78 dB rejection at 200 Hz); decreased proximity effect; and reduced susceptibility to mechanical noise, wind noise and racking.
The AT895 mic body houses the array of five condenser capsules, preamps and a 7-pin XLR output jack that connects to a compact AT895CP Control Pack. The five amplified signals are sent individually down the seven-conductor, detachable cable to the AT895CP, which provides all the power, digital processing and control for the AT895 microphone. The audio output is a standard 3-pin male XLR jack. Controls include a three-position mode (pattern) switch; a three-position filter switch with flat, highpass (-18 dB/octave at 80 Hz) and bandpass (300 to 5.5k Hz with -6dB slopes) settings; a headphone output with gain control; and an LCD battery condition indicator. In addition to providing remote pattern control, the AT895CP supplies power to the mic and can, itself, be powered by a clip-on pack containing three 9-volt batteries (battery life for alkaline batteries is 5.5 hours, 12 hours with lithium cells) or an industry-standard 4-pin XLR power jack for connection to 12 VDC sources, such as Cine-60 belts, Anton Bauer packs, etc. A 120-volt AC supply is also offered.
The AT895 offers versatile mounting possibilities. The 16.7-ounce, 14-inch mic body balances nicely in the hand, while reducing the intrusive appearance and "always-gets-in-the-frame" nature of conventional long shotguns. Microphone systems are available in two configurations: The $2,995 AT895/RK Remote Kit is designed for field use and includes a 10-foot (7-conductor) cable, click-on battery housing, shock-mounted pistol grip, Zeppelin-type windscreen and heavy-duty protective carry case. The AT895/MK Mount Kit is $2,495 and includes a 25-foot cable and shock-mount plate with standard 51/48-inch x 27-thread mount and a 120V AC supply. Accessories for mounting an AT895 on a Fisher boom and for rack-mounting the Control Packs are optional. Additionally, all modules and accessories are available separately to expand systems or use as field spares.
Audio-Technica, 1221 Commerce Drive, Stow, OH 44224; 330/686-2600; fax 330/688-3752; www.audio-technica.com.