My need for a dedicated stereo microphone has been intermittent but steadily increasing. My main uses had been for stereo effects and occasional music recording. I would set up a pair of Schoeps – M/S, XY, etc. – for the specific application. I still do this for critical uses, but now I need something less involved – something I can quickly grab that is rugged, lightweight and flexible.
As I move into gathering more synchronous stereo ambiences for surround application, I want the ability to quickly set something out there for an extra ambient pair. Audio-Technica’s new AT835ST stereo shotgun microphone, featuring independent line-cardioid and figure-eight condenser elements, is a candidate for this and many other uses.
At 9.29 inches long and 3.6 ounces, the AT835ST is as unpretentious a stereo mic as you may ever see. It sports a low-profile, three-position switch for three stereo modes: nonmatrixed M/S, internally matrixed LR-W (wide pattern) and LR-N (narrow pattern).
This is one of the most “kludgeless” stereo microphones I have come across. An added benefit of this low profile is easy compatibility with almost all my suspension mounting hardware and wind protection. Very little accessorizing is necessary to use this mic.
The wide pattern was my preferred choice for ambiences. The narrow pattern offers more rejection, less ambience and works well for effects. The M/S mode is useful for documentary style work and may help find this microphone’s frequent home in the world of MiniDV projects as an all-purpose tool for the hurried user.
A silk-screened notation on the back of the mic lets you know which end is up. It would be nice if more things in life were that clear.
The frequency response is respectable, with a 40 Hz to 20 kHz range. It uses 4 mA at 48 V and is a 200-ohm device. In the M/S mode, Audio-Technica’s published specs show a maximum SPL level of 123 dB for the mid element and 127 dB for the side. Signal-to-noise (S/N) ratios are 72 dB at 1 kHz/Pa for the mid, and 68 dB for the side.
The XY specs are a S/N ratio of 70 dB, at 1 kHz/Pa. Switchable low-frequency rolloff is provided (80 Hz, 12 dB/octave). Also included are a durable storage/travel case, foam windscreen, a stand clamp and a stereo cable terminating in two standard XLR connectors on one end and a 5-pin XLR on the other, mating to the microphone’s output connector. This microphone needs 11 to 52 V phantom power.
I first listened to the AT835ST through a Sonosax SX-10 mixer and found it had a surprising amount of guts for such a slight device. There is a gradual downward slope beginning around 200 Hz, appropriate considering motion picture operating environments. There is also a slight bump starting at around 4 kHz. The net result is slightly midrangey, easily customizable at the panel.
I fired it up directly into a Fostex PD-4 with M/S monitoring and was pleased with the results. The combo is efficient for fast effects or over-the-shoulder/running-gun style work. No stringy boxes or little kludge monsters running all over the place, just a cable.
MSRP is $899. Audio-Technica also makes a 15-inch long big sister – the AT815ST, which retails for $999.
Contact: Audio-Technica at 330-686-2600; www.audio-technica.com.