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Monday, December 15, 2008

Audio-Technica AT3031

The mic that many pros seem to choose for hi hat

I've been on a binge lately trying out mics suitable for recording acoustic instruments. I've tried dynamics, large condensers and small condensers. I became interested in trying out the Audio-Technica AT3031 after Warren Dent's positive review of the Audio-Technica AT3035 large condenser on Mojo Pie.

The AT3031 is a Japanese-made cardioid pattern small condenser. It feels to be of better construction than other small condensers in its price class.

The AT3031 features two sets of switches: The first for an 80 Hz high-pass filter and and the second for a 10 dB pad. The mic operates on phantom power from 11v to 52v. The AT3031 can handle high SPL up to 148 dB, with an additional 10 dB of headroom with the pad switched on.

I tried out the AT3031 on my Tacoma PK30E4, which is a nice parlor size guitar with koa back and sides. At first, I did not like the AT3031. I put it aside for a few days. I've learned from experience that first blushes can sometimes be wrong.

I got in a shipment of small condenser mics from a good friend who knew I was looking for some instrument mics. So, out of the box again came the AT3031 to test the waters along with about five other similarly priced small condensers. Shootouts can be a learning experience when you are the one doing the recording.

The second time around the AT3031 performed well. I found it to be the most balanced small condenser of the bunch. I also found it to be the possess the most clarity. Acoustic guitar can cause most mics to kind of emit a fizzle sound into the track. So, I like clarity, which means a nice clean signal with no fizzle.

If you are looking for a small condenser for acoustic guitar, hi-hat, and that can possibly see some work on vocals and amps from time to time, then you should check out the AT3031. If you are looking for color, then you'll need to pair it with a mic preamp with color or look to a different mic.

The Bottom Line: The Audio-Technica AT3031 is a clean and balanced cardioid small condenser. Best street price is about $169. Recommended.

--Steven Langer


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