This is the 20th installment in guest blogger Frank Klepacki’s series on music production. Today Frank takes A-T’s BP40 broadcast mic for a test drive. If you missed Frank’s previous post, you can read it here.
I had the opportunity to try Audio Technica’s BP40 large-diaphragm dynamic broadcast mic in a variety of applications for recent sessions and wanted to share my personal findings:
Vocal/broadcast – It’s very present in the mid and low end while still having enough complementary high-end clarity. It responds to different voices with variation – a lower tone voice certainly is enhanced by the low end. If you’re a couple inches away (not eating the mic) there seems to be a sweet spot there. It does feel very focused in picking up whatever signal is in front of it, and did not pick up much room bleed at all, which is a plus.
Guitar cabinets – I love this on “clean tone” guitar cabinets. Dare I say it’s the next best representation of a warm, full, clean guitar tone I’ve gotten next to the AT5040. On distortion tones, for more classic tones, and leads it’s not a problem. For metal, the low-end response can be a little overwhelming, even with the roll-off engaged – you don’t notice it as much in tracking as you do on playback, but especially with double-tracked palm muting, it whomps noticeably there. But I would not hesitate to use this on a clean tone every time – it is full, rich, and accurate with that.
Bass cabinets – The BP40 really shines on bass cabs, right on the speaker, with great accuracy and fullness, and no issues with capturing the bottom end naturally, with no roll-off. The bass tone you can get with this mic and a direct signal combined is pure awesome.
Baritone sax – Here, the mic responded primarily with its midrange, but only because the bari players I recorded tended to position themselves in such a way relative to the mic as to perform comfortably. This is the only case where I actually added more lows back in the mix. But the mids did cut through nicely, automatically, and gave it a distinct character from the rest of the recorded horn section. Given this particular use and a greater distance than the vocal test, again I was impressed with how it was very focused on the signal in front of it and largely ignored room bleed.
Drums – This thing really rocks on floor toms. I’d say it’s superior to other competitive mics in its price range. I had been previously using the AE3000 on the floor tom (as well as all the other toms), and comparing the two, the AE3000 has more high-end attack, while the BP40 has a thicker, richer tone, plenty of lows, and enough attack without too much bleed. In a full mix, I would end up adding a touch of lows to the AE3000 for floor toms, whereas on the BP40 I would add a touch of highs instead. In the end, I see benefits to using the BP40 for separation purposes against the AE3000s I already have in use on the rest of my toms. On a kick drum, I can use this for a more traditional sound that’s warm and punchy – purely subjective for that use, depending on taste, though.
Verdict – It’s definitely a go-to for clean guitar cabs, bass cabs, and floor toms, without question. If you use it for bari sax, try to keep as close as possible to the horn. And it’s certainly a great new candidate for vocal broadcast considering it’s smaller and less invasive and in-your-face than older, standard broadcast mics, and it definitely has a nice character, and a more refined directional response by comparison.
– Frank Klepacki
Frank Klepacki is an award-winning composer for video games and television for such titles as Command & Conquer, Star Wars: Empire at War, and MMA sports programs such as Ultimate Fighting Championship and Inside MMA. He resides as audio director for Petroglyph, in addition to being a recording artist, touring performer, and producer. For more info, visit www.frankklepacki.com