The Heart and Soul of Audio-Technica: Live Sound

In the mid ’70s Audio-Technica began to explore the world of Live Sound. At first, A-T’s Live Sound microphones targeted performing musicians looking for high quality and great value. We had entered a very competitive market where companies with established product lines ruled. In order to keep up we needed to introduce a truly remarkable product that would stand out in a cluttered field.

Our first steps into the Live Sound fray came in 1978 with the 800 Series microphones, which included the AT801, AT812, AT813, and AT805S. A year later, select products in this line were reconfigured and relaunched as the Artist Series (ATM). This line became the new face of our mic division, delivering a cleaner, crisper sound users really picked up on.

microphone wardrobeIn the early ’80s, with everyone trying to stand out in a growing market, we introduced “The Microphone Wardrobe” (MW-7), which dressed the existing ATM mics in seven different colors and presented them in a durable aluminum carrying case. Charlie Winkler, the Marketing Manager for Music Products at the time, took the Wardrobe to the 1981 NAMM show and impressed everybody by selling $140,000 worth of the mics. Winkler’s success paved the way for many more opportunities.

Our next Live Sound splash came in 1982, when we introduced the PRO Series. Consumers loved these mics, with the PRO 4L ultimately becoming the fan favorite, especially among aspiring musicians.

In the decade that followed, A-T’s footprint in the Live Sound market continued to widen, as evidenced and driven by endorsements from such major recording artists as Journey, John Robinson, Gloria Estefan, Jeff Golub, and Randy Travis. Our microphone technology continued to evolve as well.

In 1989, we introduced the 1000 Series, the first Audio-Technica wireless system. The 1200 Series followed four years later, quickly earning a strong reputation among musicians and engineers for its outstanding audio quality and reliable True Diversity performance. But even though the 1200 Series was well liked and successful, the Live Sound category didn’t begin to fully blossom for us until 1998 and the launch of the frequency-agile 7000 Series wireless system. Yet this 100-channel UHF wireless product was, itself, held back by the lack of a leading wireless vocal mic.

This all changed at the start of the new millennium. In 2000, we introduced the ATW-7373 wireless system, which included a handheld microphone/transmitter that featured the same condenser element as the AT4033. This was a game-changing product for the Live Sound market. Other manufacturers had condenser heads on their wireless mics, but no one had a world-class element like the AT4033 installed on their wireless.

at microphoneAnother innovation was spawned by our realization that the industry lacked a truly great kick-drum microphone. We responded with the dual-element AE2500, which is basically two mics in one unit. Users love this mic for its perfect phase alignment, with the dynamic element holding the aggressive attack of the beater while the condenser element captures the sound of the shell. The mic is widely praised as one of the best in the business.

One thing we have learned over the years is that Live Sound technology is continually changing, continually improving. The AE2500 is not the latest of our innovations, nor will it be the last – we are always striving to do more. But the overwhelmingly positive reception our microphones have enjoyed through the years is a testament to our products’ quality, reliability, and value. And those things will never change.


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