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Audio-Technica ATM650 Review

Over the past few years, I have been running sound in a lot of different environments on many different systems.  I am an audio engineer at Valley Forge Christian College and I have toured as an audio engineer for the college’s ministry teams for two summers now.  The first summer, I toured with Pneuma 2009 and then with Chosen 2010.  I have always enjoyed experimenting with micing techniques and finding the best sound with each individual instrument.  Every live reinforcement engineer and studio engineer wants that “it” factor.  The sound that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck because you know it’s awesome.

One mic I experimented with recently was the Audio-Technica ATM650.  It is part of the artist series of microphones that were loaned to the school from Worship MD owner and representative, Doug Gould.  (www.worshipmd.com)  The ATM650 features a dynamic element with a hypercardioid pickup pattern and responds to frequencies in the 80-17,000 Hz range.  It is basically Audio-Technica’s version of the legendary Shure SM57.

My first impression was that it was solid in my hand and it felt well build.  The flat windscreen on the front was more open then an SM57 but was also more durable because of the threaded head.  The design of the head was very similar to the Audix i5 drum mic.  I have had countless SM57 windscreens fall off and it is always annoying.  This does not seem to be an issue for the ATM650.  The first thing I did was plug it in a put it on my drummer’s snare.  I was pleased to hear that it responded well and was clear and crisp while still maintaining fullness and body.  Since it was a 14-inch snare, balancing attack and body can be interesting at times using a SM57.  This mic responded better and was clearer with less EQ adjustment.  It also had more “life” to it.  It was not as focused as a SM57 but also, did not pick up a ton of ambient noise from the room or from the rest of the drum kit.

I also experimented with the ATM650 on a few different guitar amps.  It proved to be a solid choice on pop tones as well as still keeping the fullness and growl when used on heavier tones.  It was easy to shape the tone I was looking for both for solo playing as well as contextually within a mix.

As far as “bang for your buck” is concerned, the ATM650 keeps up with the going rate of the SM57 and the Audix i5 coming in at $99 retail.  If you are lucky, you might even find the ATM650 for cheaper then a SM57.

Like I said, every audio engineer is looking for that “it” sound.  This may be the mic for you and your application.  I suggest that any live sound or recording engineer check out the Audio-Technica ATM650.  Keep going after that perfect sound!

You can check out the Audio-Technica ATM650 at this website.

I welcome comments and questions.  Feel free to comment here or email me at jason@jasoncastellente.com

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