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beatlefan1970 17th February 2012 07:16 PM

Audio Technica AT4033
The AT4033 is a near-perfect microphone for home recordists, and the one mic I feel like can be recommended to damn near anyone recording music. It's relatively inexpensive, with new ones being about $400, and it sounds great on pretty much everything--and it has never, for me, sucked on anything. It's not a vintage-vibey mic, but it's transformerless electronics make it a great team player: even when it's the only mic used on a recording, it never leaves an unwanted signature on your tracks. It takes high SPL's with aplomb while still bringing out the details and air around a whispered vocal; acoustic guitars are crisp and full but with little in the way of low-and-low-mid buildup, and it is a go-to mic for bass cabinets, piano, and mono drum OH's. It has a nice presence to it, without that godawful "cheap condenser zing" so common these days, and tracks recorded with the mic take EQ well. It's off-axis response is nice enough to make it a pretty decent room or ambient mic for drums and electric guitars, and it's transient response is both accurate enough to handle percussion instruments like glockenspiels without crapping out and forgiving enough to keep cymbals and tambourines in check. It's rugged, too--mine's ten years old, I've used it almost every day, dropped it more than several times, and it has given me no problems, ever. One caveat: invest in a better shockmount, like the AKG H85, before the rubber bands in the Audio-Technica mount break (and they will).
All said and done, whether you're looking for your first good mic or looking to expand your locker with a solid "do-all" workhorse, you really cannot go wrong with the 4033.

edva 24th February 2012 05:03 AM

Audio Technica 4033 cardioid condenser microphone
The Audio Technica 4033 on review here is the original version, now known as the 4033CL. They are essentially the same mic.
The 4033 was released way back in 1991, and was one of the first high quality, affordable "LDC" microphones to gain mass approval (it is really more of a Medium Diaphragm Condenser in a medium size body). The build quality is superb - my original, now nearly vintage set are still like new. They came in foam lined plastic boxes, with a nice set of proprietary shockmounts supplied separately. Both pad and high pass switches are provided.
Sonically, the mic immediately imparts its own signature timbre, which seems to make every source sound "pre mixed" to a degree. When this works, it is very nice. But this is not the mic to use when accuracy is at a premium. Also, even when color is desired, sometimes it is a thicker, or punchier tone than what the 4033 conjures up that is preferred. Transformerless circuitry, and a modern FET design, perform as one would expect.
The sound is characteristically AT clean and clear, but with a definite voicing of the EQ that is at least AT's idea of "warm", whilst at the same time having an airy top. Like a puzzle piece looking for the right hole, when the source fits the EQ curve of this mic, the picture comes into focus beautifully.
My favorite uses for the mic are background vocals, and drum overheads. On the former, the "produced" sound of the 4033 seems to fit my tastes on BGV; and on overheads, they are smooth on top and not overly present in the mids, which fits my preferences in that application. But the mic never sounds bad on anything.
The mic is not too expensive, and though uniquely voiced, can work on many sources. It is a great mic for the beginner engineer stepping up to the next level.

dontfeedmecurry 26th March 2012 09:49 PM

Audio Technica 4033
The Audio Technica 4033 is an incredible microphone for the price you pay. When I bought this mic, I was not expecting much, but had quite a few friends mention that I should give it a try as it apparently held it's own when put up against the 'big boys'. Well, I wouldn't quite say that it holds it's own, but when you consider that it is a fifth of the price of the 'big boys', and it sounds remarkable in it's own right, then that's not too shabby now is it?! Well, that's how I felt after a week of using the Audio-Technica 4033 on guitars, flutes, Fender Twin reverbs, and violins. To be honest, I was planning on buying this thing, giving it a test in teh studio and then sending it back - my thought was, I will humour my buddies and then teach them a thing or too when it turns out to be junk, but it is an awesome microphone and I kept it, and in fact bought another!

Here's my take sound wise - the Audio Technica 4033 is a wonderfully transparent but gutsy microphone. It's ability to translate the low end of acoustic guitars, the high end of violins, whilst generally maintaining a natural and 'musical' quality is pretty awesome for a mic of this price range. It manages to do this whilst preserving transparency, which I find a great tool to have in your studio, because you never really know what you'll be recording next week. I have used this mic on flamenco guitars [both rhythm and lead], electric amps, vocals, violins, flutes, upright basses, steel string acoustics [at the bridge - great if you pair it with a Shure KSM137 at the twelfth fret for stereo tracking!]. It is also fantastic on weirder instruments like an English button concertina [placed right in front you can get a great sound overall as the sound on this instrument comes from both sides of the instrument; or stereo tracked with two 4033's on each side of the instrument if more accuracy is needed], uilleann pipes [Irish bagpipes], Middle Eastern Oud, mandolin, and also brushed snare. To be quite honest, it's a good all round microphone!

The only thing I would say is, make sure you are using a decent pre, as that's where I find this guy really shines - I prefer the Universal Audio 6176, but the Neve Portico also rocks in pairing with the 4033 too. I wouldn't use it on lead vocals, although of course you could, I just don't find it a little transparent and lifeless on lead vox - background vocals are definitely a better fit for the 4033. I'm sure there are many though who would give it a higher score with lead vocals, but it doesn't match my taste in that regard.

Definitely a good mic to have around for multi-purposes.

James Meeker 21st June 2012 08:17 PM

Quirky, affordable studio classic!
The AT4033 is an unusual microphone. No, it doesn't have tons of character--it's actually a rather clean sounding microphone--but nonetheless it is an oddball. If you look at its printed frequency specs you may come to the conclusion it's iconoclastic.... I mean, really Audio-Technica? Bumps at 550hz, 2.5khz and 7khz, huge dip at 9khz, and another bumpy-shelving thing around 12khz? I can see what they're trying to do, but still.... Weird.

Forget about specs, focus on the sound and usefulness, because the AT4033 is one of the ultimate "save yer butt" budget condensers. For some reason, perhaps having something to do with its rather ripply, weird frequency response, the 4033 often succeeds where other mics fail. Even ones costing a wee bit more. That's part of the fun of this mic--you never know when it's going to lay a golden egg; on the plus side it very rarely drops a rotten one on you. Think of the AT4033 as your "get out of jail free" card.

The best applications for the 4033 is plopped in front of a bass cabinet as your close mic. It's a fairly robust microphone as far as levels go (it can take 145db, but don't be surprised if you have to engage the built-in pad). The bass handling on this microphone is excellent--very distortion free and clear. There's a HP filter onboard as well (80hz/2pole) good for taking the rumblies out of your tumblies. Generally speaking, when I throw it in front of a bass cab the pad is almost always on and the filter engaged about half the time (plus a bass DI... but that's another story). The end product brings out the best of the midrange and top of a bass, with a detailed punchy low end and additional presence around 350-600 (remember that bump around 550hz?) which really works with most rock drum mixes.

The 4033 is a nice condenser to stick in front of a kick drum as well. The cardioid pattern is tight enough to not grab too much cymbal bleed (plus the 9khz dip which takes some of the "edge" off the cymbals); however, I still recommend shielding it as much as possible either through proximity, as you can get this mic pretty close to the resonant skin head, or shielding/padding/tunneling. Be prepared to yank your low-mids a bit more than usual in most instances.

It's surprising where this mic can sound good. As I mentioned before, when everything else is failing I'll reach for this microphone first just to see what happens (GT MD1b is usually second). Generally it tends to lose multi-mic shootouts for vocals, with a tendency to come in 3rd or 4th (granted, these shoot outs have included vintage Neumanns, Telefunken USA's, Brauners.... in other words, "big poop microphones."). In a home studio environment I'm sure it'll be more than sufficient, blowing the doors off the lower end (and irritatingly common budget AKG's like the C2000).

Bottom line: a good investment for its price range. Probably essential for any microphone locker regardless of sophistication or cost--nothing is quite like this one. Very much a "point and shoot" microphone requiring very little fiddling to get the best sound possible. At the very least, short of having a U47FET or Diablo, it's going to be one of the stronger mics you put in front of a bass cabinet.

Victorian Needle 30th June 2016 09:09 AM

My previous microphone and the one I've used for more than 5 years was a Rode NT1-A. This is a huge step up from what I've been used to and didn't realize how harsh the highs were on the NT1A. This mic makes the vocals sit much better in the mix. Not totally dissing the NT1A, it is very different and for the cost it served its time and purpose, but now is the time to retire it. The AT4033CL is a great mic and I expect to use it for many years to come.

crazydave44 16th January 2018 03:36 AM

I bought a new 4033 years ago after release. AT says it's a 33mm 'gold sputtered diaphragm', and seems to hit the sweet spot with condensers. It's open and airy shining in both high & low input levels especially w 10Db pad and an 80htz high pass/low cut filter. It does have a strong proximity effect so breathy soft backing vocals do great but higher inputs padded it shines as well. I do agree with another reviewer it is quite similar to the legendary AKG 414C, but much lower cost. In fact, I sold both 414's as it was redundant to my ears anyway, with just a tad more low end. It has been very durable through about 20+ years of use. Ease of use is it's greatest feature followed by stout construction. Bang for buck is a solid 5! Matching different vocal mics to a given performer, it is used often.

m1rrag 13th March 2018 07:22 AM

Beautiful banjo, even managed to make washboard sound nice!
My friend has been kind enough to lend me this mic for the past month or so. I'm working on two albums right now. I've ended up trying this mic with pretty much anything that doesn't want low end clarity (so I haven't even gotten to using it with voice, kick drum/ stomp box, double bass, or bass or guitar cabs, for example).

It sounds AMAZING on everything I *have used it for.

Clients said it's the best sounding banjo and washboard recordings they've ever heard. I haven't done the listening research since they said that to make extra sure that this is true, but the fact remains that the banjo and washboard sound GOOD (no eq-ing), which is quite the feat in the first place. These particular instruments are not super high quality, either.

Another instrument that is classically impossible to make sound good I've used this with recently is ukulele. I can't say I made the ukulele sound totally gorgeous (it has a string buzz and the strings are 10 yrs old), but it's definitely the best sound I've been able to get so far.

The pad switch is super useful. In addition to uke, banjo, and washboard I've been able to track a gorgeous sax sound & violin. Both sax and violin were very loud but the mic never had peaking issues, even without the pad. In the future, I'd definitely try it on... everything else, especially where a sweet spot in the 3k-10k range without loss of lo & lo mid quality is desired.

I'm poor and totally don't have $400 to throw down for a mic but at this point I'm thinking of selling my Rhode NT1 to supplement the purchase of this mic instead. Not to embed a review in a review, but that mic has been quite disappointing. Last resort for NT1 is to try it as drum overhead, but at this point I'd rather just have a few AT4033s and some OM6s and other basics (58s, 57s, DI boxes/ preamps) to supplement, then call it good till I win the lottery. Hope this review was helpful; I've never felt so moved to write a review before coming across this mic. If you only have one mic to add to yr collection (and/ or if you only want one nice/under-$500 mic, period), check out the AT4033.