Audio-Technica AE2300 by Funkybot
Audio-Technica’s AE2300 is a new entry in their “Artist Elite” series of microphones. The AE2300 is a compact cardioid dynamic that Audio-Technica boasts includes a “proprietary double-dome diaphragm construction, giving it a high-frequency and transient response that far exceeds typical dynamic microphone.” The other big selling point of the AE2300 is it’s off-axis frequency response, which Audio-Technica claims is essentially identical to the on-axis response. If true, this could make the AE2300 especially handy in live scenarios, but in the studio as well. Let’s see how it does...
My first test for the AE2300 came on a clean vintage Fender Princeton Reverb, with the microphone a few inches off the grill. I had a few other microphones on the cabinet for blending and comparison. Compared to a stock SM57, the AE2300 had a lot more transient detail, with an extended top-end (and none of the honkiness of the 57), but it also had less going on in the bottom end of the spectrum. At the AE2300’s default setting (no low-passing), the high-mids were simply too much for this particular guitar tone and the microphone was accenting all the wrong frequencies. However, Audio-Technica includes a low-pass switch on the microphone for just this type of scenario. The switch itself is recessed into the microphone body as not to cause an accidental triggering, so you’ll need a paper-clip, guitar pick, or any other small object to get in there to change the low-pass setting.
With the low-pass now engaged, that 5k peak in the frequency response was much more manageable. Listening to the AE2300 on its own, the transient response was indeed much more in line with a condenser, with a very tight (albeit a bit anemic) bottom end. While I never loved of the sound of AE2300 on it’s own, it blended incredibly well with other microphones, offering something very different than the 57, while not quite sounding like a condenser either. The AE2300 definitely has it’s own vibe and blends very well.
The next test was on a Laney LH5T in a much more driven, classic rock guitar tone scenario. For this particular set of tests, I started out with the AE2300 on-axis, played for a bit, then switched to an off-axis position to listen out for the difference in tone. Audio-Technica’s marketing certainly wasn’t lying when they said the off-axis response was almost identical as the on-axis response. 45 degrees sounded like 0 degrees which sounded like 90 degrees off-axis. There were slight changes to the volume level, but I’d be lying if I told you I heard an obvious change in the frequency response. When it came to this particular amp/speaker cabinet setup, the AE2300 was much more forgiving than the Princeton. The mid-heavy classic rock crunch tone coming out of the amp worked with both the high-cut engaged or not, at which point it was just a matter of how much presence I wanted with the signal. Similar to the clean Fender amp test, the AE2300 worked best in a studio situation when blended with other microphones.
The last use-case for the AE2300 as a top snare microphone. I was particularly impressed with the AE2300 in this application with the low-pass filter off. A few inches off the top of the Black Beauty snare and the sound was punchy and fat with a nice transient. The hat bleeding into the microphone didn’t sound weird or unpleasant due to the excellent off-axis response of the AE2300. This was definitely my preferred application for this microphone.
Overall, the AE2300 offers an incredible off-axis and transient response. The microphone has a peak around 5k which may not work on everything, but the low-pass filter helps tame some of the highs. The microphone can work really well on guitar amps, especially when paired up with other microphones, and it’s an excellent snare microphone. While I don’t work live sound, the small size, great transient response, and off-axis response make this a seeming no-brainer for stage use.
Little to no tonal change for off-axis frequency response
Small, easy to place
Boost in high-mids can be unflattering on some sources (can be mitigated by low-pass filter)