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Avantone ck-40

Avantone Pro CK-40

4.5 4.5 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

Stereo large diaphragm FET microphone


30th January 2012

Avantone Pro CK-40 by KdPyke

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Avantone ck-40

This thing is awesome!

Where to start? This thing does it all. I first bought this mic to use on acoustic guitars, for which it does a fantastic job. The high end isn't brittle, tinny, or overpowering. The mid-range is warm without being too boomy, and the low end is sweet and round. I've also used this mic to record marimba, and the transient response is fantastic. Not the most responsive mic I've ever heard, but still pretty good, especially considering it's 35mm diaphragms.

The switchable polar pattern is a great feature allowing for multiple recording techniques- M/S and X/Y. Because the mics are housed in the same body, all you have to do to get the perfect setup, is turn the top mic the desired amount of degrees. This means no fussing with multiple mic stands or guestimating the angle of the two mics together.

The roll-off is useful for recording percussion, but to be completely honest, I've never found a use for the -10db pad.

For all of it's great qualities, it does have a couple of things working against it-

Namely, I'd like to point out that the stereo 5-pin XLR cable it comes with is a piece of crap. Mine hasn't broken yet, although I expect it might at some point. The splitter box it comes with seems a little on the cheapo side as well- why couldn't they have just included a Y-cable instead of a box requiring additional connections? It is a tad bulky, although I guess it's hard not to be when you've got to house two LDs. The carrying case is really quite nice, and has a spot to keep everything nice and tidy, while remaining exceptionally protective.

At around $600, it's pretty hard to beat. I've used this thing without a preamp going direct to my console, and it still sounds fantastic.

  • 3
17th May 2018

Avantone Pro CK-40 by Mark A. Jay

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Avantone ck-40

Always In Use For All Live Shows...Always.

I bought this mic mainly because its versatility appealed to me - switchable patterns for each capsule (as well as 10 dB pad though as the other cat who reviewed it noted, I never use it) as well as the ability to rotate one with respect to the other by (as much as) 90 degrees. I had visions of going between formats (i.e. X/Y versus M-S) but have gotten to the point where I use it strictly as an M-S mic.

I always use additional mics at live gigs, but this one is used at every gig.

I love this thing. I know...some will grouse about M-S in that the capsules are and can never be in the same place and this causes phase issues at (very) high frequencies. True. However, that's really (in my opinion) splitting hairs for all practical concerns.

I have taken to placing a band of gaffer tape around the junction that allows the top diaphragm to rotate. This way it's always at 90 degrees with respect to the bottom mic. It is so much friendlier to set up a single mic (and requires only one mic stand) than two mics to get the M-S. Another benefit - should you decide that you need to tilt or slightly rotate the M-S pair it's down to making the adjustment(s) on just one mic stand. This may sound trivial but often times you're in a time crunch, so little things like this help.

An aside: The mic is capable of X-Y, Blumlien, M-S, or even dual-pattern on-axis. Why would one WANT such a thing? Well, if you set one diaphragm to velocity (figure 8) and the other to omni then by summing them you can synthesize a wide variety of polar responses. Mute the figure 8 and you have omni (pressure); mute the figure 8 and you get the gradient (the velocity signal as it were). However, all first-order polar patterns are made by adding various parts of velocity to pressure...so in reality, during mix down, if you need to alter the pattern of the mic, you have the two constituent parts to do so.

...back to the review...

I do agree about the splitter box. In fact, I never use mine. I bought the mating 5-pin connector and wired it to two XLRM connectors using a cable with black jacketing for the bottom mic output (that was my mnemonic - "B" = "Black" = "Bottom mic"); the upper mic's output is the one in the red jacketing.

There is one other thing that I find annoying, namely, the switches are barely accessible (and don't necessarily 'self indicate' where they are, so you end up moving the switches through their settings to verify the positions). On the one hand, this helps to prevent (but not entirely) switches being moved (pattern, roll-off etc). So, it isn't always easy to see where the switches are placed. For this reason I have taken to putting a dot (with a sharpie marker) where the switch 'handle' should be for my default configurations. I always run the top mic as a velocity mic (figure 8) and the bottom as a cardioid; some prefer to use the omni pattern for the "M" signal but for me, always having a forward-facing mono signal available is a thing of beauty, and thus, I set the bottom "M" mic to cardioid. Would I love switches such as those found on the AKG C414 (another personal favorite mic of mine)? Yes...I love that aspect of the 414 - the electronic pattern switches (and others) can be electronically locked - I wish this mic had that functionality, but then again, if it did, it would either be a $750 mic, or something else would have to be compromised to keep the current price point.

One other 'minor' thing...the documentation on the Avantone page cites that this is a FET + transformer design. The FET is there, but the transformer is not. I know - the hysteresis and other non-linearity of certain transformers do affect the sound but I mention it to anyone who may have that design in mind (as was the case with some great vintage mics as I recall). Just be aware that there is not transformer isolation as thew web page indicates. I wrote them about this and they said they would fix the web page, but they never did.

Anyway, I find the noise floor to be quite good as well as the dynamic range. Zero complaints.

The timbre seems pretty neutral to me; I end up using EQ on it based more on the environment than I ever do the mic.

There is a whole lot of good in this mic...and just a few 'meh' .

Oh. one last thing...the felt rings in the shock mount...they tend to detach from the rings over time. I still need to address that as it only recently happened (and when I was hurriedly setting up the mic at a show...flop sweat-inducing). Still, this is minor and likely fixed with dabs of the appropriate adhesive.

Thanks for reading this...happy recording!

Mark

 
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