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Audio Technica AT4040 Review

by Stuart Charles Black
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Cover Image: Audio Technica | Design: HomeStudioBasics

Hi friend and Welcome aboard!!

Today I’m gonna be reviewing a microphone so good it will make you wanna slap someone.

Haha just kidding, but seriously.

The Audio Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Microphone is a beast of a mic, and competes with other giants that are way out of their price range!!

Before we get started, sit back, relax, and grab a snack…

You’ve come to the right place!!

What I will bring you in this review

  1. Ratings/Price
  2. Specifications
  3. Summary
  4. Pros
  5. Cons
  6. Video Review
  7. Who this mic benefits?
  8. What you will need?
  9. Consensus/Conclusion
  10. Final Word

Audio Technica AT4040

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay!

Audio-Technica AT4040 Large-Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Audio-Technica AT8449a Microphone Shockmount (Black)

Microphone Dust Cover

Protective Carrying Case

Limited 5-Year Manufacturer Warranty

Specifications

  • Type: Condenser.
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid. What is a cardioid capsule?
  • Output Impedance: 100 Ohms.
  • Switches: -10dB pad.
  • Microphone Connector: XLR. What is XLR?
  • Max SPL: 145dB (155dB w/10dB Pad). What is SPL?
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 82dB.
  • Self Noise: 12dB.
  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 0.79 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Shock-mount, dust cover, carry case.
  • Manufacturer Part Number: AT4040.
 

Summary

This is a great all-around work-horse microphone with an immaculate sound that handles a variety of studio applications with ease.

If you’re a beginner or intermediate, looking to upgrade to something a little better, look no further.

It sports a flat, neutral, but also warm sound. It will not color your voice, but rather presents it as is.

A very versatile mic, this will be an all-around great option for recording vocals, piano, sax, flutes, guitar amps, acoustic guitar, and more.

It has a really clean sound that is easy to work with. It isn’t colored in any way and remains neutral and honest.

It is also very sensitive, picking up everything. This is pretty standard for all cardioid condensers, so adequate room treatment must be considered.

As for vocals, you will be able to hear details in the mix that were previously lost.

One Amazon reviewer said the sound is a close second to a mic that is 10x the cost. A bold statement indeed!

It is one of the few economically priced consumer-grade microphones that can be found in professional studios.

There is no proximity effect here. Get as close to the mic as you want and the clarity still comes through crystal clear.

One guy says it’s probably the best-sounding studio mic he’s used in 26 years of broadcasting. Very natural sounding, and comparable to the AKG C414 but a little more affordable.

 

 

As for the build of course it’s very rugged and durable. This has become a staple of the Audio Technica line.

Mics ranging from the AT2020, and AT2035, as well as this one, are all similar in aesthetic, and all remain very well crafted.

Pros

  • Silky smooth high-end.
  • Extremely versatile.
  • Warm sounding yet remains flat and neutral.
  • Durable and sexy looking.
  • Comes with a good case and shock mount.
  • Great for male vocals.
  • Longevity. This thing will last you for years given proper care.
  • Built-in hi-pass filter and -10db pad which can tame the low end if it becomes boomy on bass-heavy sources. However, a couple of people on Musicians’ friend said that the lows may be problematic because they have such a heavy impact.
  • Nice boost in the high end which gives it an enjoyable, airy quality.
  • As with the AT2035, it compares very favorably with a Neumann TLM 102 and 103. Saw quite a few people saying it really holds its own against a Neumann, as well as other higher-priced competitors.

 Cons

  • Recorded through an average pre-amp the mic sounds a bit harsh. Invest in a good one!
  • It may not like to be pushed too hard and could get distorted and thin in the upper registers.

Who this Mic Benefits?

Pretty much everyone. This is the standout feature of the Audio Technica AT4040.

It is a great all-around mic that will handle almost anything you throw at it. I’ve seen it endorsed for all of the following:

  • Vocals
  • Piano
  • Saxophone
  • Acoustic Guitar
  • Amps
  • Flutes
  • Drum overheads
  • Lead vocals/backing vocals
  • Band, orchestra, and chorus concerts
  • Rap, Hip-Hop, and R&B
  • Strings
  • Voiceover/Dialog
  • Brass
  • Field Recording
  • Film/Video production
  • Woodwinds
  • Clarinets
  • Chamber ensembles
  • Gospel

*BUT .. don’t buy this mic expecting it to enhance your voice. It will present to you how it is. This was a constant in reviews. Expect the tone of it to be true to life.

Not the best for:

  • Rock or Pop vocals

Here’s a beautiful song highlighting the 4040!

What you will need?

This is an XLR condenser mic, so you will need:

48v Phantom Power

via an audio interface or some type of mic preamp. Preamp vs. Interface.

Make sure that your interface or preamp is of a higher quality than the average. This mic needs a little extra love 🙂

I’ve heard it pairs well with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and the Steinberg UR22.

It has been said that the UR22 has better preamps than the 2i2, so it may actually be a better option for a mic of this caliber.

I previously owned the 1st gen 2i2 and loved it but had to sell it because it wasn’t compatible with Windows 10.

Either of those 2 would work wonders though.

XLR Cables

XLR cable(s) What is the difference between a USB microphone and an XLR microphone?

A Sequencer

Some sort of sequencing program. I use both Reaper and Audacity. Audacity is free and Reaper allows you to use it 60 times (not to be confused with days) before they require a one-time $60 payment.

I’d say it’s worth the investment and then some.

It’s also really nice of them to give a trial period NOT based on days but rather, on times used.

This means that a “use” only occurs when you open and close the program.

In addition to that,

it’s one of the most powerful programs out there and super fun to use too.

Other recommended items

  • Mic stand
  • Pop filter
  • Shock-mount (The AT4040 comes with a good one).

Also, you will need to treat your room prior to using this, or the mic will probably sound bad.

It is very sensitive which is a good thing but benefits highly from proper sound treatment.

Some ideas:

  • Try to work in an enclosed space, away from windows, fans, A/C units, ambient noise, etc.
  • Use old comforters, or Acoustic Studio Foam to line the walls and absorb the sound. Acoustic Sound Treatment goes a long way!

Basically, anything to encase the sound in and make your voice sound lush and clear. Here is a great example illustrating the overall point:

Consensus/Conclusion

There’s not much else out there in this price range that competes with the likes of this bad boy.

You can basically record anything with it, and do it well.

It looks great, the sound is top-notch, and people basically drool over this thing in reviews.

Talking in all caps, swooning over the sound, etc.

If you’re in the market for a mic of this stature, you may want to check it out.

It’s also a nice upgrade from the Audio Technica AT2035, as well as the AT2020.

Audio Technica Mics have some of the highest ratings I’ve seen, and after owning the AT2020, I can certainly see why. This lineup is built incredibly well and sounds excellent.

Learn More:

 

Final Word

Well, that about wraps it up for today my friend! I hope you enjoyed my review of the Audio Technica AT4040 cardioid condenser microphone.

Are you swooning over this? What do you think about it? Let me know!!

If you guys have any further specific questions, I’d be happy to answer them down below. You can also Contact me! Otherwise happy home studio building, and as always…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Be sure to check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Save

Save

Audio Technica AT4040 condenser microphone cardioid

5

Value

5.0/5

Sound

4.9/5

Build Quality

5.0/5

Versatility

5.0/5

Pros

  • Extremely Versatile
  • Flat and Neutral sounding
  • Warm
  • Silky smooth high end
  • Good case and shock-mount

Cons

  • Sounds bad through an average pre-amp, make sure to not skimp!

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18 comments

Kerry Bramham July 20, 2015 - 3:57 am

Hi Stu,
This microphone does sound like a good option for anyone who is building a home sound studio. It is good when you find a quality product without a huge price tag.
Great advice on encasing your studio for superior sound quality.
You have a very interesting site.
Kerry

Reply
Stu July 21, 2015 - 1:34 am

Thanks much Kerry!

Reply
The Fat Guy July 20, 2015 - 4:31 am

Hello Stu,

Nice microphone, but I do not have a use for it. I need one I can use in a home office setting to make videos for my YouTube account and for my websites.
Do you have any recommendations for that? Or would this one work? I am thinking it would be a bit over the top for what I want.
I checked it out and found many people use it for recording their music for production though so your review saying it is for anyone who wants to record their music is absolutely correct.
Let me know if you have any ideas on a microphone for my particular needs.

The Fat Guy

Reply
Stu July 21, 2015 - 1:32 am

Hey Man!

This entirely depends on your budget. And also if you want to go the USB route (cheap but convenient) or the Condenser mic, XLR route (higher quality and requires an interface with 48v phantom power to drive, but well worth it). Just know what you’re getting into if you go the condenser route. But off the top of my head a couple of mics come to mind:

1) The highly affordable, durable, and tried and true Audio Technica AT2020. If you’re on a budget and need a great mic for recording your voice cleanly, this is the way to go! It’s one of those that has stood the test of time, and has plenty of great reviews to back it up.

Here is the link to the USB Version

2) Continuing down the AT line I would also recommend the AT2035 if you want to step it up a bit. This one gets particularly great reviews and is everything the 2020 is and more. Also it comes packaged with a lot and is a great value. Check out my article and see the video review!!

Really you can’t go wrong with the AT line, up to the 4040 which I have reviewed here. It just depends on what you’re willing to spend and how much quality means to you. It also depends on if you want to go the USB route or the condenser route. Let me know!!

-Stu

Reply
Levi Kaus July 31, 2015 - 4:09 am

I thoroughly enjoyed your site :). It has very helpful and informative information. You targeted your audience well too.
I will be back to see this page again for sure.

If you could go to my website and leave a comment that would be greatly appreciated as well. If not then thanks again for the information.

Reply
Stu July 31, 2015 - 11:59 pm

Hey Levi! Thanks for dropping by! I will leave you a comment for sure.. but you have to provide a link 🙂

-Stu

Reply
Maura August 3, 2015 - 5:14 pm

My teenage son and his friends are looking at building a sound studio in his closet (boys going into the closet – ha!). This looks like it would be a good investment for them. Also, it looks like it would be a good investment for someone who may be recording how-to videos where the audio is recorded separately from the video. I may have to look into this ‘bad boy’ a little more seriously! Thanks for the help!

Reply
Stu August 3, 2015 - 11:14 pm

Hey Maura!

Thanks for stopping by! I really hope you do.. It’s a great microphone.. Check out the AT2035 as well! People just rave about it!

-Stu

Reply
Dyson August 8, 2015 - 10:53 am

Exceptional low noise, wide dynamic range, and high SPL capability give the Audio-Technica AT4040 Large-Diaphragm Studio Condenser Mic studio versatility.

Reply
Stu August 11, 2015 - 2:17 am

Yes indeed the AT4040 is an exceptional option for versatility!
Thanks for stopping by Dyson!!
-Stu

Reply
Guy Nadeau August 17, 2015 - 5:40 am

Hi Stu. It appears with what you say that the Audio Technica is a really high quality mic that has clarity in the way it sounds. But you mentioned that because it’s a condenser mic we will need a few items with it.

You obviously need a cable with it. But what about the audio interface, the sequencing program and the pop filter… Are they really necessary in the beginning to be able to use it?

Reply
Stu August 18, 2015 - 12:47 am

Hey Guy!

Yeah, you’re definitely going to need an audio interface with this beast because of the fact that it runs off of 48v phantom power. Check out the one I use and highly recommend!

As far as sequencing programs, Reaper is a great one. I also used to use Nuendo and it served me well for awhile. Right now however I’m using the free Audacity. It’s really easy to use and works like a charm!

The pop filter is definitely necessary, as it protects your mic from spit and other harmful particles from getting inside the diaphragm, which can damage the mic. It also helps with clarity in your voice, and the “plosives” that everyone talks about which are the harsh consonants your mouth makes when uttering certain words.

Talk into a mic with and without a pop filter and you’ll see the difference.

Hope that helps! Any other questions just let me know!!

Thanks for stopping by man,

-Stu

Reply
Ananomyx October 2, 2015 - 3:18 am

I personally put together a very similar studio in my room when i was about 16. I had an audio technica mic and I loved it We got much recognition once we stepped up our mic game and I would definitely recommend it to anybody starting out. It is low price for a great product! Great review!

Reply
Stu October 3, 2015 - 1:44 pm

Hey man!

Yeah the Audio technica mics seem really solid by mostly all accounts. The AT4040 is a bit of a step up, and something one would generally buy when upgrading. The AT2020 would be a good option for someone just starting out as you’ve said..

Really appreciate you stopping by!

-Stu

Reply
Daniel Lara January 15, 2016 - 7:26 pm

Hey, Stu! What pre-amps would you recommend for use with the AT4040? I would imagine most budget interfaces provide adequate phantom power for it. Also, how do you recommend to mic acoustic guitars? Is a pop filter necessary for that? Do you have any sound samples from recording any instruments other than voice with it?

Reply
Stu January 16, 2016 - 9:20 pm

Nice question Daniel! I did some more research on it, and a few recommended ones included:

The Grace Design M101

Art Pro MPA II

and the Focusrite ISA one.

Granted, not everyone is going to be able to take the plunge on these, as they are a bit more expensive. For a more affordable option I would recommend the Scarlett 2i4. I own the Focusrite 2i2, and it’s quite a little beast of a unit. Both power most entry to mid level condensers just fine.

If you have any other questions, let me know! Thanks for stopping by brother.

-Stu

Reply
Jitendra Tiwari May 9, 2018 - 11:28 am

Sir i want to know: At 4040 vs nt2a which one is better??

Reply
Stuart Charles Black May 12, 2018 - 9:06 pm

Probably the 4040 as a fantastic all around microphone. The NT2A is more of a vocal mic. Let me know what you decide!

Reply

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