Quality is a funny thing these days. Some established players in this (and other industries) seem to coast upon their reputations, counting upon brand loyalty to take the place of objective value and integrity of manufacture. Other companies seem wholly unconcerned about quality, selling their wares based upon price alone, often incorporating a physical resemblance to a venerable product. Alternately, the inclusion of fashionable technology (such as a tube) may be included to raise the perceived value of the product. Frankly, I am getting really tired of that kind of manipulation of the consumer.
The Audio-Technica 3035 is a nice departure from that kind of nonsense. So, what kind of product is the AT 3035? First, let me tell you what it is not. It is not a microphone pretending to be another microphone. It is not a microphone distributed by a company that doesn’t actually manufacture (or even assemble from components) anything. It is not a product that is reliant upon some new and mysterious technological gimmick. And lastly, it is not the very best microphone in the world.
The Audio-Technica 3035 is simply a good microphone at an excellent price. Audio Technica has been in business long enough to learn how to manufacture products at differing price points that will be consistent in terms of performance and deviation from spec, and be reliable over the long term. Though manufactured in Japan, all 30 and 40 series AT microphones are run through QC testing at their US facility in Stow, Ohio.
The 3035 is a side-address fixed charge condenser microphone that operates in a cardioid only pattern. Micro-switches on the lower edge of the microphone body engage a low frequency cut (80 Hz, 12 dB per octave) and a 10dB pad. The microphone itself is finished in a nice semi-polished nickel case and weighs in at just under 14 oz. According to the manufacturer, self-noise is a respectable 12dB, and I have no reason to doubt this figure. A shockmount is included with the microphone, and though it is constructed of plastic it holds the mic extremely tightly and offers good isolation from stand transmitted noises. I would have no problem trusting the shockmount to hold the 3520 upside down, should that configuration be desired.
I used the 3035 (actually a pair of them) on a variety of sources.
Guitar amp usage – I used the 3035 to close mic a Marshall 4×12 loaded with Celestion 70 watt speakers for an aggressive indie-rock project that I am producing. I found that the Audio-Technica had no problem handling an extremely cranked crunch rhythm track at a distance of about 1 1/2” from the speaker. I didn’t find it necessary to engage the pad on the microphone, however the tube mic pre that I was using seemed to be more comfortable with its pad engaged. The 3035 provided a focused sound that fit nicely with the room mic track (which was a Microtech Gefell M71KMT).
Female Vocal – Utilizing the onboard preamps on my Neotek IIIc console, I was quite impressed by the large and detailed image that I heard. I would characterize the sound as being somewhat hyped in the upper midrange, but in a good way. A thin sounding singer might not be the best match for this microphone, but one with a smooth or even slightly dull voice will shine.
Kick Drum –I was pleasantly surprised by the response of the 3035 when placed a few inches away from the hole in the resonant head of my GMS maple kick drum. The thwack of the wood beater hitting the head was accurately rendered, as well as a fairly healthy whoosh of near subsonic air. Inserting the 3035 into the drum yielded a slightly thin sound, but with good attack. I have found that most microphones that are not specifically designed for bass drum tend to sound a bit thin in that application. In this application I engaged the pad to avoid overloading the preamps in the console.
Room Mic – Utilizing both of the 3035’s (which were not factory matched) approximately 10 feet away from a full drum kit, I found the overall balance of the sound to be pleasing. The stereo image was well defined, and the transients were reproduced nicely. Once again the upper midrange lift added a bit of excitement to the overall sound.
The Audio-Technica 3035 is an excellent value. It sounds good on a variety of sources, includes an effective shockmount, and can handle high SPL’s without fear of damage. In addition, the 3035 is backed by a company whose commitment to quality and consistency is well known. Kudos to Audio-Technica for developing an honest product at an accessible price. Anyone that is in the market for an inexpensive condenser microphone would do well to give the 3035 a listen. Thumbs up!
Includes a nice shockmount
For its price point …….. none