With the 1980s came the advent of the CD, and tough times for any company whose foundations were built on the production of analogue hi-fi gear. Remarkably, one of the ways in which Audio- Technica responded was by designing non-audio products, among them the Nigirikko sushi-maker (a hand-operated ‘mill’ for shaping rice) and TechniClean, a product for cleaning dust from printers by removing static electricity. Even today, TechniClean plays an extremely important role in the production of liquid crystals, while, under the AUTEC brand, the company makes a range of rice ball processors. This innovative approach helped Audio-
Technica cope with the changes heralded by the digital age, but the company never lost sight of its audio goals. In 1985 the Unipoint microphone was launched, a small mic designed to replace the large, cumbersome dynamic models in use in international conference venues around the world. With Unipoint, Audio-Technica changed the installed sound landscape and moved into a market in which it remains an active player today.
Familiar to almost anyone who has set foot inside a recording studio in the past 20 years, Audio- Technica’s ground-breaking AT4033 large- diaphragm condenser mic made its debut in 1991. Offering remarkably high-end performance for its sub-$1,000 price tag, the AT4033 quickly became a favourite of producers, press and punters alike and was voted Best Microphone of 1991 by the Audio Engineering Society. Producer Phil Ramone
(Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Elton John) consulted on its design and featured in advertising for the model, which established the reputation of Audio-Technica’s 40 Series microphones as offering a blend of quality and value.
In a busy decade for the series, the
AT4033’s success was swiftly followed by the introduction of the AT4050 multi-pattern condenser and AT4060 tube microphones.
Special edition AT4050 URUSHI to mark the 50th anniversary
Surprisingly, it took until 2009 for Audio-Technica to produce its first ribbon microphones, the AT4080 and AT4081. But, in doing so, the company took things back to the drawing board, resulting in designs that solve the typical problems of ribbon mic fragility and lack of output power. With 18 patents pending, the AT4080 and AT4081 include features like Audio-Technica’s MicroLinear ribbon imprint, which protects the dual ribbons from flexing and distortion, making the mics suitable for both live and studio use. With as important an anniversary as a 50th birthday to celebrate in 2012, Audio-Technica has produced a range of limited edition microphones and headphones to mark the occasion. Among the highlights is the stunning AT4050URUSHI model – the multi- pattern condenser mic is treated to a traditional Japanese Urushi lacquer finish with handpainted maple leaves.
In the running...
The decade of big hair and tight trousers also saw Audio-Technica cater to the needs of musicians increasingly concerned with putting on spectacular live shows. The first incarnation of its 5000 Series wireless systems proved popular around the world,
freeing singers from the tethers of cable microphones forever.
5000 Series of wireless systems As well as...
Staying close to its audiophile roots, Audio-
Technica unveiled the stunning ATH-W10VTG headphones in 1990. The closed-back, wooden ear-cupped headphones set the blueprint for the company’s current award- winning W1000x model, much raved about by the hi-fi community today.
The gorgeous ATH-W10VTG, made with cherry wood grown in the highlands of Japan
Audio-Technica’s Broadcast & Production series mics will be used exclusively in the broadcast of the London 2012 Games this summer, as they have been for many years. The BP4027 shotgun is based on models designed for the Sydney Games in 2000 and uniquely allows a choice of left/right stereo or discrete mid-side signals. As Hiroshi Akino, manager of the wired microphone division, reflects: “It’s been almost
30 years since Audio-Technica
started its microphone business, now one of the most important product
ranges in the company’s 50-year history. However, there are still many things we can do – and products we need to develop – in order to keep our customers happy, and indeed inspired.”