Audio-Technica Homecoming

October 3, 2022

Many of my readers have asked, “John, why did you leave your lucrative career in dog food palatalizing for a job in audio/video?” I know it seems crazy, but I made the leap from stacking cans of “Adult Formula” onto pallets (then expertly shrink-wrapping them) to what I do now. I made the leap because of ‘sound’.

My dad didn’t buy me a lot of things, but when I was 13 years old, he bought me a Realistic-brand amplifier, turntable, and a pair of bookshelf speakers. I wore out Led Zeppelin II and Beatles Rubber Soul on that rig. Stereo sound amazed me. It still amazes me today.

My love of audio is what got me on stage. I am not a great player of instruments, but I am decent at making good sound. I don’t have the dexterity to amaze people, but I can create noises people like – at the right time. I can do it on a few different instruments. Lately it has been keyboards.

Good sound gets me going. Makes me happy. In my car. In my backyard. In my living room. I love it. It changes my mood. It makes me pedal faster on my bike. It makes me run longer. It gets me to work everyday. I truly work everyday to make the world sound a little better. I hire people that love good sound. I surround myself with people that just LOVE awesome sound.   

So…yeah. I like things that sound good. I MISSED AUDIO-TECHNICA IN MY LIFE!

In 2000 or so, I got a call from a local engineer. He was the guy mixing Andrea Bocelli’s concerts. For those of you who do not of know Andrea Bocelli, Google him. It will give the next part a little additional context.

Andrea asked for a “blind shootout” of microphones for his violin section. My memory is a little fuzzy from 22 years ago, so I will take credit for Audio-Technica getting invited to this shootout against Schoeps, AKG and Neumann. If you don’t know those other brands, let’s just say they are spendy. They brought mics five times as expensive as the Audio-Technica ATM-35s (now the ATM-350) we brought.  

We won. People were pissed at their own ears. Turns out that with high-end microphones, price does not always mean performance.  

Then, a decade later, the world caught on in a big way. Turns out, Audio-Technica has been making headphones since the early 90s and all the audio kids were using them. I’m not sure I’m allowed to mention the ‘brand’, so I won’t, but it was another company from Tokyo that rhymes with BONEY. The BONEY 7506 headphones we all had in our backpacks in were made by A-T. Nobody knew it. Nobody cared. Until the M-50s hit.   The public found out that studio monitor headphones meant amazing sound at moderate prices…and A-T has sold millions of dollars worth.   

If I had to pick one mic brand to live with forever for personal use, it was always, and will always be Audio-Technica.   

Here is the rub. The Farm is all about enterprise audiovisual solutions. We are about all-hands rooms, conference rooms, corporate theaters and training facilities. We are about SalesForce, Google, and Microsoft. Even Andrea Bocelli doesn’t care what mics he uses on a Microsoft Teams call. Andrea doesn’t care. Chaka Khan doesn’t care. None of them care what mic is in front of them on a Zoom call.   

Audio-Technica is late to the game in enterprise. Just like they were late to the game in Large Diaphragm Condenser mics. But when they showed up to the game, they freakin’ won. My buddies that mixed arena shows quietly put A-T mics in front of the guitar amps that were actually ON, and the mics they endorsed were plugged into a cable to nowhere.  

So now they are making a real run at enterprise. Audio-Technica will be bringing their passion for great sound at a great price like they always have. Also, if you buy your current brand because of reliability, please show me a broken Audio-Technica mic. They are few and far between.

Audio-Technica has the fancy array mics everybody loves. Ceiling array mics are amazing for folks who hate seeing microphones. The A-T array mic is fantastic and stands up to the competitors at a much better price. When you get to gooseneck and boundary mics – this is where the game really changes. Audio Technica makes superior sounding mics in this category. Why? Because they INVENTED THE CATAGORY OF RUGGED MINIATURE CONDENSOR MICS.

I recorded my son’s chamber choir with Audio-Technica. That recording still sends chills up my spine.   

Then just to top it off, you get a great support team out of Ohio. Yes it’s true that I threatened to crash my car into a bridge abutment once in order to kill Mark Donovan. I didn’t care if I met my maker, as long as he did. But it turns out that he is simply the best microphone sales engineer in the business – and he’s backed by some brilliant engineers as well. We might have named them “Dumber Donovan” and “Dumbest Donovan.” I hope you get to work with them. They are passionate about your results.

So when I was the A-T rep (back in the day), I ran a marathon. I did several Olympic distance triathlons. I raced mountain bikes. I stood on podiums and got medals. Was it all the good sound in my ears? Let’s hope so. For those who have seen me lately,  I am in no danger of marathoning, but check back in after a year or so living with my favorite listening brand again. Dear Audio Technica, thank you so much for taking me back. I will make it all up to you.