Audio-Technica Pro 70

Lavalier microphones don’t find much use in recording studios — the diminutive “lapel” mics are much more common on stage.
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And generally not on “music” stages — usually they’re used for lectures, plays, that sort of application. But before pigeonholing all lavaliers, you should check out Audio-Technica’s Pro 70, which is categorized by the company as a “lavalier/instrument” mic. It was the “instrument” part that caught our eye at last year’s Summer NAMM show.

The Pro 70capsule/element is tiny; it’s permanently connected with a 6' cable to a “power module” that’s roughly 3" x 2" x 1". The power module can hold a battery for powering the mic — or use phantom power, if you prefer — and has an XLR jack for a standard mic cable.

The Pro 70 comes with two mounts. One is for clipping the mic to clothing. The other can slip onto the edge of a guitar soundhole. An adjustment screw positions the mic nearer to or farther from the strings.

I tried the Pro 70 on both a Taylor steel-string and a Rodriguez nylon-string classical guitar. The mount slips onto the soundhole easily and securely, and is padded to prevent marring the guitar’s finish. The mic is small enough to be unobtrusive to the player.

Positioning any mic near a guitar soundhole invites excess “boom,” and as expected, the Pro 70 picks up a lot of bottom. By adjusting it as far as possible from the hole, you can control this a bit. There’s also an 80Hz highpass filter, switchable from the power module. But even with the filter engaged, you’re probably going to need EQ to get the tone you want.

The mids and highs are far better than any pickup can deliver — more natural and smooth. I expected to hear a lot of pick or fingernail attack, but was pleased to find that assumption invalid. A big plus was the focused polar pattern: Noise rejection was excellent, making the Pro 70 useful for tracking acoustic guitars along with other instruments and vocals.

The Pro 70 proved very functional in the studio: It works well for isolating an instrument, and provides a much more natural tone than any pickup I’ve heard. You’ll probably need some EQ to get the sound you want, but the benefits are well worth it.