Review: Audio-Technica AT5045 Microphone

Large-diaphragm instrument mic that's easy to position

The AT5045 is the second microphone in Audio-Technica’s 50 Series, and like its larger sibling, the AT5040, it is a premium-quality condenser. But while the AT5040 is designed for use as a classic large-diaphragm vocal mic (albeit, with a novel, 4-part rectangular element), the 5045 is a hybrid of sorts—a side-address, large-diaphragm mic designed for instrument recording. At almost 7 inches long, and with a maximum body diameter of 0.98 inches, the form factor is closer in shape and size to a pencil condenser.

To achieve this svelte profile, Audio-Technica created a unique rectangular capsule that it says provides more surface area than the single diaphragm of any other Audio-Technica mic. One major benefit of having a side-facing capsule in a slim body is that it gives you quite a bit of flexibility in terms of positioning.

Because of its rectangular capsule, the AT 5045 offers large-diaphragm performance with the form factor of a small-diaphragm mic. The transformer-coupled, hand-built AT5045 has impressive specs including an 8dB SPL noise rating and a whopping 149dB SPL maximum input level, giving it a dynamic range of 141 dB (1 kHz at 1% THD). Its signal-to-noise ratio spec is a hefty 86 dB (1 kHz at 1 Pa). Bottom line, the AT5045 is adept at cleanly capturing both very loud and very quite sources.

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The AT5045 comes in a hard-shell case with a foam windscreen and the AT8481 isolation clamp. The mic is also available in matched pairs (AT5045P, $2,499).


When tracking a Taylor 510e acoustic guitar, the AT5045 did a great job of reproducing the warm, yet bright sound of the instrument. On a Martin D-28, it realistically captured that guitar’s tight-sounding bass and crisp highs. I also used it to record a wood-body resonator guitar, a mandolin, a fiddle, and a banjo; the AT5045 accurately reproduced those instruments, with a precise and very present sound.

Between its fast transient response and high SPL rating, the AT5045 is especially suited for tracking percussion. Placing it in an x/y stereo configuration, I recorded a set of congas and then a number of hand percussion instruments, and was able to get excellent results quickly.

Next, I used the stereo pair to record solo acoustic guitar music, again using the Taylor, for a video project I was working on. The result sounded warm and huge and required very little in the way of EQ.

To see how the mic responded to high SPLs, I stuck it in front of a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier for a track playing clean lines on a Stratocaster. The recording was solid and the bass frequencies from the lower strings sounded tight and contained.

The AT5045’s frequency-response graph shows a boost between about 2 and 4 kHz, and a smaller one between 9 and 10 kHz. It is definitely a bright-sounding mic: If you have a trebly source, you might have to roll off some high-end when mixing.


You get what you pay for in the microphone world: Although the price of the AT5045 is on the upper end of the scale, it is a superb-sounding and very versatile mic—by far the best instrument microphone I’ve ever had the pleasure to record with. If you can find a way to fit it into your budget, you’ll find it’s worth every penny.

Large-diaphragm, side-address instrument mic with form factor closer to a small-diaphragm model. Suitable for a wide range of instrument-miking applications. Crisp, present, and ultra-realistic reproduction of acoustic instruments. Good transient response. High SPL handling and low self noise. AT8481 isolation clamp and hard-shell case included.


AT5045P matched pair: