When it comes to picking a vocal microphone for recording, most engineers will insist on testing several different models to find the one that best suits the vocalist and the song. However, live engineers rarely have the time to test a bunch of microphones with each vocalist, and house engineers in particular will usually simply stick with one mic that they know well and that works across a wide range of vocalists and styles. This is why, despite considerable advances in hand-held vocal microphones, the humble Shure SM58 still reigns supreme onstage.
Audio-Technica’s ATM510 is a cardioid dynamic microphone designed for live vocal use. It comes with a leather carry case and a mic clip. Audio-Technica has designed a new internal shockmount system to reduce handling noise. The capsule has a neodymium magnet, which Audio-Technica claims produces a high output while being lighter than alternative magnets. Less mass in the capsule means better transient response and the grille is a multi-stage design that the company claims produces excellent protection against plosives and sibilance without compromising high-end clarity.
The New Contender
In a head-to-head with an SM58 on male vocals, the ATM510 demonstrated a more clear upper midrange. The slightly nasal character of the SM58 was replaced with a more open, smooth-sounding vocal. The top end seemed to really open up the vocal by comparison to our SM58, producing a distinctly more hi-fi sound. It made the SM58 seem small-sounding and a little saturated during louder sections.
King of the Stage?
If you’re a house engineer considering a workhorse vocal mic, the ATM510 is a great choice. The voicing is similar to an SM58, which means you should be able to use it on a wide variety of vocalists and visiting techs will be able to get great sounds out of it quickly.
If you’re a vocalist looking to buy your own mic to tour with then the ATM510 should definitely be on your shortlist. The differences between this and the SM58 are subtle, and the slightly more open characteristics might not be to everyone’s taste, but this is certainly a mic with class. If you can, try to find a store that stocks this and several other hand-helds and see which one best suits your voice and budget.
+ Inexpensive and versatile
+ Sturdy build
+ Clear and open top end
The ATM510 is a great-sounding microphone – easily a match for the Shure SM58.