Audio-Technica ATS99 review

Tired of the same old dynamic handheld mics? We plug up this new offering from Audio-Technica

  • £280
  • €319
  • $369
Audio-Technica ATS99
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

Audio-Technica’s latest handheld dynamic mic is a real beauty that is easy to use, excellently finished and really delivers sonically.


  • +

    Solid but light construction.

  • +

    Sounds great up close.

  • +

    Good handling of plosives.

  • +

    Nicely shaped headstock.

  • +

    Excellent finish.


  • -


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Audio-Technica ATS99: What is it?

The ATS99 is a new premium handheld dynamic mic from Audio-Technica. Incorporating a machined aluminium body with stylish headstock and grille, it feels solid and looks great. But there are plenty of features under the hood that look to lift the ATS99 above your average dynamic. 

First up, it aims for a good frequency response (60Hz-16kHz is quoted), and a high magnetic force magnet is used alongside a step up transformer to help improve the low mids at high volumes. Next up, the narrow hypercardioid design controls the off axis pick up, and finally the internal shock mounting system reduces handling noise.

Smooth looks

The box includes the mic, a carry pouch and regular slide-in mic clip, and in typical Audio-Technica style this Japanese-made mic oozes quality. The finish is satin black and the headstock shape is nice and smooth, which feels great when you get it right up to your mouth. At 262g the mic isn’t too heavy, despite being medium in size (about 18cm long), and is actually lighter than a Shure Beta 57a, which is a noticeably more compact mic. 

The headstock follows a standard format and removing the grille reveals it to be a multilayer design supplemented with an internal foam layer. There’s also a thin layer of foam on the top of the actual capsule. Audio-Technica doesn’t quote any noise figures for the ATS99, but at 2.51mV/Pa the sensitivity is pretty typical for a mic of this type and we certainly didn’t feel it needed excess preamp gain.

Audio-Technica ATS99

(Image credit: Future)

Audio-Technica ATS99: Performance and verdict

Most handheld dynamics are used up close, so it’s important to establish how the mic performs when used in this way. We have to say, the ATS99 is very good. At a couple of centimetres there is some proximity effect, though not an unpleasant amount, and the handling of plosives is excellent. Breathing noise is picked up but quite well diffused by the grille, and the handling noise is reasonably subdued. Even so, the important takeaway is that the mic sounds great used in this way, with plenty of mid range articulation and a nice bit of high-frequency air not always found with dynamics. 

There’s plenty of mid range articulation and a nice bit of high-frequency air

That said, the hypercardioid pattern means this air drops off quite sharply as you move off axis, and as you would expect at 90 degrees the overall rejection is quite pronounced. We're not averse to using dynamic mics like this to record acoustic guitar, and the ATS99 really delivers for this, sounding great at about 20cm to 30cm. It’s also pretty good in front of a guitar amp. Given its size we would probably avoid using it on a snare drum, although we're sure it would also sound great for this. 

Quality choice

Despite the dominance of a few models, it’s great to see manufacturers continue to refine the classic handheld dynamic, and this offering from AT is a great example. Comfortable to use, with a slick, stylish design, quality delivery and premium build quality, it’s an attractive choice. At £280 it’s Audio-Technica’s most expensive handheld dynamic and is clearly not cheap so it would be wise to try it out before taking the plunge.

MusicRadar verdict: Audio-Technica’s latest handheld dynamic mic is a real beauty that is easy to use, excellently finished and really delivers sonically.

Audio-Technica ATS99: Hands-on demos

Audio-Technica Australia


Audio-Technica ATS99: Specifications

  • KEY FEATURES: Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid. Freq Response: 60Hz-16kHz. Impedance: 600 Ohms. Open Circuit Sensitivity: -52dB (0 dB=1 V/Pa, 1kHz). Output Connector: 3-pin XLR. 
  • DIMENSIONS: 181.5 x 50mm. 
  • WEIGHT: 262g. 
  • ACCESSORIES: stand clamp for 5/8” stands, 3/8” stand adapter, carry pouch.
  • CONTACT: Audio-Technica