Austrian Audio OC16 Microphone Review

Austrian Audio OC16 Review

Austrian Audio has been a game-changer in the world of condenser microphones. Just to give you a background, when AKG was acquired by Harman Technologies (Samsung Electronics), it shifted its manufacturing from Austria to California, USA, the former employees of AKG got together and formed Austrian Audio. 

Austrian Audio, founded in 2017, has quickly gained recognition for its high-quality microphones and headphones. They continue the tradition of Austrian excellence in audio technology. However, its breakthrough moment came when it released its flagship microphone, OC18. This mic was a game changer and was considered one of the best innovations in microphones of that time. 

Following its success, Austrian Audio decided to release something in the affordable range, and that’s when they came up with the OC16. The OC16 also features the patented CKR6 capsule, handmade in Vienna, contributing to its transparent and detailed sound reproduction. It’s the same one that is used in the OC18. Launched with a price tag of $399, it offers tremendous value for money in the professional microphone market.

Today, I will be reviewing this microphone. I have been using it for almost six months and the experience has been pretty good! For someone who records vocals and music in his bedroom setup, this microphone offers solid noise cancellation and quite a transparent sound. So, let’s dive into a more detailed review of the mic. 

Austrian Audio OC16 Microphone Review

Build Quality

The OC16 is a large diaphragm microphone that comes packed in a soft case, which is a decent quality box that’s good enough to offer a protective cushion to your mic, especially when you’re traveling. The box also consists of a mic clip and a plastic shock mount

Austrian Audio OC16 Review

As a customer, I am happy with the sturdy construction and the overall feel of the mic. It has an all-metal chassis and a sturdy metal mesh grille with minimal flexibility, which is surprising given its size. The front features a three-way switch for engaging a 40 or 160 Hertz high-pass filter.

Weight 500 Grams, the mic is decently heavy. That’s not of concern until you use its shock mount, as its quality is questionable. The mount feels cheap and gets weighted down while holding the mic, as it cannot bear its weight. Other than that, the build quality of the mic is top-notch.  

Practical Use & Sound Quality

Other than the low-cut filter switch at 0, 40, and 160 Hz, no additional buttons or switches exist. On the bottom, you’ll find the XLR port. Notably, the OC16 is manufactured in China. In terms of specifications, the OC16 offers a cardioid polar pattern, a frequency response range from 20 Hertz to 20 kilohertz, a sensitivity of approximately -39 dB, a self-noise level of 14 dBA, a maximum sound pressure level of 148 dB, an impedance of 275 ohms, and requires +48 volts phantom power.

Rotating the Austrian Audio OC16 to 90 degrees allows for assessing its off-axis rejection and coloration, continuing to 180 degrees to explore its rear. I tested the plosive rejection by exaggerating the proximity effect by placing the mouth atop the microphone and tested the mic from varying distances. 

I also tested shock rejection, a critical aspect of microphone performance, by tapping on various surfaces, including the desk and boom arm, to gauge the OC16’s resilience to mechanical vibrations and shocks. After various tests like these, here’s what I concluded:

  • Off-axis rejection and coloration

The OC16 demonstrated decent off-axis rejection, effectively minimizing unwanted noise from surrounding environments. Its directional sensitivity remained consistent at varying angles, ensuring focused sound capture.

  • Plosive rejection

The microphone exhibited effective plosive rejection, successfully attenuating the impact of plosive sounds such as “Pizza Pronto.” This capability is essential for achieving clean and clear vocal recordings, particularly during close-mic situations.

  • Proximity effect

Testing revealed that the OC16 effectively managed bass buildup and clarity across different proximity levels. From immediate proximity to several feet away, the microphone maintained a balanced response, ensuring consistent audio quality regardless of distance.

  • Shock rejection

The OC16 demonstrated satisfactory shock rejection capabilities, effectively attenuating mechanical vibrations and shocks from tapping on various surfaces. While some resonant frequencies were observed, overall shock rejection performance was deemed acceptable.

  • High-pass filter effectiveness

Engagement of the high-pass filter at both 40 and 160 Hertz frequencies resulted in effective attenuation of low-end frequencies, enhancing clarity and articulation in recorded audio. This feature proved valuable for reducing rumble and improving overall audio quality.

  • Spoken word performance

The OC16 excelled in capturing spoken word, particularly in delivering a powerful bass section when close-miking. Despite a slightly recessed midrange, which can complement nasally or mid-forward voices, the microphone exhibited bright, articulate, and detailed top-end reproduction. 

  • Comparative analysis

Compared to other renowned microphones, including the Audio Technica AT2020, Rode NT-1 15th Gen, Lewitt LCT 440 Pure, AKG C214, SE Electronics SE 4400a, Austrian Audio OC818, and Neumann U87ai, the OC16 demonstrated competitive performance characteristics. 

While it may not offer the smoothest sound compared to models like the SE4400a or the OC818, which are priced significantly higher, the OC16’s performance remains impressive, especially considering its affordability. Finally, it exhibits minor limitations in sensitivity and shock rejection compared to some higher-priced models, but I am satisfied with its overall performance and value proposition.

Frequency Response

Another crucial aspect to consider when assessing the microphone is its frequency response graph, which indicates its sensitivity and the extent of boosting or cutting at various frequencies across the spectrum. Examining the frequency chart for this microphone reveals several key points.

Austrian Audio OC16

Firstly, at the lowest end, around 40 Hz and below, there’s a natural roll-off of the lowest bass frequencies, which is common and practical as these frequencies often contain little useful information, particularly for voice actors. Additionally, there’s a flat response across the central frequency range, roughly from 60 Hz to 4-5 kHz, aiming to faithfully reproduce the natural tonal characteristics of the voice.

Moving into the higher frequencies, noticeable boosts, typically around 4-6 kHz, contribute to enhanced presence and clarity in recordings. However, there’s a dip between 7 and 8 kHz, which may seem unconventional but can be advantageous, especially for mitigating sharp ‘s’ sounds (sibilance).

This dip assists in addressing sibilant frequencies, a common concern in voice recordings, making it easier to manage during post-processing. Beyond this dip, the response rises again, imparting a sense of airiness and sparkle to the voice, enhancing overall sound quality. Overall, the mic can suit a variety of voices and recording scenarios, offering a balanced blend of clarity, warmth, and presence. I personally like the overall sound, but it’s a little bright for my ears. If that brightness is something you want in your recordings, this mic could be your go-to. 

Microphone Comparisons

Austrian Audio OC16 v/s Austrian Audio OC18

Let’s begin with a comparison between OC 18 and the OC 16. The OC 18 boasts additional features not found in the OC 16, such as a pad switch to attenuate microphone sensitivity, which was likely omitted in the OC 16 to maintain its lower price point. Despite this, both microphones exhibit similar tonal profiles owing to shared design elements. However, discerning ears might appreciate the subtle nuances in clarity and warmth that are present the OC18.

Austrian Audio OC16 v/s LCT 440 Pure

While the LCT 440 Pure leans towards a brighter tonal spectrum, the OC 16 maintains a more balanced and neutral response, making it suitable for a wider range of applications. However, those seeking a more pronounced high-frequency presence might prefer the LCT 440 Pure for its added sparkle. But the OC16 sounds more natural, rounded, and sweeter. 

Austrian Audio OC16 v/s Rhose NT1-A

Both microphones offer contoured high-end responses, but the NT1 boasts a smoother top end, contributing to its reputation for clarity and detail. Conversely, the OC 16 exhibits a slightly more pronounced midrange, which can enhance vocal warmth and presence. I’d suggest the OC16 for recording vocals, especially if you’re recording female vocals. 

Austrian Audio OC16 v/s Neuman TLM-103

The TLM-103, an aspiration microphone is renowned for its transparent and detailed sound reproduction, often favored in professional studio environments. Comparatively, the OC 16 delivers similar clarity and accuracy, making it a compelling alternative at a fraction of the cost.

Austrian Audio OC 16 vs. Soyuz 017 FET

The Soyuz 017 FET offers a unique tonal character characterized by its rich harmonic content and vintage-inspired warmth. In contrast, the OC 16 delivers a more modern and transparent sound, suitable for a broader range of applications.

Austrian Audio OC 16 vs. AKG C214

The OC16 boasts a slightly more conventional design with vertical bars along the sides, while the C214 features a classic AKG design renowned for its robust build quality. Regarding technical specifications, the OC16 has a sensitivity of 13mV/Pa and a self-noise of 14dBA, whereas the C214 offers a sensitivity of 20mV/Pa and a self-noise of 13dBA.

Sonically, the OC16 delivers a balanced and transparent sound, while the C214 is known for its clear and bright sound, making it ideal for male vocals, acoustic guitar, and horns. For a warmer and quieter sound, I would use the OC16, but for a brighter recording, I would use the C214.

Conclusion

I would highly recommend this microphone to bedroom producers and singer-songwriters on a budget due to its full and high-resolution sound and great noise control. The mic is quiet and has better dynamic range and resolution than other mics in this range like the Rhodes NT-1A, NT-2A, AT4040, etc. I would even go as far as to say that I would prefer this mic over the TLM 102 MT and Samsun C01, for recording vocals.

Other than its bad-quality shock mount stand, I have no complaints against the OC16. I hope this article was of help to you in assessing the Austrian Audio OC-16 microphone. Thank you for reading.

Buy Austrian Audio OC16 on Amazon 

Buy Austrian Audio OC16 on Sweetwater

Austrian Audio OC16 (Official Website)

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