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Austrian Audio OC7 & OD5

Austrian Audio OC7 & OD5

Austrian Audio’s new instrument mics are intended to turn heads!

Microphones with the same operating principle tend to share the same form factor. Thus, whereas large‑diaphragm mics are typically addressed from the side, moving‑coil dynamic and small‑diaphragm capacitor mics are usually end‑address types. But it’s not impossible to do things differently, and side‑address designs like the Sennheiser e906, Shure Beta 181 and Josephson e22s have practical advantages, especially on live stages where space is an issue.

With the OC7 and OD5, Austrian Audio have gone further down this road. In essence, they’ve taken the small‑diaphragm capacitor capsule from their CC8 pencil mic and the active moving‑coil element from their OD505 stage vocal mic, tweaked the tuning for instrument applications, and adapted them to work in a side‑address format. The really clever part, though, is that these side‑address housings are swivel‑mounted, allowing them to be rotated through 220 degrees independently of the rest of the mic.

Two Shades Of Grey

Externally, the only thing that differentiates the two mics is the colour scheme. The OD5 is black, whilst the OC7 is a sort of mid grey. They are shipped in the same padded foam cases that are used for other Austrian Audio mics, which offer good protection at the cost of taking up more space than would seem entirely necessary. Like most mics, they deliver their output through a male XLR connector mounted in the base of the ‘stalk’. This output is balanced and transformerless. The stalk houses the electronics — both mics require phantom power, as the OD5 has active circuitry — and hosts recessed slide switches for a 10dB pad and a second‑order high‑pass filter with two turnover options. (These are 40 and 80 Hz on the OC7, and 80 or 120 Hz on the OD5.)

Both mics sport the same 10dB pad and 80/120 Hz high‑pass filter options.Both mics sport the same 10dB pad and 80/120 Hz high‑pass filter options.Austrian Audio aren’t the first company to implement a swivelling headbasket. It’s an idea that goes back a long way with manufacturers like Schoeps, while Blue Microphones have made several models with rotating heads, and the Electro‑Voice ND44 and ND46 are direct competitors for the OD5. However, Austrian Audio’s implementation is distinctive. The stalk of the microphones terminates in a curved arm, to which the capsule housing is attached at a single point. With the thumbwheel slackened off, the housing can rotate freely, and when it comes to tightening the thumbwheel, fingers alone easily provide sufficient torque to lock the capsule firmly in position. In short, the system works as advertised, and has the advantages you’d expect. The angle of the capsule can be freely and precisely set with no need to adjust the mic stand. Perhaps a bigger plus is that there’s never any need to slacken or re‑dress the cable, which can always be run directly down the boom arm of the mic stand.

The 220‑degree arc of rotation is more than you’ll need for any conceivable circumstance, but is limited to a single plane. It allows the capsule to ‘look’ up or down, but not to one side. As such, it’s actually quite similar to something like the yoke mount for the Shure SM7B, albeit much more compact. However, unlike the SM7B, the OC7 and OD5 don’t have an integral mic stand attachment: they’re held by a conventional mic clip, which is cleverly shaped so as not to block access to the filter and pad switches in normal use. This grips the mic by friction alone, so the mic can be rotated left‑right within the clip if you wish.

Spinning Top

The idea of the OD5 and OC7 is to offer studio‑quality performance in a form factor that is more convenient for instrument miking than a typical end‑address mic. And on the form‑factor side, I think Austrian Audio have fulfilled that brief pretty well. For example, it can be a challenge to position a close mic on a snare drum so that its tail doesn’t get in the way of the hi‑hat or rack tom. That’s much less of an issue with the OD5 and OC7 because you can keep the ‘stalk’ parallel to the ground and rotate the capsule to look at your preferred bit of drum head. Positioning within a bass drum through a hole on the front skin is likewise easy.

Depending on the angle of rotation, the front‑to‑back depth of the OD5 and OC7 is typically around two inches — about twice that of the e906, but much less than any end‑address mic. In terms of their cross‑section, however, these are actually not particularly compact mics, and in fact they’re not a great deal narrower than an SM7. In most contexts this isn’t an issue, but it can make them visually prominent, and makes them less than perfect for using alongside a second mic in situations where you want to blend the sound of coincident mics on a guitar amp or snare drum. If you want the ultimate in discreet compactness, you’d be better off looking at ‘bug’ mics with clip‑on mounts.

Given that both models are primarily intended for close‑miking, specifications such as self‑noise are arguably less important than the ability to accept humungous sound pressure levels, and neither the OD5 nor the OC7 disappoints on this front. Both can handle over 150dB SLP even without the pad switched in, and more than 160dB with. Sensitivity is a sensible 10mV/Pa for the OC7 and 6.7 for the OD5, so neither will cook your preamps when confronted with a loud source. And although self‑noise is, as mentioned, a rather secondary consideration in mics of this type, figures of 19dBA for the OC7 and 21 for the OD5 don’t rule them out from being used in distant‑miking applications at a pinch.

A capsule of this fundamental high quality responds very well to EQ... It’s a blank canvas, capturing the sound of the source in natural fashion or allowing a character to be sculpted by the engineer.

Five Or Seven?

So, do the OD5 and OC7 offer studio‑quality performance to complement their innovative ergonomics? In a word, yes — but they sound quite different from each other. The OC7 uses the OCC7 capsule that was developed for Austrian Audio’s CC8 pencil mic and which, in turn, was derived from the classic AKG CK1 design. In the OC7 it sounds much as it does in the CC8: clean, neutral and extended, if perhaps a hair darker owing to the shadowing effect of the housing. Lacking any sort of intrinsic push in the midrange, it can seem quite plain and even flat on some sources, but a capsule of this fundamental quality responds very well to EQ, making it easy to add some excitement back in if the recorded sound is too plain. It’s a blank canvas, capturing the sound of the source in natural fashion or allowing a character to be sculpted by the engineer. And, as you’d expect from a small‑diaphragm capacitor mic, it has a well‑developed cardioid pattern and a nice clean off‑axis response.

By contrast, the OD5 is related to Austrian Audio’s OD505 handheld stage vocal mic, which has a ‘mix ready’, forward tone. That’s carried over to the instrument mic, with a broad presence boost ephasising the upper midrange from perhaps 2 to 6 kHz. When used close up you also get plenty of proximity effect, so the overall sound presents a very effective balance of low‑mid warmth against upper‑mid bite and edge. It’s a sound that often requires little additional EQ on sources like drums or amps, though equally, if the source itself is a bit fierce and toppy, it might all be too much! The OD5 is not refined or smooth in the way that the OC7 is, but the off‑axis response and pattern conformity seem pretty decent for a moving‑coil design, and in any case, there wouldn’t be much point in having the two mics sound the same.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to mike everything up with capacitor mics to achieve a pure, clear sound, the OC7 will slot right into your collection. If you prefer things a bit more aggressive straight off the bat, the OD5 should tick all your boxes, and as it’s an active mic, it shares the OC7’s ability to drive long cable runs and its indifference to loading from preamps. And although the ergonomic benefits of the design aren’t always relevant, you’ll have cause to thank Austrian Audio next time you have to fight your way through a jungle of cymbal stands to reach the snare drum.


The OD5 and OC7 bring ergonomic innovation to the world of instrument mics and offer an appealing sonic contrast, with the OC7 supplying a ‘vanilla’, neutral tonal quality and the OD5 introducing some rock & roll excitement.


OC7 £399, OD5 £249. Prices include VAT.

Sound Technology +44 (0)1462 480000.

OC7 $519, OD5 $299.