Be it a live concert, a field interview, or a studio recording, exceptional audio quality can be achieved only through a good quality microphone. A lot of people often neglect the sound quality, not knowing the importance of it. You might have come across several podcasts or home videos online where the audio is broken or interfered with, and you can hardly hear what the performer speaks. What’s the point if you cannot hear anything right? Before we get to the AKG C414 XLii review, let us try and understand the importance of audio quality in day-to-day life.
What Does Poor Audio Do to Your Listening Experience?
Poor audio quality can ruin the entire piece of work, and you may need to do it all over again. In case you are working on a high-end podcast or video for YouTube or, even during a live broadcast, you cannot do it without a good microphone that has the ability to pick up the sound clearly and accurately while enhancing the overall quality of the sound.
There are so many microphone options out there, but it may be quite a challenging task to find the right type that will serve your purpose. While some mics are good for vocals, some are good for instruments, others are only for indoor use. If you need a versatile one that can be used for different purposes, you have to spend a good amount of time doing some research on them and their features.
Microphones are available in different types like condenser, ribbon microphones, Dynamic mics, USB mic, etc. All these mics have their own benefits and are designed for different purposes; you need to pick one depending on what you are going to be using them for.
What Is the Akg 414, and What Can It Be Used for?
In this article, we are going to focus on one such versatile type of mic from one of the most reputed brands in the audio equipment industry, AKG. The ‘legendary’ AKG 414, or AKG C414, is a condenser microphone that is designed for an all-around application, whether it is for live shows or for studio use. Why do we call it legendary? Well, this one has been a long-time favorite of numerous stage performers, recordists, and musicians for decades now. Yes, this microphone wasn’t just born today. Take a look at our akg p120 large-diaphragm condenser microphone review from here.
Before we get to a detailed AKG C414 review, a quick dive into the history of this microphone shows that the very first AKG 414, named C414 EB, was manufactured and released by the company in 1976. The design of this mic was inspired by AKG C12, and it had acquired its sonic capability as well. While the mic had an overall outstanding performance, it became famous mostly for its exceptional high-end sound reproduction.
The Birth of AKG C414
The incredible accuracy at the upper-end frequency and the option to switch between different polar patterns had made this microphone one of the dynamic tools in most of the studios and recording houses. Its high-level efficiency and sturdy build are the reasons why it became a personal favorite of many renowned artists and performers as well. Meanwhile, as the ‘EB’ version of the C414 mic was rejoicing in its success everywhere, AKG was taking all the criticisms and feedback and working constantly on improving and making the changes in the C414 technology to make it better with time and technical demand. This resulted in the C414 which the company has today.
This new version received mixed AKG 414 reviews and reactions from professionals and users. While some indicated that the tweaked version of the C414 microphone doesn’t shine as much as the older version did, some felt that switching to the nylon capsule gave it a more neutral presentation, which makes it better for recording. Some critics felt that the brass capsule from the older version was the main reason for its excellent high-end design which got reduced when changed to nylon ones.
Despite so many opinions, the later C414 had its own positives like enhancement in the design and build quality of these mics that showed improved longevity and visuals. Other than that, they also make less sound of their own while giving better results. There are decreased sound artifacts which in turn increase the quality of the audio output.
The Evolution of AKG C414
Since there were a lot of questions about the differences in the sound profiles between the older C414 and the later versions, in 2004, the company decided to split the AKG C414 into two different product lines- C414B-XLS and C414B-XLII. Both these lines have different characters in terms of the sound, where C414B-XLII sounds more vivid and the C414B-XLS version is darker. This way people could choose the one that suits them the most.
Around 2009, AKG further modified these two lines and introduced their latest models of C414- C414 XLS and C414 XLII. These latest models are more efficient and have undergone significant improvements in their functioning that makes them extremely versatile. While both these latest versions are two of the best-known condenser microphones available today, C414 XLII has gained more popularity than its XLS brother.
In the AKG 414 review below on XLII model, we will cover the reasons why this mic is so popular, the various features, AKG C414 XLII frequency response, price, pros, and cons, and more. We will also cover a brief AKG C414 XLS review and the comparison between the two models, so you can decide which one will work best for you.
AKG C414 XLii Review
AKG C414 XLII is one of the top-rated microphones available in the market today, with numerous positive AKG 414 reviews to support its quality and performance. Unlike some of the other mics that are limited to one particular use, either vocal or instruments, either outdoor or indoor use, this one here is a super versatile option that fits well with all types of musical style. The AKG C414 review below will give you a detailed idea of its capability. Also check our AKG D112 review from here.
What comes in the box?
One AKG C414 microphone.
One Universal Shock Mount (H85)
A sturdy metallic carrying box
One PF80 Pop Filter
One Windscreen (W414)
AKG C414 XLii Review- Technical Specifications:
|AKG C414 XLII frequency response||20 Hz to 20,000 Hz|
|Sound sensitivity||23 mV/Pa|
|Signal to Noise ratio||88 dB-A|
|Bass Cut Filter||40 Hz, 60Hz and 160 Hz|
|Recommended load Impedance||2200 Ohms|
|Polar Patterns||9 different polar patterns|
|Attenuation levels||-6, -12 and -18 dB|
Price: Click here to see the price.
Design and Appearance
Microphones undergo a lot of stress in the studio or on stage especially if they are constantly in use, hence, having a durable tough build is paramount. Also, after investing all your time in finding the right kind of mic and a good amount of money, you clearly do not want it to get damaged sooner than you would expect. Depending on where you are going to use the microphone and if you are to feature in any media platform, you may also need to keep in mind the overall look of it to go with your personality.
When it comes to AKG C414 XLII, the microphone has inherited the look from its predecessor, the classic C12. XLII features a boxy, rectangular shape and compact size. The overall appearance of the mic is simple yet aesthetically pleasing. The gorgeous golden finish on the grille is responsible for the glittering appearance of the mic in the midst of studio or stage lights, enough to impress the audience or the clients.
As for the build quality, the lower part of the mic has a solid rugged construction which has the control buttons as well. The top part, that is the golden grille portion, however, isn’t as tough as its lower half, even though the grill holds the critical part of the microphone, the capsule. The capsule of the mic is responsible for the headphones audio quality. A lot of AKG 414 reviews from the users online also indicate the same. The grille is made of malleable material that is susceptible to bending or deforming if not handled properly with care.
Also, it is not just about the indentation of the grille which spoils the look of the mic. As mentioned earlier, the grille holds the capsule of the mic, the vital part without which the mic isn’t of any use. The serious impact of the grille may also affect the causal inside. However, if you are about to purchase the newer models, the company has made some changes to make it impact resistant like elastic protection surrounding the capsule that can minimize the shock and protect it from potential damages. Nonetheless, you still need to be extra careful about not dropping the mic to keep the capsule safe.
The Controls on the Akg C414 (Xlii)
The controls of the microphone are located on the front and rear end of the lower solid part of the mic.
The front part of the mic has the switch to choose between nine different pickup patterns. There are 5 main polar patterns and 4 different hybrid patterns that are in between these 5 primary ones. While the white imprinted signs indicate the pattern, there is a LED light section placed right below the switch which lights up under the pattern to show what you selected.
On the rear panel lies two switches with LED indicators- One for the pre-attenuation pad settings, and the other for low-cut filter settings. (we will discuss the functions of this under the AKG C414 review-features section).
Overall, this condenser microphone has received good AKG 414 reviews on its design and build especially since it is lighter compared to several other similar mics from other brands. This adds to a lot of conveniences like easy portability, ease of setting up per se, and more.
Akg C414 Xlii Review- Significant Features
The key features of AKG C414 XLII are what make it one of the most popular options and a choice of many professionals. So, here’s what this amplifier is equipped with:
Akg C414 Xlii Review – Frequency Response
The mic has a full frequency response of 12 Hz to 20 kHz, with a well-balanced and proper distribution of the frequencies. This means that it picks up every little sound clearly and makes it audible. While the sound presentation is mostly neutral, you may find some enhancements or depressions here and there. The adjustable polar patterns will further enhance the performance depending on how you want the sound to be. You might also want to check the AKG K712 Pro frequency response from here.
If you find the lows, mids, or highs to be too much boosted, you can use the low cut filters to cut the low end to get the perfect one.
9 Different Polar Patterns
With so many polar patterns, this is not just a single simple mic, but a complete recording solution that you can have in a compact form. This is the main reason why this mic is so popular among studio professionals and has earned so many promising AKG C414 XLII reviews from everywhere. Because of its multifaceted versions, it is also found in the majority of studios or production houses worldwide.
Out of the 9 different patterns, 5 of them are primary ones: Omnidirectional, Cardioid, Wide Cardioid, Hypercardioid, Figure 8.
The Five Primary Polar Patterns
- Omnidirectional: Selecting this pattern will allow C414 XLII to pick up the sound from every direction. This works great when someone moves around the stage while performing or speaking. It also captures the surroundings of the entire room so in case you need a natural sounding environment while recording, this can be a great option to go for.
- Cardioid: This is the standard pattern used for recording vocals, instruments or even ideal during interviews in studios if two individual mics for both the interviewer and the guest are used.
- Wide Cardioid: Turning on this mode enables the mic to capture sound from sources on a wider perspective instead of focussed to one. This makes it great for live shows where two people are performing or even a small band sitting close by where the mic can capture a wider range.
- Hypercardioid: if you want to reduce the surrounding sound while recording or using the mic, Hypercardioid works great. These microphones are more directional and do not pick up much sound from the sides. So if you want the sound to be focussed like in case or recording a podcast, this mode does its magic.
- Figure 8: Switching on to this polar pattern enables the mic to set two pick up patterns. This works great for two people recording together simultaneously. It is a convenient option for two stage-performances as well as a guitarist and a singer or for stereo recording.
The rest of the four hybrid polar patterns allow you to achieve enhanced functionality by combining two primary patterns.
There is a ‘lock mode’ feature in C414 XLII that gives you the power to lock the selected polar pattern, so it doesn’t accidentally get changed to a different mode. This has proven to be very beneficial because oftentimes when using the mic some people have the habit of holding it and this may trigger the button at the back of the mic shifting to a different pattern.
It’s a pretty easy locking system. If you see, the buttons at the back have two arrows. You can activate the ‘lock mode’ by long-pressing one of the arrows for two to three seconds. You can test it by trying to change the polar pattern. If the LED indicator shows red light briefly when changing the pattern, it means that you have enabled the lock mode. Once in lock mode, you can turn off the long mode the same way you activated it, by pressing one of the arrows for a couple of seconds.
The lock mode gives you peace of mind, so you can use the mic freely without worrying about the changing of the pickup pattern when you do not want to.
Led Strip Indicates Peak Overload
This feature gives you a warning sign by glowing red when there is an overload, so you know what to do. Even if there is the slightest overload, there will be an indication, so you know what to do.
This condenser microphone is equipped with multiple polar patterns to choose from that make it ideal for a variety of applications like vocals, instruments like piano or springs, drums, horns, and woodwinds. In fact, while this audio equipment works best in a professional studio environment, you can use it outdoors in open-air spaces, or even in your home studio. Additionally, the features like low-cut filters, the attenuation settings allow you to adjust the mic as per the situation to get optimum results.
Bass-cut Filter and Pre-attenuation Pad
These two features are useful in achieving the best out of the C414 mic. The bass-cut filter has settings that allow you to shift between 0, 40, 80, and 160 Hz depending on the need. With the help of this feature, you can reduce the excessive bassy sound or unwanted low-frequency sounds while recording. Oftentimes, if you stand too close to the mic, your voice sounds too deep or bassy. By adjusting the Low-cut filter you can get rid of the exaggerated low tone.
The pre-attenuation pad is yet another amazing feature that contributes to making this microphone a powerful one. There are four different adjustments (0, -6, -12, and -18 dB) which you can set to depending on how loud the recording is. The clipping indicator along with this identifies any kind of distortion in the connection and makes space for the sound as needed.
Akg C414 Xlii Review- Sound Quality and Performance:
One of the best qualities of C414 is its outstanding audio performance and perfect sound character. Being able to adjust to different polar patterns and other settings allows the microphone to achieve ace level clarity irrespective of where you are using it. The clean mid-range, bright, undistorted treble and accurate bass response, ensures detailed sound at every point. This makes this microphone an all-rounder ideal for both vocals and any type of instrument be it electric or acoustic guitar, synthesizer, or roaring drums.
Additionally, the very little amount of self-noise makes the microphone sound more clear and accurate with no interference with the recording audio.
While setting the right polar pattern gives you the best results, some AKG C414 XLii reviews indicated that the capsule of the mic is a bit sensitive to the proximity effect- meaning, if you speak too close to it. This can cause an excessive pounding sound, which affects the vocals that are too silent. So positioning the mic accurately is important in this case.
Akg C414 Xlii Review – Pros and Cons:
Now that you have a detailed AKG 414 review, here’s a quick rundown on the pros and cons of AKG C414 XLII:
|Quite lightweight for a condenser microphone. |
Incredible capture quality with amazing voicing.
Performs well even when the sound is very loud, say about 153 dB or more.
Abundant features to suit a wide range of applications.
Use friendly controls.
Self-noise is very low which in turn enhances the quality.
|The capsule is highly sensitive to proximity effects so needs to be placed at the right distance. This isn’t a big deal and can be resolved easily.|
Akg C414 Xlii or Akg C414 Xls- Which One to Go for?
Many people ask which one out of the two models- AKG C414 XLII and AKG C414 XLS is better because both go pretty hand in hand with each other. Well, the truth is, even though AKG C414 XLII has gained more popularity, both versions have their own benefits. There are several great AKG C414 XLS reviews online as well.
But, so you do not get confused about which one would be ideal for you, here’s a brief AKG C414 XLS review highlighting the difference between the two:
The first difference between the two is the look- while XLII has a golden grille, the XLS counterpart has silver. Because of its gold-tone, XLII shines more giving a more glamorous look.
However, the main difference lies in the sound profile, as their capsules are designed a bit differently. XLII has a slightly brighter high frequency, which is beneficial for the vocals because they sound clearer and offering with this mic. XLS, on the other hand, has a warm and more neutral sound presentation than its counterpart. Since the frequency response is flatter, this makes it applicable to a broader range of applications.
Some AKG C414 XLS reviews say that they specifically work great with drums, bass guitars, or even harmony vocals who back up the lead vocalist. This is because using XLS for these bass-heavy instruments may keep the overall performance or recording extremely balanced rather than the bassline overpowering the other elements.
So honestly, which microphone to go for is a completely personal preference with such minor differences. But, if you are a critical listener, then this slightest difference is probably going to matter to you. So in that case, if you need a mic for more vocal focussed programmes like podcasts, etc. then XLII will do a great job. If you require a good mic for instruments, then XLS is a great go-to. Again, personal hearing preference!
Buying Guide for Microphones: What Are Some of the Things You Need to Keep in Mind Before You Purchase Microphones?
Finding a good quality mic is never an easy job, and this is especially tough when a few mics are good for vocals and a few of them are more inclined towards other things like instruments or recording. Unless you have little technical knowledge about these microphones, you may find yourself lost among so many options available out there. But, don’t worry! We have provided you with a comprehensive buying guide that will give you information on the various things that you need to consider before buying a microphone. This should make it easier for you to find the most ideal mic for your pursuits.
Types of Microphones
One of the most important and basic factors you need to consider is which type of mic you need. This pretty much also depends on what and where you are going to use it. So there are two main types of mics – dynamic and condenser mics.
Dynamic mics have a robust build and are great when it comes to durability, but they do not have a lot of sound sensitivity. You might have seen in several shows where these types of mics are used, the user comes close to the mic to speak or to sing. The reason is due to low sound sensitivity, they pick up the voice or the sound that is closest to them. On the upside, these mics have low feedback.
Condenser mics are more widely used these days because of their audio precision in spite of being highly sensitive. These mics find their use in a more professional setup or for hi-fi recording because of their efficiency and accuracy. Condenser mics also come with a lot of features like adjustments and settings to enhance the quality of the audio, hence, they are comparatively expensive as well.
Other than these two types, you also get ribbon mics and USB mics. All have their own advantages and benefits.
Are You Considering a Vintage Mic?
Well, in case you are considering going for a vintage mic, there are a few critical things you need to take into account. Looking for a mic that has been serviced recently. You might get numerous options in stores or online when it comes to these types of mics, but remember these mics already cost a fortune. So, if you have already invested so much in it, you obviously would not want to spend more on servicing it when you get to know that it isn’t working as expected.
It is also best to test the mic first for a couple of weeks to a month before purchasing it. So see if you can get the mic for trial and use it in your studio. That is the best place you can evaluate if this mic works well or not. Older mics also often have a lot of pop or hissing sounds, which may interfere with your recording. The tonal range of the mic also needs to be evaluated- this is done best by singing into the mic to check if the lows, mids, and highs are captured properly.
While most of the mics these days are made with good quality materials, it is important to ensure that the product you are purchasing can withstand the kind of handling that a studio environment has.
Every mic has its own built-in noise, which is called the self-noise- it is the signal that is generated in the mic even without the audio source. This self-noise can interfere with the performance of the mic and reduce the quality of the audio. Although you cannot do anything about it because reducing the self-noise is the manufacturer’s responsibility, what you can do is look for a mic that has low self-noise.
Different Specs and Features
Depending on the use, you need to look for the various features that come with the microphone. Features like frequency ranges, polar patterns, bass-cut filters, sound sensitivity, impedance, are crucial in determining the performance of the microphone. For example, most mics should have at least a full frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hz. If it is slightly extended at the lower or the upper ends it can give you more accuracy.
Impedance and sound sensitivity also play an important role. The higher the sound sensitivity, the more efficiently the mic can pick up sounds. Impedance controls the flow of the audio signal. A good professional microphone can have an impedance between 50 Ohm to 500 Ohm. The output impedance should always be lower than the load impedance for a mic to be good.
The different types of polar patterns signify the ability of the mic to pick up the sound from different directions. One of the finest examples is the AKG C414 XLII, C414 XLS, which come with 9 different polar patterns to choose from that make it ideal for multiple different applications. The bass cut filters equipped in the mics allow you to remove the excessive boomy sound from the recording, giving crystal clear audio.
Add-ons and Accessories
Depending on the performance of the mic and the type of use, you may need various accessories to enhance the functionality of the microphone. The most common accessories include a pop filter and windscreen. Many times these accessories come bundled along with the microphone itself. If not, then you may need to get them separately.
The Pop Filter is a thin screen placed between the microphone and audio source. It helps eliminate the pop sound of their bubbles and is caused due to fast traveling air molecules. It is extremely useful for YouTubers or podcasters in achieving clean noise-free audio.
A windscreen is pretty similar to pop filters with the main difference being they are used when the recording takes place outdoors with a lot of breezes around.
Amplifiers are an important thing that is needed depending on the mics audio output. You may need a preamp for the mic while recording to get the desired volume because oftentimes the volume of the mic is not enough.
Conclusion – AKG C414 XLii Review
So, to conclude this review, both AKG C414 XLII and XLS are well-rounded pairs of mics that are suitable for different types of applications. However, in order for any microphone to perform optimally, it is very important that the room is treated well. The same is the case with AKG C414. No matter how good the mic is, unless the room is made suitable for its use, you will not get the desired results from these mics.
Despite a few AKG C414 Xlii reviews stating that the sound is a bit too dark or a little too bright, these mics are a great tool if you want an all-rounder solution for your studio. While these mics are quite expensive, with the kind of features they have and the acoustic accuracy that you can achieve, the mic is definitely worth an investment. But do remember that these are professional microphones that work best and are worth a spend if you need them for high-end professional projects. Hope you liked our AKG C414 Xlii Review.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
AKG C414 XLII has a full frequency response of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, which is the human hearing range. This means that the microphone has the ability to capture every minute sound clearly making every little sound audible at all frequency levels.
Yes, they can be used. Both C414 XLII and XLS are high-end mics that work great in a studio environment but with abundant features to adjust the sound to get the desired result, these mics can be used for outdoor recording as well.