With a history of producing high-quality microphones and offering audio solutions to the world for close to 75 years now, AKG is a maestro in the audio equipment industry. You will hardly find any studio around the globe that doesn’t use at least one AKG product-especially a microphone. No matter how much the competition is in the market outside, this company never fails to disappoint its customers with their innovation and expertise. AKG succeeds by keeping up with changing technology and the changing customer needs – the combination of which is the result of those unbeatable microphone series that the professionals and experts admire. Before we head into the AKG P420 Review section, let us first understand a few aspects relating to it.
What Is the AKG P-series and What Is the AKG P420?
One such headphone range is the P-series or the Perception series from AKG. These headphones have acquired the company’s authentic Austrian design and are manufactured in China under AKG’s supervision. Since the cost of production in China is low, this has helped the company build these microphones at a much lesser price. This means the P-series is the combination of AKG’s technical excellence and China’s production skills which makes these microphones a high-performing one at a great value for money.
Now, when it comes to high-fidelity studio recording, or stage performances, people often tend to look for high-end microphones for bigger capability thinking that the cheaper ones may not be suitable for all types of applications. While this isn’t absolutely incorrect, the Perception series from AKG proves it otherwise, with different types of offerings to suit different types of projects. AKG knows its customers well and has created microphone solutions to help people with every type of need and with the budget aspect in mind.
AKG P420, a member of the ‘Perception’ family, is a well-rounded AKG recording microphone that is created keeping in mind a wide range of professional and personal applications within a considerable budget. It is actually a replacement for its predecessor, P400, which has been discontinued by the company now. This condenser mic has been devised with AKG P420 settings like multiple polar patterns, a high pass filter, and a pre-attenuation pad for use in studios, outdoor production, home-based recordings, and even live stage shows. This device is great for both vocals and instruments, so you do not have to purchase separate ones.
Basically, the P420 is a great tool that has the ability to fulfill every kind of project needed outdoor or indoor, without having to break a bank. With numerous positive AKG P420 reviews, this dual capsule AKG recording microphone has gained huge popularity in the industry.
Let’s move on to the next section for a comprehensive AKG P420 review to see if the mic is really what the brand claims it to be.
AKG P420 Review: the Design and Build, Significant Features, Price Point, Pros, and Cons
AKG recording microphone, P420, is a large dual-diaphragm condenser microphone, which is also the first one in the P-series to offer multiple polar patterns for versatile use. Costing less than $200, this microphone offers features equivalent to some premium headphones from other brands. The proof of this is the mic has multiple pickup patterns, whereas most mics at this price are designed for cardioid pickup patterns.
So even though this AKG recording microphone is on the low end of the company’s microphone lines, it is a great arsenal for anyone who is into serious recording projects. Considering the price of the mic, this can also be a huge asset for those who are just beginning their career in the production industry and need a good mic to get their hands on without spending too much initially.
Moving on to the AKG P420 review, let’s begin with the technical specifications first.
Technical Specs at a Glance
|Type of Microphone
|Pick up pattern
|Multipattern- Cardioid, Omnidirectional, and Figure of eight
|20 Hz to 20,000 kHz
|Size of the diaphragms
|Two diaphragms of 1 inch each
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level (SPL)
|135 dB (without pad)155 dB (with pad)
|Bass Cut Filter
|Bass roll-off at 300 Hz – 12 dB/ Octave
|Balanced XLR with 3 pin male contact
What Can You Expect in the Box?
The box includes:
- AKG P420
- One spider shock mount with 5.8 inches to 3.8 inches microphone adapter
- Hard body storage case for easy storage and portability.
- Few extra shock mount replacement bands.
You may not get the user manual with this AKG recording microphone, and most of the AKG P420 reviews say the same. But that shouldn’t be that serious of a problem because you can have access to the manual online on the AKG official website.
AKG P420 Review: Design and Build
If you look at this microphone- at the very first glance, it looks pretty similar to most of the other AKG condenser mics. But of course, it’s AKG, and it adds some bit of uniqueness to each of its products. P420 AKG recording microphone has been ergonomically designed to ensure that it suits every kind of personality while maintaining the style quotient.
Coming to the build quality, with an all-metal build, this one is probably one of the best quality microphones you will get in the industry in the condenser mics category. It features a rugged design, constructed with good quality materials. This makes the microphone extremely durable and impact-resistant. The company uses an alloy made of zinc and aluminum in the outer shell of the mic to add strength to it which prevents it from denting.
P420 is divided into two halves, where the upper half is a champagne/ gold-tinted metallic grille that houses two large 1-inch capsules; the lower half is made of black color matte-finished solid metallic body that holds or supports the upper portion. The grille is further segmented into three parts- there is a specific side design and a top addressed one that accounts for the precise delivery of sound. Additionally, there are various sound adjustment buttons that help you adjust the settings as per the surroundings or depending on your preference.
Right below the grille mesh is the AKG P420 settings that are arranged in the front and at the back of the mic. You will see a slider button in the front that helps you select between three different polar patterns. To the back of the mic, there are two different buttons-one for the bass-cut filter and the other to switch on/Off the pre-attenuation pad. The buttons are made super user-friendly, so you can easily turn off or on the features effortlessly turning the mic to your stage or studio setup.
Weighing about 530 grams, it is not quite lightweight equipment, but the weight of this AKG recording microphone is an advantage here because it offers stability to the mic and prevents it from toppling off while handling or positioning. While the weight of the mic is on the heavier side, it is balanced out by the sleek design that is easy to handle.
The spider design shock mount stand that comes bundled with this microphone works in coordination with the weight of the mic to offer stability or shock resistance. The stand also has a solid durable build to sustain any type of stage handling. The only glitch that we noticed here is that a few AKG P420 reviews mentioned that it is a bit of a struggle to connect the shock mount system. You may need to handle it with a lot of patience.
All in all, this mic, although reasonably priced, doesn’t have a cheap visual at all. In fact, it has earned numerous favorable AKG 420 reviews that directly or indirectly indicated that the mic has a premium look that can easily complement any kind of style.
AKG 420 Review: Significant Features and Sound Performance
AKG recording condenser microphone, P420 has some praiseworthy features that make the microphone a very powerful one despite the fact that it isn’t really from the premium shelf. One of the top highlights of this mic is its switchable polar patterns. The microphone offers you three different polar patterns to select from, depending on what or how are you going to use the mic for. You have a choice between Cardioid, Omnidirectional, and Figure 8. This also helps you test its uses and understand the different sound characteristics on different types of applications to see which works best for any given project.
(For those who are planning to buy a mic for the first time, are not sure about the polar patterns or multi-pattern microphones, then here is a quick insight. Polar patterns are the way the microphone captures sound from a selective source that you want it to, as they reject the noise from other sources that you do not want to be amplified. While some mics are designed with a single pick-up pattern, some of them like AKG recording microphone- P420 exhibits different types of sound pick-up patterns for a variety of different uses.)
The cardioid polar pattern enables the microphone to pick up the sound only from the sources that are in front of the mic, whereas an Omnidirectional pattern works great when you want this AKG recording microphone to capture the sound from multiple sources around the room. Figure 8 on the other hand empowers the mic to capture the sound from both the front and the back which makes it perfect for two performers to use at the same time.
The variation in the polar pattern will however need you to take some time in positioning the microphone or angle it accurately, so you get the best possible results. Therefore, until you get your hands on this, you may have to experiment with this a bit.
The second admirable feature of this AKG recording microphone is its large dual-diaphragm system that is not only responsible for the different polar patterns but also delivers powerful and warm acoustics. With a high sound sensitivity level of 155 dB and a full frequency response of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, P420 can capture the lowest pitch sound as well as the upper high tones with superior clarity and ease. There is no distortion anywhere which adds to the quality of the headphone.
AKG P420 Settings
The bass-cut filter allows you to reduce the unwanted low-frequency sounds coming from the wind, the surrounding sources, or from the microphone handling, etc. Using this, you can have the recording focused on the main audio source while controlling the other sounds around, which further enhances the sound quality.
Coming to another significant feature, the pre-attenuation pad works up to -20 dB of attenuation. This makes the microphone more versatile and suitable for high sound pressure level applications from powerful sound sources like kick drums, brass instruments, guitar amplifier boxes. Turning on the attenuation pad will ensure a balance of the various sound elements which will in return prevent distortion due to excessive loudness. The attenuation pad also helps in eliminating the on-stage feedback allowing you to work in a busy ambiance without affecting the sound quality. Check out our AKG k240 studio headphones review by clicking this link.
You should note that some AKG 420 reviews listed online did indicate the amount of attenuation to be a little too maximized. But again, it depends a great deal on individual hearing preference. Otherwise, AKG recording microphone, P420 delivers exemplary performance in every field be it vocals tracks, instruments, or just voiceovers.
AKG P420 Self-noise
P420 is tested to have around 15 dB of self-noise, which isn’t very bad. This means that the recording professional, or singers may be able to detect very little noise when they keenly listen during analytical applications.
AKG 420 Review: Price
As mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons why this AKG P420 is so appealing to many people is its surprisingly low price tag of $179.00. It is hard to find a condenser microphone offering plenty of features at this low price tag. While the original price is $208.00, almost all e-commerce websites are given a generous discount right now that you may not want to miss out on.
AKG P420 Review- Pros and Cons
AKG P420 is no doubt a super-powerful microphone for its price, but like every other microphone, this one is not 100% perfect. There are a few drawbacks that you should be well aware of before making a decision of purchasing it. So let’s see how the pros and cons of this AKG recording microphone weigh up:
- The sleek style and sturdy build ensures that the mic is both ergonomically suitable and durable.
- The LED display on the mic indicates the sound level of the recording in decibels (dB). This makes it easy for you to adjust the volume without having to reach the computer screen making it more convenient to use.
- Outstanding sound quality and voice pick up ability ensures precise voice representation making you sound great on the recording.
- P420 picks up very little background noise when compared with other similar types of microphones making it suitable for any type of environment or even busy surroundings.
- The mic has a compact shape which is very helpful for documentary makers who need to conceal their mic from the camera. This mic has a powerful pickup capability so even if you place the microphone hidden from the camera screen, it can pick up from the audio source pretty well.
- The multiple polar pattern makes the mic suitable for versatile applications.
- User friendly AKG P420 settings.
- The attenuation pad in the mic helps in controlling the sound from loud sources pretty well. This means that you do not have to worry about the instrument or the sound source being too close because the mic will adjust the sound level accordingly.
- Comes with a shock mount and a sturdy storage case which is very helpful.
- The microphone is great for those professionals or artists who do not want a good performing mic without spending a large amount of money.
- Can use it for both vocals and all types of instruments.
- The microphone doesn’t provide USB connectivity unlike some other mics. This may be a deal breaker for those who do record frequently using computers. You will have to get an extra set of cables to connect the mic along with other devices required.
- There is a slight paucity in the upper frequency response which some mics from the competing brands are good at.
- While the overall sound performance is good, some AKG 420 reviews state that it may not be the best option out there for critical applications or a good choice for the audiophile recordists.
If you are a fan of AKG but want to take a look at a few more options from the brand’s microphone collections to address specific needs or to compare and weigh the features, we understand that. You obviously do not want to invest in a mic before comparing a few options to know which one fits you the most. So, let’s move on to the next section for an overview of some more similar products offered by the brand. You might also want to K371 headphones from here.
What Are Some Other Types of Microphones You Get in the P-series?
We discussed earlier in this article what the P-series or the ‘Perception Series” from AKG is and a bit about it. Here, let’s see what are some of the other mics that this range has to offer.
If you are looking for a simple and straightforward mic with a similar face cut as that of P420, then the P120 condenser microphone should serve your purpose. Unlike the P420, this microphone is engineered for a cardioid polar pattern. It uses a .66 inch high-efficiency capsule that picks up the voice with superior clarity and accuracy. The only thing is this P120 needs proper placement for it to work effectively owing to its cardioid pickup pattern.
Great for vocals, both male and female, it works fairly decently with instruments as well. The sound is warm, a little compressed but not bland and suits closed miking applications pretty well. With a little acoustic treatment, this mic is good in a closed place or studio environment. So if you are just beginning podcasting, or are a professional YouTuber with a home studio setup, this mic should be good for you. It doesn’t come with a shock mount though which you need to make a note of. You will get this mic at around $99.00.
If you are specifically looking for a condenser microphone that is dedicated to instruments, then P170 is something that you should take a look at. With the traditional stick mic design, the microphone comes with a robust all-metal built to withstand all types of stage handling. The mic features a small diaphragm and true capacitor that gives more space for the high ends than what the large diaphragm mics do. This gives a natural, spatial representation of the sound coming from the instruments. If positioned properly, this mic can give great results in a stage as well as a studio setup. You will get this P170 at around $105.00.
This is a high-performing microphone that is suitable for a wide variety of projects and for stage shows. Just like the P420, this microphone has a large-diaphragm capsule but just one instead of two. Nevertheless, the mic still has an extended low frequency and higher sound sensitivity that makes it compatible with a dynamic sound range and a wider variety of instruments. The good thing with this one is, unlike the P120, it comes with a shock mount which makes it more convenient to use. Additionally, the mic is equipped with a high pass filter and a pre-attenuation pad for achieving higher accuracy.
If you are looking for a versatile mic for general purpose, that comes a bit cheaper than P420 but is better than the P120, then this mic will not disappoint you. You will get this mic at around $135.00.
Essential Accessories That Contribute to the AKG P420 Settings
Now, if you are planning on setting up a home studio for recording, or need a few accessories that contribute to the AKG P420 settings, here are the most essential ones that you will need:
One of the most low-key yet highly beneficial microphone accessories is the pop filter. The pop filter or the pop shield comes in different materials like foam filters, a metallic screen, or a fabric stretched filter, and depending on the type of microphone you can choose what works well for you.
Pop filters are great at filtering out some unwanted or over-emphasized sounds like the “B” or “P” sound that are produced due to air pops or blasts. Highly sensitive mics usually tend to pick up these sounds easily, and they clearly come out when you hear the recording. It can be a challenging task to remove these air popping sounds while editing which is why it is best to use pop filters while recording. Just place them in between the mic and the mouth, and you can stay relaxed about the popping sounds during the recording.
Using a pop filter will also help you with the proper mic handling technique enabling you to maintain a proper distance from the mic for the most effective results.
Mic Stand and Shock Mount
If your device doesn’t come bundled with a mic stand, then you will definitely need one of these. Well, first, it will allow you to place the mic properly and firmly, so you can keep your hands free. Other than that, a lot of condenser mics are way too sensitive for even the tiniest sound that can come from breathing, tapping of feet, or slight sifting of things, etc. the shock mount does a great job in disseminating these sounds before the microphone captures them.
Movable Vocal Booths or Reflection Screen
Well, this isn’t as important as the first two accessories, but this will give you a nice corner in the house for recording. This is great for those who cannot build a proper home studio or need a corner for small-scale projects. These vocal booths work great in blocking the environment sounds to a great extent. Placing the booth in the right way helps in absorbing the sound reflections which then improves the quality of the recording.
Coming back to the P420, this condenser mic will give you everything that you need at a super affordable price making it suitable for both beginners and professionals. Made for general use, it is tuned in such a way that it offers unbiased performance in case of both vocals and instruments of various types be it bass-forward instruments like kick drums or acoustic guitar, piano, or brass instruments. The sound representation is warm and natural, but it doesn’t sound dull in any way which makes it great for multiple kinds of recording like songs, voiceovers, or even instrumental soundtracks. Check out our AKG P220 review from here.
When it comes to stereo miking techniques, this microphone works surprisingly well delivering with high-level accuracy and clarity. Additionally, no matter how much you exploit it, this AKG recording microphone is not going to give up easily thanks to its rock-solid body. So the bottom line is, if you want a great microphone at a reasonable price, this is an option to go for. Also, we always recommend you to read the reviews and check the ratings before buying them.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Yes, this microphone is good for kick drums, cello, or any other bass musical instrument. All you need to do is choose the AKG P420 settings appropriately like the bass-cut filter, the pre-attenuation pad to get the best possible sound quality out of it.
Yes, it works great even when you hang this microphone the other way round. The shock mount provided with the mic helps you to hang it properly and deliver the desired results. You might need a few other things for this upside-down technique to work properly, so it is recommended to get expert advice before you do so.
Yes, absolutely. This mic has a solid capability of reducing feedback on the stage and the different polar patterns let you set the mic in the most appropriate setting making it ideal for live shows.