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Buying C414 today but which version? + maybe a preamp
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Scenarist
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#1
8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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Buying C414 today but which version? + maybe a preamp

Hi , Im buying a AKG c414 tonight from ebay (or you if you chime in with one)
but I dont know which version to get ?
Im going to be using it to record Vocals only (all types of vocals from many vocalist).
The only ones that ive kinda researched are the C414 B XLII the c414B XLS and the newer versions without the B in it lol.
Ive seen so many different versions tho I dont know which one is going to suit my needs the most ?

does it matter that much that I will regret not trying the others or should I just buy another tlm 103 because I loved the one I use to own? (im really getting this over the 103 because I want some experience with more .. and willing to gamble on the unknown)


and just as not to start another thread I have like 1400 to spend ...
if i buy a c414 is there a preamp that is worth owning for what I probably will have left ? or I can save up the rest and add it to my nexts months upgrades.

sorry for the long post ... any help is appreciated

If no one replies im probably going to buy the BXLS
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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The XLS is super nice. Love them as a pair on a guitar amp and for vocals (not everyone's choice for vox, but...).
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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Try the XLS with a True preamp. Pre has a nice "API" transformer thing it does with the AKG. Inexpensive and very nice combo.
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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k thx for replying....

lol still dont know ... i kinda gotta hunch feeling that I really want the B Xlii
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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Still try the True if you want a nice warm sound out of that mic. I don't own that pre--just did a careful shoot out with the True, API, Grace, and another.
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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This should be helpful.

Curing Condenser Confusion: An Audio History of The AKG C 414

To me personally it gets worse after the B-ULS. I'm using EB with CK12 and also with the new capsule for some time... and I even don't think about them as the same mic. New capsule being much duller with "watercolor" character and cool fat darkness about it. CK12 is bright and smooth with more vivid mids too.

What I like about EB with new capsule is that I don't have to worry about harshness, yet I know if needed EQ will bring up highs just fine. It doesn't have the resolution of CK12, but to my surprise, that's a good thing for a many applications.

From what I hear B-ULS i less dark than EB, but very similar. Newer c414 get more etched and "narrow" in character to my ears.
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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Liked the buls, first time I heard it I was suprised how good it sounded...... Then I heard the original with a brass cap and was like "oh, thats what all the fuss is about".

the buls darkness can be a plus at times.
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha View Post
To me personally it gets worse after the B-ULS.
^^That. B-ULS is a nice mic and great value for the money.

The older brass capsule ones are great but you're not going to get them cheap.

That said, if you can't get results from an XLS you're doing something wrong.
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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thanx everyone for replies, its sad down to the last minute of knowing what i want but not which one to get lol.

XLii Tlii or XLS B or not ...those are the questions...

someone messaged me and we talked about the XLS and the Tlii , Im sure Ill be fine with either of them


Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha View Post
This should be helpful.

Curing Condenser Confusion: An Audio History of The AKG C 414

To me personally it gets worse after the B-ULS. I'm using EB with CK12 and also with the new capsule for some time... and I even don't think about them as the same mic. New capsule being much duller with "watercolor" character and cool fat darkness about it. CK12 is bright and smooth with more vivid mids too.

What I like about EB with new capsule is that I don't have to worry about harshness, yet I know if needed EQ will bring up highs just fine. It doesn't have the resolution of CK12, but to my surprise, that's a good thing for a many applications.

From what I hear B-ULS i less dark than EB, but very similar. Newer c414 get more etched and "narrow" in character to my ears.
this shoot out makes me want the XLii ..... .. I think i may go with that because the difference in mic's shouldn't be that great and since Im going to have many different voices on them (sure some will work some will not) Im going to have the same percentage of voices working very well on any given one of them.

with that said it really doesn't make any difference if i cant test them all out my self

thanx everyone for the replies
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
IMHO it's a mistake to buy a 414 that is transformerless when the transformer version (C 414 B-ULS) is available. The transformer smooths out the sound very nicely. Going transformerless can make a mic sound slightly harsh.

Cases in point....

Had Neumann designed the TLM 103 with a transformer, I'm sure it would not be getting the bad press it does today. Maybe that's a good taste test for buying a 414. If you prefer the sound of the Neumann TLM 103 over the transformer based U87 then go with a transformerless 414 because you probably don't have the discernment to hear the difference.

And ditto for the KM184 vs KM84. Removing the transformer from the KM84 to come up with the KM184 resulted in a less desirable microphone. Many people now want old 84s and have bid them up in price because they sound better due to their internal transformer design.

Good transformers just make mics sound better. This subjectively applies to the 414 as well.
forgot to hit enter with my last reply (many tabs open) and i didnt see this before posting....

you make a very good point !
about liking the tlm 103 however.. I don't necessarily prefer it over the u87 (always wanted one as a matter of fact) but Ive never owned one personally

as far as being able to hear the difference , I can definitely hear the difference but knowing the variable of what makes the difference , I may have little less knowledge in , if that makes sense

thanx for replying

I guess Im not ready to make this purchase after all ... but im definitely going to pull the trigger by friday. Ill let you all know which one to get ..
(also keep replying, I consider everything except a completely different mic all together, I know im getting c414)
#11
8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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The XLII has a bit of a presence bump compared to the XLS, which is flatter, and accordingly, it seems folks often prefer the XLII for vocals and the XLS as an all-rounder. That said, I've had good results with the XLS on vocals, but I find it often needs a bit of eq/high boost for more modern vocal tones.

And as others have said, both are brighter than the older ULS.
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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The 414 BULS and 414 XLS are very similar (I have a couple of each). I use more often the BULS, but it's just out of habit, although I do not agree that it's a better mic than the XLS. I'm not obsessed with warm sounds at the cost of transparency.

I still remember a few years ago, before the release of the XLS, at AKG forum there were several engineers requesting a new 414 BULS, but without transformer like the AKG 414 TLII. Practically no one wanted the transformer.

Regarding the old AKG TLII, is rather similar to the BULS, but less neutral and somewhat brighter. Of course not as bright as the TLM 103 despite its presence boost, perhaps because it has a transient response somewhat slow. It's a very interesting mic.

In short, both the BULS as the XLS will make you a happy man and perfectly complement your TLM 103. Any decent decent preamp will work perfectly well. You do not need an especially warm one.
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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I have a stereo set of the XLII.
They are definitely on the bright side when compared to my TLM193.
Some vocalists sound absolutely amazing through these mics and
some are obviously overly bright and harsh.

Mic placement and pick up pattern can help with the harshness.
While none of the patterns are absolutely flat...

The Omni setting is the flattest of the 5.
Wide Cardioid is still pretty flat but starts to get brighter.
Cardioid is brighter still and Hypercardioid is the brightest of the Cardioid settings. Figure 8 gets even brighter.
All the patterns have a slight rise in the 200hz-500hz area.

As room mics on a kit about 12' - 15' away (Wide Cardioid)
They are, in a word, stellar.
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8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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FWIW I want to say this is a great read about everyone's individual experience.

Awesome thread.
#15
9th May 2013
Old 9th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank_Case View Post
Had Neumann designed the TLM 103 with a transformer, I'm sure it would not be getting the bad press it does today in some circles. Maybe that's a good taste test for buying a 414.

If you prefer the sound of the Neumann TLM 103 over the transformer based U87 then go with a transformerless 414 because you probably don't have the discernment to hear the difference.

And ditto for the KM184 vs KM84. Removing the transformer from the KM84 to come up with the KM184 subjectively resulted in a less desirable microphone. Many people now want old 84s and have bid them up in price because they sound better due to their internal transformer design.
I'll add to this that discernment does not necessarily have anything to do with preference. Some people like brighter mics, and some mics sound brighter on certain sources (of course, with whatever else is in a signal path, room sound, etc.).

But transformers are ONE part of the sound.

As an example, one of the biggest changes between the KM-184 and the KM-84 is not just the transformer, but the narrower slots placed near the capsule.

To quote David Satz: "the KM 184 has been produced in two versions with slightly different electronics, but both have the narrow slot arrangement behind the capsule head which gives them about a 2 dB greater rise in response at around 9 - 10 kHz than the KM 84 had. The KM 84 wasn't quite as flat and neutral on top as some of Neumann's catalogs would lead one to believe, especially in a diffuse sound field. With the additional boost, that's just enough extra "pixie dust" to give the microphone a bit of a Disneyesque sparkle that it didn't used to have--whatever you may think of that.

Like most colorations in sound equipment, what they added to the high-frequency response of the KM 140 and KM 184 is fine sometimes and not so fine at other times in my own opinion. I wish they had left the basic sound alone and just improved the objective technical performance, which they certainly could have done and in fact did do at one point--I would be interested to try a pair of the "KM 84A" microphones that Neumann made for the Japanese NHK broadcast network in the mid-1990s, which combined the original capsule arrangement with the more up-to-date, wider-range transformerless electronics. But Neumann says that none of those are available any more.

Apart from that, the KM 184 (and its modular counterpart, the KM 140) are about 3-1/2 dB more sensitive than the KM 84 while also being a few dB quieter. The increase in sensitivity comes largely from the fact that the capsule is polarized at 60+ Volts from a built-in DC/DC converter, rather than from the 48 Volt supply directly, plus the use of an incredibly miniaturized transformerless output circuit. This circuit also reduces the distortion at the lowest frequencies, though the KM 84 amplifier already has very low distortion (in the < 0.2% range). Numerically an even bigger change in dynamic range comes from the maximum SPL that can be handled without overload--it jumped from ca. 120 dB SPL in the KM 84 to 138 (!) dB SPL in the KM 140 and 184.

The main difference between older and newer KM 180-series microphones is that the newer ones (since some time in 2002, I believe) have about 3 dB lower self-noise and require somewhat more current from the phantom power supply (3.2 vs. 2.3 mA per microphone). Note that the KM 100 amplifiers weren't revised when the KM 180 amplifiers were, and thus still have the same dynamic range specifications (and supply current requirements) as the older KM 180-series amplifiers had. So the less expensive microphones are actually the quieter ones now."

Transformers and tubes are really awesome pieces to creating sounds. We all know this.

But there's a lot more that goes into a great mic than this, including what makes a mic great for what each person wants to do. Most of that is personal preference and discernment that tells a person, "I need a BRIGHTER mic or a more NEUTRAL mic or a DARK mic." There's no wrong mic if it works well for what a person wants.

Let no one be duped into thinking, "If I have a transformerless mic, I can't make great music." That's not true. Find a way and/or try different mics.

The magic is in you, not the tools.
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Scenarist
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10th May 2013
Old 10th May 2013
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Thanx everyone for the input.

I had to think about what sound I was looking to get, and I realize that the answer to that is , I dont know until I find it ! Buying any particular one of these mics will go in the same effort of trying to find a sound that I like.

Bright, Dark , Creamy , edgy , All sound good to my ears as long as its in the right application for a particular song. With that said

I bought a brand new C414 XLS because I found a good deal on it which I dont think I could beat lol. and 60 day no question asked return policy ... .

Once it arrives I will let you all know how I like it , and give some samples of it going clean into focusrite forte's pre amps +converters.
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10th May 2013
Old 10th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scenarist View Post
Thanx everyone for the input.

I had to think about what sound I was looking to get, and I realize that the answer to that is , I dont know until I find it ! Buying any particular one of these mics will go in the same effort of trying to find a sound that I like.

Bright, Dark , Creamy , edgy , All sound good to my ears as long as its in the right application for a particular song. With that said

I bought a brand new C414 XLS because I found a good deal on it which I dont think I could beat lol. and 60 day no question asked return policy ... .

Once it arrives I will let you all know how I like it , and give some samples of it going clean into focusrite forte's pre amps +converters.
Huzzah! man

Excited for you, and please let us know what you think of the xls.
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10th May 2013
Old 10th May 2013
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Some time ago when I bought C24 and C414eb with CK12 capsule, I was curious about the difference between them and the new teflon white-ring capsule. So I did a short test with VO.

Mind you all CK12 capsules were a bit different batch to batch, piece to piece and they have aged differently too. So the difference is not only the amplifier. Speaking of preamp, it was siemens v276...

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/attac...tereza_c24.wav

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/attac...brass-ck12.wav

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/attac...414_teflon.wav



AKG C24 - your favourite use

#19
10th May 2013
Old 10th May 2013
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Ahhh, Matucha you most excellent!

As for 414's - some years ago I make a DAT recording of 6 different LDC mics on a guy sings and plays acoustic guitar. He plays the same exact thing every time and I put the different mics in the same position with no change to anything.
The 414's were favorite of everybody, and the Beyer big LCD comes in 2nd but much lower output.
Anyway the BULS was great but compared to transformerless version it sounded like compressed, but in a good way. The TL sounded less compressed and have a more natural breathing of dynamics, especially lows. The TLII Vintage sounded like the TL but more affected in mids and highs in a way that sort of smooth out the edge of vocals. Everyone said the TL was most accurate repro, but most prefer the TLII Vintage for sort of musical or artful sound.
Thanks to Josh Thomas of Rupert Neve's company for providing the mics.
Hope this helps the decision of 414's.

Oh, and we use the John Hardy preamp.
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11th May 2013
Old 11th May 2013
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I compared the new XLS to a ULS back and forth for days. The ULS has a little more body than the XLS perhaps due to the transformer. But to confuse things, there are also subtle differences between the same model of mic. In general, the XLS has more gain and is very quiet. The ULS needs a little more juice from the preamp. All of these are things you may want to consider. Both are great mics and there is no wrong choice. I doubt you could ID the mic model in a soloed track. Big boomy dreadnought; perhaps i'll use the XLS. Bright acoustic; will probably go for the ULS. Mix and match. I have tried so many mics and keep coming back to the 414. For my needs, it is a go to mic that I could not do without. Don't make yourself crazy. The 414 signature sound is on MANY albums and is recognizable in a comforting way.
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17th May 2013
Old 17th May 2013
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Hi everyone, thanks for the very helpful comparisons, personal stories, and suggestions.

I received my brand new, still in the plastic, C414XLS mic yesterday and I love it.
I have learned alot using what I had at hand , but the difference is instantly noticable
especially when using plugins! In other words I can get more extreme and not "distort" the sound..... or I can be very subtle but still "define" the sound of a vocal.

The way this thing stacks vocals, pending the performance, already gives me close to the sound that I spend hours and hours with my other microphone hoping to achieve lol.

All in all , I believe I bought the right mic for the right price and can now say that Im very much limited by own creativity and not so much as equipment , where as with my much cheaper mic I spend too much time doing corrective things opposed to creative things--

I love this mic! thanx everyone
#22
21st May 2013
Old 21st May 2013
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I have an XLS which I've used for vocals and tenor sax mostly. I originally bought it for use with horns and I have made some nice tenor recordings with it. Still, the vocal tracks I've made with it are pretty good. The only time it really wasn't that great was on a female vocalist with a high thin voice. In this instance it did not get it, with with a female alto/contralto it worked very well. That should give a pretty good idea of what an XLS is like. I think the flat response is very good because it is difficult to get a flat response out of an XLII but you can certainly bump up frequencies in an XLS although granted it is not quite the same thing.
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29th May 2013
Old 29th May 2013
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akg c414 xls vs ULS

Hi,

After buying a ULS second hand I encountered a problem a crackling noise occurred whilst recording a guitar at moderate to loud volume, although the signal was not too hot at the soundcard. The mic lost fidelity as a result I ended up having to replace the capsule although the AKG engineer could find nothing wrong. The same thing has happened again with no incident to blame for the loss of fidelity, 3 months in it just sounds noticeably duller although I have been very careful & only used the mic for voice.
I have no faulty equipment & have never broken anything in 20 years of recording.

I've heard that the ULS has a favorable sound to the XLS, but am now tempted to buy new as I have lost confidence with the second hand market.
Would appreciate feedback on the XLS sound..

Bright with more clarity?

OR

Over bright & plasticy

Many thanks
#24
29th May 2013
Old 29th May 2013
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Ive used the 414B and the 414 XLS. The 414 XLS is in a whole other league to the 414 B (for me). Much smoother and nice and bright, without being offending. For vocals a 414 XLS with a 22khz shelf on an SSL E series curve is damn good.
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29th May 2013
Old 29th May 2013
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Many thanks
#26
29th May 2013
Old 29th May 2013
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very much miss my B-ULS
#27
29th May 2013
Old 29th May 2013
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Do you use the XLS instead?
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