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Good AKG C414 Alternatives? Condenser Microphones
Old 7th September 2007
  #1
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Talking Good AKG C414 Alternatives?

I'm looking for suggestions of LDCs that would make a good replacement for a pair of AKG C414B-XLS. The ones I had were just too bright, and I found that their pick up patterns were not so well defined and tended to pick up lots of room, regardless of the pattern setting. I'm looking for something in a similar price bracket, up to around $1000 each, that might make a good pair of multi-purpose microphones for use primarily for jazz instruments. I'd like somethng clean, quiet, detailed, but not hyped. They don't necessarily need to be multi-pattern, but it would be nice to have that flexibility. Any ideas? Thanks.
Old 7th September 2007
  #2
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Remoteness's Avatar
Well, C414TLIIs sound very nice to my ears.

My buddy, Duke Markos used a pair of TLM103s in Bruce Hornsby's piano during the J&R Musicfest a few weeks ago.

C414s were used for FOH; he did have the option to go with those, but picked the TLM103s.
Attached Thumbnails
Good AKG C414 Alternatives?-micsofpiano.jpg  
Old 7th September 2007
  #3
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Thanks, Steve. I suppose I could look into a different version of the C414s, maybe TLIIs or EBs?

Lots of folks here on GS seem to report the TLM103s as being bright, but I've never used them myself. Just how bright are they?
Old 8th September 2007
  #4
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I like the TLM103s, but I bought them very early in the production run. They seem as accurate in the high end as 414TLII's or U87s- which is to say, a little hyped. I don't hesitate to use them and have had some very nice compliments using them on piano, wind instruments, or choirs. Of course, they are cardioid only, and are not in the same category as a U89 or TLM170.

I also think the Shure KSM44 is an excellent multi-pattern mic in its price range, and provides an excellent value.

Sadly, the current "Harman" version of the 414 is sincally nowhere near the decades-old standard that AKG created.

Hope these thoughts help!

JvB
Old 8th September 2007
  #5
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Hey Jim,

Thanks for the observations and suggestions. I have limited experience with the KSM44, but I will try to get to know it better. I've only used it on piano and upright bass. I found it to have a slightly forward midrange, similar to a U87, but tuned perhaps a little higher in its presence peak. It seems like a well made mic and potentially flexible in its applications. I need to spend more time with it.

In addition to the TLM103, I'm also curious about Beyerdynamic LDCs. My experience with Beyers so far has been quite positive, and I find them to be a terrific value.
Old 8th September 2007
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jungle Jazz View Post
Thanks, Steve. I suppose I could look into a different version of the C414s, maybe TLIIs or EBs?

Lots of folks here on GS seem to report the TLM103s as being bright, but I've never used them myself. Just how bright are they?
If you went with an AKG C414 flavor, (IMO) pick the TLII.

The TLM103 is an excellent utility mic for the kind of work I do. YMMV
Old 8th September 2007
  #7
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How about a Pearl CC22

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jungle Jazz View Post
I'm looking for suggestions of LDCs that would make a good replacement for a pair of AKG C414B-XLS. The ones I had were just too bright, and I found that their pick up patterns were not so well defined and tended to pick up lots of room, regardless of the pattern setting. I'm looking for something in a similar price bracket, up to around $1000 each, that might make a good pair of multi-purpose microphones for use primarily for jazz instruments. I'd like somethng clean, quiet, detailed, but not hyped. They don't necessarily need to be multi-pattern, but it would be nice to have that flexibility. Any ideas? Thanks.
I recently picked up a Pearl CC 22 after multiple recommendations on this forum (thanks "Plush") for exactly the same need as you mention. I only record acoustic music -multiple instruments and voice - and each time I have used the Pearl I am just so happy without the typical condenser tizz. The off-axis response is also very good so it blends really well into a live mix. It is a bit more than your budget but for me it is a keeper mic.

Baithak
Old 8th September 2007
  #8
mal
Gear Head
 

If you can afford it...Neumann U89..5 patterns..uncolored..great live..tight patterns if required..good on saxes & tpets...have also used in the studio on bright saxes..esp soprano....recorded Dave Liebaman a few years back live with 2 x 89s......I also use 414s..ULB's (earlier version of the one you have)..works fine on piano..are quite flat...TL11's are brighter intentionally (modelled on C12)...
Old 9th September 2007
  #9
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Thanks for the continued recommendations. While I'm sure the U89 is a fine mic, it's overbudget for the time being, but I'll keep it in mind for the future.

I don't know much about Pearl mics but will look into them. The CC22 looks like it has a unique design with that rectangular capsule. I like the fact that it is fairly compact.

I'll keep my eye out for the other 414 variations to see if I can give them a try. I remember hearing a pair in a studio where I did some work about a year and a half ago, but they had had the capusles replaced, so the sound was not close to the stock sound.
Old 9th September 2007
  #10
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I would also recommend the older TLII... I've used the newer 414's and they sound pretty decent, but the build quality on them scares me. Not being able to change pattern unless it is seeing phantom and having the buttons change pattern so easily (happens all the time if I need to move a mic while it is on) are major design issues for me. In addition, the shock mounts that come with them are plastic and the whole thing just seems cheap. Compare to an older EB and you see a huge decline in quality.

--Ben
Old 9th September 2007
  #11
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Yeah, I agree that there are certain design issues about the current versions that are not appealing. I also wonder if some of the sonic difference is due to the current elastic suspension capsule design. While that might be a theoretical design improvement, I don't think it actually helps the sound.
Old 10th September 2007
  #12
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pianoman's Avatar
FWIW, for my C414-B XLS mics, I notice an improvement in the apparent sound quality on Figure 8 relative to the other patterns. No idea why.
Old 10th September 2007
  #13
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Try this:
Multi-pattern Microphones MC416 Multi-pattern Microphone
Sample recorded by me with stereo par of 416, fireface800 preamps.
Igor.
Attached Files

1cortado44_.wav (2.33 MB, 3116 views)

Old 10th September 2007
  #14
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matyas's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pianoman View Post
FWIW, for my C414-B XLS mics, I notice an improvement in the apparent sound quality on Figure 8 relative to the other patterns. No idea why.
I've also noticed this with my (newer) C414-TLIIs. Omni also sounds pretty good.
Old 10th September 2007
  #15
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Jimbo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fifthcircle View Post
In addition, the shock mounts that come with them are plastic and the whole thing just seems cheap.
--Ben
I replaced the stock (all plastic) shockmount with the HG-100. It's got a metal band around it (instead of plastic), and I believe it's the same shockmount that shipped with the TL-II and ULS models previously. I found mine on eBay for about $65

Quote:
Originally Posted by pianoman View Post
FWIW, for my C414-B XLS mics, I notice an improvement in the apparent sound quality on Figure 8 relative to the other patterns. No idea why.
My XLII sounds worse in Fig-8. The high-end is so hyped in that pattern that the bottom end seems to disappear. I've actually considered trading my XLII for the XLS just to get a flatter Hypercard and Fig-8 response.
Old 10th September 2007
  #16
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IJouk, Thanks for posting that sample. It sounds nice--open and clear--although, it's just a tad sibilant sounding on my system. I don't know the first thing about Nevaton mics but will look into them. I can't seem to find any US dealers.

RE: hyped high end on modern C414, yes, that's a problem I experienced as well, which is part of the reason why I'm looking for alternatives. I use cardioid patterns mostly, so that pattern has to sound good.

I spent some time with a KSM44 over the weekend and found it to be clear, detailed, and open sounding. While it is on the bright side, I didn't find it hyped. It seems to lie somewhere between a C414 and a U87. This might be the way to go for now.
Old 10th September 2007
  #17
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The KSM44 is a good mic- I've done some great work with them... (there is a KSM44 on the clarinet and guitar on this album: Westlake Records - Jazz and Classical Music - Blue Scarlett)

I will say that my best experiences with the TLII have been using it as an omni. I've even used them in omni as flank mics in front of a symphony orchestra and been quite happy with the results.

--Ben
Old 10th September 2007
  #18
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I went personally to the fabric of the Nevaton in St.Petersburg(Russia) to pickup my par of 416s. It was very very impressive trip. They use complete line of equipment Bruel & Kjaer for testing. They produce couple pieces of microphones for month. I think there is only one dealer in Austria (posted link). As for me, the mic more superior than TLM103 and TLM49 which I tried too. Note, the sample was record with FF800 preamp - is not a big deal, but result is more than satisfactory (for me).
Old 11th September 2007
  #19
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Nevaton sounds like an impressive operation, and, judging from the positive comments and reviews, it looks lie they make fine products. Sadly, it looks like importing them from Europe is the only way to get them, and that will be way beyond my current budget. (And sorry IJouk for misspelling your name previously--I fixed it.)

Ben, those KSM44 samples on guitar and clarinet sound real nice. Thanks for posting that link.

I'd still like to hear from anyone that has experience with Beyerdynamic LDCs--the MC834, MC740, or MC840. Anyone care to weigh in?
Old 11th September 2007
  #20
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Jim vanBergen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jungle Jazz View Post
I'd still like to hear from anyone that has experience with Beyerdynamic LDCs--the MC834, MC740, or MC840. Anyone care to weigh in?
Ok, I'll bite. Over ten years ago, I designed a national tour of live jazz show. I asked for 414s or U87s for piano, and the rental company substituted Beyer 740s. I was NOT pleased, until I heard them. I was blown away by the clarity, thought they were every bit as good as my requested options. I was using TLM170s on all the w-winds, and Senn 441s, M88s, and RE20s on brass by the way.

I don't see a lot of 740s out there, but I'd use them, or buy them, without hesitation. Beyer has maintained their quality control over the years and I trust their manufacturing to be consistent...until given a reason NOT to. But I consider this a positive review.

There are lots of other Beyer lovers on the forum...my time is up!
Old 11th September 2007
  #21
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Jim, thanks for that positive response on the Beyers. I've been using Beyer MC930s as drum overheads on a lot of jazz trio sessions lately, and that is part of the "problem" that I'm experiencing. The drums sound really clear and detailed, in a way that I'm not getting on the other instruments. I'm looking for something that can match that type of detail on upright bass and piano, so perhaps keeping the mics all in the same "family" might be a productive way to go.
Old 11th September 2007
  #22
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pkautzsch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jungle Jazz View Post
really clear and detailed, in a way that I'm not getting on the other instruments. I'm looking for something that can match that type of detail on upright bass and piano, so perhaps keeping the mics all in the same "family" might be a productive way to go.
SDC might be a way to go, too...
I guess you've tried your 930s on piano and bass?
Old 12th September 2007
  #23
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I have tried the MC930 on bass, and liked the sound pretty well--would have liked just a little more oomph in the low end though. I haven't yet tried them on piano because I'm always using them on drums, but I suppose I should give it a try. Getting more 930s might be a simple solution.
Old 17th September 2007
  #24
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Not sure if anyone is keeping track, but for now, I'm going to go with a pair of KSM44s and see how they work out for me. I was able to get a used pair for a reasonable price. In fact, I've got some $ left over and was thinking about giving the Shure KSM SDCs a try, maybe the KSM137 or KSM141 and see how they stack up. There's not much talk about the Shure KSM SDCs on this forum. Anyone have any thoughts they'd like to share?
Old 17th September 2007
  #25
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They are a bit bright, but not bad... Certainly a step up (especially with the off-axis response) than the old SM-81.

--Ben
Old 17th September 2007
  #26
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Thanks for the feedback, Ben. Are they bright as in hyped or bright as in sounding clear? Do they sound like any other particular mics?
Old 17th September 2007
  #27
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You know, I've used them mostly on live sound gigs so I can't comment on them as well as gear that I use on sessions...

My feeling was that they are clearer than the SM81 but still have a bit of an etched top end (like many modern condensers). I usually use them on percussion sections, harp, etc... I don't use them as main mics.

--Ben
Old 18th September 2007
  #28
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Just ordered a pair of Lawson L47FET mics instead of 414s or TLM103s and I don't think I'll regret it.

Sometime later I can order tube bodies and then I'll have selectable patterns using the same capsules.
Old 18th September 2007
  #29
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jslevin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jungle Jazz View Post
I'm looking for suggestions of LDCs that would make a good replacement for a pair of AKG C414B-XLS. The ones I had were just too bright, and I found that their pick up patterns were not so well defined and tended to pick up lots of room, regardless of the pattern setting. I'm looking for something in a similar price bracket, up to around $1000 each, that might make a good pair of multi-purpose microphones for use primarily for jazz instruments. I'd like somethng clean, quiet, detailed, but not hyped. They don't necessarily need to be multi-pattern, but it would be nice to have that flexibility. Any ideas? Thanks.
I kind of have to change the question a bit. I don't see how you can get a good jazz recording by attempting to exclude the room. Good jazz recordings generally offer a complete sonic picture of each instrument, and you just can't do that while attempting to isolate instrument from room. So the real question you need to be asking is, what approaches or techniques do you need to try in order to solve the problem?

I'm not a big 414 guy, but it just doesn't sound like the 414's are the problem.

If you're dead-set on looking for alternatives, the AT4050 is the obvious first place to look, and for good reason. As detailed as the 414 but with less hype, also not very expensive.

You could not pay me to use a TLM-103. I honestly believe there is nobody using them who is familiar with the other options out there, some for half the money, i.e., who does not suffer from an irrational tendency towards pricey European mics sold under classic but compromised brand names. (I don't even really believe in shoot-outs, but can anyone ever remember the 103 winning one? Ever?)

Try the Audix SCX-25. You will be shocked at how good it sounds, and it absolutely works for jazz, for piano, for acoustic instruments generally.

I also think you might do well to experiment with small diaphragm mics, you might like the results better. There is this vague idea people have that LDC's will sound bigger or warmer or more detailed, but is definitely not always the case. Check out a pair of Audix SCX-1's.

JSL
Old 18th September 2007
  #30
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jslevin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelPatrick View Post
Just ordered a pair of Lawson L47FET mics instead of 414s or TLM103s and I don't think I'll regret it.

Sometime later I can order tube bodies and then I'll have selectable patterns using the same capsules.
Now that is some smart thinking. I don't think folks are aware that you can get these for around $1000.

JSL
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