The AKG C414 has been historically one of the most used large condenser microphones in studio and live applications. Its’ solid construction, versatility and numerous tools has warranted its name as an “industry standard”.
Such a versatile mic! The front-panel switch selects between the five common polar patterns (cardiod, wide cardiod, hypercardiod, fig-8, omni) and four intermediate settings. A green LED light over the switch which lets you know which polar pattern is selected, becomes red when the mic is overloaded. Two more switches are found on the rear; one controls three pre-attenuation pads and the other one three low-cut filters. Let your mind free to imagine in how many scenarios these tools can be used.
The AKG C414 XLS is one of the “two brothers” in the C414 legacy. The XLS, which is a little darker sounding than its’ partner is a total “workhorse” microphone and it is always my default choice for its’ transparency and wide frequency response. My ears were pleased when miking horns, double bass, cello, percussions or drums (in almost any part of the drum kit, the 158dB maximum SPL makes no problem when miking extremely loud sources as kick drums). Although it is not recommended for vocals, I’ve got some incredible voiceover and background vocal takes. That being said, one of the cons this mic presents is its’ use in lead vocals—the lack of edge and harshness sometimes causes the vocals to get buried in the mix.
I give the AKG C414 XLS a 9 out of 10. It’s a great, natural-sounding mic and I recommend it as a “must-have” condenser for any professional or home studio. If you are planning on getting a matched pair, you will more than double your fun.
I LOVE these microphones. My favorite uses are OHs for drums or for vocals. I've used them in MS applications for guitar with really nice results as well. It's very hard to get a bad sound with these mics. You can't go wrong.
My only gripe with this version is the digital switching for the pickup patterns. I don't understand why they did away with the old-school switch. With these you have to fire up the phantom power BEFORE you can set your polar patterns, so no set and forget. It also makes it easier to accidentally change the settings. This is a pain in the studio when setting up mics for a live tracking session and you forget to double check the patterns (they auto-save the pattern that was last used). I've been half way through a session before realizing my overheads were set in different patterns. Easily overlooked when you're pressed for time.
And one more thing - don't drop these. That goes for any mic really, but I've seen these pop like a balloon.
Overall amazing mics, a bit pricey but worth it if it's in your budget.
This is my new go to mic. I use them with a pacifica preamp and always get great results. I also compared the newer XLS with an old transformer based B-ULS and found it performed favorably on acoustic guitar and vocals. With the polar pattern options and versatility, you can't really go wrong. Noteworthy is that the newer models do have a lock feature where all controls can be disabled easily to prevent accidental switching.
How can you go wrong? Many pickup patterns, they come in stereo pairs, Sound reproduction is amazing. I don't personally own any(I will) but I use them often and they are just great for everything. Don't stick it in a kick drum or in front of a bass cab and you've got such an awesome mic. Vocals, Room, Guitars, Acoustic instruments, Cello, Overheads, ANYTHING(other than if you want to max it out and wreck it). Very fun to get experimental with too. The cardioid pattern has been my main use but when time allows I love to try out weird things with the other pickup patterns. If you are going to buy a higher end microphone get a stereo pair and few non. You've been warned though! You will experiment and go wild with all the different settings. A very solid and awesome workhorse...or a creative persons worth enemy. You will probably hear a lot of "Lets try this pattern at this angle" "No lets do this or that or this or that!!!" You've been warned!!! Awesome mic with many applications. Feel free to mail me yours if you don't like it.
If you only got one mic...this is the one to have for versatility, quality of sound and application. I have yet to find a better sounding mic on acustic guitar then this mic. The thing is, if your a hack, this mic ain't gonna do you any favors...but, if you can really play, and own a rich sounding acoustic guitar-WOW!! Brilliant sounding on most acoustic instruments. And I do like it for vox, in a treated room, I like the fig 8, with a powerful voice it just captures everything. I can see how some singers don't like that, but any real strong singer has always been happy with what this mic can do.
I will concur with the previous review that I prefer the B/ULS with the old style switching for the aforementioned reasons, and I find the older ones a little warmer.
Having said that, there are some advantages to the changes in the mic...presets remembered, and if any of you are like me and getting old, my memory ain't what it used to be, I forget what settings I may have had, but the phantom powering the led is a bit of a drag, even though you are always going to have it on with a condenser.
IMHO it is the all round best mic you can work with in an endless array of situations...the fun never ends!~
Now I used the ebp48 version for years which had the old ck12 capsule and was not as bright as the newer versions.
That said they funtionally the same.
Digital switches? Wow that is a bummer.
The switches on my eb were hard to press lots of resistance but they were analog.
After using this mic on lots of different sources I would say its earned its rep as a workhorse and a standard.
Not too many apps where this mic is not at least good.
Having been exposed to geffel um70s I left the 414. For me it does everything a 414 can.do with a more pleasing tone.
However if you find a pair used (they have remained.valued.@ around $600 used for decades) they are a good value.
I do prefer the older ones but they are not all that different sounding.
Worth what you pay for far exceeds chinese ldc and keeps value.
I've used these mics extensively in a variety of situations, while the sensitivity can be a pain in some live situations, I've yet to find another mic that replicates tones so well. In in the studio I've used it for everything, vox, drums, guitar cabs, strings, horns and even a hurdy gurdy. While I find the highs a bit much for some vocals, I still really like to use it for female vox, especially on tracks that are going for a lighter airy quality.
I recently got a XLS and it is by far my favorite condenser so far. Nine polar patterns, three pad and three hi-pass settings, you can't find a more versatile mic! All that and it comes in a rock solid road case with a shock mount, wind screen, pop filter, and tons of documentation (including a frequency response chart specifically for that microphone!).
To me this mic basically sounds like whatever you put in front of it. Horns, guitars (electric and acoustic), vocals all sound great to me. Sounds great as a room mic for drum kits and honestly just about anything. There's a reason it's an industry standard workhorse of a beast!
Most importantly, it's pretty and Conan Obrian uses one.
If you've got the money, or you're like me and you keep you eyes open for deal (I got mine BRAND NEW for $500!!!) I would say get it, you won't be disappointed.
P.S. A friend of mine has an old EB, and we have plans to A/B the two, but we haven't gotten around to it yet. When we finally do, I'll post what I think, and also the recorded tracks. Should be a cool shootout!
I think when you do your comparison between the XLS and the older versions, you will find the older versions have something special, perhaps due to the fact that they incorporated transformers. Having said that, running a new XLS (I have two) through a fine preamp such as Pacifica or Great River, etc will result in a different tonal character vs using a less dedicated interface with built in pres. Perhaps because you are getting some of the transformer voodoo back from the outboard pre. For example, I much prefer the XLS through the Pacifica; mid forward, fat, silky, and sounds like a record. Whether we like it or not mic/pre match ups can have an effect on the overall track color. I guess the appropriate mic/pre combo is part of the art, science, and fun of recording. The key is to find the chain that works best for you or your clients.
I will give the 414 a definite "10" in bang for buck if you find a brand new one for $500.
I paid $750, seems about typical.
It is a nice mic. I had a second one though that had a problem, and the repair shop said they were seeing some with issues with the new circuit boards, so that is worrisome.
On the plus side, my "good" one still works fine. Although I do worry about it. I often work with the older versions, and they seem easier to use, and somehow more trustworthy, to me.
As has been said above, a very versatile mic, nicely put out, with a clean, open sound. It can sound just a bit too sterile or even "clinical" in some instances, but not always, and does have a capacity to sound almost lush with the right source, pattern, pre-amp, etc.
Usable and acceptable on many sources, I tend to favor it with classical instruments and ensembles, and on grand piano, hand percussion, and drum overheads. A tag line for it might be: "The best generic sounding mic in the world".
Personally, I would be hesitant to pay full retail for the "new version", not that it isn't a very nice microphone. But, at $500?!? That's a steal, all day long. Everything is relative, after all.
The C414 is a classic microphone design from AKG that has seen use on countless records. The current incarnation of which includes digital switching, a plethora of polar patterns, filters, and pads built into the mic, and a capsule AKG assures us is sonically similar to the CK12 capsule that helped make the 414 famous. But is it? And how does the C414 stand up in today’s highly populated world of microphones?
Lets take a look at all the whiz bang features before we get onto the sonics. The digital switches in these modern models (C414B-XLS and up) are both annoying and kind of cool at the same time. It’s a novel way of showing the selected parameters on the mic, but frustrating if you’re in the tracking room setting up mics and haven’t yet turned the phantom power on. It means that before you put them up as drum over heads, you’ll have to go back into the control room and switch the 48v on. Annoying? Yes. Big deal? Not really. It is, however, hugely annoying when you’ve positioned a mic and realise you’re not sure what polar position it’s in, as most of the time the LED’s are out of sight. Which, also brings a point to the feature of the LED’s acting as clip indicators. If most of the time you can’t see them, most of the time the feature is wasted.
The large selection of polar patterns is pretty fantastic, and undeniably handy. I’ve probably used them all at least once. Ditto for the HPF’s and Pads.
And thus we move onto the sound of the mic! The biggest strength in these mics is the smooth high end. It’s present but not hyped, beautiful and not harsh. Bright sources don’t become horrible, and dark sources still have life to them. On loud sounds such as snare the mic responds very pleasantly and naturally where others might start to sound brittle.
The only thing that sometimes comes up as an issue is that the mic actually feels a bit mid hyped on some sources. Sometimes it just needs a gentle cut with an EQ, sometimes it means choosing another mic entirely. This is the main characteristic that finds me reaching for another mic.
The AKG C414-XLS is still a fantastic all rounder with a characteristically smooth high end. It makes for a solid purchase for anyone looking to expand their mic collection and new recordists looking for a fantastic microphone to use on a wide range of sources.
The AKG C 414 XLS is, as been said a lot of times before, a great workhorse in a studio. It is really hard to get this microphone to sound bad on anything. I have been using it a lot lately with vocals, acoustic guitar, bass amp, kick drum, electric guitar amp – you name it. It never fails! Of course it’s not always the preferable choice for everything but I don’t think I ever would feel bad to be stuck with one (or two).
One of the great things about it is obviously all the different polar patterns that you easily can switch between to find the right sound for the source. I really enjoy using it in figure 8 when recording amps or even vocals. That gives a very open natural sound. I also really like it as a drum room mic in omni.
The C 414 XLS is a great vocal mic, especially when paired with a great preamp – like the UA 6176 that I use a lot for this application. The mic doesn’t have a lot of character but with a lot of voices it sounds just right. It also really shines at catching a great acoustic guitar performance.
At the moment I only have one of these but I will probably get another one soon to make it even more versatile.
I am not surprised that almost every studio has a couple of these. (Although maybe different versions of it.)
During recording sessions in London I have tried for a new ep this mic instead of the of the neumann u 67 I used on a previous album.
Both microphones are off the charts, but are different.
I have quiete a thin voice but I confess that the Akg give to it little push in my recording session, and fights better with the guitars.
with the ua 6176 preamp it's sounds amazing on my voice;
But this mic is not only dedicated to vocals, since it takes a lot of ambience you can use it for ambiance or overheads.
You have to be careful on the acoustic of the room. This microphone takes everything, the bad and the good, close and far far far. It's not a mic I would handle easily to record myself without a audio engineer; But If you in sudio, next time ask for this mic and give it a shot!
In my mic locker, of my large diaphragm condensers this is my favorite. It has very low self noise, has more polar patterns than you would want and it sounds really nice. Not too bright and it like tranformer pres. You can dial in some really cool proximity effect with the patterns. My most discerning classical guitar clients always seem to choose it over some of my fancier mics. See if you can buy 2.
Sorry if I've put this in the wrong place. I couldn't find a Superlux category in the manufacturers pull-down.
I have been looking for a good replacement for my AKG 414 shock mounts for several years and think that I finally found one. These are about $25.00 us, plus shipping.
These appear virtually identical to the original AKG H100 shock mounts that came with my 414's about ten years ago.
The only differences that I see:
The plastic is a little less substantial, but it is more flexible and appears to be less brittle. I just got these, so I can't say how well they will hold up over time.
Like the original shockmount, the mic stand adapter threads are plastic. I plan to find a short, metal, male x female fitting to permanently attach to mine. (If someone knows of such, please let me know.) I do location recording and my mounts do not remain on the stands like in a studio and I do not want to strip the threads.
The bands seem a bit more stiff, but I'm sure they will loosen over time, so I'm fine with that.
These will also fit my AT4050, so I will be ordering more of them. For $25 each, they look to be bargain.
Superlux also has a few other mounts that may fit Nuemann and others, but I don't have them and have no way to verify what they fit.
So far, I'm giving them two thumbs up.
If anyone else has experience with these, please chime in!
PS: If anyone needs a supplier for these, I'll be happy to share mine, just ask and I'll PM you. I don't know if it is proper to post a vendor here.
Last edited by Grahamdwc; 27th January 2014 at 02:45 PM..
BACKGROUND: It goes without saying that AKG 414 condenser microphones need no introduction and are a house-hold name in the world of recording. The 414 design spans decades and is still a widely found workhorse in many recording studios around the world - renowned for being a great all rounder.
So to set the scene for my review, I have in my possession a pair of old vintage teflon mounted 1970's AKG 414 EB's and wanted to delve more in to the sound of these wondrous microphones rather than hanging on to the age old "brass or teflon mounted" capsule tiff that seems to plague the reputation of these microphones... There's an old saying that goes "if it sounds good, it is good" right? Well these microphones sound amazing on the right source!
ABOUT: The microphone itself has 4 polar patterns; Cardoid, Omni-directional, Figure-of-Eight and Hypercardoid along with a pad attenuator switch at -20dB, -10dB and 0dB and a bass roll off switch high passing at 75Hz and 150Hz. The first thing I noticed about this microphone was how different each polar pattern sounds when adjusted. The cardoid pattern gives a lovely rich mid-range and a mindful bottom-end that doesn't swamp but compliments the glorious mid range quality that this mic exudes. The Omni-directional pattern gives an air lift above 10Khz of a few dB but also slightly attenuated between 2 - 4Khz which lends itself to being a great overhead or room microphone for drums. The Hypercardoid pattern sounds flat across the spectrum but again, like the Omni pattern has a few dB's air above 10KHz. Lastly, my favoured pattern is the figure-of-eight which is flat across the spectrum with a slight slope off at about 15KHz and sounds beautiful when used for mic'ing up bluegrass bands where players will wander in and out of the focal zone.
IN USE: Setting up the 414 EB couldn't be simpler as the shape along with the size of the microphone means that it can be close mic'd to guitar amps or placed above drums as overheads - the mic doesn't weigh all that much so there's no need for industrial mic stands to ensure the infamous "droop" doesn't spoil the perfect take. I personally thought these were great as overheads because they captured the room beautifully but didn't have a harsh high end at all which meant that even after post-mangling, the stereo overheads sound was full but not offensive in the slightest.
I tried the 414EB on a voice-over session which led to slightly disappointing results as for commercial radio and advertisements the slightly smoother high end when compared to the newer 414 meant that I went with the slightly brighter (newer) recording as I found it more intelligible when mixed for broadcast with a music bed.
The best application I found for these microphones was on acoustic guitar though... and when I say best... I mean these will be my go-to microphones for singer songwriter recording from now on! A rich, full-bodied sound is what these microphones capture time after time when you need an acoustic to lead a track.
CONCLUSION: I have found a couple of new friends in the 414 EB's and I would recommend trying to hear one if you get the opportunity. Rich and full-bodied with a subtle high end that lends itself to the recording of acoustic instruments and being a great overhead mic. I haven't had the opportunity to hear a brass CK12 version of this microphone but Teflon or no Teflon... this is still a fantastic vintage microphone that has earned its place in recording history! For £700 or therabouts, I would snap up more if I came across them!
Have a listen to an acoustic session that I used the 414 EB's on here... Courtesy of the wonderful "Zervas & Pepper"... this is "Living in a Small Town"