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Is AKG C414 EB really that special? Condenser Microphones
Old 13th February 2018
  #1
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Is AKG C414 EB really that special?

It's a decent mic for its age and it's praised chiefly for handling the highs with little sibilance. Yes, it does that well and goes for many thousands of dollars nowadays. I use and enjoy the newer AKG models (the XLS and XL II) and both do what the EB does, except they're better, to me. I hadn't heard the EB's and was very curious after reading about them here. So looking around, I finally found a studio that has one (original brass ring CK12 model). After extensive comparisons with the new models (especially the XL II, which looks like what AKG replaced the EB line with, since it's tuned nearly exactly the same way), I realized that the modern mic is better in every way. It too manages to put out ample high end without sibilance but is much more clear and distortion-free. Can't really understand why the old, inferior model is still so revered.

Anyone here heard them all and feels the same way? Very curious.

EDIT: Some have pointed out that the EB mic I auditioned might not have been in great shape. Furthermore, a shootout linked in this thread (post#43) shows that the EB, indeed, is significantly more natural sounding and open than the newer AKG's. If I hear further shootouts that maintain this, I will have to stand corrected - with little wonder why the EB is sought-after and worth what it is. Maybe they're special indeed.
Old 13th February 2018
  #2
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Pine, I'm really curious too. BTW when you shot out "old vs new", what kind of source(s) did you compare these microphones on?

I'm a big 414 fan also, but have only have tried the "recent" 414 versions.

Chris
Old 13th February 2018
  #3
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It's possible that the 414EB you tried was poorly maintained or simply not a good specimen. CK12 capsule manufacturing was never very consistent and the diaphragms have a tendency to lose tension with age.

Certainly though if your main concerns are linearity, low noise and low distortion you will prefer a modern C414 to any older mic.
Old 13th February 2018
  #4
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drBill's Avatar
They are decent mics - the EBs that is. Better than the B-ULS's. I'm not really into any of the 414's though, so I guess I'm the wrong person to comment on it..... I'd rather put my mic money into other areas....
Old 13th February 2018
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post
Anyone here heard them all and feels the same way?
I've used most of them. I think the brass EB's are good mics, but going for too much money at the moment. Maybe the reverence has something to to with the fact that they were bright and airy back in the tape days when bright and airy were hard to come by. It's probably also because you can't get those capsules anymore, as far as I know. You send a brass EB into AKG for service, you'll get it back with teflon.

As for the newer ones being clearer and having less distortion, transformerless mics often sound clean and clear when you hear them soloed. But my experience has been that things I track with them tend to vanish in a dense mix. Or even in something where it's just a simple voiceover that needs to cut through a music bed. That doesn't happen with a brass EB, or even with the duller teflon version.
Old 13th February 2018
  #6
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+1 What Brent said... (transformerless) "tend to vanish in a dense mix"-I totally agree!

Chris
Old 13th February 2018
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post
The threads on this forum claim it can cure cancer.

But I don't get it... It's a decent mic for its age and it's praised chiefly for handling the highs with little sibilance. Yes, it does that well and goes for many thousands of dollars nowadays. I use and enjoy the newer AKG models (the XLS and XL II) and both do what the EB does, except they're better, to me. I hadn't heard the EB's and was very curious after reading about them here. So looking around, I finally found a studio that has one (original brass ring CK12 model). After extensive comparisons with the new models (especially the XL II, which looks like what AKG replaced the EB line with, since it's tuned nearly exactly the same way), I realized that the modern mic is better in every way. It too manages to put out ample high end without sibilance but is much more clear and distortion-free. Can't really understand why the old, inferior model is still so revered.

Anyone here heard them all and feels the same way? Very curious.
You are basically confirming why following forum comments as religious truth, is bunk

Its a Tool. How "special" it is; remains a functionary component of the User

What many on this forum miss; is the "In my experience" part of the conversation.
Old 13th February 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
Pine, I'm really curious too. BTW when you shot out "old vs new", what kind of source(s) did you compare these microphones on?

I'm a big 414 fan also, but have only have tried the "recent" 414 versions.

Chris
I tried it with both male and female vocals. As with all top-heavy C414's, the highs are amazingly free from nasty sibilance and the EB has this euphoric sound to it which could probably be desirable in a certain song, but it's just some distortion I'd rather be without for 98% of my vocal takes. When you compare them, it's always obvious that EB is an old mic you're working with and the new AKG's sound like logical upgrades.

I have a feeling AKG engineers are laughing when they see folks these days going nuts about these old AKG mics, believing they're somehow worth more than these modern fine upgrades which I'm sure the people using EB's back in the day wouldn't dream to have.
Old 13th February 2018
  #9
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Those filthy old EB's are riding a bubble, and the market needs a correction. So thanks for that, and keep it up. -)
Old 13th February 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post

As for the newer ones being clearer and having less distortion, transformerless mics often sound clean and clear when you hear them soloed. But my experience has been that things I track with them tend to vanish in a dense mix. Or even in something where it's just a simple voiceover that needs to cut through a music bed. That doesn't happen with a brass EB, or even with the duller teflon version.
You have a point here. Any (even ever more slightly) distorted sound tends to stand out in a mix. I just don't think carefully (and light-handedly) recreating that with use of plugins is any compromise.
Old 13th February 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Those filthy old EB's are riding a bubble, and the market needs a correction. So thanks for that, and keep it up. -)
Are you being sarcastic?

Look, the reason I got so curious about the EB's in the first place was that I loved the new 414's and wanted to see if the EB could be even better-sounding and worth the money, as a possible upgrade. What I found was just an old version of the mic I already use (almost identical frequency response, by the way, with the XL II). So, this superstitious adulation of these brass-capsule EB mics seems senseless to me. Some of the posts here say the brass capsules stopped being made back in the day because it was so hard to make, the company decided to discontinue. Now, I find it hard to believe something which was made 50 years ago is too hard to made today, in the age of lazer-precision machines and computers. The current C414 flagships have a ton of features the EB doesn't and still plenty of character and clarity hard to be matched by other flagships.
Old 13th February 2018
  #12
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I don't understand how you say the newer models are better and the older model inferior, and also that you've never heard the older model, in the same post.

Is the way it sounds not the main thing that makes one mic better or worse than another generally similar mic ?
Old 13th February 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
I don't understand how you say the newer models are better and the older model inferior, and also that you've never heard the older model, in the same post.
Just read a bit slowly, my friend.
Old 13th February 2018
  #14
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That's what I get for reading from the bottom up and skimming the OP.

By way of an answer, I disagree about your findings, because I hear the transformerless version to be overly bright (and not the good kind of bright) and weird in the mids. I rarely like the high end on transformerless mics.
Old 13th February 2018
  #15
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I have never owned any of the 414s but on the occasion where I was working them on vocals I actually preferred RE20s. There are so many LDCs and tube reproductions that are soooo much better to match up with specific vocal needs I wonder why we spend so much $ and dialog praising decent, but dated, gear!
Hugh
Old 13th February 2018
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post

I have a feeling AKG engineers are laughing when they see folks these days going nuts about these old AKG mics.
Possibly true for mics still in production but not so much for the discontinued ones. If it's so easy with modern construction techniques I wish they'd start making the d12, d19 and d224 again. I've never found anything new that even comes close to doing what those ones do.
Sorry for the digression, back to the topic at hand.
Old 13th February 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by junkshop View Post
Possibly true for mics still in production but not so much for the discontinued ones. If it's so easy with modern construction techniques I wish they'd start making the d12, d19 and d224 again. I've never found anything new that even comes close to doing what those ones do.
Sorry for the digression, back to the topic at hand.
amen, plus the D24, D20/25
Old 13th February 2018
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
...I wonder why we spend so much $ and dialog praising decent, but dated, gear!
Hugh
Especially since the company is already making a perfectly good modern version of it.

Might be psychological, I'm beginning to discover... They just want to be associated (somehow!) with those classic, timeless recordings that were made with them.

Imagine going back through time machine and handing one of these new 414's to a great engineer working in the 50s or 60s... What are the chances they'd be complaining that they're too clear and analytical sounding? Maybe they'd complain about the near-0 self noise these have? I imagine they'd grab the thing and offer you a bunch of u47's for it.
Old 13th February 2018
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post
Are you being sarcastic?
Sarcasm is when you say something but mean the opposite. Aside from the "filthy," I'm 100% sincere.

Quote:
Look, the reason I got so curious about the EB's in the first place was that I loved the new 414's and wanted to see if the EB could be even better-sounding and worth the money, as a possible upgrade. What I found was just an old version of the mic I already use (almost identical frequency response, by the way, with the XL II). So, this superstitious adulation of these brass-capsule EB mics seems senseless to me. Some of the posts here say the brass capsules stopped being made back in the day because it was so hard to make, the company decided to discontinue. Now, I find it hard to believe something which was made 50 years ago is too hard to made today, in the age of lazer-precision machines and computers. The current C414 flagships have a ton of features the EB doesn't and still plenty of character and clarity hard to be matched by other flagships.
But please don't lay it on too thick.
Old 13th February 2018
  #20
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teleharmonium's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post
Imagine going back through time machine and handing one of these new 414's to a great engineer working in the 50s or 60s... What are the chances they'd be complaining that they're too clear and analytical sounding? Maybe they'd complain about the near-0 self noise these have? I imagine they'd grab the thing and offer you a bunch of u47's for it.
They may well have... the grass is greener effect. It's so easy to take things that you have for granted.

Do you think music now sounds better than it did in the 50s and 60s ?
Old 13th February 2018
  #21
Everything is to clean these days. Spec wise im sure every newly designed mic is better then the vintage ones. But my experience tells me that the famous vintage ones sound much better. More natural, yet detailed and has a weight to the sound probably because of a transformer and distortion amongst other things.

Funny thing is that New mic's would have probably sounded better 40years ago with all the tape and Hw it went through before ending up on LPs.

Back on topic i like the old 414 with brass the few times i mixed OH with them. They sounded a bit like a km84 with more lowend which i know very well. The 414xl i used where overly bright as OH, maybe it works better on other sources but as drum mics not so much.
Old 13th February 2018
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
They may well have... the grass is greener effect. It's so easy to take things that you have for granted.

Do you think music now sounds better than it did in the 50s and 60s ?
If you are referring to audio quality, hell yes it's better... Who's doubting it?
Old 13th February 2018
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post
If you are referring to audio quality, hell yes it's better... Who's doubting it?
(looks around at record collection)
I'm way past doubt.
Old 13th February 2018
  #24
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by teleharmonium View Post
(looks around at record collection)
I'm way past doubt.
I think you might be admiring the talent of the producers. Your average music-maker today, with a Protools-carrying laptop and and a pre, is no Phil Specter but the sounds they can get from modern gear is sonically superior, meaning it can transform the air vibrations at the mic diaphram into audio signal with much better fidelity.
Old 13th February 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pine View Post
I think you might be admiring the talent of the producers. Your average music-maker today, with a Protools-carrying laptop and and a pre, is no Phil Specter but the sounds they can get from modern gear is sonically superior, meaning it can transform the air vibrations at the mic diaphram into audio signal with much better fidelity.

You say that as if you were making something other than a purely subjective comparison.

There is no objective good or bad, or better or worse, about anything related to music.

This has been debated to death around here.
Old 13th February 2018
  #26
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Wow...
The things said in this post.

My favorite is transformerless mics don’t sit well in a busy mix.

Second favorite expression that newer mics are too bright in the top end and not in a good way.

Just because your mic can extend past 20k and 20Hz
Doesn’t mean you should use all of that range. In fact that generally means you need to think LPF and HPF.
And we all know what happens when you grab a water balloon from both ends. Did I mention that clarity generally comes from mid frequencies?

If you continue to smash microphones up against everything you record you will never understand how tracks are recorded with depth and a sense of their own space. Mic teqhnique and placement trumps any reverb ever made.

And no microphone can add depth or 3D quality to a track much better than any other mic. Unless you work up the nerve to play with polar patterns. But that is scary...

Just saying...

pat
Old 13th February 2018
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Space1999 View Post
Just because your mic can extend past 20k and 20Hz
Doesn’t mean you should use all of that range. In fact that generally means you need to think LPF and HPF.
make that 30 and 18K - and often lower on the high end - and I agree with you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Space1999 View Post
If you continue to smash microphones up against everything you record you will never understand how tracks are recorded with depth and a sense of their own space. Mic teqhnique and placement trumps any reverb ever made.
Who are you talking to ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Space1999 View Post
And no microphone can add depth or 3D quality to a track much better than any other mic.
beg to differ.
Old 13th February 2018
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Space1999 View Post
My favorite is transformerless mics don’t sit well in a busy mix.
Thank you. But what I meant to communicate is that they're hard to hear. "Don't sit well," to me, means almost the opposite, that there's a mismatch -- like when the spot mics in an orchestra recording stick out.
Old 13th February 2018
  #29
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Who are you talking too?

Oh I mostly just talk to myself these days LOL

It’s lonely when you are living on the moon when it breaks out of orbit due to a freak nuclear accident and drifts endlessly in space.

pat
Moon Base Alpha
Old 13th February 2018
  #30
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Thanks Pine. The thing I'd love to do some day, is to compare the 414 XLS/414eb (brass ring)/C12 on vocals-including mine!:-)

There are some TLM Neumann's, I like a lot for my voice (67/102/193 for example).

But generally, I think it sounds better, with some "iron" (transformers), in the signal chain.
Chris
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