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AKG 414 on vocals
Old 4th September 2009
AKG 414 on vocals

I've been trying out an AKG 414 on male vocals --- the tone of the mic is pretty nice and it takes EQ very nicely. Only problem is it is incredibly sensitive to plosives, breathing or anything else that sets it a-rumbling. (This is all with a Stedman pop filter in place, needless to say). I also tried using the AKG pop-filter-hood instead of the Stedman, which produced even worse results. I even tried it with both the Stedman and the AKG filters, and while this did significantly reduce the amount of plosive rumbling it didn't correct it entirely.

Is this just a bad mic for the singer getting up close on (3-4 inches) in general, or could it be that this fairly vintage 414 is just particularly sensitive? I used a newer 414 on male vocals a few years ago and recall it being a bit troublesome in this regard but not to the extent of ruining the track.

If that's just the way it is with the 414 can you recommend a similar-sounding mic that is better suited for vocals?
Old 4th September 2009
Lives for gear
leaper's Avatar

3-4 inches sounds pretty darn close to me, especially with the 414's pronounced proximity effect in any pattern other than omni.
Do you really need to get so close?
I've recorded many different singers with a 414 and a standard pop shield and can't remember any huge problems with plosives.
What happens if you double the initial distance?
Are you using a compressor in the chain?
Old 4th September 2009
Lives for gear
allstar's Avatar

Can't say I found this a problem before. I've used an old silver EB many times on different vocalists and plosives have never been out of line.

Mind you, 3-4" is pretty close. Do you have pop sheild 3-4" from the mic and the singer up against that or the pop shield right next to the mic and the singer 3-4" from it ?

Also, it's worth trying raising the mic above the singers mouth a few inches and perhaps angling it down a touch.
Old 4th September 2009
Gear Maniac
pascalm's Avatar

I wouldn't say the 414 is a great vocal mic just because there are others that do the job better in my opinion... Strange though that you had so much trouble with it as i was just using it yesterday for some backing vocals, used the hood that came with it and no problems what so ever, perhaps because it was backing vocals?

I'm not sure about recommending you another mic, if it's your vocals you are recording I suppose you want something well suited to your voice, even if it isn't i suggest trying it some different LDC and see which you prefer. I would also say have a look at the SM7b I got my hands on that the other day for the first time and was quite pleased with the results it also works really well on guitar cabinets and is great for more shouty male vocals.

I hope that helped a little and good luck!

Old 4th September 2009
Gear Addict
lobsty's Avatar

Maybe it's the position of the mic and/or the pop filter... I've never had any hassles with plosives on a 414.
Incidentally I think the 414 is a great vocal mic, although I tend to use it on female singers.
Old 4th September 2009
I didn't get out a ruler and measure the distance but I think the pop filter was about 3" from the mic (can't get much closer than that with the shockmount ringing the mic). Apart from the plosive issues it sounded better close in than stepping back 6" or so from the pop filter, though obviously this would greatly reduce the plosive problems. Besides, to me, sounding a little too thin at a distance, a lot of this tracking was with acoustic guitar and vocals using the Fig. 8 pattern, so staying in close was also helpful in keeping the level of the guitar down in the mic, fwiw.
Old 4th September 2009
Lives for gear
rty5150's Avatar

pencil trick or angle to mic away either to the side or up. keep the blasts of air from hitting directly onto the capsule. get another inch or two away from the mic. the proximity effect along with the plosives are making for a huge bump.
Old 4th September 2009
Lives for gear
steelyfan's Avatar

I think this is Morrissey's mic of choice, and maybe the only one he's used in the last 15 years. Could be wrong though. Love his vocal sound.
Old 4th September 2009
Gear Maniac
The True Buck's Avatar

I've been using a 414 for my vocals alot over the years. Lately I'm using other mics, though I still use the 414 now and then. For how you explain the voice and singing pretty close to it, omni is your friend as someone already mentioned. For some voices it's definitely the right mic and I'm using it more and more again after having discovered the omni mode.
Old 4th September 2009
Here for the gear

I use a newer 414 for vocals, and have encountered this issue when the singer is too close to it (with filter), or gain staging is a little too hot. Singing into the mic at a 45 degree angle usually makes a big difference.
Old 4th September 2009
Lives for gear
I agree that 3" is awful close for a 414, but all of the above suggestions should help. Which ver. is it? Alanis used a B-ULS for most of "Jagged Little Pill", numerous artists have used EB's or B-TLII's. I think the 414 family actually are good vocal mics, but sometimes you have to use the rolloff - (I assume you've tried that and either didn't like the results or it didn't fix the problem). Sooooo...

If you absolutely have to be so close and absolutely have to hit the mic "head on" and absolutely have to use cardiod...

This thing kills:

Petes Place Audio

Minimal audio artifact; plosives stopped dead. Great for protecting ribbons from kick drums, bass & gtr amps, horns, etc. as well!
Old 4th September 2009
Thanks for all the suggestions. I thought of the Pete's Place filter. I'll try some of the positioning techniques first and see what happens.
Old 4th September 2009
Gear Addict

I use the silver 414 B-ULS on vocals all the time. Not the vibiest tone, but it's clear and can always be made to work.

If you haven't already, you should research the Stedman pop filter and how to set it up. I don't use one personally, but I know that they are very particular. If you set it up wrong, you actually get more plosives than without it. The angle of the filter, the direction it's facing, the distance from the mic, all that stuff. The concept is very different from traditional pop filters...

I think (could be wrong on this) that the Stedman redirects the plosives, so it would make sense that if it's too close to the mic there isn't enough space to redirect them. Are you putting the filter right up against the mic?

Also, that's very close for that mic in general. I get much better results more like 8" or so away. Less proximity effect and a more even tone. So if you have the right recording room for it, experiment with a little more distance. That mic is great at catching the "air" too, so the result is very nice. I like to use the filter as a way to force the singer's distance from the mic, since they always get close to the filter.

The suggestions of changing the angle of the mic will work too, and the pencil trick helps. But you shouldn't need to do any of those things if the pop filter is doing it's job.

(btw, that black foam cover that comes with the mic is a wind screen, not a pop filter. It's not going to help you with plosives)
Old 4th September 2009
Hey ebot, thanks for the thoughts.

I've been using the Stedman for years with other mics without a problem so I don't think that's the root of the problem. However, I will take extra care when placing it with this mic in regards to its angle, etc., just to be sure.
Old 4th September 2009
Gear Addict

Originally Posted by radiospace View Post
Hey ebot, thanks for the thoughts.

I've been using the Stedman for years with other mics without a problem so I don't think that's the root of the problem. However, I will take extra care when placing it with this mic in regards to its angle, etc., just to be sure.
It raised my curiosity so I checked their site.

For the best results the Proscreen™ XL should be placed between the vocalist and the microphone with at least 2 inches between the screen and the microphone. The vocalist must be on the Stedman label side of the Proscreen™ XL to be effective.

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