AKG C414 Microphone Review (2020)

The AKG C-Series microphones are top-of-the-line about multipattern condenser mics. It has 2 versions. One of them is the AKG C414 XLII and the other is the AKG C414 XLS. Apart from all the cosmetic differences between these two models, their capsules are different as well.

The XLS is a bit more transparent sounding mic while the XLII features a presence boost, a feature that is very similar to the AKG’s C12. The XLII is pretty flattering on several sources as well.

We are going to focus on the C414 XLII in this review and see how it differs from its other model.

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Sound Quality

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The AKG C414 XLII provides you an ability to conveniently switch between various polar patterns. This is an incredibly handy feature. You will also get a brilliant sound quality from this microphone.

Both C414 XLS and XLII are well known for their tremendous sound character and top-notch clarity. Of course, the XLII is even better sounding than the XLS ad that’s why it is more popular among the vocals. Both C414 XLII and XLS come with shimmering frequencies for treble.

The sound is highly detailed and stresses immensely on clarity. If you work with highly textured and detailed instruments, you need to go for these microphones.

The XLII in particular can work very well for your drums, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, and vocals.

Coloration

However, there is some coloration you need to consider as well. You will find a slight scoop in XLII in its cardioid pattern around 1kHz to 2kHz.

You can also boost it to 5kHz if you need it. This feature allows you to boost the space and clarity perception and bring out a high presence of your vocal.

The mic also rolls out some frequencies around 6kHz and 7kHz, which can create a positive effect by reducing any sibilance effect.

It might smoothen the vocals but some of you might prefer less coloring and a more neutral sound. You can alter that according to your requirements during mixing.

Recording room

To prevent any booming proximity effect while recording, you will have to step back from your C414 mic. You will need to raise your levels to bring out the best loudness while recording. 

By doing this you will be capturing more surrounding noise. If you don’t have a properly sound-treated room to do recording, you shouldn’t opt for the C414. This is the reason dynamic mics are recommended for novices who don’t have sound-treated rooms.

But the C414 is more influenced by it because it is highly sensitive. It can capture the sounds in great detail, even the unwanted ones.

Build Quality

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Both C414 XLII and XLS maintain their classic shape from their predecessors. These mics are compact and come with a box-shaped construction.

You can say it’s a basic design but the XLII has a gold-colored grille to make it pretty flashy in the studio. While being in a small studio, you can make quite an impression on your collaborators and clients with it.

The base of the mic is heavy and solid but the same can’t be said for the gold grille. It might seem very pleasing but the grille is fairly delicate.

Most of the users of this microphone have complained about the grille as it can easily be dented. You need to be very careful in handling your mic.

As the grill is right in front of the mic, any dents can spoil the look. But underneath this grille, the mic features a CK12 Generation 2 nylon capsule that is responsible for the quality sound of this mic.

With the newer models, the company has gone for elastic mounting around the capsule to take care of vibration or any impact, the capsule is too precious to be handled carelessly. In simple words, don’t drop your C414. It might survive a couple of drops but it is not an invincible workhorse.

A combination of classic and modern

Both C414 XLII and XLS are not cheap mics, they feature modern technology with a classic look. The design features some powerful improvements from the previous models at a technical and practical level.

Despite being a high-quality microphone, the C414’s price is very competitive as compared to other high-end mics from different brands. The new control system of this mic is very neat and user-friendly.

Your purchase of this mic also features some very handy accessories including a durable flight case, a quality pop-shield, and an adequately designed shock mount. The new models come with a dynamic range of sounds while still holding on to their classic outlook and sound.

Controls

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Front controls

Right under its graceful gold grille, there is a selectable switch with a 9-pickup pattern. You can switch between 5 different polar patterns with just the click of a button.

You can also use the same switch to choose 4 hybrid patterns from each of these. Right under the switch, there is an LED light that allows you to see which patterns have you selected.

This LED light strip has a very handy feature to detect clipping and peak overloads. The light will switch to red from green even a faint distortion occurs from clipping.

This feature allows you to quickly adjust your levels accordingly, the feature will come in handy when you are using a very loud source like a blaring guitar or drums.

Rear controls

On the backside, the C414 has two different switches and LEDs underneath them. On the left side, there is a pre-attenuation pad that allows you to choose between four different settings including -18 dB, -12 dB, -6 dB, and 0 dB.

Paired with the clipping indicator on the front you can quickly detect distortion in your signals and pad them which creates even more headroom as required.

On the right side, this mic has a low cutting filter. And you can easily toggle between 160Hz, 80Hz, 40Hz, and 0Hz to eradicate any unwanted low end in your signals. It is equally useful in situations where you have a boomy recording source to tackle the unwanted proximity effect.

Polar Patterns

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Polar patterns which are also known as pickup patterns can be represented in two-dimensional graphs on a circle plot of 360 degrees. But in reality, your microphone can capture sound in three dimensions with its capsule.

These polar patterns are developed by varying the output level from the omnidirectional mic as well as combining it with different output levels from the Figure-8 pattern.

There are primarily five different polar patterns on C414, and you can also select and intermediate between any two adjacent patterns. The total polar patterns available with C414 become nine. Five of them are primary and four are hybrid. The five primary polar patterns of C414 are:

Omnidirectional

This polar pattern is great for moving sounds and from the room.

Wide-cardioid

This pattern is used to capture the sounds from wider sources that are in a particular direction like a choir or live band.

Cardioid

Cardioid is the standard polar pattern for recording most vocals and instruments.

Hypercardioid

It is great for better isolation of tighter sound sources and blocking out any noises from surrounding. 

 Figure-8

The Figure-8 pattern becomes handy for stereo recording and the best option for M/S recording or working with 2 vocalists.

Switching between these polar patterns make C414 the best option for recording crisp sounds in a range of different situations. This is the particular reason that C414 has become a must-have piece of equipment for every studio. No matter what your requirements are, you will find the C414 a suitable option.

There is a lock mode for the polar pattern. To prevent any accidental switches, you can lock the pattern you are working on. You just have to hold down one of the arrows on the selector for about two seconds and it will lock the pattern.

There is an LED light that will turn on for a brief period when you switch between the patterns in this lock mode. It will indicate you cannot switch the pattern because your pattern is locked.

For disabling the lock mode, you again have to long-press one of the arrows for two seconds and your mic is unlocked. You can now switch the patterns again.

Pros of AKG C414

  • The C414 can maintain the classic sound for which the AKG C12 was famous for.
  • It features a high-quality switching system with LED indicators to alert you which polar pattern is on.
  • The cardioid polar pattern comes with extra-wide features.
  • High-quality accessories are included in your purchase.
  • Five different polar patterns with four different hybrid patterns to work in different scenarios.
  • There are three different attenuation levels for better sound control.
  • A wide frequency range ensures you capture all nuances from your source as they were produced. This mic is designed to provide you with maximum transparency and linearity.
  • The mic also features a bass-cut filter and provide you with any overall warnings even on the slightest of applications.

Cons of AKG C414

  • LEDs are not very useful for stealth use during film and TV applications.
  • As it is a highly sensitive microphone, it can also capture any studio noise. Therefore, if you don’t have a sound-treated room, this mic is not the right option for you.

Conclusion

AKG has been the top choice for many renowned sound producers, recording engineers, and artists. And it has helped in creating the most iconic sounds for more than 65 years now.

The engineers designed at AKG understand the requirements of a true recording artist. There are nine different polar patterns that you can select according to your recording requirements. Five of them are primary while four of them are hybrid.

You can also work with three different attenuation levels for better closeup recording of instruments that have high-output levels. The mic also features three different filters for bass cutting to keep the wind noise low.

It helps in eradicating any stage vibration or any proximity effect. The mic can also alert you with an overall earning with its LED for audio peak hotel and even detects the shortest of audio peaks.

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