AKG C414 XLS Review | multipattern condenser microphone

Picture of the C414A legendary mic since “71”

If you’ve been around studios for quite a while, you’ve probably heard someone make a call to use the C414.

AKG is now more known for their awesome set of Reference Headphones, but during the early days, they’ve made some great progress with the C12 and the C414.

Many note its long lifetime, changing shape (like wine) and the ability to add or discard transformers.

Today, it’s growing some LEDs…

How does it shape up with today’s competition?

Read more: The greatest Microphones for Recording

Design and frequency response 

Package of the 414The C414 has two versions, the C414B XLS and the C414 XLII.

However, both have the same parts but of different sound, particularly the C414 XLII being a bit top-end sensitive rather than the XL.

Both microphone designs sport large-diaphragm, multi-pattern capacitors that utilize a front-side coated diaphragm.

This helps avoid electrical shorting between its diaphragm and back-plate.

As we’ve mentioned, the C414 had gone through numerous transformations.

It does not use slide switches unlike its predecessors. Instead, soft-touch rocker switches linked to digital switching circuitry is its new face.

Status LEDs and a non-volatile memory allows it to retain settings when the microphone is disconnected. Just like a slide switch but more

C414 inner worksMulti Pattern Mic

However, it does have a pad switch which includes 6dB, 12dB and 18dB settings.

You also have the omni, wide cardioids, cardioids, narrow cardioids, and figure-8 patterns for your pickup pattern.

As mentioned earlier, the Status LEDs tell you which mode you’re currently using.

AKG‘s new iteration had done away with transformer replacement and instead expanded them to the dynamic range of around 134dBA by maximizing headroom and lowering the noise floor.

Now, the noise is down to 6dBA, which is barely audible. You’re just going to need a full 48V phantom power source where the voltage is positive with respect to the cable’s ground screen.

Magnificent Sound

Shure C414 in the boxThe earlier transformer-less C414s have become signature microphones of their era.

However, these new models have their top-ends shaved compared to the original.

The XLII may have had its sounds lifted, but it sounds more open rather than the harshness we’ve come to know with the original C414.

Recording with this piece

Recording drums with the C414Testing it with some vocals, you’ll get a really clear and crispy result.

It has the body of the singer’s voice and has some high-end clarity to go along with it…

Any microphone could work for any audio situation.

I also tested it out with some acoustic instruments.

akg C414The best part was that the XLII covered the high end of the acoustic instruments perfectly.

While it could be a downer for some bassier instruments, probably the XLS could do a great job.

It has the right sparkly sound but one that has enough beef underneath to deliver some earthy tones.

Final Words

AKG’s dedication to improve its classic line of microphones clearly shows with the C414 microphones. To be honest, these aren’t cheap microphones. The price can vary, but it really is a good investment!

But if you’re looking for a sturdy, useful and powerful condenser microphone that can do everything you need it to be, that’s the AKG C414 XLII and XLS for you.

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