A recording studio staple since the 1970s, the AKG C 414 microphone hardly needs an introduction. This instantly-recognizable large-diaphragm condenser has seen a handful of revisions over the years, as AKG has responded to engineers' demands for ever-greater headroom, sensitivity, and linearity. As an update to the B-ULS, the longest-lived C 414 design, the C 414 XLS is AKG's most neutral-sounding 414 model. The cutting-edge XLS is intended for accurate and detailed sonic reproduction, but it also retains the classic C 414 signature of extended low frequencies, crisp top end, and a gentle low-mids dip that rounds off the harsh edges of voices or instruments. Holding up its predecessors' reputation as a go-to mic for piano, drum overheads, classical ensembles, vocals and much more, the C 414 XLS adds unmatched versatility with an impressive nine pickup patterns.
Introducing the Nine-Pattern C 414
A multi-pattern microphone allows you to dial in a particular sound right at its source. If you're going for a natural character, choose a wider pattern; for a more direct, "in-your-face" quality, lean toward the hypercardioid pattern. The XLS' rocking switch rotates through omni, wide cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid, bidirectional figure-8, and four intermediate settings for a total of nine patterns, for more flexibility than typical 3-to-5-pattern mics. With the C 414 XLS, you can always go a little narrower to add a heightened sense of reality or eliminate bleed from surrounding sources when recording an ensemble. Plus, the plethora of pickup patterns on the C 414 XLS makes it possible to place multiple mics in X-Y stereo, middle/side setups, ORTF pairs, Blumlein pairs, or even a Decca Tree configuration.
LEDs Display Pickup Pattern and Switch Settings
When you connect your C 414 XLS to phantom power, you'll see LEDs illuminate in green as you select your pickup pattern. If phantom power is interrupted, the C 414 XLS keeps its last pickup pattern in memory, so your mic will power on to the exact setting you left it -- which is especially useful if you have your XLS mics hanging in hard-to-reach spots over a choir or a large drum kit. Once you've made your pickup pattern selection, lock it in by holding the switch for three seconds to prevent bumping during handling. The LED lights provide quick visual confirmation for your settings. And with an eye toward visual confirmation, this update to the classic C 414 design has a distinctive silver grill on the front and a black grill on the back, so you can tell which way your 414 is facing from across the studio.
Pads and Filters: Dynamic Range to Spare
Flip the mic around to find the LEDs and rocking switches for the -6/-12/-18 dB pad and 40, 80, or 160 Hz bass roll-off filter, two of the most useful features on the C 414 XLS. Padded down to -18 dB, this mic can now handle a sound pressure level of an incredible 158 dB. But since you probably won't be making location recordings of space shuttle launches anytime soon, you'll be glad to know that the C 414 XLS is well-equipped to record much quieter sources, thanks to its transformerless design and internal capsule suspension system resulting in extremely low self-noise of 6 dB-A. The XLS model also introduces a peak hold function: if the output level of the microphone approaches its overload limit, the polar pattern LEDs will light up in red for about three seconds -- alerting you to engage the mic's pre-attenuation pad (or to perhaps ask that overzealous trumpet player to step back from the mic a few inches.)
- The most neutral and accurate C 414 model available, well-suited to nearly any source
- Capsule design based on the time-honored C 414 B-ULS
- 9 pickup patterns provide unmatched versatility
- 4-position bass roll-off filter
- 4-position pre-attenuation pad for handling up to 158 dB SPL
- Microphone "remembers" its pattern, filter and pad settings when phantom power is interrupted
- Lock mode disables switches to prevent bumping during handling
- Peak Hold LEDs illuminate red when the mic output is within 2 dB of overloading
- Transformerless design and suspended capsule for extremely low noise floor of 6 dB
- Includes AKG pop filter, foam windscreen, spider-suspension shock mount, and foam-lined aluminum flight case
A Refinement to a Legend
With its legendary stature as one of the most universal, versatile large-diaphragm condensers of the past four decades, the C 414 adds formidable flexibility with nine pickup patterns in the C 414 XLS model. If you don't already own one or more of these classic microphones, now is the time to round out your collection with AKG's updated version of the legendary C 414.
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Polar pattern: omnidirectional, wide cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid, figure eight and 4 intermediate settings
Frequency range: 20 to 20, 000 Hz
Sensitivity: 20 mV/Pa (-34 dBV) +/- 0.5 dB
Max. SPL: 200/400/800/1600 Pa = 140/146/152/158 dB (0/-6/-12/-18 dB) for 0.5% THD
Equivalent noise level: 6 dB-A (0 dB preattenuation) (IEC 60268-4)
Signal/noise ratio: 88 dB
Pre-attenuation pad: 0 dB, -6 dB, -12 dB, -18 dB, switchable
Bass cut filter slope: 12 dB/octave at 40 Hz and 80 Hz; 6 dB/octave at 160 Hz
Impedance: <=200 ohms
Recommended load impedance: >= 2,200 ohms
Supply voltage: 48V phantom power to DIN/IEC
Powering: approximately 4 mA
Connector: 3-pin XLR to IEC
Dimensions: 50 x 38 x 160 mm (2.0 x 1.5 x 6.3 in.)
Net weight: 300 g (10.6 oz.)
Patent(s): Electrostatic transducer (Patent no. AT 395.225, DE 4.103.784, JP 2.815.488)
- Dimensions and Weight in Packaging
- Shipping Weight: 4 lbs
If you have additional warranty questions,
please call the manufacturer at 818-920-3212
AKG's legendary C414 needs no introduction - it is a tool found in most recording studios and has been used on thousands of hit records; it's been on stage with artists of every musical genre and is also used by leading broadcast facilities the world over.
For over 60 years, leading musicians and engineers have used legendary AKG microphones to capture their sound so their audience hears every nuance. The C414 family has been one of the world's most widely-used and respected studio and stage microphones in audio history. AKG has continually set new benchmarks for useful features, improved technical specifications and ease of use to answer requests from ever-demanding recording studios, broadcast stations and audio engineers.
The new models C414 XLS and C414 XL II offer nine pickup patterns which enable to choose the perfect setting for every application. For live-sound applications and permanent installations all controls can be disabled easily for trouble-free use. A Peak Hold LED displays even shortest overload peaks.
The C414 XLS maintains the sonic character of the legendary C414 B-ULS, the longest-lived C414 model. Engineered for highest linearity and neutral sound, it is the most universal and versatile large-diaphragm microphone for decades. Widely used for accurate, beautifully detailed pickup of any acoustic instrument the new C414 XLS combines proven reference quality, leading-edge technology and state-of-the-art components.
The C414 comes complete with carrying case, pop filter, windscreen, and spider-type shock mount.
zZounds Expert Review
If you've spent any time at all in a serious recording studio, you've no doubt seen a few AKG C 414 large-diaphragm condenser microphones in action. Their signature sound reproduction and flexible operation have been a standard in the recording industry for many years, and their rock-solid durability keeps them going session after session.
AKG has released some updated versions of the legendary C 414, including this XLS model. Its one-inch diaphragm and selectable roll-off and pad settings maintain the same level of sonic integrity as the original C 414, with the added benefit of nine selectable polar patterns to increase the versatility.
The front panel of this microphone displays symbols for five common pickup patterns, including Omnidirectional, Wide Cardioid, Cardioid, Hypercardioid, and Figure Eight. The XLS selector switch lets you toggle between these patterns, plus four intermediate steps to deliver all nine options. A green LED indicates which pattern is selected. This LED serves double duty, turning red to indicate input overload. The switching happens electronically, and uses some of the required phantom power to function. The C 414 XLS remembers the last setting when phantom power is removed, and you can use the Lock function to prevent accidental switching while tracking.
The wide (20 Hz - 20 kHz) frequency response of the C 414 XLS is fairly flat, with some unique sculpting that happens depending on which polar pattern you're using. The Hypercardioid setting, for example, adds about 2 dB in the 3 kHz range, plus a little added presence at around 15 kHz. Engaging the Omni pattern scoops 2 dB out at 1.4 kHz but bumps the 6.5 kHz zone up about the same amount and creates a sharp little 5 dB peak up around 13 kHz. This combination of polar response and subtle frequency shading really expands the tonal palette.
But it doesn't stop there. The rear panel gives you access to a selectable low-cut filter, offering a roll-off at 40 Hz, 80 Hz, or 160 Hz to tighten up a ton of different instrument and vocal sources. The 40- and 80-Hz settings are fairly steep, with 12 dB per octave filtering. The slope on the 160 Hz setting is more gradual, rolling off 6 dB per octave. The rear panel also houses the selectable pad. Attenuation of -6 dB, -12 dB, and -18 dB is possible, with a maximum SPL of 158 dB. The C 414 has a respectable 140 dB SPL rating with the pad off, as well. The 134 dB dynamic range is capable of reproducing a good amount of nuance in vocal and instrument performance.
The Total Package
AKG provides a healthy assortment of accessories to help you realize your C 414's full potential. You get an aluminum travel case for safe transport and a plastic shock mount to reduce handling noise and unwanted vibrations. A foam windscreen and adjustable pop filter are also included.
Setup was very straightforward. The shock mount was easy to couple to a basic boom stand, and the C 414 XLS seemed stable and secure in the mount. I ran an XLR cable from the mic to my mixer, engaged the phantom power on that channel, and was ready to roll the proverbial tape. After setting the input level, I cycled through the pickup patterns to get a sense of the tonal range. The major pattern settings performed as expected, with the off-axis rejection increasing as you go from Wide- to Hypercardioid. Omnidirectional mode sounded very uniform at any angle. The Cardioid pattern was a favorite, with that classic C 414-esque richness from the proximity effect and the snappy character up in the high mids.
My first test was to simulate a voiceover session. I have a fairly deep voice, and the 80Hz roll-off in Cardioid mode produced a great tone without sacrificing too much bass. No pad was needed.
The C 414 is very versatile, but it's not usually my first choice when tracking acoustic guitars. But for demo purposes, I decided to give the XLS version a fair shake. Again in Cardioid mode with no roll-off or pad, I was able to get a fantastic sound from a fairly bright Martin dreadnought. The sweet spot seemed to be down closer to the bridge than I normally go, just under a foot away from the body.
I had a few sessions scheduled for vocal tracks, and it was a good opportunity to put the C 414 XLS through its paces as a vocal mic. First up was a female singer songwriter. She has a higher voice that can get a bit shrill when she pushes, and to my ears this mic wasn't the best match. Later that day I was able to try it out on a male vocalist singing some contemporary R&B. the results here were much more pleasing. I wouldn't go so far as to say this mic is better on male vocals than female vocals, though. I think it's more a matter of tonal character. I'd bet the C 414 XLS would sound really nice in front of a chanteuse singing smoky torch songs.
Finally, I set the C 414 XLS up to capture some percussion sounds I needed to add texture to a project I was working on. As I expected, the crisp character was a great fit for shaker, guiro, and claves, adding enough body to keep the tracks from getting overwhelmed in the mix. I didn't try it, but the high SPL handling on this mic would probably pair well with a snappy snare drum.
After getting to know this mic pretty well in the studio, it's clear to me that AKG isn't interested in monkeying with a winning formula. The C 414 XLS offers all the best of its legendary predecessors, plus some additional pickup patterns for even more multipurpose functionality. If you're in the market for a great all-around studio condenser mic, the C 414 XLS is a solid choice.