The Perception 820 Tube delivers real tube sound quality. It is not only the flagship model of the Perception Series, but also raises the bar in its class of affordable tube microphones.
In contrast to many other affordable tube microphones, the Perception 820 Tube delivers real tube sound quality thanks to the dual one-inch large-diaphragm capsule and the sophisticated ECC 83 dual-triode circuitry.
The elegant remote control unit allows selection of 9 different pickup patterns and controls the switchable bass-cut filter and the attenuation pad. Moreover, a ground lift switch prevents unwanted hum if necessary.
It comes complete with a spider-type shock mount and a metal carrying case.
AKG's industry-leading Perception Series of condenser microphones are recognized for their outstanding quality and versatile capabilities at an affordable price.
The Perception 820 Tube raises the bar in its class: It shows real tube sound, the highest dynamic range, the most comprehensive features and comes complete with useful accessories at an unbeatable price.
- Two back-to-back one-inch diaphragms featuring True Condenser Technology
- An ECC 83 dual-triode tube circuitry emphasizes even-order harmonics for rich, smooth and three-dimensional sound
- The elegant remote control unit allows selection of 9 different pickup patterns from omnidirectional to cardioid to figure 8
- The switchable bass cut filter (80 Hz, 12 dB/oct) reduces unwanted rumble or footfall noise
- A 20 dB attenuation pad enables for high SPL applications up to 155 dB
- Brush-finished, anodized Aluminium front plate and all-metal housing for maximum shielding
- A ground lift switch prevents unwanted hum if necessary
- Designed and engineered in Vienna, Austria
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Type: 1-inch dual-diaphragm, true condenser pressure gradient
Polar pattern: omnidirectional, cardioid, figure eight plus six intermediate patterns (selectable on Remote Control Unit)
Frequency range: 20 to 20,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 20 mV/Pa (-34 dBV +/-3 dB)
Max. SPL: 135/155 dB SPL (0/-20 dB) for 0.5% THD
Equivalent noise level: 16 dB-A (IEC 60268-4)
Preattenuation pad: -20 dB (switchable on Remote Control Unit)
Bass cut filter slope: 12 dB/Oktave, 80 Hz (switchable on Remote Control Unit)
Impedance: <=200 ohms
Recommended load impedance: >=1000 ohms
Powering: via Remote Control Unit
Connector: dedicated 7-pin male XLR
Dimensions: 53 dia. x 212 mm high (2 x 8.3 in.)
Net weight: 870 g / 1.9 lbs.
Remote Control Unit: Audio/control input: dedicated 7-pin female XLR connector
Audio output: standard 3-pin male XLR connector,balanced, pin 2 hot
Polar pattern selector: 9-position detented rotary switch
Bass cut filter switch: 2-position toggle switch
Preattenuation switch: 2-position toggle switch
Power voltage: 210-240 VAC or 110-120 VAC, selectable
Primary fuse: 125 mA / 250 V slow-blow
- Dimensions and Weight in Packaging
- Base Item
- Shipping Weight: 14 lbs
If you have additional warranty questions,
please contact the manufacturer at 818-920-3212
zZounds Expert Review
Professional-quality microphones used to be a luxury only afforded in the biggest recording studios, but with the popularity of home and project studios in recent years, many manufacturers are producing studio-quality gear at moderate prices. Solid state large-diaphragm condenser microphones are a perfect example of this trend, and their tube-based brethren are starting to follow suit. The subtle even-order harmonic content tube mics add to the equation can turn an average vocal or instrument take into a masterpiece in the mix. AKG's Perception series is loaded with reasonably priced, high quality microphones, and the 820 tube mic is at the top of the heap.
The Perception 820 has a wide frequency response (20 Hz - 20 kHz) and high SPL handling (up to 155 dB when the pad is on) to deliver pristine audio reproduction in a variety of situations. You can get the rich, warm character you expect on vocals and acoustic guitars, then place it in front of a drum kit or guitar amp for stellar rhythm tracks.
Out Of The Box
I was super impressed with all you get in the 820 package. The carry case seems sturdy enough for transport, with a foam interior to hold the mic and included control box, shockmount, and cabling in place as you travel. Speaking of cabling, AKG includes a 7-pin mic/control cable to run from the mic to the control box, plus two power cables; one for the U.S. and one for Europe. You'll still need a standard 3-pin XLR cable to run from the control box to your preamp, mixer, or audio interface. Lastly, there's a helpful manual that will guide you through the proper setup procedure. It even has several practical suggestions on how to take full advantage of the Perception 820's capabilities in common recording situations.
With most microphones, you plug in a single cable and you're done, so the extra cable and control box in this setup might seem like an added hassle. The truth is, it's a smart design and a real time saver in the studio. AKG supplies a 50-foot control cable, so you've got a lot of flexibility when it comes to positioning. You can place the control box in your control room, then make most modifications without having to leave your monitoring station. Is the sound too boomy? You don't have to get up out of your seat, walk to the mic, and engage the rolloff, because the rolloff switch is right there on the control box. Same goes for the -20 dB pad and the pattern selector. Without leaving my control room, I was able to audition the 820 in Omni, Cardioid, and Figure 8 modes. Pretty sweet. Even better, the control box has three detented positions between each of the patterns, offering intermediate steps and a total of nine polar possibilities. The only real challenge was routing the control cable. I have an XLR patch bay between my recording area and control room. With 50 feet of play, though, I was able to run the cable under the control room door and still had plenty of slack to position the mic wherever it was needed.
The shockmount installed easily on a boom mic stand, and accepted the mic with no problems. You get two extra elastic bands for the shockmount in case one fails, but they looked pretty durable to me. The 820 weighs almost two pounds, and had a solid, professional heft.
Let's Get Cooking
As with most tube-based audio gear, it's best to let those tubes warm up before you really get started. I connected the mic to the control box and the box to my mixer, then powered it on to let it cook while I was still setting up. At first I thought maybe I had a dud as the blue light on the control box didn't come on right away. Then I realized it waits about ten seconds to light up while the initial voltage is run through the circuit, with another twenty to thirty seconds before the mic is ready to function properly. We still had some setup to do, so I ended up letting the mic "simmer" for about a half hour before bringing up the gain and checking levels.
Once we were ready to start tracking, I positioned the mic for vocal performance and set the control box to a Cardioid pattern (it was great to be able to do this from the control room without having all kinds of annoying handling noise in the headphones). I started with the 80 Hz rolloff engaged, but the vocals were sounding a little thin so I turned it off. It really helped to richen the lows, with plenty of crispness on top and the same sort of snappy character you'll find with a C-414. I've got a few other tube condenser mics in my locker, and comparatively the 820 was a little tighter down low with a slightly lower proximity effect. If you're looking for well-defined bass without being overly boomy, you could do a lot worse than the Perception 820. The flat response and tight lows match up well with deeper voices, reducing the EQ tweaking typically needed to get a balanced take.
On Your Six
After we had the initial tracks laid down, it was decided to add a rhythmic acoustic guitar riff into the mix. I didn't need a bunch of bass in the track as I like to do when recording solo acoustic guitar, just some bite in the mids to help the part cut through without being distracting. We started with a smaller body Martin, and the brisk character jumped right out at us. To provide some variety, we tracked the same part with an old Jumbo I keep in the studio, and once again, the Perception 820 let the wood speak clearly without exaggerating the lows.
Overall, the Perception 820 tube mic is a great value. The quality is every bit as good as much more expensive microphones, and seems to be ready to tackle virtually any recording situation. If you're looking at a standard large-diaphragm condenser microphone, especially in this price range, I highly recommend you consider the tube option.