Hi friend and Welcome!
I have an informative post on the AKG C214 vs. AT4040 for you! Before we get started, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
of each microphone
- Ratings/Best Price
- Sound Test
- Who this mic benefits?
- What you will need?
- Similarities & Differences
- Final Word
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
- Amazon: 4.8/5 (Over 50 reviews) | Check eBay!
- Sweetwater Sound: 4.6/5 (Over 30 reviews)
- Musicians Friend: 4.9/5 (limited reviews)
- Type: Condenser.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
- Impedance: 200 Ohms.
- Switches: -20dB pad.
- Microphone Connector: XLR. What is XLR?
- Max SPL: 136dB (156dB w/Pad).
- Signal to noise ratio: 81dB (A weighted).
- Self Noise: 13dB (A weighted).
- Low Cut Filter: 160Hz (-6dB/octave).
- Pads: -20dB.
- Color: Matte Grey Blue
- Weight: 0.62 lbs.
- Included Accessories: H85 Shockmount, Metal Carry Case
- Manufacturer Part Number: 3185Z00010
If you’re looking for a mic that’s a step up from some of the lower end models, the C214 may be your best bet! It performs extremely well for rap vocals as well as R&B. Apparently it uses the same cardioid capsule as the AKG C414, which is a $1000 mic! What is a cardioid capsule? A lot of people can hear a huge difference in sound between the C214 and some lower end models. The value becomes apparent when people start asking you what professional studio you recorded that gangster rap song in. 😛 AKG C214 vs. C414
While most mics have somewhat of a neutral, flat response, this one doesn’t. It has a touch of warmth to it and is meant to accentuate your vocals a bit. It’s very clear and bright, but not harsh. It is also great for people who don’t speak very clearly on the mic, or mumble a little. This will make some of the other cheaper end models sound muddy and uncompromising.
Even turned all the way up it performs exceptionally well. Crank it all the way up, then turn it down a smidgen (or two), and then stand about 8-10 inches away. Now start rapping or singing, but make sure that the capsule is positioned between your nose and upper lip.
As for construction, this baby was built in Vienna, Austria, and truly performs well. It has an integrated capsule suspension that reduces mechanical noise and resonances for even greater sonic accuracy.
It also sports a double mesh, all-metal grille that protects the capsule and ensures high RF immunity without affecting the mic’s acoustical performance.
It features a modern scratch-resistant finish, dent-resistant metal grille, and gold-plated XLR output. Perfect for travel!
It’s also important to note why this is so good for both vocal and instrument applications. The 20-db switch allows you to record close up or far away. Close up it can record in very high sound fields; Up to 156 DB SPL (sound pressure level). For female vocals it’s also amazing. The recording is so live that you may have to throw on a hi pass filter.
- Comes with a cradle, pop filter, and a nice carrying case.
- Great for Rap/R&B vocals.
- Huge difference in sound from lower end models.
- Bright but not exaggerated or harsh. Crisp, clear, thick, natural, and warm.
- Great for a variety of uses.
- Extremely durable.
- There’s one 2-star review on amazon (with poor English and grammar), that says it “wasn’t as good as the AT 3035”
- 2 reviewers from Sweetwater sound, and 1 from Gearslutz said it doesn’t quite have the bass or fullness that they were hoping for.
Check out the sound test!
Who this mic benefits?
It’s great for:
- Acoustic guitar
- Electric guitar
- Drum overhead
- Saxophones, etc.
If you’ve ever tried to mike a guitar amp with a Shure Sm57 and had trouble finding that sweet spot, then this mic may be your solution.
- Be aware that a lot of people don’t like it as much for vocals, being that it’s a bit bright.
What you will need?
- XLR Cable(s)
- 48v phantom power via audio interface or preamp. Like the AT4040, make sure you invest in a good audio interface for this guy. Preamp vs. Interface. I’ve heard it pairs well with the Focusrite 2i2 and the Steinberg UR22. It has been said that the UR22 has better preamps than the 2i2, so it may actually be a better option for a mic of this caliber. I own the 2i2 and love it. Either of those 2 would work wonders though. Check out my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Review!
- Some basic knowledge on how to treat a room. Check out my post on Acoustic Sound Treatment!
More on the last point: This is a condenser mic, and a super sensitive one at that; it picks up everything. This means that you will need to isolate as much sound from the mic, and block out the rest. Here are some ideas:
- Record in a small space, such as a closet.
- Turn off all Air conditioners, extraneous noise, as well as ambient noise. Do not record near a window!
- Consider using Acoustic Studio Foam, line the walls with old comforters, use a CAD audio acoustic shield, or even record underneath a blanket! It sounds crazy but it works. Check out the video below to see the point illustrated quite humorously. 😀
This is a crisp sounding mic that will make all of your others pale in comparison; It is also very versatile and does well with most applications. Namely: Rap, R&B, acoustic guitar, saxophones, drum overheads, and female vocals.
It is bright but not harsh, and records crisp and clear. One of the biggest endorsements I came across was the fact that people will think you recorded in a professional studio setting.
Audio Technica AT4040
- Amazon: 4.7/5 (Over 30 reviews) | Check eBay!
- Sweetwater Sound: 4.5/5 (Over 20 reviews)
- Musicians Friend: 4.7/5 (Over 30 reviews)
- Type: Condenser.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
- Output Impedance: 100 Ohms.
- Switches: -10dB pad.
- Microphone Connector: XLR.
- Max SPL: 145dB (155dB w/10dB Pad).
- Signal to noise ratio: 82dB.
- Self Noise: 12dB.
- Color: Black
- Weight: 0.79 lbs.
- Included Accessories: Shock-mount, dust cover, carry case.
- Manufacturer Part Number: AT4040.
This is a great all around work-horse microphone that handles a variety of studio applications with ease. It’s sound is immaculate, and it is also very affordable! If you’re a beginner or intermediate, looking to upgrade to something a little better, look no further. It sports a flat, neutral, but also warm sound. It will not color your voice, but rather presents it as is.
A very versatile mic, this will be an all around great option for recording vocals, piano, sax, flutes, guitar amps, acoustic guitar and more. It has a really clean sound that is easy to work with. It isn’t colored in any way and remains neutral and honest.
As stated above, the sound is very clean, clear, and uncolored. It is also very sensitive, picking up everything. This is pretty standard of all cardioid condensers, so adequate room treatment must be considered.
As for vocals, you will be able to hear details in the mix that were previously lost. One amazon reviewer said the sound is a close second to a mic that is 10x the cost. A bold statement indeed! It is one of the few economically priced consumer grade microphones that can be found in professional studios.
There is no proximity effect here. Get as close to the mic as you want and the clarity still comes through crystal clear.
One guy says it’s probably the best sounding studio mic he’s used in 26 years of broadcasting. Very natural sounding, and comparable to the AKG C414 but much more affordable.
As for build, of course it’s very rugged and durable. This has become a staple of the Audio Technica line. Mics ranging from the AT2020, AT2035, as well as this one are all similar in aesthetic, and all remain very well crafted.
- Silky smooth high end
- Extremely versatile
- Warm sounding, yet remains flat and neutral
- Durable and sexy looking
- Comes with a good case and shock-mount
- Great for male vocals
- Longevity. This thing will last you for years given proper care.
- Built in hi-pass filter and -10db pad which can tame the low end if it becomes boomy on bass heavy sources. However, a couple of people on Musicians friend said that the lows may be problematic because they have such heavy impact.
- Nice boost in the high end which gives it an enjoyable, airy quality.
- Compares very favorably with a Nuemann TLM 102 and 103. Saw quite a few people saying it really holds it’s own against a Nuemann, as well as other higher priced competitors.
- recorded through an average preamp the mic sounds a bit harsh. Invest in a good one!
- It may not like to be pushed too hard, and could get distorted and thin in the upper registers.
Who this Mic Benefits?
Pretty much everyone. This is the standout feature of the Audio Technica AT4040. It is a great all around mic that will handle most anything you throw at it. I’ve seen it endorsed for all of the following:
- Acoustic Guitar
- Drum overheads
- Lead vocals/backing vocals
- Band, orchestra, and chorus concerts
- Rap, Hip-Hop and R&B
- Field Recording
- Film/Video production
- Chamber ensembles
*BUT .. don’t buy this mic expecting it to enhance your voice. It will present to you how it is. 😀 This was a constant in reviews. Expect the tone of it to be true to life.
Not the best for:
- Rock or Pop vocals
Here’s a beautiful song highlighting the 4040!
What you will need?
This is an XLR condenser mic, so you will need:
- 48v Phantom Power via audio interface or some type of mic preamp. Preamp vs. Interface. Also check out my guide on Choosing a DAW! Make sure that you’re interface or preamp is of a higher quality than the average. This mic needs a little extra love 🙂 The options mentioned with the C214 will do just fine here as well.
- XLR cable(s) What is the difference between a USB microphone and an XLR microphone?
- Some sort of sequencing program. You can also use Audacity. It’s free and works like a charm! It’s great for starting out, but don’t rely on it forever. A good step up from it would be Reaper.
- Mic stand
- Pop filter
- Shock-mount (The AT4040 comes with a good one).
Also, you will need to treat your room prior to using this, or the mic will probably sound bad. It is very sensitive which is a good thing, but benefits highly from proper sound treatment. Some ideas:
- Try to work in an enclosed space, away from windows, fans, A/C units, ambient noise, etc.
- Use old comforters, or Acoustic Studio Foam to line the walls and absorb the sound.
Basically anything to encase the sound in and make your voice sound lush and clear. Here is a great example illustrating the overall point:
There’s not much else out there in this price range that competes with the likes of this bad boy. You can basically record anything with it, and do it well.
It looks great, the sound is top-notch, and people basically drool over this thing in reviews. Talking in all caps, swooning over the sound, etc. If you’re in the market for a mic of this stature, you may want to check it out. It’s also a nice upgrade from the Audio Technica AT2035, as well as the AT2020.
Similarities & Differences
- They both do well with a wide variety of music.
- They are both XLR condenser microphones that require 48v phantom power to function.
- They both come in at a similar price range.
- Both come with a shock-mount and carry case.
- It seems as though the AT4040 is a bit more versatile. I saw a lot more people endorsing it for a wider variety of applications. This could also be due to the fact that the C214 doesn’t have a whole lot written about it (at least in comparison).
- The look and feel of both is radically different. The 214 has a squared off retro look in comparison to the traditional design of the AT4040.
- Both have a dB pad, but the 4040’s is a -10dB while the C214 is a -20.
- The C214 has a low cut filter while the 4040 does not.
- The 4040 is a bit heavier.
Outside of a few things, these mics are very similar, which leads me to my conclusion:
It’s really hard to recommend one of these over the other, but if I had to choose, I would probably go with the AT4040. Why? It’s got a lot more reviews and information written, and I was able to gather more consistent opinions because of that. The C214 seems like a stellar option as well, but again, there are very limited reviews around the internet. The people that have it give an almost perfect score. I’m also recommending the 4040 because it’s so extremely versatile. I was super impressed with all the stuff people said they used it to record with. The list is endless!
Moreover, it’s consistent. A lot of different people were endorsing it for the same things. This leads me to believe that it is in fact an amazing all purpose tool. Considering Audio Technicas line of mics is extremely solid, I can recommend this entry with the utmost confidence.
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve come away with some valuable information on the AKG C214 vs. AT4040.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I leave something out or get something wrong? Contact me or leave a comment below!
Do you agree with my assessment? I would love to hear from you. Until then,
All the best and God bless..