Greetings mate and Welcome aboard.
Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…
Today we will be dissecting the AKG K214 vs. C414 and learning about which is most worth a purchase!
Before we get into the specifics, 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 headphone
- Video Review
- Who benefits?
- What you will need?
- Similarities & Differences
- Final Word
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
- 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, this 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!
- Related: 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. Lol.
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 – a huge benefit in the studio.
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.
In addition to that,
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.
- May lack bass fullness.
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. Make sure you invest in a good audio interface for this guy. It pairs well with the Focusrite Scarlett 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.
- Some basic knowledge on how to treat a room.
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.
- Invest in something like a DBX 286S which you can use to filter out everything but your voice in real-time. Kind of cheating, but hey, who cares right?
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.
This is a huge benefit especially if you’re a bit strapped for cash but want something that performs incredibly well.
More on this in the final word.
AKG C414 XLS
- Type: Condenser.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
- Polar Pattern: Omni, Wide Cardioid, Cardioid, Hypercardioid, Figure-8
- Diaphragm Size: 1″ (25.4mm)
- Output Impedance: 200 Ohms.
- Microphone Connector: XLR.
- Max SPL: 140dB (158dB w/18dB Pad). What is SPL?
- Signal to noise ratio: 88dB (A-weighted).
- Self Noise: 6dB (A-weighted).
- Low Cut Filter: 40Hz, 80Hz (-12dB/octave), 160Hz (-6dB/octave).
- Pads: -6dB, -12dB, -18dB
- Color: Dark Grey/Silver
- Weight: 0.66 lbs.
- Included Accessories: Stand Mount, Shock Mount, Pop Screen, Windscreen, Carry Case
- Manufacturer Part Number: 3059Z00050
Wow. After doing a bit of research, I found that the C414 has gone through quite a bit of change over the years.
This “C” series has been around since 1963, starting with the C12! Hard to believe. Here are the 4 most recent versions:
- AKG C414B XLS. 2004.
- AKG C414B XLII. 2004. A more pronounced presence peak gives the mic a more airy and open top end.
- AKG C414 XLS. 2009.
- AKG C414 XLII. 2009. Same as the B XLII. More pronounced top end.
As you can see, the older models had the “B” in there. There are a couple of noteworthy differences between the 2 older and the 2 newer ones:
- Both the C414 XLS and C414 XLII offer 9 pickup patterns, which enable you to choose the perfect setting for every application.
- The older “B” models only have a total of 5 pickup patterns.
- There are also some slight cosmetic differences between them.
If you want a complete history, check out this really informative article that covers everything! Curing Condenser Confusion: An Audio History of the AKG C 414.
They also include some neat sound tests as well! Great overall website. Highly recommended reading.
While listening to the vocal samples, I found that the newest models (XLS and XLII) are extremely clear and noticeably brighter overall.
As for this article, I’ll only be reviewing the most recent version, the C414 XLS, with a bit of XLII thrown in for clarity.
The only real difference between the XLS and XLII is that the XLII has a slight lift on the top end, making it a bit better for vocals overall.
If you listen closely to the male vocal samples above (in the link provided), you can hear an ever-so-subtle brighter character in the XLII.
Comparison in a nutshell:
- AKG C414 XLS: bright
- AKG C414 XLII: even brighter
So if you prefer a slightly warmer sound, the XLS will do the trick.
If you need a brighter sound, the XL II is your best bet. If you prefer a straight-up warm sound, the B-ULS model is probably the warmest out of all of them.
The C414 XLS is even more versatile than the C214 given all of those different polar patterns. What you get:
- Wide cardioid
Plus 4 intermediate settings, totaling 9. The green LED light over the switch lets you know the pattern selected and becomes red when the mic is overloaded.
There are 2 more switches on the back:
- Three pre-attenuation pads
- Three low-cut filters
Overall, the mic is on the dark side and remains incredibly transparent with a wide frequency response.
It does well in a variety of applications, and the 158dB sound pressure level makes this perfect for miking extremely loud sources (such as kick drums).
It isn’t really recommended solely for vocals because of its darker character but does do well anyway.
- Very versatile. A workhorse mic.
- 9 polar patterns, which is basically unheard of.
- The lock feature makes it so you can’t accidentally switch patterns unknowingly.
- Sound reproduction is amazing and very rare.
- Comes in a rock-solid case with a shock mount, windscreen, & pop-filter.
- Smooth high-end. Present but not hyped, beautiful, and not harsh. Bright sources don’t become horrible, and dark sources still have a life to them.
- You have to turn on phantom power before choosing a polar pattern setting. No set-and-forget. This may become problematic when you’re in a hurry and forget to check the settings, in turn recording something with the wrong pattern.
- Pretty fragile, even more so than your average condenser. Handle with extreme care.
- The phantom power from your interface actually powers on and off the LED. A minor nitpick, but some people prefer to be able to physically turn off the mic itself.
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- Double bass
- *Acoustic guitar and acoustic instruments in general*
- Classical instruments
- Grand piano
- Hand percussion
- Classical guitar
What you will need?
All of the following applies as it did with the C214.
The main difference here is that you will probably need a much better interface given that this thing is already pretty high up there in price. Some preamp/interface options I came across:
- Focusrite ISA one. A moderately-priced preamp in comparison with the ones below. Great option.
- A Designs Pacifica
- Great River MP-500NV
- Universal Audio 6176
Also be aware of your room setup, as this mic picks up everything. You may actually want to have an audio engineer with you when recording with this.
A great all-around workhorse mic with some minor problems. Will undoubtedly need some beefier preamp setups to sound its best, and may not be best in the hands of a beginner.
Similarities & Differences
- Both are very versatile.
- Both are condenser mics that require 48v phantom power. Condenser mic vs. Dynamic mic.
- Both are XLR microphones. The difference between a USB microphone and an XLR microphone.
- Both are made in Austria.
- Both use the same cardioid capsule.
- Both have roughly the same color scheme.
- Treble. The C414 is a bit darker, while the C214 has been accused of being a tad bright for some people’s taste.
- The C414 can handle slightly louder sound pressure levels. 158dB vs. 156dB.
- The 214 doesn’t have as many adjustable settings. It has a 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter for close-up recording and reduction of proximity effect.
- The C214 has a rounded-off shape vs. the squared-off one of the 414.
Differences between the C414 XLII and C214.
- The C414 XLII has a very similar overall character to the C214, which I found interesting. Both are bright and detailed.
- The C414 XLII has a gold grill vs. the silver-ish/beige of the XLS and C214.
I think most people will be just fine with a C214. That is to say that the 414 may or may not be better, but it depends on what you need.
If you have to have those extra features present on the 414 that we discussed earlier, the 414 is the solution. The XLS is darker, slightly warmer, and more of a workhorse mic (better as an all-rounder), while the XL II is a bit brighter and better for vocals.
If you’re budget-minded like me and just need a fantastic studio microphone that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, the C214 is the way to go.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I really hope you’ve come away with some valuable information today in my AKG C214 vs. C414 comparison review.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please leave a comment below or contact me! I would love to hear from you…
Until then, all the best and God bless…