Hi friend and Welcome!
Curious about the difference between the AKG C414 XLS vs. XLII? Well than grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
Normally I review each mic separately, but given that these bad boys are so similar, I will instead outline the C414 XLS and then compare it to the XLII.
- Video Review
- Who this mic benefits?
- What you will need?
- How it compares with the XLII
- Final Word
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!
AKG C414 XLS
Ratings (Subject to change)
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 the 1963, starting with the C12! Hard to believe. Here are the 4 most recent versions:
- AKG C414B XLS. 2004.
- AKG C414B XLII. 2004. More pronounced presence peak, giving 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.
The C414 XLS is really versatile, 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 of the pattern selected, and becomes red when he 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 it’s darker character, but does do well anyway.
- Very versatile. A workhorse mic.
- 9 polar patterns, which is basically unheard of.
- Lock feature makes it so you can’t accidentally switch patterns unknowingly.
- Sound reproduction called amazing and very rare.
- Comes in a rock solid case with 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 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 an off the LED. A minor nit-pick, but some people prefer to be able to physically turn off the mic itself.
Check out the video review!!
Who this mic benefits?
I’ve seen it endorsed for:
- Double bass
- *Acoustic guitar and acoustic instruments in general*
- Classical instruments
- Grand piano
- Hand percussion
- Classical guitar
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. The main thing here is that you may need a better interface given that this thing is already pretty high up there in price. Some preamp/interface options for the C414 that I came across:
- Focusrite ISA one. A moderately priced preamp in comparison with the ones below. Great option. Preamp vs. Interface
- A Designs Pacifica
- Great River MP-500NV
- Universal Audio 6176
If you opt to go more affordable, the Focusrite 2i2 and the Steinberg UR22 are both fantastic. 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!
Also be aware of your room set up, as this mic picks up everything. You may actually want to have an audio engineer with you when recording with this.
- 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. What is a cardioid capsule?
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. 😀
A great all around workhorse mic with some minor problems. Will undoubtedly need some beefier preamp setups to sound it’s best, and may not be best in the hands of a beginner.
How it compares to the 414 XLII?
Comparison in a nutshell:
AKG C414 XLS: bright, but more of a workhorse mic. It’s slightly warmer than the XLII. Would do well as your primary all-rounder.
AKG C414 XLII: even brighter. better for vocals.
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 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.
If your budget allows, I would probably go with the C414. As for which?
C414 XLS = Darker, slightly warmer. More of a workhorse mic. Would fare well as your all-rounder.
C414 XLII = brighter, better for vocals.
If your budget is significantly lower, it’s a tough call but I would go with the AT4040 over the newer C214 (a descendant of the C414). Find out why in my..
AKG C214 vs. AT4040 COMPARISON REVIEW!!
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve come away with some valuable information in this AKG C414 vs. XLII.
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..