Home Microphone Comparisons AKG C414 XLS vs. XL II – SUBTLE DIFFERENCES?

AKG C414 XLS vs. XL II – SUBTLE DIFFERENCES?

by Stuart Charles Black
>AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As an eBay affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Don't forget to share if you found it helpful!

Hi friend and Welcome!

Curious about the difference between the AKG C414 XLS vs. XLII? Well then 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.

  1. Ratings
  2. Iterations
  3. Summary
  4. Pros
  5. Cons
  6. Video Review
  7. Who this mic benefits?
  8. What you will need?
  9. Consensus/Conclusion
  10. How it compares with the XLII
  11. Final Word

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!

AKG C414 XLS

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check B&H! | Check eBay!

Iterations

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:

  1. AKG C414B XLS. 2004.
  2. AKG C414B XLII. 2004. A more pronounced presence peak gives the mic a more airy and open top end.
  3. AKG C414 XLS. 2009.
  4. 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:

  1. Both the C414 XLS and C414 XLII offer 9 pickup patterns, which enable you to choose the perfect setting for every application.
  2. The older “B” models only have a total of 5 pickup patterns.
  3. There are also some slight cosmetic differences between them.

While listening to the vocal samples, I found that the newest models (XLS and XLII) are extremely clear and noticeably brighter overall.

Summary

The C414 XLS is really versatile, given all of those different polar patterns. What you get:

  1. Cardioid
  2. Wide cardioid
  3. Hypercardioid
  4. Figure-8
  5. Omni-directional

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:

  1. Three pre-attenuation pads
  2. 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 all things considered.

Pros

  • 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 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Video Review

Don’t forget to subscribe to his channel!

Who this mic benefits?

I’ve seen it endorsed for:

  • Horns
  • Double bass
  • Cell
  • Percussion
  • Drums
  • Vocals
  • *Acoustic guitar and acoustic instruments in general*
  • Overheads
  • Hi-hats
  • Mandolin
  • Fiddle
  • Banjo
  • Voice-over
  • Choir
  • Classical instruments
  • Grand piano
  • Hand percussion
  • Classical guitar

What you will need?

Universal Audio Volt 2 Review

  • 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:

If you opt to go more affordable, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Universal Audio Volt 2, and Steinberg UR22 are all 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 owned the 2i2 and loved it.

I now own the Volt 2 and it’s a superb option.

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 this.

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:

    1. Record in a small space, such as a closet.
    2. Turn off all Air conditioners, extraneous noise, as well as ambient noise. Do not record near a window!
    3. 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.

Consensus/Conclusion

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.

How does it compare 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.

Final Word

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 be great as your all-rounder.

C414 XLII = brighter, better for vocals.

 

 


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…

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Be sure to check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Save

Save

Don't forget to share if you found it helpful!

You may also like

10 comments

Danny August 20, 2016 - 11:31 am

Very well written article Stu! Thank you!

Reply
Stu August 20, 2016 - 1:36 pm

No problem Danny! If you ever need anything don’t hesitate to Contact me.

Blessings,
-Stu

Reply
Jeff Poole October 26, 2016 - 8:52 pm

Which mic do you prefer for drum overheads

Reply
Stu October 28, 2016 - 2:22 am

Jeff,

The XLII would probably be your best bet for drum overheads. Thanks for stopping by!!

Blessings,
-Stu

Reply
DJ September 7, 2017 - 2:45 am

Nice, informative article. Which would you prefer for saxophone?

Reply
Stu September 11, 2017 - 1:55 pm

It really depends on the sound you’re going for. If you want warmer, the XLS. For a brighter sound you would want the XL II. Thanks for the nice comment!

Reply
a.music October 15, 2017 - 12:23 pm

Hi Stu,
can you link me the samples to compare the XLS and the XLII ? maybe I’m blind, but I don’t find it on this page 🙂

Reply
Stuart Charles Black October 15, 2017 - 8:10 pm

Hey!

I had linked a separate page near the beginning of the article, right before the summary. Check it out!

Reply
Paolo March 22, 2023 - 5:26 pm

Hello,
thank you for your article, do you think that an API 512c (lunchbox) as a preamp with phantom?

Reply
Stuart Charles Black March 25, 2023 - 9:40 pm

Hey Paolo! Can’t really comment on that as I don’t have any experience with it. It seems to get very good reviews though!

Reply

Leave a Comment