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.
- 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
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.
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 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 all things considered.
- 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.
- 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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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 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.
- Recommended: Universal Audio Volt 2 Review
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.
- 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.
- Related: 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 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.
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…