New AKG microphones in the online session drummer studio

Remote drum sessions just got even better

The online session drummer studio has a new resident; well two in fact. They are a matched pair of C414 XLII condenser microphones. And very nice they are too.

So many of you are studio gear heads and won’t need telling how good these microphones are for recording an array of things, not least drum kits.

AKG C414 Overhead Microphones

But for those of you that haven’t heard of the AKG C414s, here is some info about them in their recently updated incarnation.

The C414 is probably the best-known microphone that AKG make, alongside the legendary C12, but even this legendary microphone has been updated. In fact there are two new C414s, the C414B XLS and the C414 XLII, though the only performance difference between the two models is that the XLII has a more pronounced presence peak than the XLS. A slight additional lift above 3kHz gives this model a slightly more airy and open top end that is useful when miking vocals to capture a contemporary ‘crisp’ sound, or when miking instruments at a distance where the high lift helps compensate for the natural HF loss that occurs at a distance.

These C414s are large-diaphragm, multi-pattern capacitor microphones utilising a gold-sputtered diaphragm where only the front side of the diaphragm is coated, the aim being to avoid electrical shorting between the diaphragm and backplate at very high SPLs. The capsule hangs in a newly designed four-point suspension, and even the way the various pattern, pad, and filter options are selected is quite unlike anything AKG have done before. Rather than use slide switches, the mics are now fitted with soft-touch rocker switches that are linked to digital switching circuitry, status LEDs, and a non-volatile memory so that settings are retained when the mic is disconnected from the phantom power source.

Switchable Facilities

The pickup pattern can be switched in five steps to encompass omni, wide cardioid (not available on previous C414 models), cardioid, narrow cardioid, and figure of eight. A tiny system of green LEDs below the switch illuminates whichever option has been selected, and the current selection can be temporarily locked by pressing and holding the rocker selector switch for three seconds.

The pad switch now has 6dB, 12dB, and 18dB settings — as with the pattern selection, this works by changing the polarising voltage on the capsule. Because very high impedances are involved around the capsule itself, any changes made using these switches will take a few seconds to become active. The familiar bass-cut switch has also had a face-lift with 40Hz, 80Hz, or 160Hz settings, as well as off. A slope of over 12dB/octave is used for the lower two settings, while the 160Hz setting has a more gentle 6dB/octave characteristic.

Re-engineered, transformerless electronic circuitry has extended the dynamic range of these microphones to around 134dBA by maximising headroom and minimising self noise, the latter down to an impressive 6dBA. To achieve this, the mic requires a full 48V phantom power source that conforms to the DIN/IEC spec, where the phantom voltage is positive with respect to the cable’s ground screen.

During the makeover, the capsule and circuitry have been made less susceptible to humidity and temperature by locating the function switches in the low-impedance section of the circuitry, which also minimises switching thumps. Matching between microphones has been tightened as well, so there’s no need to buy matched pairs for stereo work.

Classic & Modern

AKG C414s in drum studio

While the new C414s are not cheap mics, the new design and the use of modern manufacturing methods have allowed AKG to peg the UK price, retain the classic sound, and introduce some very real improvements, both practical and technical. Furthermore, when compared with flagship mics from other companies, the cost of the C414s compares very favourably.

These new mics successfully uphold the classic C414 tradition for sound, while their extended dynamic range, greater sensitivity, and very low background noise make them suitable for the most demanding music recording tasks.

And that’s an overview of these microphones which you will have either found quite interesting or incredibly boring. But there’s no denying that these microphones are excellent for many recording applications including recording drums.

So if you need the services of a remote session drummer for your music and you want the AKG C414s, along with all the other specialist drum recording equipment in the studio, then get in touch to discuss your project.