Covid-19: Latest status update from Sound Technology Ltd. Read more

Our Guide to the AKG C414, 314, and 214 Professional Microphones
Share email twitter linkedin facebook

Our Guide to the AKG C414, 314, and 214 Professional Microphones

If you ask an engineer to name their favorite AKG mics, it is more than likely that the first mic that comes to mind is the C414.


A studio and stage favourite for over 50 years, the C414 has seen a lot of development including more polar pattern options and different capsule materials over the years, but it still retains its renowned transparency and openness that keeps it a firm favourite in the mic locker of industry professionals. 

However, with the introduction of XLS, XLII, 214, and 314 variants over the years, you would be forgiven if picking one for your next investment was a challenge! The great news is that whilst each mic is priced radically differently, the actual sonic performance changes very little. When deciding between them, you just need to look at features and decide which suits your applications more. 


In this guide, we’re going to take a look at each model and decipher how they differ and in which applications each mic would be suitable for. 

C414 XLII and XLS 



The easiest way to examine the range is to look from the top down. The C414 XLII and XLS variants are the flagship mics in the range and feature the distinctive 414 shape, grille, and switch positions. The latest version of the mic was split into two models, the XLS and XLII which are easily identified by the colour of their grille as the latter XLII features a Gold grille


Feature-wise, the mics are identical, sonically however the XLII features a very slight presence ‘boost’ in the capsule design above 3kHz that gives it a more airy and open top end - useful when miking vocals to capture a contemporary 'crisp' sound, or when miking instruments at a distance. Other than this slight EQ difference, the two mics are identical in features. 


The ‘Polar Pattern Available’ column on the above table is the biggest giveaway as to what makes these mics special. That’s not a typo, they genuinely have 9 Polar patterns. Assigned using the front panel switch, each of the 5 major positions has a middle and intermediary step for modified versions of the popular polar patterns including Supercardiod that sits between Cardioid and Hypercardioid as well as Wide Cardioid that sits between Supercardioid and Omni patterns. 


By having options for each of these polar patterns, the engineer can pick one that works well for them and provides the perfect balance between maximizing the source and minimizing bleed. 


The reason why these polar patterns are achievable is because of the C414’s dual-diaphragm capsule design. Using these two diaphragms, the mic can mix, blend, and cancel out signals in order to create the different patterns – a luxury that is not possible when a mic only has a single diaphragm. 


That being said, as it features a capsule with two diaphragms the cost of the capsule and thus the mic itself is almost double a capsule with a single diaphragm. 


Alongside the 9 polar pattern options are two extra switches for controlling the High Pass Filter as well as the Input Pad status. With these processing options, the C414 can be dialed in to the source directly at the mic without having to worry about processing further down the chain. All functions on the 414 are controlled using digital switches with LEDs


These LEDs are especially useful when the mic is positioned in hard to reach places as it helps you identify the settings of the mic from afar the front Polar Pattern LED even doubles up as a meter and features a handy clip status LED that lights red if the capsule is overloaded. 

C314 



The C314 is the newest microphone in the series and features a dual diaphragm capsule just like the C414 with the exception of how it is powered. The new C314 model uses a back–electret capsule whereas the C414 uses a more costly, DC–biased capsule. 


AKG have vast experience in creating back electret capsules in their other microphones and they have remarkably been able to achieve very much the same performance as the 414 but with a cheaper, more mass-producible design.  


Apart from the capsule itself, the C314 has a more simplified control interface – turning to analogue switches rather than digital switching and LEDs with a condensed range of options. In regard to the High Pass Filter and the PAD options available. With a simple –20dB pad and a 100Hz HPF, the C314 has all of the attenuation and filtering that many users will need. 


Alongside the simplified selection of Pad and HPF is a ‘greatest hits’ collection of Polar Patterns including Cardioid, Hyper Cardioid, Figure of eight, and Omni patterns switchable using a 4-position switch on the rear of the mic.  

C214 



The C214 is the most affordable mic in the range, but it still stamps the same recognisable sonic signature as the C414. Despite a fixed Cardioid polar pattern, the C214 is still an extremely versatile and powerful microphone for every use case such as vocals, acoustic guitar, and other acoustic instruments thanks to its natural response and increased clarity in the upper mid-range. 


Housed in a very similar body to the C314, the C214 is equally as rugged and suitable for live and studio work. A useful aspect to its flat body design and huge max input level of +153dB is that it can sit inconspicuously in front of a snare without fear of damage being caused or the signal being clipped or sat directly in front of a guitar cab with the grille almost touching the speaker grille on the cabinet.  


The C214 features a simple 1 position HPF (set to 160Hz) as well as a single Pad option (set to –20dB) that can be easily engaged from the side of the microphone and are well tuned to provide the most versatility without added complexity!  

Conclusion 


Covering a vast array of price points, there is truly a mic for every budget in this range of AKG mics. Building on the vast heritage established with the C12 mic and CK12 capsules first released in the 50’s, the 414 continues with the same DNA established all those years ago but in a more flexible package suited to today's requirements. 


So whether you’re a vocalist at home needing a C214 to elevate your vocal recordings, or a commercial recording studio deciding which C414 is for you, you can still capture that same renowned sound that has been the favourite of engineers for decades. 

For more information on AKG please visit our brand page here.

Subscribe to our mailing list


This new blog is presented by the team at Sound Technology Ltd, a leading distributor of musical instruments and pro audio equipment in the UK and ROI.