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AKG C 414 XLS 9-Pattern Condenser Microphone
A recording studio staple since the 1970s, the AKG C 414 microphone hardly needs an introduction. This instantly-recognizable large-diaphragm condenser has seen a handful of revisions over the years, as AKG has responded to engineers' demands for ever-greater headroom, sensitivity, and linearity. As an update to the B-ULS, the longest-lived C 414 design, the C 414 XLS is AKG's most neutral-sounding 414 model. The cutting-edge XLS is intended for accurate and detailed sonic reproduction, but it also retains the classic C 414 signature of extended low frequencies, crisp top end, and a gentle low-mids dip that rounds off the harsh edges of voices or instruments. Holding up its predecessors' reputation as a go-to mic for piano, drum overheads, classical ensembles, vocals and much more, the C 414 XLS adds unmatched versatility with an impressive nine pickup patterns.
Introducing the Nine-Pattern C 414
A multi-pattern microphone allows you to dial in a particular sound right at its source. If you're going for a natural character, choose a wider pattern; for a more direct, "in-your-face" quality, lean toward the hypercardioid pattern. The XLS' rocking switch rotates through omni, wide cardioid, cardioid, hypercardioid, bidirectional figure-8, and four intermediate settings for a total of nine patterns, for more flexibility than typical 3-to-5-pattern mics. With the C 414 XLS, you can always go a little narrower to add a heightened sense of reality or eliminate bleed from surrounding sources when recording an ensemble. Plus, the plethora of pickup patterns on the C 414 XLS makes it possible to place multiple mics in X-Y stereo, middle/side setups, ORTF pairs, Blumlein pairs, or even a Decca Tree configuration.
LEDs Display Pickup Pattern and Switch Settings
When you connect your C 414 XLS to phantom power, you'll see LEDs illuminate in green as you select your pickup pattern. If phantom power is interrupted, the C 414 XLS keeps its last pickup pattern in memory, so your mic will power on to the exact setting you left it -- which is especially useful if you have your XLS mics hanging in hard-to-reach spots over a choir or a large drum kit. Once you've made your pickup pattern selection, lock it in by holding the switch for three seconds to prevent bumping during handling. The LED lights provide quick visual confirmation for your settings. And with an eye toward visual confirmation, this update to the classic C 414 design has a distinctive silver grill on the front and a black grill on the back, so you can tell which way your 414 is facing from across the studio.
Pads and Filters: Dynamic Range to Spare
Flip the mic around to find the LEDs and rocking switches for the -6/-12/-18 dB pad and 40, 80, or 160 Hz bass roll-off filter, two of the most useful features on the C 414 XLS. Padded down to -18 dB, this mic can now handle a sound pressure level of an incredible 158 dB. But since you probably won't be making location recordings of space shuttle launches anytime soon, you'll be glad to know that the C 414 XLS is well-equipped to record much quieter sources, thanks to its transformerless design and internal capsule suspension system resulting in extremely low self-noise of 6 dB-A. The XLS model also introduces a peak hold function: if the output level of the microphone approaches its overload limit, the polar pattern LEDs will light up in red for about three seconds -- alerting you to engage the mic's pre-attenuation pad (or to perhaps ask that overzealous trumpet player to step back from the mic a few inches.)
AKG C 414 XLS 9-Pattern Condenser Microphone Specifications: