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C 414 XLS vs C 414 XL II for Overheads

Discussion in 'Room & Overhead' started by AToE, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    This is the kind of post I hate to make because I know the real answer is "listen and decide for yourself" - but I have to special order some mics in and will not be able to A/B them. I'll be using these for lots of applications, but their primary use for me is going to be as drum overheads, that's where they'll live 95% of the time.

    The XLS is lower priced, and claims to sound just like the B-ULS, and the XL II claims to sound like the C 12 (seems unlikely being so much lower priced). From what I understand, basically the XL II is a lot brighter.

    I'm leaning towards the XLS, but since I cannot A/B these I would really appreciate some input if anyone has opinions as to which of these mics they prefer for overheads and why so. Any help would be great, this is a scary amount of cash to drop on a pair of mics for me!

    Also, I'm probably going to buy a pair as 2 seperate mics rather than the matched pair, as there's significant $ savings when buying them individually (seems like the opposite of what most companies do, but whatever). I work for a music equipment retail company and after a lot of talks with reps I've decided I'm not worried about the whole "matched pair" thing, as QC and manufacturing have gotten pretty good with these things and there should be much different about 2 "non-matched" mics. I'm very open to criticism if someone wants to dispute that though, as reps are not always the most honest of people!
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    "A lot brighter" is not an accurate description. The XL II is noticeably brighter if side by side with the XLS but not overwhelmingly so. I have a pair of each. I have no qualms about setting up a Decca with either version as the single mic in front. I do happen to use the XLS much more frequently although it's purely subjective as I've made wonderful recordings with both. I guess if these were primarily for drum OH's then I'd go XLS.
  3. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    Thanks, definitely appreciate the clarification as to how much brighter the XL II are from someone who's actually A/B'd them - I had a hunch that looking at specs (as usual) never really gives you accurate info!

    I'm sure I'll toss them on a variety of instruments and vocals over the years, but yes, I'm definitely buying them specifically for OH duty. I'm tired of fighting with OH that sound weak and thin, I think it's been a major weak link in my recordings up until now. That's why I'm thinking 414s, I was also looking at some AT 40 series options, and the AKG 214, but at some point I just have to bite the bullet and spend the cash on the higher end model, so it might as well be sooner than later.
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    In the FWIW category, my main OH pair used to be AT4051's. Of course that was live and not studio but there you have it. The 4051 has a more defined bump than the XL II-still not earth shatteringly more but I throw it out there. If budget is a concern and you want LDC then you could look at either the JJ Audio or Joly mods to a pair of MXL2001's.
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    i've been using my single xls (omni) for overhead, on mobile drum recordings, and it works well. I decided on the xls over the xl II, simply for it's flatter response. I felt like i didn't want to commit the precense peak to disk all the time, a nice eq would do the trick if needed. I don't think you can go wrong w/ either one. I have not a/b'd the xlII/xls, but have a/b uls/xls, very similar, perhaps the uls was slightly darker (perhaps due to its age). You'll like you 414's for a long time, and will be glad you got what you wanted w/ no compromise, if they are what you really want. as a quick side, sm81's live above the drumkit in my studio and they are fantastic w/out eq,they work well, and a pair is about the price of a 414. Seems like ya want LDC's tho.
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    You cant really go wrong with a choice like that. Multi-patterns and quality sensitivity would certainly allow for many recording techniques and functionality through-out the years. My only concern, and know that this is totally dependant on your space, is the pattern size. A pair in spaced stereo will always require a check of the phase and perhaps the best piece to add would be something along the lines of half or variable phase selection. I think Little Labs makes a device capable of this. Due to the width and strength of pattern with these mics, you may find this to be of great service when mic'ng in close proximity over a kit. They will sound like a million bucks! They take EQ well, withstand a bunch of dbs, and are versatile enough to be useful in other applications. My personal third or fourth favorite overheads, behind U87's, SM81's, and Royer's of any sort. Love the SF24!
  7. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    Thanks for the comments. Up until now I have exclusively used XY micing because I've not wanted to muck about with phase issues, but I have found the stereo spread to be a bit lacking, so I'm planning to spend a lot of time practicing using spaced cardiods (the other patterns won't probably be as much use to me until I'm in larger rooms). I could be wrong, but I think Radial might make a phase corrector as well, I'll check into that.

    I'm a little leary of those kinds of products simply because I don't fully understand how they correct phase in increments less than 180 degrees, but without using a simple delay etc (they'd better not just be using a delay, I can do that myself!). Not saying they don't work well, I just like to understand things! I don't really see how much phase correction is possible, since there are so many different sources on a kit, most people seem to just pick the snare as their target for equidistance and leave it at that, obviously every cymbal is a different distance from each mic, so there's a limit to how much phase cancellation you can realistically prevent with spaced pair?

    The other mics I'm considering for OH duty are AT4050s and Blue Woodpeckers (leaning away from these due to the figure 8 pattern and most of my work being done in smaller rooms... guess I could just treat the ceiling like nuts...).

    EDIT: Just for reference, I'm working mostly on various genres of metal, and other rock stuff ranging from rockabilly to Matt Good style, mostly fairly "hard" rock though. I absolutely HATE modern metal production, especially on OH which always seem to be highpass'd at a super high freq for my tastes. I'd like to bring some real tone and feel back into metal recordings (as opposed to them sounding like they were played by robots).

    EDIT MKII: The reason I'm leaning towards LDC is that from my limited experience, plus talking with others, they seem to pick up more of the kit, and provide more "meat" from the cymbals, sounding more like I'm standing next to the cymbal than I find I get with SDC. - I can get SM81 for cheap though, so if they're really all that good then maybe I should just start with a pair of those and work the 414s in when I have more budget?
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    AT4050's are nice too. A little less aggressive than the 414's. For rock you still cant go wrong with a pair of SM81's. The KSM32's make nice overs also.

    note: I think the reason for the HPF on metal overs is that you need more of the close mic'd impact and need less decay from a source in the room and at a different time.
  9. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    I might grab a pair of SM81s for now then, I can get the pair for far less than a single 414. We'll see what I can put together for funds and I'll go from there.

    I think a lot why metal's done that way is also just that the mix is so dense, the guitars essentially occupy the whole freq range other than real HF and LF, so they're just trying to make space. Personally I hate it, cymbals are supposed to be powerful sounding when played hard (they sure are when you're in the same room) and without all their mid-range frequencies they sound really thin and weak to me (not all metal production is this bad, just the bulk of it).
  10. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Dave is bang on but in the interests of confusing things I'd suggest the Josephson 40s and the Charter Oak M900s are also very good overhead mics and worth a look.
  11. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    Thanks, I'll look into those, Charter Oak stuff looks very cool, gets my GAS going for sure. I'll fully admit that I'm biased towards certain brands as I work for a retailer and can obviously get a better price on some brands vs others.
  12. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    I 2nd the SM81 vote, I love those mics on many things. Acoustic guitar is great through them
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Agreed. A pair of SM81s in X/Y in front of a good acoustic guitar IS that rock acoustic sound. Impact and intensity with that in-yer-face intimacy. I've used AKG451E's that never quite got there like the 81's.
  14. AToE

    AToE Active Member

    Well then, sounds like I'm going to get some use out of those SM81s even if I get some 414s later, that definitely makes them attractive.

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