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C414 as overheads?


I am considering purchasing a pair of stereo matched C414 (XLS), mainly for use as overheads. This will be my first pair of condenser mics, and I likely won't buy another pair for quite a while, so I wanted to get some opinions. Judging by other posts, it appears these are versatile. Do they work well in capturing room ambiance, or should I go with a pair of small condensers instead? In other words, just making sure I should get a pair of C414 instead of a pair of SM81's or maybe KM184's.

I mostly record my alternative band (think Nirvana or Weezer), or myself acoustically. Right now I mostly use the pre's on my RME Fireface, but sometimes I use my RNP if I need more than 4. I plan to buy a Great River NV preamp within the next year. Other than that, I just borrow pre's when I can.

Thanks in advance for any opinions, and please let me know if I need to provide more information.


RemyRAD Tue, 11/14/2006 - 23:18
Chris, the only way you are going to overload the U87 with the pad switch on, is to be hitting the capsule head with your drumstick. You really can't overload that microphone with the pad switch on. If you could, it would have never been the popular industry-standard it has been since 1968. You are not overloading the microphone, guaranteed! The problem lies elsewhere.

Might I suggest, that you try a different signal path flow? I.e., U87 into 9098. Output directly into your MOTU unit that is the most direct path to the computer, trying each unit separately. You frequently have to back step when troubleshooting by eliminating as many intermediate stages as possible. quality-control is never 100% and so, I'm not discounting the possibility that even a relatively new Electrolytic capacitor may have failed? Case in point, numerous years ago Siemens Neve or was it SSL? It was one or the other. They had utilized a "quality", I believe Panasonic capacitor. A designing and integration blunder occurred. These capacitors were underrated and after some hours of operation, they began to leak their circuitboard killing contents! Numerous $250,000 plus consoles around the world were nearly destroyed! I'm sure some of the other guys here will remember that one? The designing electrical engineers had indicated a specification for a (not accurate example) 15 volt rated capacitor in a 15 volt circuit. Perhaps fine in theory but they quickly learned too late not fine in practice. I went through similar situations like this when I was the quality-control manager and final test technician for Scully in the late 1970s. You just never know until it happens. I frequently had to argue with Scully's electrical engineer when we needed to make circuit corrections. He would indicate something based on his mathematical processes, I would discover they were close but no cigar. I won.

What you're describing definitely does not sound kosher to me? From your description, it appears you may be doing everything right? Perhaps you could post an MP3 example? I might be able to give you some more insight then? I really don't believe it's the microphone. In fact I'm so sure, I feel like ivory soap. Or is that Dove? Now I want an ice cream.

Dark chocolate coating please
Ms. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Mon, 06/18/2007 - 02:15
Well, I'm not a big enthusiast of the AKG C1000. But I certainly wouldn't roll off everything below 500 Hertz, just because I was using them as drum overheads. In fact, I think they would be pretty good as drum overheads, maybe with a little 80 hertz high pass filtering. What problem are you having with them?

If you can't afford a "good" pair of microphones for overheads, then anything else in the same price range ain't going to be much better. And so the C1000's aren't "true overheads"? They are fake overheads?? Have you told this to AKG? They might want to take them off the market?? Otherwise, I guess, they figured, some bozo would buy them? I like your show! Never miss an episode! Do you go to Lucille Ball's hairdresser too? I love your hair.

Otherwise, try repositioning them and adjusting your microphone preamp trim control properly. You might want to try a pad or possibly a tampon, if you're having problems? Otherwise, I would be pleased to use those as drum overheads.

Let me know if you're going to throw them out?
Ms. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD Mon, 05/07/2007 - 10:55
AKG has made many different versions of this microphone. One must also remember that capsules age differently and so, if you are making stereo recordings, you don't necessarily need a " matched stereo pair" as much as you need microphones of a similar age and close serial numbers. And then, you do not know what the environments were that the microphones lived in? One used for heavy metal recording and one used for opera? If you want to record with stereo pairs, it's best to get microphones manufactured at the same time. It's a crapshoot but not impossible. You have to use those calibrated devices on either side of your head to determine if it is an appropriate stereo pair.

Upset after giving up half of my stereo pair for a U67.
Ms. Remy Ann David

cwalcott Wed, 11/15/2006 - 10:04
ok, that makes some sense. the U87 i have now is a replacement for a lemon that i had sent in 4 or 5 times. there were some resisters getting blown every time i changed the pickup pattern to omni or figure 8. they finally replaced the whole mic. i can't remember if i've tried using it with drums since the exchange. i'll give it a go this weekend.

thanks again!

- chris

RemyRAD Tue, 08/01/2006 - 07:56
Those are a pair of my favorite than most versatile microphones! You can't do wrong by those. While I also own 4 pairs of SM 81's, for overheads, the 414 is always my first choice. I've actually made some wonderful recordings with only those 2 as overheads and a single bass microphone.

Want some room ambience? Switch them to omnidirectional and you're there man. You're on your way to making lovely records but remember, less is more.

Now start producing your first hit
the Remy Ann David

TVPostSound Tue, 08/01/2006 - 09:54
During my "Big Hair" days, when we mic'd every single piece on a drum kit, we always had 2 414s as overheads, and 2 414s in front of the kit, set to omni as room mics.

Needles to say, most close mics ended up being used very sparingly to accentuate some of the drums, but the OHs and room mics were always up. They made for a great drum recording.

chips Wed, 06/13/2007 - 06:08
This is all very interesting to me.
I have (in my short life as a recording enthusiast) always used a pair of c1000,s as overheads but I have primarily used them to mic up the cymbals (rolling off everything below 500hz).
I am now trying to progress and to purchase 2 mics that I can use as true overheads. I want two mics that will give a good sound of the whole kit so that all I need to add is a kick and snare mic.

Should i be looking more at large diaphragm mics (AT4050) or would something with a small diaphragm (Neuman KM184, Earthworks SR0) be just as good ?
I cant really afford a pair of AT4050's so if I do need large diaphragm mics, then what else is suitable ?

Thanks for all the advice so far

JoeH Tue, 11/07/2006 - 20:32
I know a lot of folks love these mics, and I'm happy for them. I'm also not one of them. No big deal; they've just never really done it for me, don't know exactly why. They're fine, don't get me wrong, but nothing I get very excited about.

I get to use them a lot (ther people's 414s, that is) on live sound gigs, remotes, etc. Whenever I run into a rabidly enthusiastic 414 user, I just get it out the way and let 'em do their thing. As much as I'm not wild about 'em, I don't hate them, either.

When asked MY choice/preference, I always opt for an AT 4040 or (even better) a pair of 4050's for OHs.

MadMax Wed, 11/08/2006 - 03:20
JoeH wrote: As much as I'm not wild about 'em, I don't hate them, either.

When asked MY choice/preference, I always opt for an AT 4040 or (even better) a pair of 4050's for OHs.


I'm not quite in either catagory as well... although you might think I'm a rabid fan, I just find that if nothing else, grab the utility mic and go for it! For the majority of the work I've been doing, the 414 has been the better choice... but too, I'm now a SERIOUS ribbon fan. The SF-12 IMO absolutely SMOKES everything else in my locker for OH's.

Like the 57, it ain't THE best mic for all occassions, but you gotta' admit, they are darn servicable and usually quite adequate for just about anything you throw in front of em'. (even a friggin' banjo!)

I digress... Haven't ever worked with the 4050's, nor have I heard a lot about the mic one way or another from local guys. How would you characterise em'?


chips Tue, 06/26/2007 - 19:19
Thanks for the reply.
I am new to all this and obviously did not explain myself very well.
When I said I wanted to find some mics to use as "true Overheads" I was referring to how I would use/position them. Rather than close mic'ing cymbals I wanted to position mic's so as to get an overhead picture of the whole kit. I was not suggesting that c1000's are not "true" mics.

I end up high pass filtering the C1000's because the sound of the whole kit I get in my room is not nice. Hence I use them to just pick up only cymbals and I rely on close mic'ing for the rest of the kit.

I was just wondering if buying Large Diaphragm mic's would give me a different sound or if it a problem with my room.

It is not so important now as it appears I cannot afford any mic's for a month or two. I have purchased 1 C414 to use on my guitar cabinet but couldnt afford a pair.
I am still interested in knowing your opinions.

Hope this is a little clearer.

aeaudio Sun, 11/12/2006 - 22:18
The best drum sound I have recorded was when I left half my mics at home so I ended up using a D112 on kick and 2 matched Rode NT5's for overheads the kit was massive and it sounded refined and natural.

It is funny how in desperation you can use some simple configurations and they work perfectly.

RemyRAD Sun, 11/12/2006 - 23:21
While it's fun to put microphones on every drum, few people realize that most of a good drum sound is your bass drum microphone and your 2 overhead microphones. All of the other microphones are there more for the attack, the body and tone. Of course many of us have made recordings just the opposite way, where we used little or no overheads. I do things consistently inconsistent and always get consistent results. Go figure?

Consistently waiting for my turn to be inconsistent. Is it my turn yet??
Ms. Remy Ann David

JoeH Wed, 11/08/2006 - 10:34
MadMax wrote:

I just find that if nothing else, grab the utility mic and go for it!

Absolutely, I think most feel the same way, deep down. I don't HATE the 414s, they've been great on a number of OH applications, just not my first choice.....

I digress... Haven't ever worked with the 4050's, nor have I heard a lot about the mic one way or another from local guys. How would you characterise em'?

That's a tough thing to put into words (I always try to avoid that, microphone choices and "sound" are soooooo subjective!), but for me, it's a full-bodied, bigger sound. Plenty of gain, as well, even with PA work, esp when mic'ing a grand piano or drum OHs. The overall sound is tight and focused, even slightly off-axis, and there seems to be a little sparkle at the top end. I realize that's not nec. "Flat", but I like the sound of it. When I use a couple of them on a big Chorus, I have plenty of clear crisp top end, and sometimes actully knock it DOWN a couple of db, it can get a tad bright, as a lot of condensers do.

The 4050 is a dual membrane capsule, so you can have omni, cardioid and figure-8 settings, along with the usual 10 db pad and a low end rolloff. My usual setting is no pad, no rolloff in cardioid mode, and it's one hot number, sounding great on whatever I point it at. I'm also a big fan of a pair of these in tighter on grand piano for live gigs (esp Jazz).

The 4040's are a different mic altogether, but they're in the same ballpark, sonically.

cwalcott Mon, 11/13/2006 - 09:38
i have a question regarding the 414 as a drum overheads.

how will they work in a room that is fairly small?

my live room is about 10 by 15 feet. the ceiling goes from about 10 to 12 feet. there are no parallel surfaces. all walls are angled and i have only one 90 degree corner. the sound of the room is ok but it is pretty compressed in the sense that when it's loud, you can feel the pressure.

i have one U87 and had considered getting another one to use as overheads but i noticed that whenever i used it as a room mic with drums, that it was really hard to keep it from overloading.

so my question is will the 414's be similar. that is, because they are large diaphragm mics, will they overload faster than say a gefell m300. my sense is that they will because the m300 has a smaller diaphragm. the U87 is clearly not working in this situation but i'd like the idea of adding a matched 414 pair because i think that they would be really useful in a lot of situations.

- chris walcott

JoeH Mon, 11/13/2006 - 10:37
To some extent, just about ANY mic you use for drum OHs will suffer if the room is too small.

Think about this: The point of an overhead pair of mics is to capture more of the overall & ambient drum sound. This comes from the drums resonating in the space around them. If there's no room ambience (only crushingly loud early reflections that don't have time to build up and enhance the drum sound), then you're stuck.

On the other hand, a very small, cramped-room solution might be to close-mic everything, forego the OH mics a little (put 'em up, but perhaps not use them as much in the mix) and rely on some dialed-in reverbs. There are so many great room sims and convolution RVs out there, you can almost create any room environment you want.

I think the closer you put a mic up against a ceiling or wall, no matter how well damped (or especially so?), the less ambient and more direct sound you're going to get, with who knows WHAT kind of early slap and relfections coming off those walls or ceiling.

cwalcott Mon, 11/13/2006 - 10:58
that's what i thought too. i could probably add more dampening to the ceiling over the drums which might make a difference. i'm currently using octiva 012's for OH's and they work pretty well. they do get prominent placement in the mix. and i use altiverb as well (the best software verb out there imho).

there was marked difference with the U87 though. that one just can't handle the SPL at all and i was wondering if the 414's will behave similarly.

i want to add a nice matched pair of condensers for OH's and general use. i suppose i'll just have to talk my pro audio guy into letting me borrow a couple sets to try out.

thanks for all the feedback!

- chris