Skip to main content


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, 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.

RemyRAD Thu, 10/26/2006 - 20:46

And the differences are substantial cwalcott between the models. The C414 B-XLS (stands for their extra linear series when referring to response).

KG C 414 B-XL II/ST (gold grill) I think you were referring to the what used to be the older "TLII" model? The new version uses a capsule that is similar to their older design and with that includes a rather non-flat frequency response tailored more for vocals with a strong presence boost and an extra high-end tweak. So it is a more highly colored sounding microphone with lots of pizzazz.

When using the either of these microphones for drum overheads, you won't be disappointed. I found the extra linear series to give me a more honest sound for overheads whereas the TLII series gave you a harder ring on the cymbals with its greater presence boost.

Both sound fabulous
Ms. Remy Ann David

TeddyG Thu, 10/26/2006 - 22:17

If I were to have only one type of mic - for everything - it would probably be the ------- OK, it would probably be the KHE Brauner, at 10 grand apiece, I have my vanity, but..? No, they would all be AKG C414's. We would make beautiful music together and never look back!

BTW: It has been said and I'd like to agree, that the 414's with the "hype"(All those letters and numbers and model changes confuse me so..!) can probably be fairly closely approximated by using external EQ on the "flat" models, while trying to UN-EQ the other versions might be more problematical(Makes sense to me.)? The "boosted" versions would be my second choice - no - my 3rd., I'd put in some EV RE20's as my second choice, then a couple of --- ??? Well, anyway, the XLII/XLS(?) would be a bit further down the list and would be, in my mind, "specialty" mics, probably nowhere near the top of the list...


OH! My "big hair" days are back again! While I am carefully considering other ways of trying to fill-in my expanding "thin spot" at the back of my head, longer hair(Especially my longer, curly to the point of "insane-looking-person" hair, does seem to help with the appearence of stemming the receding tide(Best I can tell trying to use two mirrors and old eyes to see? Mostly I just avoid looking back there......


cwalcott Fri, 10/27/2006 - 09:56

thanks for the replies. i've been considering a matched pair of condensers for drum overheads and other general use inclucing stereo field recording. i've been looking at the pencil mics like the km184 or the m300 or even the Schoeps CMC 64 although those are a bit pricy.

i already have 3 421's and an re-20 that i use for toms and kick and i have a pair of mc012's for OH's that are a bit brittle to me. it seems like the 414's would be the most versitle of the bunch and would make for better overheads.

- chris

BobRogers Sun, 11/05/2006 - 11:12

It's very interesting to hear people characterize the mics I think of as bright/precise/present as harsh/brittle. How much of this has to do with my ears (which are rapidly approaching their 50th birthday and have been placed in front of too many 15" speakers turned up to 11.) I'm really still a newbie at recording and got my first pair of SDCs (Rode NT5s) less than a year ago. I realize they are far down the SDC food change, but they just sound so much better to me on high frequency sounds like drum overhead and acoustic guitar than "better mics like" the 414.

Anyway, that's all preface to my humble, ill informed, but firmly held opinion that you should get the best pair of small diaphragm condensers you can afford for OH and much else.

Good luck

MadMax Sun, 11/05/2006 - 19:23

414's as drum Overheads? You gotta' be kiddin' right?

Hmmmmm... I thought everyone knew that?

Although I've pretty much switched my OH work to the SF-12, they're my former No1 and my current ONLY other choice if my locker's involved.

Heck, you GOTTA have a pair of em' at some point... better now than later.

THE most versatile mic you'll own beside 57's... although I can't condone even thinking about using a 414 as a hammer!... but you can use em' for just about ANY thing... I've used a 414 for everything... bass, guitar, acoustic guitar, horns, sax, flute, strings, and vox!

Heck, I was desperate once and even used it on a banjo!... put the banjo in the room, stuck the 414 in omni, shoved it in the room, closed the door, hit the red button... instant perfection! (OK, as perfect as a banjo gets, I guess.)


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'?


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.

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

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

RemyRAD Mon, 11/13/2006 - 12:22

I never really had any problems with having to engage the microphone pads when using either U87's or 414's. On very few occasions have I had to use the microphone pads. I have however, engaged the console microphone preamplifier pads. I think that's the overload that you are getting? Faders high, trim low is my recommendation.

The room and ceiling height? Never has been a problem for me. Big rooms, small rooms, the only difference is how high you want to place the microphones over the kit. When I was at Media Sound in NYC, I frequently saw engineers in the big studio A room with a pair of U87's 10 feet above the drums and it sounded incredible. Conversely, in their smallest room, I heard U87's and 414's 1 foot above the kit and it sounded incredible. Of course these were either Neve or API consoles which make everything sound good. They have headroom for days! On the console you may be using, you might need to buy yourself some more headroom? You can do this by running your direct outputs up to 10 DB hotter and so reducing your microphone preamplifier gain by the same amount. By running in this slightly negative gain method, you can obtain the same kind of headroom of a high-end professional console! Yes, it will compromise your signal to noise ratio by the same amount but if you're talking about loud rock-and-roll instruments, the noise will not really ever be a factor but your headroom will be. Professional console's like API and Neve generally have nearly 10 DB more headroom than the average recording console, which makes a huge difference in quality of the sound. This is how I get great sound from a crappy console.

What's the difference between a U87 and a 414? Over $1000 (yes I know that's not the question but it is the answer) both have similar characteristics depending on vintage. Some are transformer less, some have transformers. Some have a little more noise, some have less noise. Some are made in Germany, some are made in Austria. Your problem is not the selection of microphones its technique and knowledge of your equipment. You're getting there. Just stay here. Once you get down, you'll get up.

So what's your favorite? Hitler or Mozart? Both came from the same place.
Ms. Remy Ann David

cwalcott Mon, 11/13/2006 - 13:29

thanks for the feedback!

i'm running the U87 through an amak 9098 dual mic-pre and an avalon 2044 opto-compressor so my signal chain is pretty clean. that goes into a line in on a d8b which feeds a motu 2408 or 1224 (which i can access directly through a patchbay.) DAW is Digital Performer 5.

the interesting thing that i noticed the few times i tried it was a my wave form was lopsided. i definitely balanced the signal on the pre and into the compressor and the waveform wasn't really peaking but it was leaning over the center. is that making sense? i've never seen anything like it before or since.

- chris

RemyRAD Mon, 11/13/2006 - 17:56

cwalcott, Holy moly! Well, you have that really fine Rupert Neve designed 9098, a perfectly lovely compressor and a reasonable digital desk plus, we are related! I also have a 2408 MK II. But when you say "lopsided" or "leaning over", do you mean that the waveform does not appear centered on the centerline? That is to say you could be talking about a significant DC offset. You can generally recognized this, if the entire waveform appears to be positioned somewhat above or below the centerline in your DAW? Or does the waveform appear to be just heavier below or above the centerline, in an asymmetrical way? Real signals aren't symmetrical, only signal generators are. If that's what you're seeing, that could be a purposeful design to create some heavier second harmonics which is to better mimic tubes and could very well be a design feature of the 9098 or even something about the Avalon, class A circuits and all? Are you speaking only in terms of the U87, or with other signal sources as well? Which version of the U87 do have? An old original used one from 1968/70s/80's? Or, the most recent U87ai? The old one utilizes a single FET (field effect transistor 2N3819 if my memory cells aren't too burnt out) and a transformer output (you can identify that model by looking for a little oval window hole near the bottom one third of the body, which actually displays a small internal battery strength meter, since the original version could be battery-powered from 2 specialized 22 1/2 volt batteries. There was also an additional fourth small pin on the microphones male XLR connector, which would switch the battery on and off when you would plug in a cable). The new model has completely different electronics, no little window hole in the body and are actually the same electronics as the TLM103, which is transformerless, much lower noise and more sophisticated circuitry.

How do you go about setting the gain level on your 9098? Have you tried not using the Avalon? I find your complaint rather atypical of such a wonderful signal chain. I'm also not quite clear on why you would feed your signal from such a wonderful signal chain into your D8B, instead of going directly into your 2408/1224 to your computer? How do you feed the D8B to your 2408/1224? Digital light pipe or analog inputs? Have you heard that much of a difference in the A2D converters between the MOTU products and the Mackie? This could also be an unnecessary extra piece of equipment with no particular advantages? The cleanest sound is the simplest signal path i.e. as close as you can get to a straight wire.

I mean you really are talking about 2 rather different sounding but similar microphones but both are superb. I think you will find that the 414 is the brighter sounding of the 2? It's great having both microphones, I do. Plenty of people do because they're such superb industry standards. You should be cutting some killer tracks with that rig.

Maybe you should give Rupert a call? He's lives in Texas.
Ms. Remy Ann David

cwalcott Tue, 11/14/2006 - 09:10

i have one of the new U87's. it's a couple years old. the 2408 is plugged in via lightpipe for banks A and B. the 1224 has input access via a patchbay and then direct to the computer, the outputs go into the last 8 channels of the d8b. in general, i've been getting great tracks with this setup. very clean and lots of headroom.

by lopsided i mean that the wave form looks like it has a DC offset. the only time i've ever seen that is with the U87 recording drums. i set the 9098 the usual way, just hitting the red and the 2044 is set fairly light. the input meter in DP is not overloading.

my guess all along is that i'm overloading the mic. this is even with the mic pad in place.

it's been awhile since i've tried it though. i think maybe it's time to give it another shot.

thanks again for your thoughtful replies.

- chris

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

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

anonymous Fri, 03/23/2007 - 14:16

From the site: "AKG is proud to present a limited special edition of a legendary microphone. In its classic nickel-and-brass finish, this special version is a tribute to one of the most famous microphones in the recording world, manufactured only in the anniversary year 2007. The C 414 LTD presents itself with carefully selected components and sophisticated engineering details to ensure superior audio for the most demanding creative challenges. Five selectable polar patterns, high sensitivity, and extremely low self-noise add up to unparalleled flexibility and immaculate recorded sound. A set of dedicated accessories supplied exclusively with this special version completes this limited edition.

Limited edition black soundtool case, windscreen, luxury spider suspension. Pop Filter. Certificate"

So, yes, it has the iced-out finish and a different case. Well worth the extra $xxx.xx. Oh, yeah, and a certificate. Maybe I can hang it on my wall in my iso booth! Sweet! LMFAO

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

anonymous Sat, 05/19/2007 - 16:17

I recently purchased the 414 XLS, THey are much more versatile than the XL II, The XL II has a mid range boost which is good for vocals, however not all vocals. So the XLS's are the way to go. As drum over heads they are amazing, as a vocal mic they also are great. And can be used in any situation. If your like me and cannot afford alot of mics. Get 414's. Most versatile mic ever made. Use them on cabs, drums, acoustic guitar. And when you are using them as overheads, try out a few different patterns, even omni. And depending on your how your room is, you will be able to get some nice sounds. Omni will make the drums sound 'bigger'.

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

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

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.