Identify an AKG C414

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Identify an AKG C414

Post by dayna »

Hi Forum
I am looking for help to identify my recently aquired C414 mic and associated information on the year of manufacture and current used value etc. It has P48 stamped on it but no other info. Thank you to all in advance.
Mike
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Re: Identify an AKG C414

Post by Kwackman »

Incorrect answer- deleted!
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Re: Identify an AKG C414

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

I've embedded smaller low-res versions of your images in your post to make it easier for people to comment.

The C414 has evolved considerably over its 70-odd years. Different capsules, very different electronics, different facilities, and even a (slightly) different shape!

AKG launched their most completely re-engineered version around 2004, initially called the C414 B-XLS (as opposed to the preceding model which was the C414 B-ULS).

This all-new model featured lots of internal updates, but externally the most obvious feature was the replacement of the physical slide switches with electronic logic switching for pad/filters/pattern, complete with LED status lights. It also had a slightly more rounded body compared to earlier models. Its technical performance was also upgraded relative to previous models, particularly its self noise.

We reviewed the new XLS and XLII versions here:

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/akg-c414b-xls-xlii

After that 2004 release, AKG produced a limited edition 60th anniversary version in 2007, which only came in a silver body with blue AKG badge. Later, in 2009, AKG introduced another round of C414 updates with a model named the C414-XLS (they dropped the B in the model name).

That was the last production model AFAIK and it can be easily identified in person by changing its polar pattern -- it has intermediate polar patterns to give nine options instead of the five in the 2004 B-XLS version.

I think your particular mic is most likely one of these latest C414-XLS models, dating from some time after 2009. If you were to sell it I guess you'd get between £300-500 depending on where you sell it, its condition, and whether it has all its accessories. They cost around £680 new.

All C414s make very good all-rounder studio mics, but while the later electronically switched models have the best technical specs, they're not favoured as 'collector's items' (yet). Serious mic aficionados prefer the much older 'brass ring' and transformer-output models like the C414Comb from 1971 or the C414EB dating from 1976.

Personally, I prefer the later 'nylon' C414B-ULS version from 1986... but don't tell anyone! :silent:

For completeness, it's worth noting that from the early 1990s AKG expanded the C414 range by introducing an 'L-II' sibling model alongside the standard ULS/XLS version.

These L-II versions had the same facilities s the ULS/XLS models, but represented AKG's attempt to regain some of the extra brightness associated with the original C12 capsules used in the earliest models of the 1960s and 1970s -- a sonic character which was gradually tamed out of the subsequent C414 generations. That bright HF character has long been associated with AKG's C12 and the related Telefunken ELA-251, as well as the earliest C414s, and it is sometimes preferred for airy, breathy female vocals (in particular).

The first L-II model was the C414B-TLII in 1993, then came the C414 B-XLII in 2004, and finally the C414 XLII in 2009. All L-II models can be identified by having a gold front grille instead of the silver front grille of ULS/XLS standard models.... and a lot more high-end!

The electronically switched (2004/9) models also have an XLII label on the polar switch.
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Re: Identify an AKG C414

Post by jaminem »

Hugh's answer is so insanely good I almost feel wrong about trying to add anything, but....

The P48 you refer to just means it takes Phantom power at 48 volts, not relevant to model number or device version.

Do I get a job as Hugh's right hand man now?
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Re: Identify an AKG C414

Post by The Elf »

jaminem wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 11:39 amDo I get a job as Hugh's right hand man now?

Yeah, you get to file and manicure the nails on his right hand now! :lol:;)
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Re: Identify an AKG C414

Post by jaminem »

The Elf wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 12:22 pm
jaminem wrote: Mon Aug 08, 2022 11:39 amDo I get a job as Hugh's right hand man now?

Yeah, you get to file and manicure the nails on his right hand now! :lol:;)

I'd do this gladly for the great man.....
I draw the line at a pedicure tho :silent:
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Re: Identify an AKG C414

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

There's masses of info about the history of the C414 online.... and even the P48 moniker has a history of its own!

The C414 can trace its history back to the idea of making a miniaturised version of the revered C12 -- often thought of as AKG's main vocal mic competitor against Neumann's U47, although it actually had rather more applications....

This mini C12 was called, logically enough, the C12A (and later, the C12B which added a pad switch to prevent overloads) and was introduced in 1962. It was still a valve mic, though, and the first FET-based version was launched as the C412 towards the end of the 1960s.

The C412 was the first model to start looking like a proper C414, with the polar pattern and pad switches on the mic itself instead of the PSU, and it offered three polar patterns (omni, cardioid, fig-8). The next version was finally called the C414 -- actually the C414Comb -- which came out in in 1971. This model added the fourth polar pattern option (hypercardioid).

Five years later saw the next evolution to the C414EB in 1976, and this was the first model that really looked like the '414' we all know today, with the XLR stalk at the base (previous models had an integrated wedge-shaped stand adapter /connector at the base). It was also the model that introduced the slide switches for three high-pass filters and two pad options, the former needed partly because of a revised and extended bass response (the model name's EB actually stood for 'Extended Bass').

At some point during this model's production AKG decided to change the capsule from the ludicrously complicated and expensive CK12 'brass ring' design (its construction involved over 120 individually machined components!), to a new design: the 'nylon-ring' capsule (2072-Z-0005) which was was used right through until the late 90s.

This new capsule was not only easier and thus cheaper to build, it also had a much flatter frequency response which was a big part of the reason for making the change. It's usually described as being a 'darker sounding' capsule, but that's only because the original was extremely bright! It actually sounds flat and natural to me...

The C414EB had an internal DC-DC converter which allowed it to accept any phantom power voltage between 9-52V, like most of AKG's capacitor mics through the 70s. By the start of the 80s the global phantom power standard had settled on 48V, and so AKG redesigned the mic's electronics to only work with 48V. Consequently, in 1980 the mic was rebadged as the C414EB-P48, and it's body was painted black instead of silver.

The re-engineered internal voltages gave the P48 version slightly higher sensitivity than the standard EB, too. (It also allowed for a version with remote pattern switching by modulating the phantom power voltage, much like similarly equipped Neumann mics of the same time).

So that was the first outing for AKG's C414 P48 moniker.

The next upgrade was called the C414B-ULS in 1986, and was based around AKG's new (and much more complex) 'Ultra-Linear Series' electronic circuitry which reduced distortion and self-noise to the point where the output transformer was now the weakest link in the signal path.

That issue was addressed by the C414-TL towards the end of the 1980s, in which the transformer was replaced by an electronically balanced output stage which also permitted a greater max SPL rating. None of the subsequent models retained the transformer; they were all transformerless (TL).

The rest I've already described....
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Re: Identify an AKG C414

Post by jaminem »

...I'm not worthy...
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