The AKG C214 sounds flawless. I bought a stereo pair earlier this year, for a few different reasons:
- I produce audio drama, and wanted to record vocals as accurately as possible.
- I had used the AKG C414 before (the C214's big brother) and thought it was superb.
- The C214 is a similar build to the C414 but is much cheaper.
I've been using the microphones for a few months now and thought it was time to do a review. Is the AKG C214 the answer to your podcast audio-quality prayers? Read on and find out.
How Does It Work?
The AKG C214 is a condenser microphone. This relates to the way a microphone works. Traditionally, condenser microphones are the go-to option when recording vocals in a studio environment because they can be very sensitive, and they are capable of capturing every nuance of a performance.
However, this also means that if conditions are less than perfect then your condenser mics can pick up a lot of unwanted noise from the recording environment. This is especially true of the C214, which can pick up the sound of a spider snoring in the attic! More on that later, though.
The C214 is an XLR microphone, so you'll need a mixer, preamp, or digital recorder to plug it into. Being a condenser mic, your device will also need phantom power to work – I use either the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or the Zoom H5, both with great results.
The C214 has a cardioid polar pattern, which means that it focuses on recording sound directly in front of the microphone. (more information on microphone polar patterns here).
There's a single button on the body of the microphone – a bass cut filter switch. You can use this to reduce the low frequencies in your recording. If you pop the mic, for example, it will sound much less harsh, although you should already be using a pop filter to prevent this.
The bass cut filter can also help reduce what's known as the ‘proximity effect', where the closer the mic is to the source, the deeper the sound.
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Sound Quality and Environment
I've already mentioned that the C214 is an ultra-sensitive microphone. Depending on your recording environment this may be a blessing or a curse. To get the best from this mic you should use it in sound-treated conditions, free from even the smallest level of unwanted environmental noise.
If you're using the C214 with a decent preamp, such as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, then the noise floor – the hiss you can hear under most raw recordings – is all but eliminated. That's a massive plus for this microphone.
Sound sample recorded in semi-sound-treated conditions. No post-processing, cleaning, etc. has been applied to audio before upload.
Prices vary depending on whether you are buying the stereo pair or a single mic, but at the time of writing a single AKG C214 costs £290 / $325.
The C214 comes in a carrying case with a shock mount and foam pop filter.
The shock mount will screw onto your mic stand or boom arm and tightens around the mic to hold it in place.
The AKG C214 for Podcasting
So, in summary, why might you want to buy a C214?
- You want to capture a first-class vocal recording for a highly produced show with multiple elements.
- You have access to a recording studio or sound-dampened/treated home studio.
- Your recording area is free from unwanted background noise, from both inside the room and outside the building.
- You want to minimise the noise floor (background hiss) present in the raw recordings of most other microphones.
- Or… if you fancy trying to get some freelance voice over work in the future.
And what circumstances mean you probably shouldn't buy one?
- If you're recording a single-voice or Skype interview show, the C214 would be overkill.
- If you're recording in a non-sound-treated or noisy environment.
In terms of its cost-to-sound-quality ratio, there can't be many better options out there for recording vocals.
Whether or not you need that level of quality, or have the environment to achieve it, is something you'll need to evaluate yourself.
Although the AKG C214 is well priced for how it performs, you don't need to spend anywhere near that much on a podcasting mic without good reason. While everyone's needs are different, something like the Samson Q2U will suit most podcasters for what they want to achieve. For more options, check out our Best Podcasting Microphones article.
Still not sure? We've reviewed many other mics, and a lots of other gear, many of which can be found in our full Podcast Equipment guide.