Putting the Spotlight on our Techs
Product Specialist for over 2 years.
Musician for 30 years and vocalist since I could draw a breath. Getting me to talk and sing was easy, getting me to shut up was the real challenge.
"a large diaphragm microphone that can run with the big dogs any given day of the week..."
"I have a home recording studio and I need a new condenser microphone that will give me a clean, solid, professional sounding recording…for less than $300.00." This is a question I get asked on a regular basis and as of this very moment, I have but one answer. Get the AKG Perception 420. It is a large diaphragm microphone that can run with the big dogs any given day of the week.
AKG microphones are designed in Vienna, Austria and AKG has been designing and building microphones for over 60 years so it is an understatement to say that they know what they are doing. The 420 is a "true condenser" microphone meaning it is an externally biased microphone. Only about 5 percent of condenser microphones are "true condenser" microphones. How many times can I use the word "microphone" in a sentence? Ok that being said the other 95 percent are considered electret condensers and yes electret is spelled correctly no matter what my spellchecker says. The gold sputtered large diaphragm is a definite selling point. Gold sputtered diaphragms will not corrode or rust and will last a good long time and large diaphragm mics are the preferred choice for recording the human voice.
The 420 has three selectable polar patterns to choose from depending on your creative style of the day. A standard cardioid, a figure eight and an omni directional pattern all available with the flick of a switch conveniently placed at the front of the mic. Next on the list of goodies is the switchable preattenuation pad placed at the rear left of the microphone. Due to the extreme sensitivity of the cardioid microphone this is a good thing, it allows the mic to be able to handle higher spl levels. Normally this mic handles SPL levels of 135dB when the preattenuation pad is active the SPL increases to 155dB which will allow for greater volume with less chance of distortion.
The next little nugget is the built in bass cut filter of 12dB at 300hz. The switch for this is located to the rear right on the 420. When it is on, it reduces low-end sounds and distortion quite efficiently and allows for close in placement without the annoying 'plosives and pops that often occur when recording.
On a budget or just being frugal this microphone is a quality instrument that will provide a quality recording for surprisingly low price.
Tech Specialist for over 17 years.
Not quite born with a bass in my hands but pretty close as I have been involved in music for over 18 years.
Knowledge and technical expertise comes from years of studying as a recording engineer and playing bassist in various bands.
"delivering what I would call a bright open top end with a flat mid-range and a substantial low end response..."
Let's face it, there are many choices when it comes to picking a microphone in this price range. Having used and/or owned many of them, I have found that it comes down to subtle differences giving each mic its own flavor. Given AKG's pedigree, I was expecting a lot from this microphone and they didn't let me down. The Perception 420 is a solid mic, delivering what I would call a bright open top end with a flat mid-range and a substantial low end response. This worked well for me on vocals along with both acoustic and electric guitars and I'm sure given the other features of this mic, would hold its own in front of any instrument.
When I first picked up this microphone, I was impressed with its craftsmanship. You can tell that AKG made sure this mic will stand the test of time and the included hard case was also a big plus. The mic itself, features three polar patterns (cardioid, figure 8 and omni) that worked great. The thing I really liked about this mic is the frequency curve was very similar between polar patterns giving an accurate response no matter what pattern I used. A -20 dB preattenuation pad was just the ticket for guitar amps and drums allowing me to place the mic exactly where I wanted without worrying about the mic breaking up. The low cut filter also worked well by rolling off the low end to prevent unwanted rumble.
The AKG Perception 420 proved to be a front runner for me in this price range. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a versatile mic that will stand up to the rigors of any home studio.
Tech Specialist for over 14 years.
Multi-instrumentalist and drummer, I've been making and playing music since 9 years old. I've played in bands, developed skills to fix numerous types of instruments, done my fair share of live sound as well as recorded numerous projects. I consider myself to be very knowledgeable in both technical and business aspects of the industry thanks to my experience in the field as an active musician and my work here at American Musical Supply
"once I plugged it in and fired up the phantom power I was floored at the sensitivity..."
It seems to me that the Perception 420 is in a class of its own even within the $300 price range. Its clarity and ability to cut through are definite strong points of this incredibly valuable condenser.
One of the first things I noticed upon opening the included case (yes, they include a hard case as well) was the inclusion of the shock mount, not all microphone manufacturers include this with mics in this range and that is a definite bonus. When I grabbed the mic, I was shocked at the weight of it. I've used numerous mics in this price range and not many of them are as hefty as this. Another remarkable feature that deserves notice is the dual element design allowing for top notch audio quality in cardioid, omni, and figure 8 settings. I especially like this because versatility is something I really strive for when shopping for new gear.
These features are all great but how does it sound? Once I plugged it in and fired up the phantom power I was floored at the sensitivity, it was already metering on the preamp even though I barely pushed the gain. The sound was clear, crisp, accurate and I noticed very little noise even with the preamp gain pushed up quite high. One of the ways I like to check out these types of mics is with an acoustic guitar so I started strumming away. I recorded a couple bars of a folk tune and fell in love upon playback. Even with the microphone placed 18 inches out in front of the 12th fret it sounded like it was literally 2 inches away.
The acoustic guitar was represented quite well with this mic. Vocals were crisp and clear and when trying the figure 8 pattern, had a nice ambient effect which would be perfect for a harmony track with a de-esser.
To sum it all up, I was very impressed. AKG managed to successfully create a mic with all of its audio virtues for just under $300. Good job AKG.