AKG C419 + AKG C409 Condenser and Dynamic Micro Mics

[C419 $428, C409 ~$179, akg.com/usa]
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The MicroMic line from AKG seemed like another way to generate new techniques in the studio and on stage. A friend of mine — Dave McDonnell, who plays in a sax/keyboards and drums duo named Michael Columbia — checked out the AKG c419 on one of his recent gigs. The 419 is a micro-capsule condenser mic that’s capable of handling some pretty high SPLs (130dB to be exact) making it perfect for close miked horns and drums. He had been using a Shure SM57 for his horn and a crude construction paper baffling system to keep the drums and stuff from getting into his samples. With the 419 he was able to move around and manipulate knobs while sampling. The mic also had much more signal before feeding back and sounded more natural overall. I think jazz players in particular shy away from using seemingly modern gear such as clip-on mics — but the flexibility of the 419 enabled my friend to experiment with his sound in his set, and he was able to crank more level to his effects and tweak more EQ without feeding back. Handy!

Another friend of mine, Nick Broste, who plays trombone checked out the 409. This mic is similar to the 419 but a dynamic. He also enjoyed the sound of the mic and the feedback-free performance, but had a couple of gripes. It seems the cord coming off the end of the mic is too long and can get in the way if not collected properly. Also, the cable is not detachable, which would be convenient when trying to free yourself from the apparatus. A mute switch would also be handy for horn players. As far as studio use goes, I had less use for the mics. I didn’t like the 409 so much on toms. It sounded boxy. The 419 was nice on the snare although the clip doesn’t work that well on the rims. It had a nice, airy sound to it, though it did make the hi-hat considerably louder. Overall, these mics are excellent for live horn and drum use. I think more horn players should use them live over a 58 or 57. They are a little bit more money but I think they’re worth it. I think the main desirable function of any mic should be to make it easier to get great sounds, and these mics sound great and won’t break the studio bank.