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AKG C 4000B, July 1999


Since the dawn of magnets, engineers and musicians alike have
searched for warm-sounding, durable and affordable microphone
technologies. Well, search no longer—the AKG C 4000B has

Priced at $848 (including AKG H 100 spider-type shock-mount and W

4000 wind/pop screen), the C 4000B is an electret condenser design
offering switchable omnidirectional, cardioid and hypercardioid patterns to handle various
recording/sound reinforcement applications.

The C 4000B has a 1-inch double-diaphragm pressure-gradient system
with a 6-micron-thick, gold-sputtered mylar membrane for optimum
transient response. The capsule is placed in an internal suspension
cradle to provide shock isolation and damping of low resonant
frequencies caused by structural-borne noises. A heavy wire grille, a
second sheath of fine wire mesh and internal 3mm-thick screen protect
the capsule from subtle wind and breath-generated “pops” without
undesirable high-frequency attenuation.

All high-impedance circuitry is polyurethane-coated and
placed underneath the capsule to allow for the highest tolerance to
humidity. All electrical contacts within the C 4000B (including the XLR connector) are hard gold-plated for resistance
to corrosion. A -10dB pad switch increases the undistorted maximum
sound pressure level handling to 155 dB. The C 4000B also offers
switchable bass-cut (highpass) filtering providing 12dB-per-octave
roll-off below 100 Hz.

The C 4000B’s specifications indicate that AKG has not compromised
quality to make the microphone affordable and acoustically exceptional.
Stated frequency response is 20 to 20k Hz, +/-2 dB. Dynamic range is spec’d at 137 dB (A-weighted)
with a signal-to-noise ratio of 86 dBA referenced to 1 Pa. The mic’s
self-noise is 8 dBA when compared to the DIN 45 412 scale.

For my critical listening and evaluation, I designed a set of simple
parameters. Using a matched pair of mic preamps and a multitude of
different “control” microphones, all tracks were recorded to discrete
channels completely dry and then combined with the final mixed music
tracks for vocal comparisons. Recordings were made simultaneously
across two microphones. I used three different microphones of different
manufacture and caliber, from large-diaphragm studio condensers to shotguns, as well as the old standby
AKG C 414. A variety of different styles of musical instruments and
spoken dialog were recorded in an attempt to cover as broad a range of
recording scenarios as possible.

The first thing that I noticed was the C 4000B’s overall
transparency when compared to the other microphones. When recording
close-proximity voice-over against a small shotgun-style condenser
microphone, the C 4000B showed just the slightest increases or
highlight of high/mid-frequency boost somewhere around 3 kHz, with
little to no audible difference or coloration within the low

Scrutinizing the mic under the conditions of vocal
recording—comparing the C 4000B against the AKG C 414—I
found that the C 4000B provided a much fuller-sounding and warmer
capture of the performance with an extremely well-rounded low end and a
more contoured high-frequency response, whereas the 414 left my ears
feeling a little bit crisp and less rounded. Working the C 4000B’s $848
price tag into the equation, I was convinced that the C 4000B is an
excellent value.

In another recording situation, the C 4000B was used to mike
acoustic bass. The recording was made with a completely dry print to
tape, and only minor compression was applied to the playback, producing
an extremely detailed presence and a considerable amount of punchiness
and character. When this recording was compared to a recording made
simultaneously with an $1,800 studio mic, the result was astounding.
The C 4000B provided an almost identical acoustic footprint to the much
more expensive mic.

The AKG C 4000B is both an exceptionally detailed and affordable
microphone with amazingly true sonic clarity, rugged construction and
almost no coloration of sound (except for a slight amount of sheen in
the high end), capable of capturing a very broad range of acoustic and
electric signals. If you have the means, I highly recommend adding a
pair to your ensemble.

AKG Acoustics