The Austrian-based, Harman-owned company, AKG, which has more than 50 years’ experience creating mostly recording studio and instrument microphones (I have used and abused the C 414 and D 12, respectively), has introduced a new line of performance handheld vocal mics under the Emotion series banner. The flagship of this new line is the C 900, a cardioid pattern condenser mic claimed by the manufacturer to give recording studio performance at the price of a music store standard.
Product PointsApplications: Live sound
Key Features: 24-carat gold-sputtered transducer, Doubleflex shockmount, cardioid pattern
Contact: AKG at 615-620-3800, Web Site.
A 24-carat gold-sputtered transducer along with a “Doubleflex” transducer shockmount and “Frequency-Independent” cardioid response pattern are put together to help the vocalist cut through a mix with less handling noise and better gain before feedback. The unit comes with a rugged mic clip/stand adapter, carrying bag and PB 1000 presence boost attachment, which clips =directly onto the C 900 capsule to produce a hi-mid boost of 5 dB between 5 kHz and 9 kHz for and increased speech intelligibility. The C 900 needs from 9 to 52V phantom power to run, and an inline battery power supply (the B15) is an optional accessory. The mic has a posted frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. A low impedance of 200 ohms is well matched with most console input impedances.
The C 900 impressed me initially with its fit and finish. A tough black, wire-mesh grille and cast enameled handle give it a well-balanced, solid feel. The gold-colored trimring sets it apart from the Shure wannabe crowd, and the clip itself looks Euro-tech enough to garner attention.
I decided to try a pair of the AKGs in place of the Shure Beta 58s that were normally used by a local vocal-heavy rock outfit. The small stage and crowded performance area in this honky-tonk usually presents a bit of a challenge for setup. Lack of depth forces the band to set up floor monitors at a 90-degree angle to the two up-front microphones, in other words directly facing the sides of the mics. For most mics this usually means a bit of monitor EQ adjustment.
I was able to get a good sound quickly through a Yorkville mixer and Pulse speaker combination. The EQ needed minimal adjustment. With the PB 1000 accessory attached, the high-mid bump gave the vocalists the punch they liked. The band was able to flow from blues rock to acoustic material without major mic pre EQ adjustments. The bass player remarked how smooth the response was, and I had to agree.
Low-frequency rolloff from about 80 Hz down was very natural and from 100 Hz through 2 kHz the C 900 was extremely flat – neutral yet powerful. Clear, even-tempered highs gave an overall impression of a well-balanced signal reproducer, especially during the acoustic repertoire. Moving around the mics while adjusting boom stands for the acoustic interlude showed that the shockmount system was doing a good job of minimizing handling noise.
I give the AKG C 900 high marks for its sonic qualities, handling noise abatement and off-axis rejection capability. And while I have not been a big fan of AKG handheld vocal microphones in the past, I believe they are certainly onto something here.