AKG D 440 and D 880 Emotion II Series Microphones

Whether you are wading through endless mounds of microphones in an effort to flesh out your existing complement of live sound hardware, or just looking for a solid vocal mic, be sure to give a good long look (and listen) to the new Emotion II Series microphones from AKG.
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Whether you are wading through endless mounds of microphones in an effort to flesh out your existing complement of live sound hardware, or just looking for a solid vocal mic, be sure to give a good long look (and listen) to the new Emotion II Series microphones from AKG.

These moderately priced microphones pack a lot of good sound and new technology into a reasonably priced and visually attractive package. For this review I checked out two of the Emotion Series mics: the D 440 instrument microphone ($198) and the D 880 vocal microphone ($142).

Features

All of the Emotion Series microphones are created using AKG's new Varimotion deep-drawing technique. This process allows the thickness of the diaphragm to be varied precisely, effectively tuning the diaphragm to the body of the microphone, rather than the conventional method of using tuning resonators to match the body to the diaphragm. This increases clarity in the higher frequencies, resulting in a crisper, clearer sound. These microphones also feature neodymium magnets, which are said to yield an extremely powerful output signal.

Another feature exclusive to the Emotion Series is the Doubleflex shock mount. This patented system, employed in the handheld vocal mics, utilizes two separate rubber suspension rings to hold the transducer, significantly reducing handling and cable noise. A Duraflex spring steel wire-mesh cap with integrated wind and pop filter protects the capsule and reduces unwanted vocal artifacts.

Both mics I tested came in nylon carrying cases with stand adapters suited for their applications. The adapter for the D 440 allows you to clamp it directly to the top rim of a tom-tom, snare or any similar drum. The D 880 adapter is a standard microphone stand vocal mic clip.

In use

In use over many live shows, the D 440 made an excellent showing. As a saxophone microphone, its 10 dB rise in sensitivity around 6.5 kHz allowed the instrument to cut through a relatively loud nine-piece variety band with very little additional equalizer adjustment. The saxophone sounded natural and clear. The same was true when I used it on a guitar amp in similar settings. The microphone added a little presence while holding on to the meaty low end of the cabinet.

The D 880 also faired quite well. I had everyone from baritones to sopranos sing through it and they all sounded great. This microphone has a rise in sensitivity (about 8 dB) that peaks at 4.5 kHz with a second peak at 14 kHz. This is probably a result of AKG's Varimotion technique.

Compared with other mics in its class, the D 880 is brighter sounding, but still retains the warmth inherent in more expensive microphones. Since it has a supercardioid pattern, the microphone aided in keeping the events feedback free. AKG's claim of minimal handling noise was supported throughout my testing as well.

Summary

Although it may be difficult to shift loyalties away from some time tested standards, the AKG D 440 and D 880 microphones provide two new options for live sound engineers. Revolutionary technology aside, these mics just plain sound good.

Contact: AKG Acoustics, U.S. at 615-360-0499; www.akgusa.com.