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Microphone Month

AKG C451B Review

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to audition and use one of the most popular microphones of all time, the small diaphragm AKG C451B. The demand for the original, but discontinued C451EB was so strong that AKG decided to design and manufacture the C451B. The C451B is not a re-issue of the original C451EB but an improvement on a classic microphone. The capsule used in the original C451EB was the well known CK-1. In order to design the C451B, AKG gathered what was believed to be twelve of the best CK-1 capsules in the world. A new classic was designed and named the C451B.

The original C451EB’s capsule could be removed to insert a -10dB or -20dB pad. While revolutionary in it’s design, AKG improved on that design by permanently fixing the C451B’s capsule to the preamp and building the pads into the design of the microphone. With the original C451EB’s one can imagine placing a pair over a drum kit, only to realize that you need to insert a pad. Imagine next pulling down the microphone, inserting a -10dB pad and realizing (after the microphone is back into place) that it needed a -20dB pad instead. This was one disadvantage to the design of the original that is no longer an issue with the C451B.  

So, who should take advantage of the C451B? Anyone who is interested in a classic sound with contemporary design and reliability. I’ve found it to be perfect for close-miking cymbals or as drum overheads. I’ve spent years recording large drum kits in studios, usually close-miking every cymbal. I wish I would have had a dozen C451B’s!  For recording acoustic instruments such as an acoustic guitar, the C451B provides crisp, clear results.  The C451B is ruler-flat from 200Hz to 5kHz with a presence peak making it ideal for anything that needs a little high-end sparkle. I have a good friend who engineers at a University who swears by the C451 for everything classical, including choirs.

A good auto mechanic once told me that he has the right tool for every job. Microphones are one of the most important tools an audio engineer uses. With it’s great sound and the efficient and reliable design of the C451B, can you do without it in your tool kit?

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  • AKG C 451 B
    AKG C 451 B Small-diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone with Selectable Pad and High-pass Filter AKG's C 451 was one of the all-time great studio condenser microphones. Though the original C 451 mic ended production many years ago, it's still an extremely popular...
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