The AKG P420 is large multi-polar pattern diaphragm condenser microphone built with the budget studio-mic market in mind. But don’t let its slim price tag fool you, the P420 offers plenty of useful features and enough overall quality to earn it a respectable reputation with several of its owners. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the P420 to see for ourselves just how well it lives up to its status as one of the best budget mics around.
Among its most admirable features is its three selectable polar patterns: cardioid, omnidirectional and figure 8. If you’re familiar with the intricacies of each of these patterns and what can be done with them, the thought of all three in one mic is most likely a very enticing feature that screams versatility. Multi-pattern mics also let you easily experiment with several recording techniques and their effectiveness on a project-by-project basis. But all the polar-patterns in the world wouldn’t amount to much if they didn’t perform well. Luckily, the P420 doesn’t disappoint.
With its high sensitivity and 155dB maximum SPL, the P420 delivers a warm, natural sound quality perfectly suited for vocals and a variety of instruments including acoustic guitar, grand piano, woodwind and brass instruments, as well as drums and percussion. It worked surprisingly well with stereo miking techniques and ambient recordings as well. The P420 also offers a -20dB attenuation switch which gives it the ability to work with especially dynamic sound sources, a great feature that adds to its versatility although some might find the amount of attenuation a bit too extreme.
The P420 comes with plenty of axial variation so you’ll most likely want to spend some time positioning it just right to get your desired results as sometimes even small rotations or changes in angle in a reflective environment resulted in dramatic tonal differences. The upside to this is that the P420 is capable of a multitude of sound variations, perfect for the experimental-minded out there.
The P420 isn’t restricted to musical applications either; with the increasing popularity of DIY podcasts and video blogs, the P420 shines as a capable voice over workhorse, able to deliver clear, accurate and consistent vocal reproductions that will add a professional feel to any home production.
It also comes with a sturdy shockmount and protective metal case, both of which boast good enough quality and construction that you won’t need to swap them out unless you already have something better on hand. And speaking of quality build, the mic itself isn’t bad either. The construction is compact and solid with a nice amount of heft to it – it does not feel cheap in the slightest.
All in all, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better condenser mic for the same amount of cash. But beyond its superb value, it’s also a versatile studio workhorse that can be used for any number of applications and do a great job while it’s at it. Accurate sound, solid construction, multiple patterns along with an included shockmount and case make this mic an outstanding bang-for-your-buck purchase. Whether you’re looking for multiple-use project mic that you won’t be too afraid to rough up or are a home studio setup that won’t break the bank, the AKG P420 is a very intriguing choice that you won’t regret.
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