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Allen Rowand

AKG 451- still viable?

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I could use some advice from anyone who has experience with these mics. I'm going to be doing more corporate work soon and am evaluating my gear. I've had the 451s forever, and I'm trying to decide if I should replace them for booming (most likely boom on a stand) or if they're usable. I have: 

  • Two 451e preamps (no low cut)
  • Two 451eb preamps (with low cut)
  • Several CK-1 cardioid capsules
  • One CK-3 hypercardioid capsule
  • Several CK-8 short shotgun capsules

 

I'm sure newer mics would have better performance, but will these still cut the mustard? Part of me says use these because I have them, the other says keep these for other recording projects and get a CS-M1. Any thoughts?

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The 451/CK series dates from the very early 1970s AFAIK. The 451 was replaced by the compatible 460 preamp in the mid-80s. 

 

They were brilliantly designed mics, clean and with a reliable pattern. The /CK1 combo became my go-to for booth work: you could have an actor concentrate on the script, with the mic angled in from slightly above cheekbone level where it wouldn't interfere with their vision. Or you could have two actors facing each other with total eye contact, and still get good separation from their individual mics. They didn't have the big deep end of a larger condenser (but you could always eq in post; OTOH they sounded more natural to me than the U87 I used to use at the same time.

 

I loved the CK8 for hand held or boom interviews, particularly exteriors or rooms with good acoustics: it sounded tight but never got in the way. It was also great for working with children: I could park a Steiff tiger on top of it (without blocking the interference holes), tell the kid to 'talk to the tiger', and know they'd stay aimed in the right direction and with a constant projection.

 

Despite running on as low as P9, they generated high voltage for a properly polarized, quiet capsule... AKG sold a phantom supply with a single 9v rectangular, and I'd modded my 12V (8-D cell) Arrivox to feed them as well. My only issues with them were that you had to be careful not to cross-thread the joint (it wasn't a bayonet), and they could be sensitive to high humidity (because of the small, high voltage capsule). Keep an eye on that, and clean the contacts with a Q tip every now and then, and they seem to work forever.

tiger.jpg

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Sorry Allen, I know there will be (J.R posting as i type) many, more expert than me to give you better advice but...

As good as I guess the CS-M1 might be for your work, the fact that you have 2 AKG preamps and at least 2 capsules with the same polar pattern means you can have separate (matching) overhead booms for 2 speakers is a really nice thing and potentially very useful. Would the corporate jobs need or allow you to work like this, you're probably best to decide. My main concern about the AKG would not be the self noise, weight or size but it's susceptibility to RFI. RFI can be quite high in some corporate environments and 1 of the areas more modern mics are better at dealing with, although I did not experience this on the occasions i've use AKG mics of this era.

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+1 having 2 matching mics for interviews.  I'd hang on to those if they are working ok and look for a new mic for your doco boom work.  There have been many new mics for this work introduced since the 451 came out.

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In the world of music recording there is a common opinion that the earlier 451 models sound great, with later ones not well regarded.  I believe there is a later reissue 451 also.  I'm not clear on all the variants.  

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Believe me, I'm not getting rid of the 451s! Since 99% of the work I'm currently (and probably will do in the future) is indoors I was thinking of adding the CS-M1 to the arsenal and having the AKGs in reserve. Very good points about using multiple mics, I was wondering if I should buy a newer "gold" mic.

 

I'm also probably going to build a couple new mic cables with Neutrik EMI connectors and Canare star quad to have the best chance of fighting interference. I know this won't fix noise coming from the mic itself, but every bit helps. I also treat the XLR and capsule connections with Stabilant 22 to help keep them clean.

 

@EmRR, these are pretty old- I've had them for at least 20 years and I got them used. They're the original modular version, before AKG released the 451B which is a different design with a non-interchangeable cardioid capsule.

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FWIW, my downtown studio was one block from a skyscraper with massive TV and FM installation on top. Never had an RF problem with the AKGs... or the Neumann, or my EV dynamics...

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I was using the AKG 460 / CK63 (which is the newer model of yours) as my main indoors mic , but lately I've mostly been using a CS1e instead. Would like a CSM1 as well one day. 

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Try them some, and decide for yourself. I have never used these mics, but sound is a lot different than sight. If it sounds good in the 70s, then it will sound good now!

 

Interferences has been a recent issue to our job, check how they behave, but have a more modern design just for safety.

 

The idea to get the CS-M1 is excellent I believe. I will be ordering mine soon-ish, I am expecting the AKGs to work better indoors, but the Sanken is a good compromise for working both in and out with the right wind protection. It is not very expensive, and can be a valuable tool.

 

I will be getting mine with the Bubblebee Spacer Bubble Kit for indoors and casual outdoors use, and the Cinela Cosi for run and gun situations, but there is a cheaper Rycote solution, or even the Spacer Bubble can be enough for you. I can even do a small "hack" with the Rycote Supershield (put the back basket in front as well and have a super short version), but that remains to be seen (or heard).

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