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AKG C451 B review: Great addition to any studio

In this article, I’ll be reviewing the AKG C451 B small-diaphragm condenser microphone.

This is a revamping of the original model, the C451, and AKG has made some modest changes to the overall design and performance.

AKG C451 B and stand adapter
AKG C451 B and stand adapter | Image: Higher Hz

Final verdict on the AKG C451 B 4.2

The AKG C451 B is an outstanding microphone that can be used for excellent results. While its performance isn’t always ideal for every application, any studio worth its salt will have a pair of these on hand.

What I like

  • Bright, sparkly sound.
  • Great on drums and acoustic guitars.
  • Well-built.

What I don’t like

  • Finicky performance.
  • Quite expensive.
See current price at: SweetwaterAmazon

Why you should trust me

Brandon Schock, writer at Higher Hz

I’ve worked with a diverse spectrum of microphones over the decade spent in the field of audio production and engineering, both in studio environments and on live productions.

Working with names such as Shure, AKG, Neumann, and Sennheiser, among many others, has lent me nuanced insights into the practical application of audio equipment and what value it provides users ranging from novice to seasoned professionals.


Use these jump links to navigate to the desired section of the review.

Polar pattern and frequency response

The AKG C451 B is a cardioid microphone with a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz and an output impedance of 200 ohms.

The capsule is non-interchangeable, and the microphone has both a three-position pad and a three-position bass roll-off switch.

AKG C451 B microphone
AKG C451 B microphone | Image: Higher Hz

Just as its predecessor, the mic has a slight peak around 10 kHz. It works best for all the usual small-diaphragm condenser applications, i.e., overheads, strings, acoustic guitars, snares, etc.

However, I find its performance to be much harsher and brighter than that of the original, which may dampen its viability for a number of these applications depending on what preamps you’re running through.

Besides this, the microphone casts a shadow over most other new small-diaphragm condenser designs.

Vocals 3.0

This isn’t a microphone typically used on vocals, so you might be better off choosing a mic with more body and warmth.

However, rules are meant to be broken, so by all means, try it out. It can be pretty hit-or-miss, but when it hits, it really hits.

AKG C451 B on microphone stand
AKG C451 B on microphone stand | Image: Higher Hz

I can’t recommend the AKG C451 B microphone for live vocals, either, due to much harshness and bleed.

Acoustic guitars 5.0

The AKG C451 B is often noted as a favorite amongst audio engineers when it comes to recording acoustic guitars.

It doesn’t necessarily sound better or more accurate than the competition, but its sound signature is something of a staple.

Guitar amps 4.5

The C451 B can work wonders for guitar amps, although, from my experience, it isn’t the most practical application for this microphone. This is a more artistic approach to recording cabinets.

Bass amps 3.0

Not a lot of practical uses here for recording electric bass. Better to find a microphone with a bit more body to capture those lower sub frequencies.

Drums 5.0

The AKG C451 B is one of the best drum microphones. I’m constantly getting great results using it as an overhead or a snare mic.

Hi-hats might be a bit too grainy depending on your preamp situation, but even still, it’s a favorite for hi-hats and rides among the artsier crowds.

Build quality 4.9

The AKG C451 B is well built and durable despite its fragile appearance. I still advise you to treat it well, seeing how expensive it is.

Compared to other microphones

Although this is a wonderful microphone and one of my favorites for recording acoustic guitars, here are a few other options to look at in comparison to the AKG C451 B.

AKG C451 B vs Shure SM81

The AKG can be a bit bipolar in terms of the consistency of its performance. That is, when it’s right, it’s transcendent, but when it’s wrong, it’s foul.

The Shure, on the other hand, is far more serviceable as a microphone, although it won’t be able to produce those “magic” moments that you might be able to with the AKG.

AKG C451 B vs Neumann KM 184

I would recommend the Neumann KM 184 for nearly everything over the C451 B unless you’re really chasing some glittery high ends.

The Neumann microphone generally sounds like the AKG, except with more body and warmth.

AKG C451 B vs Rode NT55

The NT55 is significantly cheaper than the C451 B and works just as well.

The Rode is a bit softer in its performance, whereas the AKG is a bit edgier, but this is neither good nor bad in either case.

Who is the AKG C451 B best suited for?

The AKG C451 B is best suited for professional audio engineers who either have a full studio or are in the process of building one.

This microphone doesn’t work perfectly in every application, but having a pair of them on hand is better than not.

See current price at: SweetwaterAmazon

Recent updates

  • April 24, 2024: I’ve updated the text for clarity and improved the structure to suit the latest standard.
  • July 19, 2022: I published the original review based on my experience with the microphone. I also compared it to the closest competitors.