Today, we’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.
Our verdict on the AKG C451 B
The AKG C451 B are outstanding microphones that can be used for excellent results. While their performance isn’t always ideal for every application, any studio worth its salt will have a pair of these on hand.Check availability and price: SweetwaterAmazon
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.
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, we 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.
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. They can be pretty hit-or-miss but when they hit, they really hit.
We can’t recommend this for live vocals, too much harshness and bleed.
Drums are one of the C451 B’s favorite applications. Best used as overheads or as 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.
These can work wonders for guitar amps, although it isn’t the most practical application for the C451 B. This is a more artistic approach to recording cabinets.
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.
The C451 B is often noted as a favorite amongst engineers when it comes to recording acoustic guitars.
It doesn’t necessarily sound better or more accurate, but its sound signature is something of a staple.
The C451 B is well built and durable despite its fragile appearance. We still advise you to treat it well, seeing how expensive it is.
Compared to other microphones
Here are a few microphones 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.
Pick your poison, but you really can’t go wrong with either of these microphones.
AKG C451 B vs. Neumann KM 184
We would recommend the Neumann KM 184 for nearly everything over the AKGs unless you’re really chasing some glittery high ends.
The KM 184s generally sound like the C451 Bs except with more body and warmth.
AKG C451 B vs. Rode NT55
The Rodes are significantly cheaper than the AKGs, and work just as well.
They are a bit softer in their performance, whereas the C451 Bs are a bit edgier, but this is neither good nor bad in either case. Pick your poison.
Who is the AKG C451 B best suited for?
These microphones are best suited for professional engineers who either have a full studio or are in the process of building one.
These microphones don’t work in every application but having them on hand is better than not.
- Bright sparkly sound.
- Well built.
- Great on drums and acoustic guitars.
- Finicky performance.