Review: AKG Perception 220 vs AKG C900 vs Behringer C3

AKG Perception 220 (P 220) and Capacitor 900 (C900) along side one
another. The P 220 (bottom) looks a similar size but is very much heavier
This post is a complete indulgence and basically pure microphone porn. I have a bunch of programmer and software stuff in brewing in the background - but if you love microphones or are just curious about buying options in the 'pro-sumer' end of the market - read/list/look on :)

Confession time, the last couple of years have been a wonderful time as my children are now all growing up and so I can go back to hobbies I had as a young person. One of those was electronics, another audio and a third making music. Right now I want to get back into playing the Sax but electronics and audio are definitely in full resurgence. Wow - what fun there is to be had with modern recording equipment and how much there is to learn, build upon and be creative with microphones!

I bought an AKG Perception 220 large diaphragm capacitor (aka condenser) microphone to be my 'go to' podcasting mike. Then I bought a second hand AKG C900. What is odd is that the C900 has proven to be my 'go to' mike! In the podcast (below) I explain when and view the pros and cons of both microphones for podcasting and recording guitar at home. Also, I throw in a quick comparison to the super low cost Behringer C1 and C3.

The porn:
The C900 behind a Roxdon pop filter. The C900 has a built in pop shield but this is not quite good enough
for the completely pop free sound one wants for a podcast or studio recording. Here I am using a low
level floor stand as a desk stand to give me more robust and flexible microphone mounting than a traditional
desk stand.
The Roxdon filter is very effective indeed and can be close to the microphone and still work. This is not the case
for some lower cost nylon mesh style pop filters I have used. As you can see here, the C900 has a very robust
spring steal basket over the element. I am not going to say this is as strong as a SM58, but you would need to
try very hard indeed to break it.
The capsule for the C900 is a thing of engineering beauty. The whole thing is gold plated. It is mounted on a flexible
disk with no part of it touching the rigid parts of the microphone body. Not only does this reduce handling noise to
a minimum, it also ensures that knocks and vibration on the microphone body are damped before they reach the capsule
and so the delicate capacitor element is defended from damage.
As I mentioned above, the Roxdon is an excellent pop filter. I would very highly recommend it to anyone. At first glance
one might think that the wider spacing of the wholes in the metal mesh compared to the more normal fabric would let pops
through, but the reality is that it just does not. Because the membrane does not deform, its performance is better than the
traditional design.
Unlike then C 900, the P 220 has no protection against handling noise in the microphone its self. As is traditional
with large diaphragm mikes, it relies on a spider mount to shield it against vibration from the microphone stand and is
not intended to be handled.
The Behringer C3 is a similar size to the P220 but might lighter and because of that
more practical. It is a shame that the sound quality is nothing like as good as either
of the AKGs. Note that both the Behringer and P 220 have base roll off and a pad
switch which are not available on the C900.
Here we can see the C900 (centre). Also there is a Little Dot MkIII headphone amp (bottom right) an AKG D109 (middle left) the
case for the P 220 (top left) and the mixer and some audio processors (top to middle right). Note that the pop filter is attached to
the microphone stand with gaffer-tape; some things never change.
The Perception 220 definitely looks the part. It is a very elegant piece of equipment with the highest of machining and production
standards. This mike is cardioid (as are the C900 and Behringer) with the peak of sensitivity in the direction of the AKG badge.