Dan Taylor

AKG Perception 220 Microphone Review


Today I'm taking a look at the AKG Perception 220 microphone. Priced around $50 more than the Audio Technica AT2020, the AKG packs a number of features into an agreeable (approximately) $200 microphone that are often found on much pricier microphones. Similar to the Audio Technica, the P220 is a cardioid condenser microphone, featuring AKG's renowned 1-inch large-diaphragm true condenser transducer. [youtube id="7RZg_ALqUeE" align="center" mode="lazyload" maxwidth="610"]

Both microphones feature a 20 - 20k hz response, with the AKG just edging out the AT2020 in the signal-to-noise ration department. The AKG clocks in at 78db while the Audio Technica scores only 4 db lower at 74 db. When it comes to miking up some amps or percussion, the AT2020 is capable of handling 144 dB SPL, 1 kHz at 1% T.H.D. while the AKG P220 will handle 155 dB SPL, at .5% T.H.D. One unique advantage that the AKG has over the Audio Technica is it's -20db pad. What this means is that users can simply flip a switch on the P220 if they're going to be miking big amplifier cabinets, and don't want to run the risk of distortion.

Another one of the AKG's fancy switches will apply a bass roll-off filter. This is meant to filter out any unwanted low bass tones in your recording. For example, if used in a home studio, as I suspect many owners of the P220 do, in quiet passages, someone walking seemingly silent across the room, can sometimes register with a highly sensitive microphone such as the P220. To combat this, flip the roll-off switch and record low-end-rumble-free.

Overall, as you can see in the video above, I decided to go with the AKG. The Audio Technica AT2020 in it's own right is a very strong microphone, and I would have no problems using it again. However, if given the choice, I just found the vocals to have a bit more sparkle on the high end, as well as some nice warm tones in the middle and lower end of my voice.  Also noteworthy, the Audio Technica ships as mic only, whereas the AKG included a nice matte-black spider shock mount, as well as an aluminum padded carrying case.  Certainly not deal breakers, but a further sign of AKG's commitment to quality.

Overall conclusion

If you've got the extra $50 or so to spend, have a serious look at the AKG Perception 220 over the Audio Technica AT2020. Again, both good in their own right - but in my humble opinion, the AKG is a better piece of equipment.  And as an added bonus, I also know that I'm supporting my local economy, as AKG has their headquarters not very far away from where I live.

AKG Perception 220 specifications:

    AKG Perception 220 Microphone Review

  • Type 1" Large Diaphragm True Condenser
  • Polar pattern cardioid
  • Frequency range 20 to 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity 18 mV/Pa (-35 dBV)
  • Max. SPL 135 dB/155 dB (0/-20 dB) for 0.5% THD
  • Equivalent noise level 16 dB-A (IEC 60268-4)
  • Signal/noise ratio (A-weighted) 78 dB
  • Preattenuation pad 0 dB, -20 dB
  • Bass filter 12 dB/octave at 300 Hz
  • Impedance <200 ohms Recommended load impedance >=1000 ohms
  • Powering <2 mA
  • Power requirement 48 V phantom power to DIN/IEC
  • Connector 3-pin XLR
  • Finish metallic blue/nickel grille
  • Dimensions 53 dia. x 165 mm (2.1 dia. x 6.5 in.)
  • Net weight 525 g (18.5 oz.)
  • Shipping weight 1,970 g (4.3 lb.)
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Rode NT1-A Microphone Review


Building on the Audio Technica AT2020 and AKG P220 entry level studio condenser microphone reviews, this time up we're taking a look at the Rode NT1-A. Priced just over $200 ($229 - B&H, Adorama, etc.), the Rode NT1-A delivers a high end sheen that I've not yet experienced with the previous two microphones, while at the same time, keeping it's signal to noise ratio remarkably low. The Rode NT1-A is roughly the same size as the AT2020 and P220, and features a large 1-inch gold plated capsule. And just like the other two, the Rode NT1-A is a condenser with a tight cardioid pattern.

As is standard with most of today's condenser microphones, frequency range is from 20hz - 20khz. Now here's where things start to get interesting. According to Rode, the Signal-to-Noise ratio is 88 db. Which is quite odd, as the AKG has an S/N ratio of 78db and the AT2020 74db. However, when viewing the bar graphs inside my recording software, the Rode NT1-A had the closest to 'flat' of all three of the mics. In other words, on paper, it may not be the quietest, but when put to the eyes and ears, you can't hear a thing (which, in this case, is good). The Rode NT1-A features no pad or roll-off switches, but achieves a maximum SPL of 137 db SPL, giving it the lowest range of the three microphones.

And while both the Audio Technica AT2020 and AKG Perception 220 feel like solid, if almost heavy, microphones, the Rode NT1-A goes the completely opposite route. Upon first unboxing of this microphone, I almost dropped it, as I was expecting something much heavier. It has the look and sound of a vintage tube mic, but definitely not the same feel. Likewise, the AKG comes with a solid (if only heavy plastic and foam padding) case, that makes just about anyone feel like a pro. Rode, while they do include a spider mount and pop-filter, there's no case anywhere to be seen. Not even a decent, padded pouch (i.e. the Shure SM58 bank bag). At the end of the day, Rode gives you a fancy dust cover with a draw string. Fair enough, I don't expect to be doing any 'on-location' work with this microphone, but a case would have gone a long way to making me fall 100% in love with this mic.

Overall conclusion

The Rode NT1-A is an outstanding mic for studio, voiceover and podcast work. It's high on tone quality and vintage sound, while being light on the wallet, especially for what it is. It is the most expensive of the three microphones I've tested thus far, but when put head to head with the AKG Perception 220, you're really going to have to dig in with a set of closed-ear headphones to really hear the difference. Conversely, if you're using the Rode NT1-A solely as a spoken word/voiceover/podcast microphone, it's outstanding. Of the three, the AKG seems most suited to functioning as an amped instrument's recording microphone, as it has the highest SPL, while at the same time, requiring the most amount of incoming volume. The Rode does stand head and shoulders above the other two in the sensitivity department though. The AT2020 and P220 are very capable of picking up sounds in the desired sonic pattern, but both require the speaker to sometimes 'swallow' the mic to get an upfront feel, whereas the Rode presents this feeling naturally.

Rode NT1-A specifications:

  • Power - P48 (48V), P24 (24V) phantom supply
  • Acoustic Principle - Pressure gradient
  • Directional Pattern - Cardioid
  • Frequency range - 20 Hz - 20 kHz
  • Output impedance - 100?
  • Signal noise ratio - >88 dB SPL (A - weighted per IEC651)
  • Equivalent noise - 5 dB SPL (A - weighted per IEC651)
  • Maximum SPL - 137dB SPL (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1K? load)
  • Maximum output voltage - +13.7dBu (@ 1kHz, 1% THD into 1K? load)
  • Sensitivity - -32 dB re 1 Volt/Pascal (25 mV @ 94 dB SPL) +/- 2 dB @ 1kHz
  • Weight - 326gm
  • Dimensions - 190mmH x 50mmW x 50mmD
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