Field Report: AKG C 4500B-BC

When I started in radio, at a small AM/FM in Iowa, microphones were simple and cheap. There was always an abundance of hand-held stick-mics and inexpensive stand-mounted microphones. These ancient necessities of the business were neither powered nor processed. Did they sound good? Not really.

Performance at a glance
  • Cardioid pattern
  • Designed for close-up use
  • Gold-sputtered, plastic foil diaphragm
  • Switchable 20dB attenuator
  • Bass cut filter
  • Die-cast body
  • Dual wire-mesh grill
  • Today's phantom-powered microphones are put through a somewhat complex chain of equalizers and limiters, or at the very least a mic processor offering some fairly good compression. The result is a velvety rich sound that seems to actually sound better than your voice does. The AKG C 4500B-BC is one of these microphones.

    This powered, cardiod polar-pattern mic has a diaphragm made of plastic foil that is gold sputtered on one side, which prevents local shorts to the back electrode. The C 4500B-BC's body is die-cast metal, and AKG touts it as “especially made for radio broadcasters.” To me, that means it must be tough. It is. I didn't pound it repeatedly on the production board or drop it off the sixth floor of the building, but it appears far from delicate. It should easily survive a decade or two of radio's cruelest use.

    Features and sound

    The C 4500B-BC has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz with a switchable pre-attenuation pad, allowing you to increase the SPL capability by 20dB. I find that with today's mic processors, most installations use the -20dB switch and even build an additional pad to prevent an overload of input to the processor. It also has a bass-cut filter that reduces low-end distortion and proximity effect. The filter has a 6dB/octave slope starting at 120Hz. It also features a dual wire-mesh grille. The sound entry is on the front that is to say, it is end-fed. It is not a vertical microphone that often blocks the user from seeing directly ahead. This makes it well-suited for reading copy or news.

    How does it sound? Good. Really good. I used it in three different studios. I replaced a $1,500 mic in one room with the C 4500B-BC, and after boosting the high end a bit through the parametric EQ on the mic processor (personal taste), I thought it sounded large and dripping with richness. I shouted in the mic to see if I could make it distort. I couldn't. I got right on it and read some copy; it came out sounding wonderful. I even asked a coworker to come in and sing in the microphone. He's always complaining that, when he sings loudly, the mics at the station overload not the C 4500B-BC. It's performance in the other studios in which I tested it was just as pleasing.

    I think the AKG C 4500B-BC would be an excellent on-air or news mic. The bass roll-off would be a plus for AM stations, and the all-metal die-cast body shields from RF interference and all the other little hisses that stations seem to possess. It would enhance voice-over studios with its tolerance for being moved and switched out for other microphones, plus it can produce satisfactory results for those that shout and the meek. Although I did not test it on musical instruments, I believe that the C 4500B-BC would make a decent instrument microphone, especially on a drum kit, being that it can take the impact of high sound levels with little distortion.

    The microphone is shock-mounted internally, but it also comes with a spider suspension mount and a foam windscreen. Other accessories are also available, such as an additional pop filter and various stands.

    Overall, the C 4500B-BC is a rugged mic with the ability to be used in production, as a voiceover mic, or on-air. A colleague put it best, “It can handle the meatball-surgery production that is forced out daily.”

    Jon Taylor is creative services director of KCFX-FM, Kansas City.



    Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive BE Radio feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.

    These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.

    It is the responsibility of BE Radio to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by BE Radio.

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