The life of a live vocal mic is an unforgiving one: screamed into, spat on and dropped - it's tough.
On top of this they are also expected to sound good on a wide variety of voices, reject the mass of unwanted noise on stage and not feedback too easily.
And so it happens that AKG releases a new handheld solution to this age-old arena: the C5 cardioid condenser.
The C5 is sturdy and yet relatively light. Removing the grill reveals the PB1000 presence booster attachment; a small, black plastic cover that clips on to the diaphragm to create a 5db boost between 5kHz and 9kHz to improve vocal intelligibility.
Our C5 was tested against two similar models by Sennheiser: the dynamic E935 and the E865 condenser.
Before considering the sound, there are two major concerns for live vocal mics - handling noise and feedback susceptibility. The C5 has very little handling noise.
The feedback performance of the C5 is similar to the E865, though tending to howl-round at a lower frequency.
The C5 was tested with the PB1000 presence booster in place, as is the factory-supplied position. What is instantly noticeable is the lack of popping and plosive battering that can blight a vocal mic.
The overall tone is full with a pleasing low end, plenty of high frequency articulation, but not suffering from the kind of over-sibilance that indicates a hyped HF response.
The proximity effect is obviously pronounced, but in a way that good mic technique can really make use of.
The cardioid pickup pattern is surprisingly tight and doesn't seem that much wider than the E865, which is super-cardioid.
This means that off-axis sounds are well attenuated, but a vocalist must be careful to stay close to the mic to gain a consistent level.
For the vocalist in need of a good quality mic that'll take a sound beating, I would happily recommend this mic for live use (I also used it for tracking guides in the studio and was pleased with the results).
I'm conﬁdent that you'd be hard-pushed to ﬁnd competitors out there that better it at this price point.