Life keeps getting better for semi-pros, who need inexpensive solutions with professional results. The AKG Perception 100 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that can hold its own, even against models with significantly higher price tags.
In The Box
The Perception 100 is a no-frills voice-over microphone. You won't find a built-in low-cut filter or a multiple pick up pattern selector. In fact, no bells or whistles have been built into the body of this microphone. But what you do get is a very sturdy and heavy body that feels like it can take on more than what a typical producer can dish out. The sleek brushed metal look is nice touch and the metal wire mesh helps pad plosives and sibilants (the sounds that tend to "pop" and "hiss" the mic). Depending on the type of shock mount you have, the larger diameter body can make it challenging to insert in-between the elastic webbing. The Perception 100 does comes with a nice stand adapter, so you won't be left without a way to mount the mic to a mic stand. (The mic stand shown is not included.)
Under The Hood
While the body has very little to offer outside its strong build, underneath the shell is where the most important hardware lies.
The Perception 100 has a 1" large-diaphragm pick-up element designed with a cardioid polar pick-up pattern. This means you'll be able to pick up more detailed tonalities from your voice from directly in front of the mic. Both the pickup pattern and the sensitivity of the large diaphragm make this an ideal microphone for voice-overs or even recording instruments. It's also capable of handling sound pressure levels up to 135 dB, which will help to minimize distortion at high volumes.
This microphone is made for getting up close and personal and your voice-overs will sound like the narrator is sitting right there in front of you in your living room.
It's also important to note that the Perception 100 is a balanced XLR mic that requires 48v phantom power. Make sure that your mixer, or whatever device you'll connect this mic to, is capable of delivering the needed juice.
Hooking up the Perception 100 in our sound studio side by side with another professional AKG large diaphragm condenser mic that has an outstanding reputation (and premium price tag) reveals the true nature of this mic. When we recorded and mixed the same dialogue on these two mics we did find our high-end professional mic outperformed the Perception 100 in richness and fullness of tone. However, that's just what you can expect from a microphone that costs 4 times as much.
There is absolutely no shame in the sound quality of the Perception 100. Its real strength lies in bright tones. A look at the published frequency response patterns supports these findings, with a bump of several dB in the high frequency range starting at about 5kHz and ending near 15kHz.
If you want voice-overs that sound clear and bright, this microphone is definitely going to deliver. You may not, however, get the rich, deep tones without making some slight adjustments to the equalization during the audio phase of post-production.
Of course, the most important quality of this mic is its ability to deliver a sense of presence. A good mic will help make the narrator jump out of the speakers and into the listener's living room. The Perception 100 does an excellent job of this, which makes it ideal even though it doesn't have the fullness of a high-end mic. A narrator's dialogue often must cut through busy music tracks, sound effects and wildly adverse natural sound from video. The Perception 100 will definitely help your voice-overs do this.
All in all, the AKG Perception 100 is a great microphone for any budget minded producer who wants to add powerful voice-overs to their productions. While it has a somewhat less full sound than high-end mics, its ability to deliver a pleasing sense of presence will keep your audience tuned to your narration.
The Perception 100 is definitely worth its price and certainly looks, feels and sounds like a very professional piece of audio equipment.
Capsule: 1″ Large Diaphragm True Condenser
Sensitivity: 18 mV/Pa (-35 dBV)
Frequency Response: 20-20,000Hz
Equivalent Noise to IEC 60268-4 (A-weighted): 16dB-A
Signal/noise ratio re 1 Pa (A-weighted): 78 dB
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Max Sound Pressure level: 35dB
Phantom Power: 48v
Included stand adapto: Yes
Balanced XLR: yes
Net weight: 1.2 lbs.
- 20-20,000Hz frequency response
- Bright sounds
- Sturdy bod
- No low-cut or attenuation switches
- Lacks full, richer tones
- Oversized body may not fit some shock mounts
The AKG Perception 100 is a sturdy and professional microphone for the budget-minded producer. If you're looking to add a strong voice-over to your next production consider the Perception 100 as the starting point.
Mark Montgomery is a commercial television producer.
914 Airpark Center Dr.
Nashville, TN 37217