AKG P120 vs P220 vs P420 (Differences & Which Is Best?)

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  • The AKG P120, AKG P220, and the AKG P220 are affordable studio condenser mics 
  • The three of them are good options, but there are differences
  • These three condenser mics may appeal to three different types of customers 

AKG is one of the most respected and reputable microphone brands in the world. They have a rich legacy of producing high-quality mics that have populated some of the most legendary recordings. The AKG P120, AKG P220, and the AKG P420 are great choices for those looking for pressure gradient condenser mics on a budget, but which of them is right for you?

AKG P120 vs P220 vs P420: Which Is Right For You?

While the AKG P220 and the AKG P420 look identical, there are important differences between the two.

The AKG P120 is the cheapest of the three, so if you are hurting for money, this mic might be all you can afford.

AKG P120

When you consider its super-affordable pricetag, the AKG P120 becomes a logical choice for project and home studio multi-mic applications.

Why We Love It:
  • Outstanding performance
  • Excellent value
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The AKG P120 is a good beginner mic but does not have as many features as the AKG P220, and the AKG P420.

The only significant difference between the AKG P220 and the AKG P420 is that the latter offers 3 polar patterns, while the former only offers cardioid.

Is it worth the price difference? No, unless you need or want to have a mic with three polar patterns. 

AKG P220 Project Studio Condenser Microphone

The AKG P220 large-diaphragm condenser microphone gives you the kind of versatile performance and reliability you need, whether you're capturing sources in a pro studio, tracking at home, or even going after great live sound.

Why We Love It:
  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Great for recording
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Commonalities

The AKG P120, AKG P220, and the AKG P420 are similar mics, all intended as good and affordable models for home studio use

All three are large-diaphragm condensers, ideal for picking up details and nuances that a standard dynamic microphone is not capable of capturing.

The AKG P120, AKG P220, and AKG P420 all share the same frequency response, which goes from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

This is a good range of frequencies and will allow you to record vocals, guitars, acoustic instruments, and more with clarity and detail. 

All three of these AKG condenser microphones connect via a USB cable and need phantom power to operate. They all share the same output impedance of 200 ohms and an attenuation pad of -20 dB.

In general, all three of these AKG large-diaphragm condenser mics are very similar. This is especially true of the AKG P220  and the AKG P420.

In fact, these two microphones are nearly identical in every aspect, except for the price difference and the fact that the AKG P420 offers three polar patterns as opposed to just one.

Both the AKG P220 and the AKG P420 have a low cut filter of – 12 dB/octave at 300 Hz, while the AKG P120 is – 6 dB at 300 Hz. 

AKG P420 Project Studio Condenser Microphone

In short, the AKG P420 is a versatile, affordable addition to any pro facility where uncompromising quality is standard.

Why We Love It:
  • Cardioid, omni, figure-8 pickup patterns
  • Delivers a transparent sound
  • Versatile
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Differences

The AKG P120 is the cheaper of the three, and justifiably so. It features a smaller capsule with a diaphragm size of .66″, and a higher signal to noise ratio of 75 dB. 

In contrast, the AKG P220 features a 1″ diaphragm and a signal to noise ratio of 78 dB, while the AKG P420 has a 1″ diaphragm and signal to noise ratio of 79 dB. 

SPL

The maximum SPL of the AKG P420 is 135 dB and goes up to 155 dB when the pad is engaged. While the AKG P220 features the same specs on max SPL, the AKG AP120’s Max SPL is 130 dB (up to 150 dB with the pad on).

In other words, the AKG P420 and AKG P220 can handle more sound pressure or hotter sources before they begin to distort. 

This can make a difference when recording sound sources such as an electric guitar, bass cabinet, drum, trumpet, etc.

Polar Patterns

Here is where the AKG P420 distances itself in this microphone comparison. While the AKG P120 and the AKG P220 are cardioid only, the AKG P420 offers three pickup polar patterns.

For 40 dollars more than the AKG P220 and 90 dollars more than the AKG P120, you get cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8 polar patterns with the AKG P420.

This makes this microphone more versatile, as it allows you to employ different recording techniques that cannot be done on a cardioid-only mic.

Naturally, your choice then becomes a question of whether you really need the two extra polar patterns and are willing to shell out the extra cash for them. 

Perhaps you want to learn how to record with an omnidirectional and/or figure-8 polar pattern, in which case the AKG P420 is a great choice.

Keep in mind that despite the fact that it costs more than the AKG P220 and AKG P120, it is still considered a beginner mic.

Sound

When it comes to sound, the AKG P420 and AKG P220 are stronger options than the AKG P120.

The AKG P120 does well for a mic under a hundred dollars. However, when compared to the other two, it does sound a bit thinner.

Both the AKG P420 and AKG P220 do a better job of capturing the low end and also make the mids sound fuller than the AKG P120. 

Is there any difference between the AKG P420 and AKG P220 and the AKG P120, soundwise? None that we can tell.

Both sound nearly identical when in the cardioid polar pattern. In other words, is sound alone a valid argument for spending more money on the AKG P420? The answer is, no, it is not

Storing

Condenser mics are susceptible to impacts and misuse. They have a transducer that is delicate and cannot take the abuse commonly associated with dynamic mics used for tours and gigs. 

In other words, you have to be more careful when handling condenser mics than when you’re handling dynamic mics

Part of the protection of condenser mics comes from how they are stored. 

Both the AKG P420 and AKG P220 come with a hardshell case where you can keep them safely stored. Their hardshell cases are identical and are a great safe way to transport these mics.

On the other hand, the AKG P120 comes with a pouch to store it in, which does not protect it nearly as well as a hardshell case.

Additionally, the AKG P120 ships with a stand adapter, as opposed to a shock mount like in the case of the AKG P420 and AKG P220.

A shock mount absorbs unwanted bumps and vibration and is far superior to a stand adapter.

AKG P220 Project Studio Condenser Microphone

The AKG P220 large-diaphragm condenser microphone gives you the kind of versatile performance and reliability you need, whether you're capturing sources in a pro studio, tracking at home, or even going after great live sound.

Why We Love It:
  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Great for recording
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Summing Up

The AKG P120 is a good beginner mic for those on a tight budget. It will do well in the studio for basic applications like vocals and acoustic guitar and is a step up from a dynamic mic.

On the other hand, the AKG P420 and AKG P220 are pricier but also superior.

Both do a better job at capturing sound than the AKG P120 and have more useful features and better overall protection thanks to the shock mount and hardshell cases.

The argument for buying the AKG P420 is nothing more than the two other polar patterns.

If you need them and want to spend the extra cash, go for it. On the other hand, if cardioid is all you will be using, the AKG P220 offers the best money-benefit relationship

FAQ’s

Is the AKG P120 XLR?

Yes. The AKG P120 uses an XLR cable in order to connect.

Do the AKG P120, AKG P420, and AKG P220 need phantom power?

Yes. The AKG P120, the AKG P420, and AKG P220 all need phantom power to function. 

Does the AKG P120 come with a stand?

The AKG P120 comes with a stand adapter. On the other hand, the AKG P420 and AKG P220 come with a shock mount.