Condenser microphones are not always the cheapest option available if you are trying to boost your home studio setup.
However, the Mxl 990 comes pretty close to giving you a decent sound for a budget price.
The sound quality of this microphone is very crisp and bright (also see, ‘What Is A Condenser Microphone‘).
Whether you want to record acoustic guitar, vocals, or even drums, this condenser mic will allow you to do it all and give you crystal clear responsiveness.
So where can you find this microphone? Is it durable? How much will it cost you exactly? How good is it for capturing vocals?
Well, if you want these questions answered and more, then carry on reading on an in-depth Mxl 990 review.
Mxl 990 – A General Overview
Taking it out of the box, what will strike you first about the Mxl 990 is the size and the shape.
This is a very stubby microphone with a thick and flat side that will certainly give the impression of durability.
It also comes with a very thick foam covering the microphone itself. Try putting it up to your mouth and you’ll see how comfortable it will be.
This will be one thing that will appeal to the singers who want this microphone.
This comes with a very zero-frills design, which is great if you are looking for something that will cost you very little but deliver the very best of the basics.
Now that we’ve given you an initial look at this microphone, let’s have a look at some of the more impressive functions.
What Is The Build Quality Like?
As we have stated above, this is one of the most durable condenser mics you can find on the market.
This microphone comes with a champagne finish, which will be very nice to look at, even if it does add that much to the overall functionality of the microphone itself.
This comes with a case and a shock mount for no extra cost, both of which will really come in handy for protecting the mic and helping to absorb vibrations when you are recording (also see, ‘Best Podcast Mic Stands‘).
This is a chunky mic that certainly weighs a lot.
Make from solid steel, you could probably drop this one half a dozen times and it would not suffer a dent (although we would not advise that you try this).
You could easily place this one close to your base drum and not have to worry about the high impact that comes when the kick pedal hits the drums.
This will also not succumb to vibration wear over time.
What Is The Frequency Response Like?
This microphone possesses a frequency range of 20 Hz to 30 Khz, with a high-end boost in the upper register.
If you have an instrument that lies in the mid-range that you would like to record, then this might be an ideal microphone for you.
If you are wanting to record vocals on this microphone, then it will get a decent live and recording sound, capturing a lot of the trebly and mid-range tones in your voice.
This is ideal if you tend to sing in the higher register.
This one really works well when you are recording in the mid-ranges, which is why so many people choose this one for vocals.
This will make your recording really pop, however, if you have it turned up too loud, you might experience a little bit of sibilance.
How Well Does The Mxl 990 Record Vocals?
This microphone is probably one of the best that we can think of for recording vocals.
This is especially good for recording vocals in the studio, picking up individual notes with complete clarity, and avoiding any note blending that can often occur with lower-quality microphones.
Its cardioid sensitivity makes it able to capture the nuances of a vocalist’s voice, and the frequency response is tailored specifically for this purpose.
The Mxl 990 produces an excellent sound quality that is clear and precise, allowing you to easily distinguish every word in vocal performance. Additionally, this microphone’s low noise level makes it great for recording soft passages as well as louder ones.
This vocal mic will help you balance out the bass tones in your voice and can cope even when you surpass the 8 kHz range.
When recording live vocals, this cardioid microphone struggles to cope with the volume. If you are recording a quiet acoustic session, then you might be okay. At higher volumes, we experienced a little fuzz and some audio dropout.
This microphone is one of the more sensitive we tested and would only really recommend it for a studio setup.
All in all, the Mxl 990 is an excellent choice for recording vocals and can capture a wide range of nuances and depth in any performance.
How Well Does The Mxl 990 Record Drums?
Again, we would reserve this condenser microphone for recording drums in the studio only. This does really well overhanging on a mic stand, as it will pick up a lot of the cymbal sounds really well.
What this microphone doesn’t do so well with is bass and volume, so we would vote against pitting it near your bass drum.
When it comes to live drums, we would avoid using this microphone completely, as it simply does not have the gate or the frequency range to handle that loud, bassy sound.
How Well Does The Mxl 990 Record Guitars?
This is a great choice for recording guitars, as it will be able to capture a lot of the intricate notes on your acoustic.
It comes with a 30 HZ drop-off, as we have mentioned earlier, so you might have some issues with recording some of those lower frequencies.
This will really help you to capture those bright notes, which is great if you want your acoustic guitar to shimmer brightly.
We would recommend rigging this microphone up with something bassier. Or you could make the case of scrapping this mic and getting one with a wider dynamic frequency range.
This will give you a greater sense of presence in your acoustic guitar, which is great if you are recording in an intimate live setting.
This is one of the best mics we could find for recording acoustic and vocals in a studio.
How Well Does The Mxl 990 Record Bass?
This microphone does not cope well with recording bass.
If you are recording your bass through your guitar amps and into this microphone, then you’ll end up with bass that actually does not sound bassy at all.
The only way to help this microphone is if you are recording in conjunction with a microphone that will help you pick up those bass notes.
What About The Price?
When it comes to price point, this is a vocal microphone that would be perfect for anyone who has either just started recording or is getting into music production (also see, ‘Best Podcast Starter Kit‘).
This captures a decent sound quality for the price too, being a sturdy microphone with enough accessories to help you achieve that professional sound quality (also see, ‘How Much Does A Microphone Cost‘).
If you are looking for a spare drum overhead recorder, this would make a decent option too.
If you have enough cash to spare, this would be a great backup instrument for vocals, acoustic guitars, and drums.
Unlike dynamic mics, it’s worth noting that phantom power is required to power this microphone which adds to the cost, which can be around $15-50 if you don’t have one already.
How Does The Mxl 990 Compare To Other Microphones?
Even though we think this mic is a decent starting point for recording acoustic instruments for a lot of vocalists or acoustic guitar players, there are a few comparisons that are worth mentioning here:
This microphone is the antecedent of the Mxl 990, although it does have some more noticeable drawbacks.
One of the main ones of these is the high-end boost. The 770 will have a lot more trouble hitting these higher frequencies, and will sound noticeably less smooth than the 990 at the higher level.
However, one of the main bonuses of the 770 over the 990 is the price.
The former is much cheaper and if you can bear the slightly less silky high-frequency output, then you might want to opt for the cheaper model, which has all the same basic features.
This microphone is a little warmer sounding than the 990, coming with a far richer.
However, different vocal performers want different sounds coming from their microphones, and you’ll need to make sure that you have a microphone to suit your style (also see our ‘AT2020 Pop Filter Review‘).
One of the drawbacks of the Audio Technica microphone is that it does not sound that bright, as it comes with a much lower frequency range. However, one of the bonuses of this is that it will do a lot better with bass frequencies.
We find that this microphone is able to record a lot more things than the Mxl 990.
If you are looking to record more than just vocals and guitar with one microphone, then we might nudge you towards the Audio-Technica model.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why should I buy the Mxl 990 microphone?
A: This microphone is designed for vocalists and it really is a good starting professional microphone for this purpose. You can also set it up to record both guitar and vocals at the same time.
The other good thing about this microphone is the price point.
If you are unsure about whether you are going to be recording in the long term, then hedging your bets and buying a cheaper microphone will be the way to go.
We hope that our review of the Mxl 990 has helped you decide whether or not you are going to choose this microphone for your recording needs.