MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review | Ultimate Guide


MXL 990 Condenser Microphone is fairly popular among musicians. And if you wanted an MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review, you’ve clicked at just the right link.

MXL 990 Condenser is one of the most-talked-about microphones that is available in the market. Although it is a fairly old model, more than a decade old, it has still managed to keep a good reputation and popularity. It is partly because of the cheap price tag and the value it provides within this price bracket. Thus, in this MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review, you would come to know each and everything about this particular microphone.

We will enlist all the potential benefits and drawbacks that you would get with buying this microphone. Furthermore, we would also discuss how this particular microphone fares against the other microphones within the same price bracket.

However, before diving deep into the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review, let’s take a look at the specifications of this microphone.

MXL 990 Condenser Microphone | Specs

FeatureDetail
TypeCondenser
Polar PatternCardioid/ Unidirectional
Power RequirementPhantom Power 48V (+/- 4V)
Frequency Range30Hz – 20KHz
MAX SPL130 dB
Signal to Noise Ratio80 dB
Impedance200 Ohm
Connector TypeXLR

For our busiest of readers, here is the list of the potential pros and cons that are coming your way when you decide to buy this microphone.

Pros
  • Comes at a cheap price
  • Sturdy and solid construction
  • Suitable for both professionals and novices alike
  • Versatile
  • Wide frequency response range
  • Highly sensitive
  • Smaller Capsule- Vibrates faster
  • Classic looks
Cons
  • Sub-par Isolation
  • Noticeable self-noise
  • Possible distortion with loud sounds

Who is MXL 990 Designed For? The Potential Users Of MXL 990

When you look at the specifications of this particular microphone you come to realize that it is designed to capture wide frequencies while minimizing the noise. This type of microphones is generally used in the studio settings, while recording instruments, vocals, etc. Furthermore, they can also be quite good for podcasts and interviews as well, as long as they are in a closed space.

Thus, by keeping all of this in perspective, it is fair to say that this microphone is targeted towards musicians, voice-over artists, and podcasters.

The question is, what makes this microphone so good for the above-mentioned audience. This is exactly what we would discuss in the next section of the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review.


The Good in MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review

For a microphone to sustain this sort of popularity and reputation is nothing short of impressive. So, let’s take a look at the features that have made it so good in this section of the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review.

1-Design and Construction

MXL has a construction unit set up in china and the designs and finishes of their products are quite distinctive. The best thing about this company is that they optimize the circuitry for each model separately. Thus, they make it possible to get the maximum performance out of them. When we talk about the design and construction of MXL 990, it is not any different from what is mentioned before.

It has a traditional or conventional design, although the size of the body is a little bit short which gives it a sort of sleek look. The basket occupies major space in the microphone while the electronics and connector take about one third of the mic’s length. This design produces a smaller capsule which can be quite beneficial.

mxl 990 condenser microphone review

The smaller capsule because of their size can vibrate faster and can consequently produce better response to high frequencies. In contrast, the larger microphone is great at responding to low frequencies. The point is, for musicians who want something to record their instruments, this design is just perfect.

Moving on, overall construction of the microphone is pretty standard, exactly what you expect from a microphone manufactured in china. The metalwork is nicely finished and features a satin plated which the manufacturer calls the Champagne finish.

From the durability stand point, it is a fairly sturdy unit which can resist accidental damages. However, the finish is prone to fingerprint smudges which is something you need to keep in mind.

2-Circuitry of Microphone

There is not much to say about the circuitry of this particular microphone in MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review as it is all pretty much standard. All the components of the circuitry are present including the FET preamp (Field effect transistor). The output stage is transformer-less and all these components are mounted on a single circuit board made up of glass fiber.

One noteworthy thing is that there are no external roll off switches or pads which are available in the higher model, the MXL 992.

This circuitry produces a reasonable set of specifications that make the microphone decent enough for close miking and instrument recordings. 

3- Polar Pattern of Microphone

The polar pattern tells what part of the microphone is actually capturing the audio. You would come across a number of polar patterns but the unidirectional or cardioid is most suitable for studio settings. Luckily, the polar pattern in the MXL 900 is exactly that.

The reason it is preferred in studio microphone is because it can only capture the sound from one direction. Thus, all the other sounds which can potentially distort the sound get blocked. And consequently, you would get an audio that is free of noise and other interference.

polar patterns

The musicians would prefer it because of its ability to record the vocals and instruments in isolation. Furthermore, the condenser microphones also have a condenser built-in. This condenser is a component that is specialized in dampening the noise which consequently ripples the noise cancellation. The isolation of the instruments and vocals results in a very clear and noise-free sound which is something musicians dig for.

The point of this part in the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review is that because of the polar pattern you will be able to get quality audios without noise.

4-Connector Type

While discussing the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review, one thing that often gets neglected is the part that has an XLR connector. I mean how often do you come across a good microphone with an XLR connector under 100$. It is something that should be appreciated just as any other feature of this microphone.

The availability of the XLR connector means you can easily attach the microphone with any device in your studio. You can even get a pair and attach them with the same interface to record vocals and instruments at the same time. The point being, it would be really convenient to set up in the studio which is kind of a big deal.

5-Frequency Range and Response

As mentioned earlier in MXL 990 review, the microphone has a wide frequency range of 30hz to 20kHz. The wider frequency range means it can capture all sorts of audio, both the high and the low. In fact, it is the same as what you would find in expensive high-end microphones.

frequency response

The overall response to frequency by microphone is flat but you would see a gentle peak presence around 8Khz. However, this is not something to get spooked about as it is actually beneficial. This response is very subtle which balances the boost of proximity bass when the microphone is brought closer.

6-Sensitivity

One of the key features to look for in the microphones for studios is the sensitivity and that we will discuss in this section of MXL 990 review. You might have read or heard in other MXL 900 condenser mic reviews that condenser microphones are very sensitive. It is true and the exact reason why they are preferred in the studio settings.

The MXL 900, being a condenser microphone, is not any different. It is as sensitive as the condenser microphone should be. You would be able to record dynamic sources without missing the quiet parts. Furthermore, because of the smaller capsule, the loud part would also be captured precisely without overwhelming the audio. Consequently, you would get a rich sound that one desires for instrument recording, voiceovers and interviews.

sensitivity

A problem that comes with this sort of sensitivity is the excessive bass because of vibrations. However, luckily, the MXL 900 comes with all the accessories that come in really handy in these situations. You can read more about these accessories in the next section of MXL 990 Condenser mic review.

For the MXL 990 mic review we tested it with an acoustic guitar, this microphone performed exceptionally well. The natural boost of the microphone added great details on some phrases. Though, we did notice that the microphone sometimes over-emphasize on some strings. However, it is something that can be easily worked around by merely adjusting the position of the microphone.

7-Accessories

The MXL 990 comes with all the accessories that you need to get this up and running. You would find all about these accessories in this section of MXL 990 mic review. Probably, the most important accessory is the shock mount. You have to attach this component around the neck of the microphone to avoid the extra bass in the audio.

The shock mount is designed to absorb all the unwanted vibrations that could make into the microphone and potentially distort the sound. Thus, when you are too close to the sound source you would not have to worry about the extra bass that might make it into the audio. Plus, even if you accidentally touch the microphone stand, that vibration would also be absorbed. Consequently, you would get distortion free audio.

The other accessories that come with MXL 990 include stand adapter and the plastic case which is a foamed line. The plastic case can come in really handy while travelling as it keeps the microphone protected and also does not take much space in the luggage. The stand adaptor is pretty much self-explanatory which is why we would not be discussing it in our MXL 990 Microphone Review.

8-Price

Price is probably the most important factor in keeping this microphone alive till date. We have mentioned earlier in our MXL 900 microphone review about how cheap it is but we have mentioned the exact price. The microphones come around 70-75US$ depending on the store you buy it from. It is really impressive how the company has produced a very fine piece of hardware at such an affordable price.

This price is probably the reason that it is Amazon’s choice on Amazon.com with almost 1000 reviews. This affordable price tag also makes it an appealing option for people who are new to this field. And it is equally good for professionals as well.

It is not that the compromises have not been made to make it affordable. It is how those compromises are prioritized. The point is, if you are new to this market, or are running low on budget, this microphone would provide you the best value for money. It is as simple as that.

The bad in the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review

Well so far in the MXL 990 Microphone Review, we have discussed the pros that you get with it. However, there are also some catches that you need to be aware of before committing to this microphone. Are these cons serious enough to break the deal? How can they affect the performance? This is what we would find out in this section of the MXL microphone review.

1.Inadequate Isolation

The first thing in the microphone that needs a little more work is the isolation. The cardioid microphone is designed to keep a very strict pick-up pattern. They should not pick sound from other directions apart from the one that is designated for it. However, from our tests we have concluded that the pattern on this microphone is not as tight as one would like.

If you record it in the untreated room, you would get a fair amount of unwanted noise in the audio. However, it is nothing that should break the deal as there are ways to work around it.

For starters, you can use a reflexion filter or use the deader space to record the sound. This will correct the issue to much extent. Another thing that can help is reaming still. If you keep a consistent distance from the microphone the problem also gets minimized. However, it is not always possible as the artist tends to keep moving during the recording. Though, this would help a great deal while recording the instruments as there is not much movement there.

In case all of this does not help, you always have the option to edit the sound in post-production. So, as mentioned earlier in the MXL Microphone review, it is a problem but one that has a number of solutions. Therefore, the microphone should not be dropped merely because of that.

2.Significant Self-Noise

As mentioned earlier in the MXL condenser mic review, it features a FET preamp and transformer-less design. These designs usually have a very low self-noise but, in our testing, it was not quite the case. You may not notice it in general but when you move to quieter space one begins to realize that it has significant self-noise. If you are new to these microphones, you would not even notice it but if you have experience with other microphones, it would definitely bug you.

However, like the previous problem, it is again not something that should break the deal as it can be worked around. You can bring it closer to the sound source or adjust the position to minimize the self-noise of the microphone. 

3. Low SPL That Produce Distortion

The last thing you need to be aware about while getting the MXL 990 microphone is its low SPL. As mentioned earlier in the MXL condenser mic review, it has the SPL value of 130dB. So, what exactly is the SPL? In simple terms, it is the ability of the microphone to record the loud sounds.

The higher the SPL the better it would respond to the louder sound. However, unfortunately, the MXL 990 does not come with that sort of specification. Therefore, when you use it to record louder sounds you would experience overload and distortion in the audio.

For the MXL condenser Microphone review, we tested this microphone with a number of different instruments. In our tests we found out that it performed very well with instruments like strings, acoustic guitar and pianos. However, when you use it for instruments like guitars, drums or other heavy instruments, there is a significant distortion.

Although this problem is persistent with almost all the condenser microphone, it deserved a mention in MXL condenser Microphone Nonetheless.


Conclusion- MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review

This microphone as described in the MXL 990 condenser Microphone Review is the best value microphone that you can get your hands on. The MXL 990 is a very decent option for voiceover artists, recording light instruments and podcasts. Although it comes with a fair share of problems, all those problems can be worked around. Therefore, one must conclude in the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review that it is still a worthy option in 2021.

This is all we had on the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review. We hope this has answered all your queries about the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review. In case there is anything that you would like to add or ask about the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone Review, let us know in the given section. We would love to respond.

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