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Reviews Categories | Microphones | Marshall MXL-990 Vintage Style Studio Condenser Microphone Help

Reviews Summary for Marshall MXL-990 Vintage Style Studio Condenser Microphone
Marshall MXL-990 Vintage Style Studio Condenser Microphone Reviews: 20 Average rating: 4.9/5 MSRP: $70
Description: The MXL 990 has changed the way project studio recordings and live amateur radio audios are being created. Until now, condenser microphone prices have been out of the reach of most working musicians and amateur radio operators. Production breakthroughs have brought the MXL 990 into the price range of the home recording enthusiast and amateur radio operator. The 990 is a true, phantom powered, condenser microphone with a 6 micron, 20 mm. gold-sputtered diaphragm. The MXL 990 has a high quality FET preamp and its output is balanced. The sound and the appearance of the MXL 990 is reminiscent of the classic vintage vocal microphones of yesterday. 20 mm. Gold-sputtered, 6-micron, low distortion diaphragm, FET preamp with balanced output. Supplied with shock mount and mic stand adapter. Legendary MXL sonic characteristics, Comes in rugged carrying case.
Product is in production.
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W4MY Rating: 5/5 Apr 21, 2007 23:42 Send this review to a friend
Worth the Effort  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
After hearing the MXL-990 on the air it sparked me to read the reviews here and then I had to try it out. An order to MusiciansFriend with the outboard phantom supply and pop filter I was on my way 4 days later spending less than $100.

I mounted everything via the included isolation mount (a necessity IMHO) on my Heil topless boom and made all my cables. That takes some extra effort. If you buy all pre made cables thats fine, just more expensive. Every time I go to a hamfest I make sure I stock up on the connectors for all my radios so I can do things like this when I get the urge!

I wired the new mic via my 2-band W2IHY EQ/Noise gate to my FT-1000MP. Not that this is really necessary, but the W2IHY makes setting the levels a snap and inserting PTT.

I had to "re-learn" on how to speak into this mic. 8-12" away is the norm, not close up, it is very sensitive. So thats the other thing you have to watch out for with a condenser, its very sensitive. One time the phone rang in the other room and the guy I was in QSO with asked if I needed to step away and answer the phone! A quiet shack is a necessity.

Audio reports have ranged from "pleasent full sounding" to "fantastic".

Bottom line, for a condenser, this inexpensive unit would be tough to beat at twice the price. Properly applied, I think it sounds as good or better than the ham specific mics in the $300-400 range (you know the ones I'm talking about)But don't run out and buy one without thinking it through. A condenser is not the best choice in some situations.

I couldn't be more pleased with the results. And to think I did it all for less than $100 is icing on the cake.

73 Marty / W4MY
KE4ZHN Rating: 5/5 Mar 12, 2007 00:49 Send this review to a friend
Hard to beat for its class  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I got one of these as a gift from a friend and hooked it up to my 756Pro. Man! I run no outboard eq`s or audio crap at all and get excellent reports on the sound quality of my rig with this mike. I simply adjusted the internal menu settings on the Pro and of course run a phantom supply for powering the element. This is a great sounding mike for the price and it is clean and crisp on the air. I also use an AKG C1000S at times and this mike costs over double what the 990 does and nobody can tell the difference on the air. Only a slightly different menu setting is required to make them both sound excellent. This is now my favorite mike and its a pleasure to get on the air with it and not have to run all sorts of junk between it and my rig to sound good.
VK4JAM Rating: 5/5 Apr 1, 2006 21:37 Send this review to a friend
Great Product  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I purchased the microphone after reading the reviews of this microphone on e-ham, and also several reviews on other music related sites.

I fully agree with the comments from KC8YXH: "On the air, this mic will make you clear and with great presence as anything you can possibly buy".

I have compared this with the expensive desk microphones from Yaesu and Kenwood, and there is simply no comparison. You will not regret investing in this microphone. Great value for money for excellent on-air audio.
W4TME Rating: 5/5 Mar 31, 2006 10:14 Send this review to a friend
WOW! The Heils are in their boxes  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
WOW. That is all I could say once I got the MXL 990 EQed properly and running with my two rigs. It sounds so natural and smooth compared to the Heil PR-20 that I have been using for years.

I decided to try out a large diaphragm condenser type mic to compare the difference between it and the dynamics I had been using. I don�t go after the ESSB sound and I don't have any fancy audio processing gear and except for the W2IHY EQplus, which primarily functions as the mic preamp with a little compression and downward expander thrown in for good measure.

After looking at lots of large diaphragm condenser mic reviews on the web, I was about scared away by the prices until I ran across a review of this mic on a audio recording web site. The reviews were stealer. I figured for $35 (and $35 for the shock mount) what did I have to loose?

I added an in-line 48v phantom power supply and connected it to my Pro II. A little minor fiddling with the EQ and it was sounding fantastic in the monitor circuit. I started making some QSOs and started receiving great reports. I have the 48v phantom power supply setup so I can easily switch it off in order to use non-powered mics. I plugged in the Heil PR-20 (reset the EQ) so I could do a side-by-side mic comparison. The on-air reports indicated that the MXL 990 was "more mellow and easier to listen to" than the Heil and it had more presence too. I also received unsolicited reports of "great sounding audio". It has also proven good in busting DX pileups too.

I then connected it to my SDR-1000 and did a side-by-side comparison with the Pro II. This time the SDR-1000 won hands down.

Don't get me wrong, the Heil is a very good mic, but for 1/4 the price of the PR-20, this mic sounds al lot better to me than the Heil.

Is a condenser mic right for you? Maybe. Maybe not. It does need a preamp and phantom power (easy to find), so it isn't plug-n-play, but if you want that large diaphragm vocal sound this mic can not be beat.

As noted in the summary, the PR-20 is back in its 20th Anniversary box resting comfortably on the shelf.

WA2MGB Rating: 5/5 Nov 30, 2004 09:39 Send this review to a friend
Marshall MXL-990 Great Mic DISCONNTINUED!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I had read the previous reviews on this mic and decided to give it a try. Well, it is an great value at 59.00! The Muscians Friend is the only source at this point sine the mic has been disconntinued! Warm sound, with nice clarity. With a a little EQ it's a knock-out. Great for AM work. Takes a little more mic gain than the Behringer B1, but otherwise no complaints. Get one while you can....
WO7T Rating: 5/5 Apr 30, 2004 11:12 Send this review to a friend
Why spend more?  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Glad I found these MXL-990 reviews in my research on condenser mics, as I'm getting wonderful audio reports from a microphone that looks wonderful mounted on the boom.

It is hanging mounted bare, as I've had no need for Pop Filters or Mic socks.

It has been tried on Kenwood and Yaesu HF radios so far, and no regrets at all. Sounds superb in SSB and AM modes. I can't see spending more $$, as I can't believe I'd sound any better.

KW4CQ Rating: 4/5 Mar 23, 2004 12:13 Send this review to a friend
Marshall MXL-990 vs. Nady SMC-1000  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I have to agree with Scott's (KC8YXH) comments on the MXL-990 but while I don't feel it is really in the "Great!" category it is definately a 4++. For $70.00 (now at $59.95 including shipping from it is really a good buy but don't forget to get a pop filter for this mic because you are going to need it. I have been using a Nady SCM-1000 condenser mic (about same price as the Marshall) in on-the-air, side by side tests with the Marshall and find the Marshall has a bit more "naturalness" in the mid to high spectra than the Nady mic. The Marshall is a bit more proximity sensitive than the Nady and that is why I suggest a pop screen for this mic. EQ this mic propoerly and knock 'em dead with easy listening audio.
KC8YXH Rating: 5/5 Mar 23, 2004 03:09 Send this review to a friend
Top Shelf Clarity & Quality at a Bottom Shelf Price!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I was impressed enough with the MXL 990 to take the time to write this review. While I haven’t owned this mic long, I can’t imagine my opinion changing. But if it does, I will post it here. If you are interested in sounding as good as you can on the air, read on.

Being an audiophile, sound system professional, mechanical engineer and ham of 42 years of age (aka: perfectionist), I set out to buy a new large capsule condenser diaphragm microphone for my ham shack of the “upright broadcast” style. I had decided that the “normal” offerings of the ham world were seriously lacking. (Surprisingly, even Heil doesn’t make large diaphram condenser mic. They only make what are known as dynamic microphones.) Anyone with experience in sound recording or broadcasting will tell you there is simply no substitute for a large capsule condenser microphone, when it comes to vocal presence and pure clarity of the human voice without coloration (assuming a good condenser mic is used). Having experience with many types of mics, I set out to do a side by side test of all I could put my hands on. I was prepared to plop down $300+ for a good mic for my shack.

I tested everything I could that was up to $1,000 per microphone. The test was simple enough. I recorded my voice saying the same phrase on a number of different microphones with no type of processing. It was recorded directly on a digital recorder through a small mixing board. The phrase included many hard “T”, “S”, “K” and “P” sounds. It was spoken with a normal strong voice that one would use while transmitting. After recording my voice with all the mics, I played the recording back through a high quality studio monitor system and compared.

Of the microphones I tested, the ones that are of note were a $1,000 Neumann, a $600 and a $300 Shure, plus many others. I also tested the MXL 2001, which is reviewed elsewhere on eham. I ran the gamut. All the mics I tested are cardiod pick-up patterns, as they should be for use with ham radio. (I tested no tube amplified mics.) The last mic I tested was the $60 MXL 990 as an afterthought. I saw it in the showcase among the cheap stuff, so I inquired. The salesman said “it is just a cheap mic”. But I figured, why not? Even if it isn’t that great, I might still be good enough, especially for the price.

Now this test is only intended for the close mic’d situation that one finds themselves in while transmitting. I can say little about any of these mic’s performance at a distance or off-axis.

Impressions: The Neumann and Shure microphone performed very well with little coloration. The $300 Shure mic did lack a little a little presence for my taste, but was still a fine mic. The $140 MXL (MXL 2001) was awful, as its body resonated badly making it sound “boxy” and quite unnatural. Then I listened to the MXL 990 recording. Both myself and the salesman’s heads snapped toward each other in amazement. We couldn’t believe our ears. It was crisp, clear, plenty smooth without perceptible coloration and had high output. The MXL 990 outperformed all tested microphones, with the exception of 2 of them. The $600 Shure was equal in sound quality. The Nuemann was better, but just by a very small amount. Certainly not enough to matter in a close-mic’d broadcast environment. It took me about 2 seconds to tell the salesman to “wrap it up. I’ll take it”.

NOTE: On the MXL 2001’s reviews here on eham. I have to point out that the reviews I have read on it thus far are not comparative, they were just opinions on reports of how they sounded over the air. I have been listening to different mics and sound systems for years. However, it doesn’t take a trained ear to know that the 2001 sounds awful compared to most other large capsule condenser microphone. I know the 2001 microphone is regarded highly in its reviews here on eham. I have no doubt it may indeed give good reports on sound quality to those listening. It does give good clarity and is highly intelligible, but it is anything but natural. You can do A LOT better in sound quality with the 990 for a lot less money! If you are like me, you want to start with the best signal you can for the least investment and the 2001 won’t give it to you. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to them side by side at a local music store. (Do make sure you use the same method of recording and playing back. You can’t possibly tell anything by just speaking and listening simultaneously.)

I brought it home and hooked it up. I was not disappointed! Everyone I have spoken with tells me it sound like I am next door or on the phone.

Now unless you are familiar with using condenser microphones, don’t just run out and get one without reading on. There is a reason Heil doesn’t make a condenser microphone (to my knowledge). Condenser microphones require a power source, known as “phantom” power. A 48 VDC is applied to the microphone in order to charge the condenser (capacitor) for it to work. So, an additional piece of equipment is needed between the microphone and the transmitter to make it all work. Phantom power supplies are available or can easily be built. I personally take it one step further and use a processor that has a phantom power supply built in, as many microphone processor amplifiers do. The processor provides many extra functions, like compression so I don’t overmodulate or clip an amplifier section. It also has tube amplification sound emulation, gating, expansion, sibilance filtering and equalization, if I desire to use them. (I use a Behringer Ultra-Voice VX2000, $140. It doesn’t have the most headroom in the world or finest control, but with ham radio, it is more than adequate.) I found that with this mic, I use just a slight amount of tube emulation for those warm overtones and the compression section to keep from overdriving the transmitter if I get loud with my voice. I do use the equalizer a bit also, but not because the mic needs it, rather because my voice does. Mine isn’t the greatest broadcast voice in the world, so I give it a bit of a hand.

On the air, this mic will make you clear and with great presence as anything you can possibly buy, with the exception of a $2,000 microphone with a $1000 processor. You will truly be hard pressed to beat this mic.

Is it worth all this trouble? Depends upon how good you want to sound and how much trouble you are willing to go to to get it. You can’t go wrong with the Marshall MXL 990 mic in your shack. It is an absolute sonic marvel for $70!
MYKDEEN Rating: 5/5 Jan 16, 2004 17:28 Send this review to a friend
great for guitars  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Got this mic about 2 weeks ago, and after playing with it for only a few hours, I found its true calling...guitar cabs. Put this mic slap up to a Marshall cab w/ 4 celestians and OMG that thing sounds better than great. between the quality and the price, anybody recording music should definatley buy 2 of these. Great mic and great deal!
JORGES Rating: 5/5 Jan 12, 2004 02:49 Send this review to a friend
great mic for an even greater price  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I got this mic as a "gift" from MusiciansFriend when I purchased a sound card and I'm very pleasantly surprised with it's quality. I have great mics like the AKG 414 and the affordable MXL 990 sounds great in comparison and is hundreds of dollars cheaper. I recommend this product to anyone, even pros. You can never have too many mics and this is a good one...period
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