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The MXL 990 Condenser Microphone claims to be one of the first microphones to bring high quality condenser technology to a mainstream market. Condenser microphones, with their focus on rich tonality and durability across frequencies, are generally ideal for musicians who need to bring out the best in their instruments. The MSRP on this mic is certainly lower than on most condenser microphones, but this microphone has been designed to offer the same quality sound as the higher priced models.
Using a FET preamp to reduce distortion and feedback and a particularly large cylindrical diaphragm, the MXL 990 is suited to both live performances and studio recordings. The use of a large cylindrical diaphragm means that sound is sourced largely from in front of the microphone and background noise is almost entirely cut out. For musicians, this is a distinct advantage, because lack of background noise will allow the recording to draw out details within the sound of the instrument.
This condenser microphone is styled in the classic, upright vintage 1950’s style. Often, this aesthetic drives the price up, but is not represented in the quality of sound produced. This feature adds to the excellent pricing of the mic, since it has not been used as a simple gimmick to justify an increase in price. In addition, for a microphone of its type, the MXL 990 is relatively light weight, which is useful for mobile recording.
The MXL 990 has claimed a majority of five star reviews, but many of these comment that the microphone is ‘good for the price’. One reviewer said the sound was a bit ‘muddy’ and another commented that he owns two but only because they are ‘SO cheap’. For professional musicians and studios it seems unlikely that this microphone will deliver the required quality. Having said this, a number of reviews point out that this microphone is particularly suited to recording acoustic guitar and can pick out details nicely encouraging a warm, rich sound. The general view among reviewers is that, although the mic is inexpensive, you generally get what you pay for. Many negative reviews have pointed out that with condenser microphones it is almost impossible to cut price and expect the same quality results.