Hey there friend and Welcome!
Today I’m going to be hitting you with the MXL 990 vs. 770 comparison review! There are a few similarities and differences to speak of regarding these bad boys, and I am going to “condense” (pardon the pun) it all down for you. Hopefully by the end of this article, you will have a clear idea of which is better!
If you’ve come to this site hoping to get some in depth information.. look no further.. and as always, before we get started ..
Grab a snack, sit back, and relax because..
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
of each mic
- Specifications/Best Price – A glass of lemon water anyone?
- Summary – The bread and butter to start off (with an IPA .. carbs yo!)
- Pros – a nice salad with greens
- Cons – and reds 😛 (but tomatoes are good for you, just like knowledge ;))
- Video Review – croutons, cheese, and dressing always make the salad more enjoyable 😀
- Who this mic benefits? – main course (a fat steak with baked potato, and a nice tall glass of water)
- What you will need? – main course
- Consensus/Conclusion – main course
- Similarities & Differences – dessert. (the cake and ice cream, with a cherry on top of course. What you really came for :P)
- Final Word – COFFEE!
I like to think of my reviews as eating at a fancy steakhouse. One component can not be eaten or taken in without the other. They all must be consumed one at a time, in a very specific order. Does that sound extreme? Well yes and no. Eating at a good steak house is pretty extreme. Comparing a review to a steak dinner is kind of silly, but it also really does make sense in this context!
But let me stop talking about steak for heaven’s sake. Lol. Let’s get into the review!
- Analog or digital: Analog.
- Frequency response: 30Hz to 20KhZ.
- Max SPL: 130 dB.
- Connectivity: XLR. What is XLR?
- Capsule: Condenser.
- Polar pattern: Cardioid.
- Type: Mounted.
- Applications: Studio.
- Diaphragm size: Large diaphragm. Large diaphragm vs. Small diaphragm.
- Switches: None.
- Phantom power required: Yes (48V).
- Width: 2.4″
- Height: 5.11″
- Weight: 1.2 lb.
- Case: Carrying case.
- Clip: Yes.
- Shockmount: Yes.
I’m proud to say that I read through every single amazon review, and can give you a nice clear concise summary of what this bad boy is all about.
It’s a condenser microphone and seems to be at it’s best in voice over type situations. One of the defining characteristics of the 990 is that it has a warm, bassy undertone. Some call it “muddy”, I personally really enjoy that type of sound. It’s got that radio quality to it.
It has also been known to do extremely well in live situations (choir, etc.) as well as a simple starter home recording studio. If you take away one thing from this review, it should be this: As an entry level mic, this is amazing. If you’ve been stuck using your computer speakers, the 990 will sound like music to your ears. However, as you grow and develop your equipment and sound, it’s flaws and shortcomings will be made apparent.
One other important thing to keep in mind is that it won’t necessarily sound as good without some EQ. This was very common among-st reviewers who needed it for vocals, and applies in most recording situations. As a condenser, it is very sensitive and picks up a lot of sound. Some common techniques I came across, which are pretty standard:
- EQ (equalization)
- A Noise gate (to block out extraneous sounds, ambient noise, etc.)
- A properly treated room. This can mean using blankets, acoustic studio foam, or anything that will deaden the sound and block out noise. Check out my article on Acoustic Sound Treatment for some tips on setting up your space!
All that said, this baby will serve as your go to mic in a bind, and makes a more than serviceable backup if you’re a bit more advanced. If you’re just starting out, you may want to consider it!
- Perfect for beginners. Entry level heaven.
- Good for vocals.
- Well made and durable.
- Rich tone, nice bassy undertone. Gives your vocals a pleasant warm quality. Can enhance your voice.
- Clear and crisp sound, pristine.
- Longevity. Mic will last you a good while before you decide to upgrade.
- Picks up a lot of nuance, and subtle sounds in your voice.
- Smooth radio sound, great for speech. People loved the fact that it makes you sound like you’re on NPR or something 🙂
- Nice durable case with foam padding. A professional looking piece.
- Muddy. A lot of people used this term in their review. I counted 10 (at the time of this review). Depends on your taste and opinion I think.
- Shock-mount. Some liked it, others did not. The outer ring on it may wear out.
- One guy had an issue with the cable, said it needed to be wiggled at times to keep it working. If you have this problem, just send it back and the new cable will be fine.
- Not as good for instruments or amps. Some said otherwise, but the low end starts at 30 Hz. It’s better to start off with 20 Hz for instruments.
- Doesn’t record loud very well. If this is the case, you may consider standing a bit farther away, and lower the gain on your interface/mixer. There are solutions to most of the 990’s problems. You just may have to experiment a bit…
Check out the video review!
Who this mic benefits?
I’ve seen it endorsed for all of the following, but keep in mind that it’s at it’s best in a voice over type environment. Some examples:
- live streaming/you-tube
- Video math lessons (very obscure, but cool nonetheless!)
- google hangouts calls
- internet radio hosting/radio broadcasting
- Vocals. I found that you most likely will want to EQ it for vocals. For just speech, it does fine without.
- Acoustic Guitar
That said, the majority of people liked it for voice-over, with vocals coming in second, and instruments third. It will also do quite nicely in a live setting.
What you will need?
This is a cardioid condenser mic (What is a cardioid capsule?), so you will need the following:
48v Phantom power via audio interface or a mixer. What does an audio interface do? Some great options that I came across:
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. I personally recommend this one as I have owned it for awhile now and it works pretty flawlessly. It also looks sexy and is quite durable, and will stick with you as you upgrade mics.. Check out my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Review!
- Steinberg U22. Similar to the 2i2, this is also a great option, and will be more than adequate to power the 990.
- Behringer Xenyx 802. A very common, more affordable solution if you don’t want to shell out the money for the 2i2 or the U22. It gets pretty nice reviews overall.
XLR cables. These will run from your mic into the interface or mixer. Your interface basically converts the analog signal into digital, so your computer (and ultimately you) can make sense of the numbers.
Shock-mount. Luckily for you, the 990 comes with one!
Pop-filter. These basically protect the diaphragm inside of your mic from getting contaminated from your nasty spit and other germs. It also cuts down on the plosives, or consonants in speech that make the Esses, and P’s sound harsh. Investing in a good one is wise. I recommend the Samson PS01. I’ve had it since 2007 and it’s held up amazing.
Mic Stand. You can either go with a tripod boom stand, desktop stand, or scissor arm. I’ve had good luck with the first two, and prefer the desktop stand because I’m lazy and don’t want to stand up while I record. 😛
A sequencing program. Can’t use a mic without a program to record the vocals with! If you’re brand new to recording, I would recommend getting your feet wet with Audacity. It’s free, simple to use, and very effective. As you gain more experience, my top recommendation would be:
- Reaper. It comes with a free trial period, and is almost universally praised in every context.
Some good articles:
- Your audio interface
- Bit depth and sample rate. Here I explain the idea of a Digital to analog converter (DAC) in more depth.
The MXL 990 is the perfect starter microphone if you desire to get your feet wet with audio interfaces and more professional set ups. It’s at it’s best in a voice over type environment, and will give your voice a nice warmth and full body. It also does well with vocals and some recording applications, but it’s at it’s best from a strictly speech standpoint.
Type: Condenser pressure gradient mic with large 22 mm. diaphragm
Frequency Range: 30Hz-20kHz
Polar Pattern: Cardioid. What is a cardioid capsule?
Impedance: 200 Ohms
S/N Ratio: 80dB (Ref. 1Pa A-weighted)
Equivalent Noise Level: 18dB (A weighted IEC 268-4)
Maximum SPL for 0.5% THD: 134dB
High Pass Filter: 6dB/octave, 150HZ
Attenuator Switch: 0/-10dB
Power Requirements: Phantom Power 48V +/-4V
Size: 60mm x 154mm
Metal Finish: Black/Gold
From their website:
“The MXL 770 continues to amaze recording artists all over the world with its incredible price/performance ratio. Singers, especially rappers, love the 770 for its solid bass, as well as its upfront high-end. The MXL 770 even uses a high quality FET preamp with balanced output for a wide dynamic range. This is a perfect piece for seasoned pros or newbie musicians who want a quality condenser mic that won’t break the bank.”
My own words
The MXL 770 is pretty similar to the 990, and is known for being a very versatile mic. It can handle vocal applications ranging from female, all the way down to rap. It also does well with instruments and can be used as a voice over tool.
I would say it’s main draw is in hip hop and rap, as well as female vocals. It has a natural low end sound, kind of like the 990 but less in your face so to speak.
As good as the 990 is, the 770 edges it out slightly because of it’s versatility and more positive overall feedback. There were across the board significantly less polarized reviews, and the majority of people on amazon cannot recommend it enough. It’s been compared with mics that are way out of it’s price range, and there are musicians out there that swear there’s little to no difference.
- Nice warmth and fullness to your voice.
- Clean and clear. The highs are nice and crisp, lows tight and punchy.
- Versatility is a big selling point.
- has a -10db switch and low pass filter to block out noise, if you don’t feel like EQ’ing.
- Comes with a high quality case and shock-mount.
- Natural low end, as well as a natural overall signature.
- Solid construction, very durable (like ox).
- Price to performance is through the roof.
- Can be a bit raw sounding. May need a bit of EQ, which is pretty standard.
- There may be an issue with humming, but can be remedied. The grill/shield on the mic is might not make electrical contact with the microphone housing and could cause RF/ground noise (60Hz hum/buzz) to be introduced into your recordings
- The solution is to gently twist the grill of the mic, while gently holding the base. This will fix the problem!
Check out the female vocal test!
Check out the rap vocal test!
Who this mic benefits?
- RAPPERS first and foremost. Also does well with R&B. It’s natural low end sound greatly benefits that husky male voice, but can also make a higher pitched voice sound more manly. 😀
- Female vocals.
- Instrument recording such as acoustic guitar, fiddle, and drums.
- Pod-casting and voice over type applications.
- It’s really an all purpose tool, and does outshine the 990 just a tad. The -10db switch, built in lo pass filter, and it’s versatility are deciding factors.
What you will need?
It’s an XLR condenser mic, so you will need all of the same components as with the 990.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the MXL 770 is it’s versatility. It is widely endorsed for rap vocals, female vocals, as well as voice over and instrument recording. It’s a jack of all trades piece that has a very natural sound signature overall. The low end is extremely warm and pleasant, and gives your voice a nice added emphasis.
Similarities & Differences
- Look and feel. Both the 990 and 770 have a similar shape
- Durability. They have both been praised mightily for being solid and durable. The construction on these things is second to none. They will feel great in your hand.
- Both come with a shock-mount, and by most accounts it is well made and works fine.
- Both are XLR condenser mics and need 48v phantom power to operate.
- Both are almost identical in terms of sound, but the 770 edges out the 990 because of it’s versatility and more positive overall reviews.
- Both are very sensitive, and benefit greatly from EQ and a treated room.
- Color. The 990 has a muted gold sort of color, while the 770 is black with flashes of deep gold.
- Price. The 770 is a bit more affordable in most cases. Amazon’s prices do fluctuate quite frequently, but the 770 is usually in the $70 range, while the 990 is somewhat higher.
- Application. The 770 is more versatile, and handles all applications with ease. The 990 by contrast got more complaints as far as vocals and instrument recording. It’s greatest strength is in voice over. The 770’s greatest strength is in singing/rapping vocals.
- Features. The 770 has a -10db switch as well as a built in lo pass filter, which blocks out some ambient noise. It isn’t perfect, but is very convenient when you don’t feel like EQing. The 990 has neither of these features, which is one of the reasons it’s not quite as good overall.
As good as the 990 is for the entry level enthusiast looking to get his/her feet wet, the 770 does outshine it in all regards, and is less money! I do recommend it over the 990 for all of the reasons mentioned above, ad-nausea. 😛
Well that’s about it for today friend! If you have any other questions, or need me to clear something up, don’t hesitate to contact me or write to me in the box down below!
I hope you’ve come away with a better idea of the similarities and differences between the MXL 770 vs. 990, and are better equipped to make a decision!
Are you convinced that the 770 is in fact better? Let me know!!
I very much look forward to hearing from you..
All the best and God bless,