I’m a strong advocate of using Dynamic microphones for podcasting; however, sometimes my geekiness gets the best of me and I don’t always practice what I preach. For a long time I’ve used a Shure SM58 for my podcasting and I’ve maintained good podcast quality using this mic by simply adding some post processing including compression and equalizing. Even though many of the podcasts I’ve conducted with my SM58 have received compliments on the sound there has always been a hiss that irritated me after applying the EQ necessary for my voice. Now while I realize it probably only bugged me, I still decided that it was something worth solving by purchasing a new microphone. I looked into a variety of mics and while I had hoped to buy a $300-$400 Dynamic Microphone, finances simply wouldn’t allow this – I decided to explore some budget condensers.
I decided on the MXL 770 condenser microphone for several reasons – the first, and one of the biggest, being the price point. I was able to locate an MXL 770 locally for about $100 Canadian and that included note only the microphone but also a great padded carrying case and also a shock mount.
The first thing I noticed during the unboxing was how well the microphone and components were packaged. There is very little space between the protective foam and the microphone which helped assure me that the MXL 770 had a safe journey in transit. I was also impressed with how well the microphone was plastic wrapped to prevent moisture from damaging the components during shipping. Now I will admit that cutting the plastic off took a bit of caution because of this; however, the pros of tight packaging easily outweigh the cons.
The next thing I noticed during unpackaging was how solid the microphone feels placed in my hand. I’ve held a variety of microphones over the years and I found the MXL to command a certain rugged presence that others in this price range often don’t have. As I tested the two toggles on the microphone (-10db and bass cut) I realized that they too carry this solid feel – they simply don’t feel like they will break on me.
The shockmount included with the microphone will probably suffice find for most consumers; however, there is room for improvement as I have found it sometimes does pick up sounds when moving the stand back and forth. With that said, the included shock mount still offers a great value as many microphones in the price range of the MXL 770 only include hard mounts.
HOW DOES IT SOUND?
I’ve been using the MXL 770 for my podcasts for a couple of months now and I have to say I am really impressed with the sound quality for the price range. The goal when I started my search has been easily accomplished and I’ve found that the microphone presents my natural voice with very little post production manipulation needed. Of course as expected by going to a condenser, there is a lot more room noise picked up (such as computer fans) but after spending quality time configuring my input levels – I’ve been able to reduce most of that. I’ve since had a chance to re-record much of my voicework (such as podcast headers and footers) and I will admit the MXL offers a subtle level of “clarity” that I never received with my prior SM58 recordings.
What’s my overall impression with the MXL 770 microphone? I am extremely happy with my purchase and truly believe it would be hard to beat the value this mic offers for the price point. Would I recommend the microphone to other podcasters? Probably not, but that’s because I STILL stand behind my theory that most podcasters should use dynamic microphones. I’m not trying to say I’m an exception to the rule by any means but I am saying that I’m fairly fortunate with my podcasting setup. I record in a room that is away from most other house and street noise. Most importantly I’ve taken the time to really experiment and configure my setup which understandably many podcasters probably don’t have the time or patience to do. I also record closely to the microphone which means I’m able to keep the gain lower helping reduce external room pickup. I often find that people who podcast (especially with condensers) simply set their mics on their desks, turn up the gain, and stay several feet away from them. The problem with this is that if your microphone is recording your voice from 3 feet away, it’s also picking up everything else in your room from that distance or more. Podcasters should remember that most radio stations use dynamic microphones which are placed inches away from their announcers and even recording studios (where they do use condensers) place their talent relatively close to their mics – so why do you think you’d get better sound doing something different? I digress though, this is more of a topic for a future podcasting articles.
So back to the topic at hand and let’s reword the question. Would I recommend the MXL 770 to a podcaster who is looking for a phantom-powered, lower priced condenser microphone? Without a doubt the answer is yes – the quality and features of the MXL 770 just can’t be beat for the price tag. I’m extremely happy with my purchase and if you want to hear what it sounds like in use check out how I sound on any of the most recent GonnaGeek.com podcast episodes.