Those with any experience in home studio microphones will already know that the budget condenser mic market is full to the brim with surprisingly capable models. One that consistently outperforms its price range is the MXL 770, which builds on the success of its older brother, the MXL 990. It’s an insanely popular small-diaphragm mic and, for that reason alone, it’s time to take a closer look.
Off the bat, the MXL 770 looks pretty cool. Like the MXL 990, it’s nothing spectacular, but the overall design has a definite hint of elegance and vintage about it – largely due to the use of a black color scheme on the chassis and grille, along with some classy gold detailing.
The chassis itself is all metal and, even though it’s lighter than a higher-end mic, it still has a nice weight to it (around 1lb). While it looks quite sophisticated, it’s no wimp – it’s a durable little mic and certainly capable of taking a beating in the studio.
Under the refined exterior, the MXL 770 is fitted with a six-micron gold-sputtered diaphragm with a 0.87” capsule and a low-noise FET preamp. How does this all translate? There’s a frequency response range of 30Hz to 20kHz, with a decent max SPL of 137dB. Note that this mic comes with a standard XLR connection and will require 48v phantom power to power it.
Around the back of the mic you will find a couple of switches. The first is the low-frequency roll-off and the other is the 10db pad, which both prove very useful. A nice bonus at this price is the inclusion of a foam-padded rigid plastic case, as well as the all-metal high-isolation shock mount. Both are very solid additions.
For a sub-$100 mic, you may be forgiven for thinking it could be a bit of a dud in terms of performance, yet it’s so popular for a reason – it absolutely blows you away. It takes vocals very well, offering a natural and lifelike sound with no coloration. However, it offers substantial warmth and has some fullness to it.
With a higher max SPL compared to the 990, it is also suitable for recording instruments too, from acoustic guitars to electrics coming through an amp. The low-frequency roll-off switch also helps eliminate some of the more boomy sounds, while the 10dB pad gives you a bit of leeway when recording loud instruments. Of course, being a fixed cardioid pattern mic, remember that you’ll need to position the mic so that you are talking into the front of it to get the best performance.
It looks great, it’s built to last and it delivers a sound that, quite frankly, belongs in a much higher price category. This makes the MXL 770 an absolute bargain at this price. It’s perfect for beginners as much as it is professionals looking for a real bargain and – if you are looking to record instruments as well as vocals – it offers a good alternative to the MXL 990.