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MXL 990 Review – When Consistency Matters

4.2 out of 5 stars

Truth be told, nobody is expecting budget studio gear to deliver cutting-edge performance, yet – as consumers – we do expect this gear to at least be consistent and reliable. In today’s review, this is exactly how we can describe the MXL 990. This dependable condenser microphone comes in at under $100 and is branded by MXL as ‘one of the most popular recording microphones in history’ – let’s find out why!



From a design point of view, the MXL 990 is plain and simple, although not unattractive. It is considerably different to its cheaper little brother – the MXL 770 – with a stubby all-metal chassis and a vintage champagne finish, which is actually quite stylish.

Ultimately, unlike some other budget mics from this brand (the MXL V67G, we are looking at you!), the MXL 990 gives the impression that it is a condenser microphone designed solely to get the job done as opposed to being a conversation piece. We can respect that.



Behind the subtle exterior lies some very solid components for the price. It packs a large diaphragm fitted into a decent capsule, while MXL went with their proven FET preamp that boasts consistency and reliability.

In terms of specs, you are looking at a 30Hz to 20kHz frequency response range paired with a max SPL of 130dB, and a fixed cardioid polar pattern, which is pretty average for the entry-level market, but decent. Unlike the 770, this mic features no attenuation or cut switches.

To connect the 990, you will need an XLR cable, which also means that phantom power on your audio interface will be required. While the features here are very strong, the feeling of overall value is boosted by the accessory pack MXL includes. In addition to a very sturdy padded carry case and mic stand adapter, the 990 comes with an excellent shock mount (the MXL-90), which goes a long way to reducing vibrations and protecting the mic.


When you assemble everything and plug in your cable, you will notice two things. A very good balance and a decent amount of sensitivity. The MXL 990 is well suited for vocals and is all about that midrange warmth, with a full and rich tone – it makes you sound better without coloring your voice too much.

Recording acoustic instruments is just as easy and yields great results, even though it has a slightly lower max SPL. For this reason, it’s not ideal for recording amps and drums, although not impossible. Thankfully, ambient noise is a non-issue, while the noise made by the microphone itself is very low too. Installing that shock mount and adding a decent pop filter makes this microphone a very capable addition to any studio.


So yes – we can see why the MXL 990 is so popular. While the design is pretty standard, the specs and combined performance deliver a smooth and sweet tone that’s excellent for recording vocals – it genuinely sounds more like a $200 condenser mic than an entry-level model!

For more info about the MXL 990, click here.
For more Condenser Microphone Under $100 you might like, click here.

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