REVIEW: MXL V67G Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
This is a review of an MXL V67g Large Diaphragm Condenser (LDC) microphone. This mic comes in a couple of different configurations - the MXL V67gs, which includes a roll off switch and a 6db pad, and the MXL V67g, which doesn't. Generally you'll see this mic with a green body and a gold grill. I opted for the Heritage Edition, which is an all silver colored model with some gold highlights, and comes with extras.
This is an inexpensive mic set - I ordered mine from Musician's Friend for just under $100 after taking advantage of an end of the year 17% sale in late 2016.
What's In The Box, And Initial Impressions
The package was quite impressive for such an affordable microphone. In the box you get the mic, a nice metal shock mount along with extra rubber bands in case one breaks, a microfiber cleaning cloth, and a metal pop screen. All of this sits snugly in a padded flight case.
First off, the appearance of this mic is one of several ways it excels beyond its price range. It looks expensive! Sitting there in a studio in its shock mount, it holds its own amongst the big name brands. It certainly looks like it cost 10 times as much as my plain looking (but quite excellent!) Gefell MT71S, even though it’s the other way around.
The shock mount and pop screen are of course purpose built, and look great when the mic is all set up.
The shock mount was as good as or better than mounts I've gotten stock with other mics. Most of it is made of metal, and the clips sticking out of the side make it easy to give enough space to fit the mic through. When set, the mic fits snugly and works great right side up or upside down.
The MXL mic is cardioid only (no switchable patterns), as is evidenced by the clear marking on the front of the mic.
One thing that is missing on my version of the MXL mic that you might find on other mics even at this price level is a roll off switch to help suppress low frequency noise and a 10 db pad for recording very loud sources. These can come in handy especially in live situations, but to be honest, I never use them when recording. Depending on the instrument I generally apply a high pass filter (at about 80hz for guitar, for instance), and if I'm recording a very loud source I'll tend to use a different type of microphone anyway. You won't need a 10 db pad for a singer or an acoustic guitar in most cases.
However, the V67gs has these features for about $10 more, so if these are important to you there is an available option.
Here's a few relevant details that you can get just by reading the product description.
- Max Sound Pressure Level (SPL) 130 dB - Sufficient for most uses. Don't put it right next to a kick drum.
- Frequency Response 30Hz to 20 kHz - This isn't quite the 20-20 you'll see in a lot of condenser mics, but 20-30Hz are not likely to be useful to your mix.
- Phantom Power is required - No surprises there for an LDC microphone. You'll need an interface or preamp with phantom power to use this mic.
Testing The Microphone
The mic appears to be an excellent value, but how does it perform in the studio? In order to have some semblance of a standard, when I do microphone reviews I will be using a reference mic so that you have something to compare against. Of the mics that I own, I will be using the AKG C214 as a reference, because it's a mid range microphone and relatively uncolored.
We'll be looking at the following comparison tests with acoustic guitar:
- On-axis response at 1 foot
- Off-axis (180 degrees) response at 1 foot
- Off-axis (45 degrees) response at 1 foot
- Proximity effect at 1 1/4 inches
- Handling noise
And then I'll posit my highly subjective opinion about the mic's flavor, and maybe suggest some usages.
When testing with acoustic guitar at 1 foot, I will have both mics as close together as possible recording the same signal. Each mic will go through the same preamp > A/D converter > Interface chain (Forssell SMP-500 > BLA White Sparrow Mk II > RME UCX) and then into the computer. I will record each into a separate mono track, and will then mix them down so that you'll hear a few seconds of the reference mic, a few seconds of the review mic, back and forth a few times.
The samples will be untouched by any effects with the possible exception of normalizing for level matching (the settings will be the same on the preamp and one mic might be hotter than the other).
For the 1 foot tests the mic will be directly in front of the 12th fret of the guitar. For the 45 degree angle test the mic will angle towards the sound hole.
The proximity effect between mics will have to be two separate recordings. I'm able to do the 1 foot test simultaneously because the mics are far enough away that the distance between diaphragms is less noticeable than it would be an inch away from the guitar. For the proximity effect I will be directly in front of the sound hole.
The audio files that you hear here are all formatted so that you'll hear the reference mic (the AKG) first, and then the MXL, flipping back and forth a few times until the sample ends. I've added a reference beep at the beginning of each - the low tone will indicate the reference mic, and the high tone will indicate the MXL.
My guitar playing is what it is, and is a single take.
Unfortunately, the samples are currently MP3 because that's what SquareSpace's audio blocks support. As soon as possible I'll update these to uncompressed WAV samples.
On-Axis Response At 1 Foot
Both mics are positioned so the diaphragms are as close together as possible (in this case 2 inches) at one foot away pointing directly towards the 12th fret of the guitar.
Off-Axis (180 degrees) Response At 1 Foot
Both mics are positioned so the diaphragms are as close together as possible (in this case 2 inches), at one foot away pointing directly away from the 12th fret of the guitar.
One note on this test - the level on the MXL was much lower than the AKG, which picked up the signal quite easily considering both mics are cardioid. I had to crank the volume on the MXL channel to level match.
Off-axis (45 degrees) Response at 1 foot
Both mics are positioned so the diaphragms are as close together as possible (in this case 2 inches), at one foot away pointing 45 degrees off axis in the direction of the sound hole.
Proximity Effect At 1 1/4 Inches
For this test, I will record each mic at 1 1/4 inches away from the guitar, directly in front of the sound hole.
For this test, I will do the following for each mic:
- Rub my fingers across the housing, front and back
- Rub my fingers along the mic stand
- Remove and then replace the mic from and to its shock mount
I didn't create any audio files for this test. Neither mic had any more noise than I would expect.
Even without the little beeping sounds in the tests, it's very easy to distinguish one mic from another. The MXL has more of a laid back, vintage tone whereas the AKG is crisper and more defined with maybe a more defined transient response. I found that I liked the AKG more on the strumming, where I felt the MXL got a little muddied up, but preferred the MXL on the finger picking, especially in the higher ranges (listen for that B string).
I could see pulling out the AKG for a guitar track that needs to sit well in the mix, and the MXL if you're doing more of a sparse acoustic guitar heavy track.
Conclusions And Other Options
At $100 or just over, it's hard not to recommend this mic highly, or even to recommend springing for a stereo pair. I particularly like that it's not as bright as many other LDCs in the under $500 range - it's got a nice vintage sound to it that is particularly suited for pop and acoustic music.
Other options in this range include the Audio Technica 2035 and the Blue Spark. Any other inexpensive LDC options I could recommend, for instance the CAD M179 or the Studio Projects C1, are sometimes more than double the cost.