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By Dan Day
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Ahhh, the familiar ball-shaped vocal microphone, seen everywhere and used by thousands of singers. But these faithful dynamic mics make a critical compromise: their rugged design results in a limited frequency response. Why are these mics used onstage but rarely used to capture the same singer's vocal performance in the studio? It's because professional condenser microphones are just plain better at reproducing the detail in a singer's voice.
Singers are now adding vocal processors into their live performances more than ever before, indicating a demand for improved vocal clarity, tone, and texture. But the truth is, no sound-reinforcement gear or vocal processor can improve a frequency response if it's not in the original signal. Onstage, most singers use their old dynamic mics and have become resigned to their limited sonic performance and utilitarian looks as a necessary evil. But in making that compromise, singers lose a lot of nuance in their performances. All that is about to change.
The MXL V900 condenser microphone represents a breakthrough for singers who want to improve their live vocal performances. MXL, a leader in condenser microphone technology, has leveraged the knowledge it gained in producing high-quality studio condensers to create a solution for stage vocalists. More than three years of research and development resulted in the MXL V900, a condenser microphone designed for exceptional vocal clarity with the ruggedness to withstand the rigors of live performance. Its ultralow-noise FET preamp and fully balanced transformerless output deliver a smooth, even frequency response that's highly detailed. The V900 was tailored to handle loud vocals without clipping or distortion and has premium Mogami internal wiring to ensure clarity.
Aside from its sonic prowess, MXL also considered the aesthetics. Unlike the familiar ball-shaped mics that have become the norm for stage vocal mics, the V900 has a beautiful classic design with a commanding stage presence all its own that lends credibility to any vocalist who uses it.
The V900 can handle a variety of vocal styles from a smooth-as-satin female vocalist to a sandpaper-throated hard rocker. MXL tested the V900 by having vocalists literally scream into it to make certain it would withstand the high sound pressure levels generated onstage. And it does so without adding noise; the V900's transformerless preamp, internal shock mounting, and preamp design deliver a very low noise floor.
Because live-sound systems are often tuned to handle the far lower output of small-diaphragm dynamic mics, the V900's circuitry was custom-tailored to be attenuated while still producing stellar sound, despite being throttled to match the input of typical ball mics.
One of the most appealing aspects of this mic is its tasteful, retro design, reminiscent of the great vintage mics of yesteryear. The V900 combines the best of both worlds—today's technology and stunning visual appeal. It borrows some of the classic aesthetics of 1940s- and 1950s-era mics associated with popular singers such as Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole. The shape of the V900 is also highly functional. It features a professional 32mm large-diaphragm condenser capsule with a tuned layer of foam surrounding the capsule. This protects the capsule from wind and moisture, providing the same sort of protection afforded by studio-type pop filters while being visually acceptable in a live setting. The easy-to-adjust swivel mount attaches readily to any mic stand.
The V900 provides double-duty for both live and recording given its superb voice-capture characteristics, the custom shock mounting, and input attenuation. Its cardioid polar pattern provides feedback rejection without requiring vocalists to "eat the mic"—a characteristic of many hypercardioid mics. The V900 is quite forgiving, allowing you to be slightly off-axis while still picking up your vocals, and its rear rejection provides effective feedback suppression. The frequency response is amazingly flat from about 50Hz to 20kHz producing an uncolored signal—one that perfectly reproduces your voice.
The MXL V900 comes gig-ready, complete with a rugged, custom brushed silver finish road case and premium 25' Mogami cable, making it a remarkably attractive buy.