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The MXL 009 high-quality studio USB microphone.
It wasn’t all that long ago when a USB mic was simply …a USB mic. There was a very limited number of options and almost no features. Only a year or so later, the USB mic landscape certainly has blossomed into a sub-culture of its own.
I’d like you to hear 2 brand new MXL offerings that add yet another dimension to the world of all-in-one USB recording. This show will focus on the new USB.009.
The 009 is a BIG microphone. The custom aluminum flight case is fairly standard and nicely trimmed with flat-black hinges and snaps. Inside, the mic, a USB cable, collar and unique stand await. The mic stand is not the typical small tripod type, but rather a miniature round/solid saucer reminiscent of a Junior Atlas. …a nice touch for a big mic
I like the extra tall stature of the 009 because there is no more crouching over the desk. The mic element was at just the right level for me.
Feature-wise, the 009 is loaded. 24-bit/96kHz recording capability, a large 32mm diaphragm and 3 POTS allow for discrete (pre-A/D) gain, input/output mix and headphone volume adjustments.
The bottom 2 POTS are the most interesting. In between my demo of the 009, I listened to audio clips and a few movie trailers …all without removing my headphones from the mic! I didn’t even notice. The gain and clarity were transparent to me. As well, I could listen to backing tracks as I recorded from the mic, using the “mix” potentiometer. The mix option is fantastic because you can control the amount of input (mic audio) heard while simultaneously monitoring audio from your computer. It’s a 2-way street and you have full control to load-balance the lanes.
There is just enough headroom and amplitude in the headphone amp that it drove my reference phones at a comfortable level with room to spare.
I almost forgot to mention how the mic sounds! The 009 has a very unique crispness to it that is hard to explain. For voiceovers, this mic will “cut” very well with a sharp presence. I didn’t detect any boominess (is that a word?). In fact, I didn’t even use a windscreen or pop filter as the instructions suggested. Even saying the word p-pop (is that a word?) didn’t make the diaphragm flinch – no plosives. Proximity effect is very low, but creeps up substantially about 1″ away from the capsules cardiod axis. When the mic is “hot” (ie: connected and detected by USB), a pleasant blue LED lights up the capsule area, giving a nice visual effect.
I have just one criticism about the 009 and that is the plastic knobs. The plastic cover for the middle POT felt spongy and kept turning past its end point. In a high-end mic like the 009, I would like to have a high-quality feel to these 3 controls, since they would be used often. Hopefully, newer runs of the 009 will address this.
Other than that, I think the folks at MXL have pulled off another great option in their USB line. With 24/96 resolution, simultaneous in/out monitoring and a very articulate “Fall Morning” crispness to the audio, this mic should be a hit with voiceover talent.
MarkJensen and Laura