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Whats The Difference ? Condenser Microphones
Old 21st December 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Whats The Difference ?

I was just wondering what the difference in quality is between the: MXL 990 USB Condenser and the MXL 990 XLR Condenser. Is there enough difference that it matters which one i purchase ? I read that it has a built in pre, so if I purchased the XLR version i could run it through my FocusRite Saffire 6 USB interface right ? Thanks in advance...
-Ben
Old 21st December 2010
  #2
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If you already have an interface, I would just get the XLR version. The USB version appears to only have a USB output, so you'd have to set it up to work in parallel with your interface (can be spotty...) or only use one or the other at one time (a great inconvenience, I'd imagine). The USB version is meant more for people with no interface. You'll want to run the XLR version to your line-level inputs on your interface, since it already has a preamp built in (rare for mics...).

I'd also consider, though, that you're paying extra money for the built-in preamp - or, put another way, money is taken away from another component in the mic to provide a preamp. If you got a different mic with no preamp to use with your interface's preamps, you'd be getting fewer components for the same money, which usually translates to better quality components. (make sense?)
Old 21st December 2010
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcb4t2 View Post
If you already have an interface, I would just get the XLR version. The USB version appears to only have a USB output, so you'd have to set it up to work in parallel with your interface (can be spotty...) or only use one or the other at one time (a great inconvenience, I'd imagine). The USB version is meant more for people with no interface. You'll want to run the XLR version to your line-level inputs on your interface, since it already has a preamp built in (rare for mics...).

I'd also consider, though, that you're paying extra money for the built-in preamp - or, put another way, money is taken away from another component in the mic to provide a preamp. If you got a different mic with no preamp to use with your interface's preamps, you'd be getting fewer components for the same money, which usually translates to better quality components. (make sense?)
Yeah kind of, the quality is great on the usb one and i could easily just plug it straight into my computer instead of the saffire 6. its also more expensive though ! I Know weird lol. Im unsure that the XLR version would work with my saffire 6 though, would it ? i mean it has xlr input, but will it work ?
Old 21st December 2010
  #4
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I'm just going by what I just looked up on a sales website, but it looks like the saffire you're using has mic pre's with a combo jack for DI (XLR/TS combo jack). From that, it *appears* not to have a "true" line input. You mustn't confuse connector type (XLR, trs, etc) with the level of the input (line +4, line -10, mic, instrument, etc). The connector, beyond being balanced, doesn't really matter - it's just a question of adapter cable, etc. But for best results (lowest signal-to-noise ratio, etc) you should correctly match output to input.

In your case, it would be ideal to plug the XLR *line level* output of the mxl mic into a *line level* input on an interface (even better if you can get +4 or -10 lined up properly, but let's start with the basics). It is probable that the mic will work fine plugged into the XLR input of your interface with the gain all the way down and the pad engaged, but you're running through extra, unnecessary circuitry that way (the mic preamp onboard the focusrite, and the pad circuitry). So you're running the mic signal through the preamp on the mic, and then through *another* preamp in the interface. Not ideal. Look in your focusrite manual and see what it says about hooking up line inputs to it. It may have a line level input, or the pad may approximate one from the mic pre.

Anyway, in the case of using the USB mic and the focusrite together, sure you say you can ditch the focusrite while recording, but how will you monitor it?? Through the default soundcard output in your computer? Sure, but what if your monitors are hooked up to the focusrite. Do you want to climb behind the computer and switch wires every time you record? What about listening back to a take? Doesn't make sense to have multiple USB interface devices. (Yes, the USB MXL mic is an interface).

Either way I'd spend a little more money and get a better mic - otherwise you'll be chasing your tail down the "constant upgrade" rabbit hole. Better to spend the money once than over and over as you sell and upgrade.
Old 21st December 2010
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben13 View Post
Yeah kind of, the quality is great on the usb one and i could easily just plug it straight into my computer instead of the saffire 6. its also more expensive though ! I Know weird lol. Im unsure that the XLR version would work with my saffire 6 though, would it ? i mean it has xlr input, but will it work ?
How do you know the quality is great on the USB model? "great" compared to what?

It's not weird that it's more expensive, they have everything that they have in the XLR model, plus an AD converter strapped to a USB interface. An ad converter + USB connection is more expensive than a simple XLR connector.

Again, fewer components @ the same price generally = better quality. At $100 or whatever you're not giving them a lot of room for quality. Something like that will be built strictly to price, and while it won't *stop* you from recording, it's unlikely to be doing you any favors.

You should also look into acoustic treatment, or at the very least, something like the Real Traps Portable Vocal Booth or SE Reflexion filter. Bad acoustics permeates recordings much more than mic choice, gear brand, or even the performance, in extreme cases. (all of this, of course, is IMHO) The reflexion filter-type products help *cheat* this a little by reducing the amount of room sound reflected back into your mic.

Not sure you mentioned it, but is this primarily for vocals or....? A lot of times a quality dynamic mic can be a better choice for vocals than a cheap condenser, and a quality dynamic can often be had at similar price to a cheap condenser. Again, it's your money, maximize the value you get from it.
Old 21st December 2010
  #6
Lives for gear
I don't know the specs on the MXL USB but i do know the BLUE snowball USB is a fixed 18 bit mic.........

Thats the prob with most USB mics. The MIC is the digital converter and prob not 24 bit, and its fixed, and has no way to monitor from it like an interface. Why do that when you have a 24 bit interface sitting in front of you.

Spend $179 on an AKG perception 220 with shock mount and case,
Or the perception 420 (multiple polar patterns) $299. You will be better off.

The perception line are a close to neutral freq response which is good if you can only afford one mic for now. If you get a Mic that boosts the high freqs more like a RODE NT1A it may sound nice and clear on your vocal track but when you track 8-16 tracks with it (since you only have one mic), your overall mix might sound a little crispy.
Old 21st December 2010
  #7
Here for the gear
 

I know its good quality cause ive heard many songs recorded by it and my friends friend had one, and he told me about it and reccomended it. i have also heard alot of good things about it. i know of a shop that sells studio foam for 60 pounds for 4 tiles of 2 by 2 or something like that .

Quote:
Not sure you mentioned it, but is this primarily for vocals or....? A lot of times a quality dynamic mic can be a better choice for vocals than a cheap condenser, and a quality dynamic can often be had at similar price to a cheap condenser. Again, it's your money, maximize the value you get from it.
Yeah its for rap vocals, and a little bit of singing.

-----

I could use the usb version by just plugging it in next to my interface, i dont have to keep changing the wires around, and i dont mind if i have to anyway. I was also looking at the se2200a, i was told that was good for rap vocals... but im unsure any body used either one ?
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