MXL 770 vs 990 (Key Differences & Which To Buy)

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  • MXL mics are known for providing a balance of quality and affordability
  • The MXL 770 and MXL 990 are both condenser mics for studio use
  • Both mics are ideal for recording, broadcasting, voice-overs and podcasting 

For 30 years, MXL Microphones has developed a solid reputation among recording musicians, offering quality mics at affordable prices.

Under the umbrella of Marshall Electronics, MXL mics are one of the go-to brands for recording musicians who want a certain standard of quality while on a budget.

Today we are comparing two similar mics: the MXL 770 and the MXL 990.

MXL 770 vs MXL 990: Which Is The Better Mic?

MXL 770
$84.95

A high-quality condenser mic, the MXL 770 is a no-nonsense large-diaphragm condenser microphone offering superior recording capabilities for vocals and instruments alike

Why We Love It:
  • Super-versatile
  • Adds warmth and richness
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater
MXL 990
$74.11

Home recordists searching for a high-quality — yet eminently budget-friendly — condenser microphone will find exactly what they are looking for in the MXL 990. 

Why We Love It:
  • High-quality & budget-friendly
  • Transformerless design
  • Great for vocals and acoustic instruments
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

The MXL 770 and the MXL 990 are similar mics with just a five-dollar price difference. Both are pressure gradient condenser microphones, with the same frequency range response and cardioid polar pattern.

That said, the MXL 990 can sound a bit shrill and harsh in the higher frequencies. Perhaps that is exactly what you need if you are working with a singer that has a darker voice.

On the other hand, although it is a bright mic, the MXL 770 is a bit more balanced throughout and features a high pass filter for extra tonal control. In my opinion it is the better choice as it offers a more natural sound and greater versatility. 

MXL 770 vs MXL 990: Feature by Feature

MXL 990
$74.11

Home recordists searching for a high-quality — yet eminently budget-friendly — condenser microphone will find exactly what they are looking for in the MXL 990. 

Why We Love It:
  • High-quality & budget-friendly
  • Transformerless design
  • Great for vocals and acoustic instruments
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

Similarities 

Both the MXL 770 and MXL 990 are in the same category and are solid choices for a budget condenser microphones. They are both great for musicians looking to get started with recording.

Both mics are quite affordable and will do well in a home studio recording setup. This includes recording several sources as well as voice-over work, podcasting, broadcasting, and high-quality audio in general.

They share many similarities. For instance, both feature a cardioid polar pattern, which is excellent for picking up the source in front of the mic and rejecting noise from the sides and back. 

Similarly, as condensers mics, both are ideal for picking up details and nuances that a standard dynamic microphone is not capable of capturing.

Both the MXL 770 and the MXL 990 are good choices for the home studio, particularly if used in common applications such as voice and acoustic guitar recording. 

In typical condenser mic fashion, both of these models need 48V phantom power in order to function. Phantom power is usually supplied by any interface currently on the market. Both the MXL 770 and the MXL 990 are also connected via XLR cable.

Another aspect in common is their self-noise of 20 dB, which is relatively low. This ensures that both mics capture the source accurately without adding unwanted noises or artifacts. 

MXL 770
$84.95

A high-quality condenser mic, the MXL 770 is a no-nonsense large-diaphragm condenser microphone offering superior recording capabilities for vocals and instruments alike

Why We Love It:
  • Super-versatile
  • Adds warmth and richness
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

Frequency Response / Range

Both mics are listed as having a frequency response that goes from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. This range is suitable for using these mics for basically any type of voice.

Also, this range allows the user to record a plethora of sources, from acoustic guitar to percussion instruments, all the way to ukulele and mandolin. 

(Image: recordinghacks.com)

The MXL 770 features a pronounced bump in the high end, making it a bright mic. Although the MXL 990 is not as loud in this area, in my opinion high frequencies have a ‘harsher’ sound compared to the 770.

As far as the low end, the MXL 770 features a slight bump around 100 Hz. This tends to translate into warmth for the mic. Both mics start to dip below 80 Hz or so and would not be ideal for recording sounds with a lot of sub bass.

Accessories

Accessories are important when you’re talking about condenser mics. After all, as opposed to dynamic mics, condensers are inherently fragile and sensitive to hits and bumps.

This is why there is a need for a shock mount. Additionally, they can be damaged if dropped or banged up. 

In the case of the MXL 990, it ships with a custom shock mount, mic stand adapter, and foam-padded case. Contrast that with the MXL 770 which comes with a shock mount and custom-fitted hardshell case. Both will protect these mics well. 

In other words, MXL did a great job providing a case for both mics as well as a shock mount. Other manufacturers do not provide these tools for mics in this price range, so that’s definitely a plus for MXL. 

MXL 770
$84.95

A high-quality condenser mic, the MXL 770 is a no-nonsense large-diaphragm condenser microphone offering superior recording capabilities for vocals and instruments alike

Why We Love It:
  • Super-versatile
  • Adds warmth and richness
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

Differences

Although both mics are very similar, they do have differences that can end up being significant depending on your situation.

While both will perform well for recording voice and acoustic guitar, some differences may arise when getting really specific. 

For instance, the MXL 990 is known for some high-end ‘harshness’, which will limit its use when it comes to bright and powerful voices.

However, this harshness it is known for might please some other folks. When it comes to mics, there is a lot of personal taste involved. Let’s look at some key differences.

Max SPL

The maximum SPL of the MXL 770 is 137 dB. On the other hand, the MXL 990 features a maximum SPL of 130 dB.

In other words, the MXL 770 can take more sound pressure levels before it begins to distort. A higher SPL simply means that a mic can tolerate louder sources. In this case, the MXL 770 can handle hotter sources than the MXL 990. 

One of the most common applications in this area is recording an electric guitar through a speaker, particularly if it’s really loud.

Besides this, other sources like bass cabinet, drum, saxophone, etc., will typically do better using a mic with higher max SPL rating. In other words, the MXL 770 is the clear winner for these applications. 

However, it is important to keep in mind what you need the mic for. If you do not intend to record hot sources, then the max SPL rating might not be as crucial for you. 

Capsule Size

One of the main differences between the MXL 770 and MXL 990 is the capsule size. The MXL 770 capsule measures 0.87 inches, making it slightly smaller than the 1-inch de facto standard definition of a large diaphragm.

Contrast that with the capsule of the MXL 990, which is 1.26 inches, or 0.39 inches larger than the one on the MXL 770.  

Some folks think that a bigger capsule is better, but that is not necessarily the case. While the diaphragm capsule is a crucial part of a microphone’s performance, it’s only part of the entire equation.

So although the capsule sizes on these mics are different, it doesn’t make one better than the other.

Sound

The bump of high frequencies on the MXL 770 can be an asset when you’re trying to make the voice cut through on a dense mix. The 990 might seem like a better ‘all-around’ mic for various instruments, as it has a less exaggerated frequency response, but I would still pick the 770 as a ‘general use’ workhorse mic.

The 770 also features a -6 dB/octave high pass filter starting at 150 Hz. This can come in handy when recording singers with a higher range. On the other hand, the MXL 990 does not feature a high pass filter of any kind.

Price

At the time of this writing, the MXL 770 costs about five dollars more than the MXL 990. Although the price difference is negligible, some might see it as an advantage for the MXL 990.

MXL 990
$74.11

Home recordists searching for a high-quality — yet eminently budget-friendly — condenser microphone will find exactly what they are looking for in the MXL 990. 

Why We Love It:
  • High-quality & budget-friendly
  • Transformerless design
  • Great for vocals and acoustic instruments
View Price On Guitar Center View Price On Sweetwater

Don’t forget to check out our review of the Austrian Audio OC818 here!

Conclusion

Both the MXL 990 and the MXL 770 are great condenser microphones for beginners or folks that are on a tight budget.

Both do a good job as studio condenser microphones and will perform well when recording vocals, acoustic guitars, doing podcasts, voiceovers, and more.

Despite the fact that they are very similar, some key differences make the MXL 770 a better choice.

First, there is the high pass filter on the MXL 770. Secondly, although it is a bright mic, in my opinion it is less shrill than the MXL 990. Thirdly, the MXL 770 features a higher max SPL than the MXL 990. 

Overall, both are great mics and solid choices if you are starting out on a budget.

If you want to hear these mics in action, you can check out this video from Podcastage:

FAQ’s

Does the MXL 770 or 990 need phantom power?

Both the MXL 770 and the MXL 990 need 48V phantom power in order to function, just like any other condenser microphone.

Is the MXL 770 or 990 better for recording vocals?

Both the MXL 770 and the MXL 990 are good for recording vocals, though it will depend on the voice in question and your own taste as to which mic is better.

That said, the MXL 770 is a bright mic that may sound more natural than the MXL 990, which can exhibit shrillness sometimes.

Is the MXL 770 good for rapping?

Yes, the MXL 770 is a good mic for rapping, spoken word, podcasting, and other ‘speaking’ applications. 

Is MXL owned by Marshall?

Yes, MXL is the pro audio division of Marshall Electronics.

Do either mics come with a shock mount?

The MXL 990 comes with a custom shock mount, mic stand adapter, and foam-padded case. On the other hand, the MXL 770 comes with a shock mount and custom-fitted hardshell case.

How do other mics compare?

Lately, we’ve been looking at how different microphones stack up against each other. You can read these shootouts here: