Both the MXL 770 and the AKG P120 are in the same category and are fantastic budget starter mics for home studio use.
One of the most important features shared by both mics is their polar pattern, which is cardioid. Cardioid polar patterns are fantastic for picking up the source in front of the mic and rejecting noise from the sides and back.
Both mics are large-diaphragm condensers, excellent for picking up details and nuances that a typical dynamic microphone is not capable of capturing.
Both of these mics are excellent for common applications such as podcasting and voiceovers, as well as typical studio use like voice and acoustic guitar recording.
Just like a typical condenser mic, both of these models need 48V Phantom power, supplied by most audio interfaces, mixers, and preamps.
Another important factor in condenser microphones is their self-noise. Both the MXL 770 and the AKG P120 have comparable self-noise, with the former being at 20 dB and the latter just a dB less at 19 dB.
This ensures that both mics capture the source accurately without adding unwanted noises or artifacts.
Another fantastic feature of both mics is their bass roll-off switch. This is great for cleaning up unwanted noise on the low frequencies, and it may come in handy when recording vocals, guitars, voiceovers, and more.
Although they do not share the same exact dimensions, both are about the same size and weigh 1 lb.
Although both mics are mostly in the same rage and share many features, they do have differences that can end up being significant depending on your situation.
Both mics will perform nicely for recording voice and acoustic guitar, as well as spoken word applications. However, some differences become apparent once you start testing them side by side.
The maximum SPL of the MXL 770 is 137 dB. On the other hand, the AKG P120 features a maximum SPL of 130 dB.
In other words, the AKG P120 can take more sound pressure levels before it begins to distort. A higher SPL simply means that a mic can handle louder sources. In this case, the AKG P120 can handle hotter sources than the MXL 770.
This can make a difference when recording hot sources such as electric guitars, bass cabinets, drums, trumpets, etc.
The MXL 770 features a frequency response of 30 Hz to 20 kHz. This is a good range for capturing vocals and additional sources.
Naturally, a wider frequency response is a desirable factor on a mic. However, for most applications, you do not need that extended frequency range on the bass.
This is especially true for mics in this range with their intended uses described above.
Although the MXL 770 remains relatively flat throughout most of the frequency range, it does have a spike of nearly 10 dB just before 10 KHz. This enhances the high end which results in a bright sound.
This boost of the high end may work very well for singers with darker voices, but not so well for those with bright voices. So if you are dealing with a voice that has a lot of sibilance, this microphone is not the one to use.
The AKG P120 is pretty even, with a boost of about 4 dB around 13 kHz, and a slight roll-off that starts around 205 Hz and goes onto 102 Hz at – 3.5 dB.
Although this is not a drastic roll-off, it is steeper than the more even bass response on the MXL 770.