The MXL 770 has proven to be among the most popular large-diaphragm microphones on the market thanks to its low price and excellent performance. Building on its success, MXL released the MXL 770X. A comprehensive microphone with high versatility. In this review, we check out what this upgraded model offers.
The MXL 770X is a highly versatile microphone thanks to its multi-pattern options, included pad, high-pass filter, and a comprehensive range of included accessories. But more importantly, it offers excellent sound recording capabilities.
For a microphone at this price point, the MXL 770X has a lot to offer. Some microphones at this price point might offer some of the features of the MXL 770X, but few provide the entire suite. Let’s dive into the details.
The MXL 770X carries the legacy of the popular 770 with an impressive sound profile that is highly adaptable to a wide array of studio recording tasks. It is a valid jack-of-all-trades option that makes it a fine addition to the repertoire of microphones in a studio, whether a home project studio or a fully-fledged professional recording studio.
The MXL 770X offers a smooth and reliable sound that is well-controlled and balanced throughout much of its frequency range. It does provide a gradual lift in the top end that helps add some clarity and character to recordings without sounding aggressively shrill or harsh. The gentle roll-off on the low end is also subtle.
Overall, it’s a relatively neutral microphone with just enough character in the profile to help elevate recordings. This smooth and slightly warm response is ideal for vocal recordings, and the MXL 770X handles both male and female voices with ease.
Adding to its versatility, the clean profile also makes it an outstanding candidate for voiceover work. The inclusion of a pop filter also ensures that it can handle plosives with ease. However, I could see some people opting for a classic fabric-based filter over the included metal option.
Multiple polar patterns give you maximum potential utility.
The MXL 770X also features the choice between three polar patterns. The most commonly found Cardioid pattern is perfect for directional recording of vocals and instruments. The Figure 8 pattern opens up the simple recording of dual voices, while the Omnidirectional pattern is best suited for capturing room ambiance.
The impressive vocal performance translates to instruments as well. The slight boost in the top end adds life and brightness to strings, and I especially like how it handles acoustic guitar. But it is equally impressive with other instruments, including brass and piano.
For drums, the MXL 770X is also a viable choice as an overhead but also reasonable for handling louder drums thanks to the high SPL handling and included pad, which elevates it further. Finally, having access to an omnidirectional pattern is excellent for capturing the dynamics of a room when recording drums.
“One of the most versatile and best-sounding microphones at this price point.”
It’s apparent that this microphone is ready to become the workhorse option in several studios, but even in more specific tasks, it shines bright as a solid choice within this price bracket.
I’ll admit that for most users, a basic cardioid microphone is often enough to handle most basic recording tasks. But having access to some additional options is never a bad thing. As your needs change, you might find that you can continue to fall back on the MXL 770X as your go-to microphone for new challenges in a recording setting.
I also like that a flexible microphone like this helps expand your mind to how best to utilize the various options available. But beyond these less tangible benefits, the underlying fact remains that the MXL 770X simply sounds great and will provide you with clear sound with just the right amount of warmth and brightness.
The MXL 770X offers a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz. This is a noticeable improvement over the basic MXL 770 and alludes to its potential to capture deeper voices and sounds. As mentioned, the response is relatively flat, with a gradual dip on the low end and a more pronounced climb towards the top.
The MXL 770X also offers impressive SPL handling with a base Max SPL of 130dB, which extends up to 140dB with the pad activated. Microphones are available with higher ceilings, but for an all-rounder, the MXL 770X has enough headroom to ensure you get none or minimal distortion issues with loud recordings.
Low self-noise and solid SPL handling.
The self-noise rating of 16dB is a little higher than some other microphones but still well within a reasonable range for the bulk of studio applications. But if you require ultra-clean, low-volume recordings like whispering, you might be better off with an alternate microphone.
I’ve already touched on the pad, but another switch is available on the MXL 770X that furthers its flexibility. It is for the 135Hz (-6dB/octave) low-cut filter, which can help remove unwanted low frequencies from your recordings.
Wrapping up the specifications is an impedance level of 200 ohms. Of course, you’ll need access to +48V phantom power to drive the unit—a standard expectation for a professional large diaphragm condenser microphone.
The MXL 770X offers a very similar design aesthetic to the base MXL 770 microphone, albeit with a few notable differences that set it apart and, of course, a wealth of technical features that make it a different beast to the budget-orientated 770.
The appearance of the MXL 770X retains the black and gold combination that is both striking and professional. The gold accents lend it some sophistication, and it’s a nice flourish compared to some of the bland-looking microphones on the market.
The black and gold combination gives the MXL 770X character.
Notable changes include moving the primary MXL logo to the microphone’s rear. On the front, the 770 is more prominent, but the dominant feature is the large X. There are some notable tweaks to the grille design as well. It looks cleaner and more refined than the MXL 770.
Also on the rear of the microphone are the switches for both the filter and pad. The switches feel great to use, and I like that they protrude enough to make using them easy. Other microphones I’ve tested sometimes recess these switches too much where it can become fiddly to switch settings.
The MXL 770X is basically double the price of the basic MXL 770. However, it is still well within the region of affordable microphones. Thankfully, this low price doesn’t result in sub-par build quality, which can be a concern with some other microphones on the market.
The robust metal housing is up to the rigors of frequent use, and the rugged grille does an excellent job of protecting the delicate internals. But it is still a condenser microphone, so you can’t exactly throw it about without potentially causing some damage.
Great quality for a microphone at this price.
The MXL 770X features a 32mm capsule with a 6-micron gold-sputtered diaphragm. Gold is the defining material for microphones due to its fantastic electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance.
The quality extends to the included accessories with a capable and functional shock mount. Elevating this beyond some other choices on the market is the included metal pop filter. It is thin but stiff enough to give it a premium feel. The high-quality XLR cable is also a nice inclusion if you don’t own one already.
The MXL 770X is noticeably longer than the MXL 770 but still falls into the average range of other condenser microphones. It’s not too long, but some might prefer some of the stumpier options available. It’s also appropriately wide due to having to accommodate the large 1.26″ (32mm) diaphragm.
The MXL 770X is heavier than some other large condenser microphones.
The MXL 770X is also quite hefty at 1.1 lbs. (500 grams). This is noticeably heavier than other popular choices at this price point. Considering you won’t be handling it, it is not a concern. But ensure you have an appropriate stand with enough stability to prevent unwanted tipping.
I won’t hesitate to sing the praises of the value that the MXL 770X offers. This is a highly versatile microphone with a wealth of features at a very reasonable price. Access to multiple polar patterns, a pad, and a filter at this price point is uncommon.
The MXL 770X also comes with an impressive range of included extras. The shock mount with included pop filter goes a long way in reducing extra spending, and the long 20ft. high-quality XLR does the same. However, if you are already deep in your musical journey, you’ll likely already have multiple cables available.
The included accessories are high quality and add value.
In some regards, this is my only minor quibble with the MXL 770X. On the one hand, having an included cable makes the MXL 770X an excellent starting point for a beginner. Still, for me, I would have preferred an included case. As mentioned, it’s a minor gripe that comes down to personal preference.
I suppose it is worth highlighting that if all you need is a basic cardioid microphone, you might as well get the cheaper base MXL 770 (which does come with a case). But suppose you want to future-proof your studio and have access to a broad selection of features. In that case, the MXL 770X offers outstanding value for money.
Omnidirectional Drum Recording
Using an omnidirectional polar pattern on a microphone to record drums in a studio offers several benefits.
The main benefit is that you’ll capture sound equally from all directions, allowing for a more balanced and natural representation of the drum kit. This helps to maintain the integrity of the drum sound and prevents any particular element from dominating the mix.
Omnidirectional drum recording can deliver excellent results.
By using an omnidirectional polar pattern for recording drums, you’ll also minimize the proximity effect, reducing the buildup of low-frequency bass when the microphone is close to the drums. This results in a cleaner and more accurate representation of the drum’s tonal characteristics
Omnidirectional mics also provide a more comprehensive pickup range, making them ideal for capturing the ambiance and room sound of the drums.
When you combine this with dedicated close micing of key drum components like the snare or kick, you’ll have access to the most comprehensive recordings to work with.
While the MXL 770X is a superb microphone, it is also not alone. Below, I take a quick look at some other notable large diaphragm condenser microphones that you might like to consider.
Audio-Technica AT4040 Review
Audio-Technica is one of the leading brands in the microphone market, and its impressive 40 series is among the most popular. The AT4040 manages to balance price with performance well and is worth exploring.
- Neutral response for authentic recordings.
- High Max SPL of 145dB (155dB with pad).
- Noticeably more expensive than the MXL 770X.
Aston Microphones Origin Review
If you are seeking maximum tonality and vibrancy, the Origin from Aston Microphones is among the best choices out there. Superb quality and innovative design set it apart from the competition.
- Dynamic and tonally rich recording capability.
- Integrated shock resistance and built-in random weave pop filter.
- The top end is relatively bright, which might not be ideal for some situations.
Aston Microphones Origin
sE Electronics sE2200 Review
sE Electronics is another fantastic brand with an established reputation for excellence. The robust sE2200 is among my favorites in their lineup, thanks to its superb sound quality.
- Clean and smooth recordings with high precision.
- Dependable handcrafted quality and excellent accessories.
- While it does have two pads and filters, it only features a cardioid polar pattern.
sE Electronics sE2200
Should You Buy?
I’ll admit that I was already a big fan of the MXL 770, so I was very eager to get my hands on this upgraded model, and it did not let me down. This is a fantastic microphone with great sound and a broad range of features that make it among the most versatile microphones at this price point.
While you do lose some finesse when you opt for a jack-of-all-trades option, what you gain in flexibility more than makes up for any minor drawbacks. When you consider the comprehensive inclusions of the MXL 770X, there is a solid case that the MXL 770X is among the best-value large diaphragm condenser microphones on the market if you need multiple polar patterns.