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MXL 990 with Michael Joly Engineering K47 Mod...anyone??

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by Hugh Jorgan, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. Hugh Jorgan

    Hugh Jorgan Active Member

    Just curious if anyone here has experience with this particular modified microphone

    Award-winning microphone engineering from Michael Joly

    Very skeptical that I can get a $350 microphone that performs like a Neumann U87 Ai costing 10 times as much...but there are folks on other forums raving about it.<br><br>If its really all that (and a bag of chips) it sounds like a perfect beginner condenser mic for my home studio project. &nbsp;Still, I would like some feedback from anyone familiar with MJ-modded units with regard to performance and reliability.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    It will not be a U87. It will be a very usable Mic without all the nasty found normally in cheap Chinese condensers.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Honestly most people should start with a pair of SM57 and a pair of Avantone ribbons. A condenser is useful but are over used especially by beginners but even some pros. IMO of course.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    To be fair, the guy isn't claiming that his mods turn your mic into a U87.

    What he's saying is that he can make your cheap mic sound closer to that of a U87, ( in his words, "Neumann-esque" ) which is subjective, especially since any improvements made to those cheap, harsh, Chinese condensers puts you a step closer to the "gold standard". That doesn't mean that after this mod that you will have obtained that standard. ;)

    As Jack mentioned, you won't end up with a U87. You'll probably end up with a very usable mic that sounds nice for the money, but as far as having the Neumann "sound"... don't get your hopes up.

    Deals that appear too good to be true usually are. ;)
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Unless an 87 happened to sound awesome on your voice, or whatever your recording, you probably don't need one. The 87 is the least used mic at the studios I work out of. Instead of modifying an otherwise unusable mic, I'd spend that on a mic the sounds good out of the box. The audio technica 40 series falls in this price range.
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I can't argue with kmetal`s logic. Joly does an excellent job on his mods though.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk
  7. Hugh Jorgan

    Hugh Jorgan Active Member

    That's so weird you happened to mention Audio Technica, I was searching for reviews on the AT 4040 when I came across the info on this modded MXL. LOL

    Thanks for the recommendation, man.
  8. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I have no experience w the 40 series, the 3035 is a great cheap mic. I read the "behind the glass" books and it was surprising to me how often the AT 40 series was mentioned if it's good enough for famous people it's good enough for me. Not downplaying the usefullness of a modded mic, I just like the idea of using the same tool platinum selling engineers use. It doesn't have any guarantees but at least it's the same mic, i also love 57 441 421 414. They all sound good on a lot and are used by big guys a lot. it only makes sense to use "industry standard" stuff while honing chops like I am. I've got my pet gear like everyone else. But the AT 40 series seemed to be prevalent as an LDC for female lead vocals. Obviously the usual suspects were prevalent too, but a lot of the engineers stated using that mic on big time stuff. I didn't get one yet, but I have a 414 xls which is very bright.

    all that aside, it'd be weird to me to pay for an upgrade of a rode to make it sound like an audio technica. Because to me, audio technicas sound like themselves already.

    I say get the real thing. Like I've been told you only cry once when you buy the best you can afford.
  9. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    FWIW, I'm with the other's on this. My 012's are Joly modded and his work is impeccable, the service is fantastic. But in the case of the 990 I never understood the comparison to the U87. The mod for the 990 makes the 990 a wonderful mic, yes. I did some of the Joly mod's for the 990 on my own, way back before he started offering it as a product service at OktavaMod. They were suggestions he made even before he started messing with that mic. The 990 is useful and has potential. But the U87 in comparison to the fully modded 990 still has more detail and there's a noticeable difference between the two. Personally, I've never been a fan of the U87 on anything other than acoustic guitar.

    On the other hand, the AT 40 series are quite excellent right out of the box. Don't know what I'd do without my 4033 for instance, and if it's good enough for people like Scott Rouse, its certainly good enough for any engineer. I like the 4041 as well, and a surprisingly awesome performer on the cheap is the AT Pro37r.

    Another excellent line of mics to look at are the ADK mics, especially the Audiophile series. I have the ADK A6 that is excellent for acoustic instruments IMO and it's only $250 new. An even better deal is the Thor from that series.

    If the mod for the 990 were less expensive I'd have done it long ago, for the components upgrade and new capsule. But the price is inflated IMHO.
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I haven't heard the modded 990. The guys here who have know what their talking about, so I would certainly take their word for it if they say it sounds good, and, I've talked with several peers who say that Joly does exceptional work. As to the price? I suppose it all depends on what you are after in the end.

    As far as my thoughts on the U87, I'm probably gonna take some heat from the other members when I admit that I don't love the U87 as much as most people do.

    Yup. There. I said it.

    When I used the term "gold standard" in my previous post, I wasn't saying that I feel that way about it.

    I was using that particular description as more of a reference to the way a vast majority of industry professionals feel about that mic, in that so many consider the U87 to be the basis from which they compare all other condenser mics. (Okay. Flame shields are engaged. You may proceed to fire at will. LOL)

    Don't get me wrong, I think the U87 is a very nice mic... but I don't think it's the "end all - be all" mic that so many claim it to be.

    (FWIW I don't believe there even is such a thing as an "end all-be all" mic, regardless of the make /model).

    In my own mic collection, my LD condensers include a U87, a U89i and a 414EB. For my voice, my go-to is the 414. It's my personal preference.
    ( As a side note, I will say that I've used later model 414's that I don't like as much as the one that I have. The 414 that I have is an EB model from around 1980 ).

    I do like the way the U87 sounds on acoustic instruments. I've gotten stellar results on acoustic guitar, mandolin, violin and cello using the 87 (as well as the U89).

    Although, regarding Audio Technica, I've had opportunities to use the AT4033 at other studios that I occasionally work at, and I think that it's a very good mic for the price.

    Recently, I engineered a bluegrass session at a local studio, where I used an AT4033 on fiddle, acoustic guitar and mandolin tracks ( pre amp was a Focusrite Scarlett 6i ) and I was very satisfied with the results.

    While I wouldn't go so far as to say that I consider it to be "transparent" - I noticed a little mid-range bump - it does have a nice top end, a little silky, and while I did notice that bit of mid range gain, it wasn't harsh like so many other cheap condensers are.

    I guess I'm saying that based on my own experience with it, if I was looking at buying a cheaper condenser, I certainly wouldn't consider it to be the worst $400 I ever spent, to the contrary, it would be one of the best in that price class.

    All of this being said Hugh, you also need to consider the quality of the mic pre you are using, or plan to use, because that's a major link in your chain...

  11. Hugh Jorgan

    Hugh Jorgan Active Member

    I'm using whatever onboard preamp is in the TC Helicon VoiceLive 2. I realize its not a "studio quality" preamp, but I'm just adding my vocals to some instrumental tracks simply for fun...and the enjoyment of making music. Its going to be demo-quality stuff at best, and doubtful it will ever be marketed since there is an extremely small fanbase for Prog-Metal. I really dont need a U87, nor could I ever justify the expense. I would just like to have a decent quailty, shock-mounted, studio condenser mic so I dont have to sing into my dynamic handheld.
  12. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    A lot of rock and almost all metal is done on dynamics. Something like a 57/58 or a sennheisser 421 I think would be a great place to star for demos. Plus they are killer guitar and drum mics (57,421) I've never liked 58s on electric guitar amps. The sennheiser 441 is my go to vocal mic for rock and metal, at least it's where I start anyway, to me is got similar characterists to LDCs but w out a lot of hype in the mids, but a nice airy top that's smooth. But they are pricey, about 600 used it looks like on eBay. It to is amazing on snare, and decent on everything else. A shure sm7 is a good one too, and is just under 300 used.

    i personally think the 87 is the most overrated mic I've ever used. It is however a great acoustica guitar mic IMHO. And great for kick drum too. But I would personally never buy one, I wanted one for years, because of the nostalgia of it, and I was let down hard. In 4 years at the studio I work at, I have never used it for vocals. I'm sure it is the perfect magic mic for some singers, I haven't met them yet. For that kind of money, I would go w an aka c12, which I can only describe as beautiful.

    the 414 is my go to LDC. The uls pair at the studio live in the echo room, and I prefer they're sound to mine, and I've been told the the older ones like what Donny has sound even better. You could get a uls for around 600, but honestly, w what your trying to accomplish a simple 58 are maybe a beta 58, would be more than enough mic to capture pro quality vocals.

    the thing w audio gear as that the lower end stuff always loses it's value, and the expensive stuff goes up. My 414 is worth what I paid for it 7 years ago still or maybe slightly less. And I've been using it the whole time. But a used 58 for like 70 bucks is tough, very tough, to beat. Lol maybe I should become a gear salesmen instead of an engineer and actually be able to retire one day.
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It's a bit hard to describe, I guess I would call it "smoother" for lack of a better term.

    The newer 414's I've used sound fine, but occasionally I've encountered a hi-mid/hi presence bump there that can come off as a bit too much on certain vocalists.

    The 414 EB I have seems to reproduce hi mid and hi freqs in a much smoother way. Maybe it's just because it's old and I've spit into it a million times. LOL Hey You! Put that mic down! Don't ever clean that mic!"

    I've had many opportunities to use both my EB model and newer models at the same time, through the same pre's, in the same environment, and to my ears, the EB just sounds better than the newer 414's do.
    I don't believe it's a deal-breaker, because it's not as if the newer 414's sound cheap or harsh or anything, and it's easily handled by using a little EQ.

    I don't know why the EB's and the other older 414's sound like they do, I have no idea if AKG used a different diaphragm, or different wiring or contacts on the older models or what...someone with a better working knowledge of mic construction than I have could tell us. Bos? Chris? Max? Kurt? Space? Buehler? Buehler? LOL

    I'd also like to know the differences between the C12 and the older 414's, but I'd like to hear from someone who actually owns them or has worked with both models. I've been told that they were virtually the same mic before 1988 or so. Again, I'm not saying this as fact. I'm only saying what I was told by a guy I know who worked in R&D at Audio Technica (AT world headquarters is located about 15 minutes from me) and his hobby was collecting old microphones. Boy, he had some cool stuff too.. models I'd never heard of.... but that's for another thread, I guess. ;)
  14. Hugh Jorgan

    Hugh Jorgan Active Member

    Well, I have a brand new EV N/D967 that I had planned to use for live performances, so I guess I could use that. But I have to admit, I really prefer the aesthetics of the shock-mounted condensers...they just look like a "real" studio vocal microphone. However, if I'm not going to see ANY benefit from an AT4040, I'd rather put that money to use somewhere else.

    One question...will I still need a pop screen with my handheld, or is it built-in?
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    You can shock mount a dynamic mic too. I do. If you are in studio situation you get to control the scenario. If you think there is too much plosive or "extra crispy bits" then use a pop filter. I usually did use a pop filter and about half the time even for some woodwinds or directional brasswinds.

    As for benefit, it is like any other piece of gear. If you change a component from solid state to tube (quality tube gear not cheap starved plate mush) it is not better or worse it is just a different quality of sound. If you go from a quality dynamic moving coil mic to a dynamic ribbon mic to a small diaphragm condenser to a large diaphragm condenser, those sounds are all different and useful if they fit your palette. I own all of the above. I own and use AT mics and when I did a lot of live shows, swore by my AT 4051's as well as my AKG 391's equally as much as my SM57's and 421's.

    I think if you were considering the AT I would go with the 4047 or 4060 over the 4040. I would say the AT would have better resale value than the Joly mod'd mic but I almost never see any Joly mods being resold. That means either people don't think they are worth reselling or they won't part with them.
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    LOL... so does a $99 AT2020, but that doesn't mean that it sounds like a "real" studio vocal mic.

    I'm not speaking from assumption here, either. I've actually used the 2020 a time or two engineering at client's project studios and, well, let's just say I would have much rather had a 57/58 available.

    The aesthetics are a huge part of why these cheap Chinese condensers are selling as successfully as they are - because someone who doesn't know any better sees a $4000 Neumann in a picture, or on Youtube in a music video or something, and then walks into Guitar Center and sees a mic that LOOKS very similar in physical appearance, and then decides that because it looks like a Neumann, that "hey, it must also sound like a Neumann, right?" Ya. Right. So, they lay down their hundred bucks with visions of stellar sounding vocal tracks. "Man, this is gonna make me sound just like Sting!"

    Then, they get home, plug it into their $45 Art Preamp, record a track, play it back ....and reality slaps them hard in the face as they realize that their dreams of super-uber-high fidelity with sweet, silky highs, smooth mids and warm, round lows turn to binary dust. ;)

    It depends on the mic. Most mics come with an external "wind" filter (condom type), but these aren't really transparent - they can cut your top end presence, and, after awhile they can get pretty nasty and hold bacteria.

    Some mics do have internal filters, sometimes there is a small, circular foam filter that sits over top of the diaphragm, but, these don't really protect against P's, B's and W's, so you are better off getting a dedicated "O-Ring" type pop filter.

    Or, if money is really that tight, you could grab some panty hose from the local discount store, cut and shape a coat hanger into a circle with a stem, and then fit the hosiery over the circular part of the hangar.
    It's ugly, a bitch to mount to a stand (you'll want a roll of duct tape on hand for this), it makes noise when the wire hits the mic stand, and is tough to position... but, yeah, it can be done.

    Trust me, you won't be the first guy to do it.

    Although, by the time you buy the hose, the duct tape, and put your time into cutting up the coat hanger and then deal with the noise of the wire bumping the stand, you could get this instead:


    On-Stage Stands ASVS6B Pop Blocker | Sweetwater.com

  17. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    If all you want is a mic that looks good, have I got a deal for you!

    A friend of mine passed away a couple years ago and his widow is just now getting around to dealing with pile of gear he had amassed. Another friend owns a little (mostly drums) shop and between the two of us we've been helping her find buyers for her late husband's equipment His taste in guitars, pedals, and amps was top-shelf boutique stuff. His taste in PA gear was very mediocre. His choice in microphones was very sketchy. So far we've been able to move a lot of the other stuff for her, but we've still got some mics that I'm trying to figure out a way to unload without them sullying my good name.

    Including this eye-catching beauty - the MXL v69 Mogami Edition.


    Is it aesthetically pleasing? Oh, it's lovely to look at. But to paraphrase Mr. Joly himself, the MXL v69 somehow manages to be harsh AND muddy at the same time. In his estimation it is not worthy of modifying, and that's saying something considering his excellent reputation and his line of work. (how they got Mogami to associate their name with this thing I'll never know)

    If somebody comes along that wants it, as-is, OK, don't say I didn't warn you.

    But it's a 10 in the looks department if you're shooting video and priced to move.

    I think anything worth making should serve a purpose. I suppose it's pretty bulky to use when playing World of Warcraft, etc. I could see it's purpose in the world being a lip-syncher's mic for YouTube videos - way cooler than singing into a hairbrush. You could use it without a cable when you sing at the Superbowl. If it sits around here too long, I'll probably buy it from her and find a way to gut it and mount an SM58 capsule in it, or put it on a shelf as art-deco, or turn it into a lamp. Something to give it a purpose.

    How's that for a sales pitch? Let the bidding begin !!!
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Mxl mics are far better seen than heard in my experience.
  19. Hugh Jorgan

    Hugh Jorgan Active Member

    Damnit, I knew I was gonna catch $*^t for that statement. LOL

    ElectroVoice N/D967
  20. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    In a studio, I would probably default to a pop filter. Every studio should have several of them as it sometimes requires more than one to tame the plosives.

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