Review: MXL R144 Ribbon Mic

Is this low cost ribbon microphone a worthy investment for your home studio? Asks Chris Kennedy

Item: MXL R144 Ribbon Microphone

Price: US $99, UK £129

Mic Rating:

At A Glance: MXL’s R144 is a low-cost ribbon microphone designed for studio use. Unlike typical studio condenser microphones, ribbon mics produce a much warmer vintage sound that some vocalists prefer. It incorporates a figure-8 polar pattern and is shipped with a shock-mount, carrying case, cleaning cloth, manual and application guide.

High Notes: Top quality ribbon microphones can cost upwards of $1000, so at $99 the MXL R144 is quite a bargain if you want to experiment with the tonal character that they have to offer. On vocals it produces a warm sound with a slight bass boost and un-hyped top end that would work well for jazz singers or singers performing very soft acoustic arrangements. It also works well on brass instruments and bluesy electric guitar sounds; with some EQ it can even produce reasonable results on acoustic guitar.

Off Pitch: Like most ribbon microphones, the R144 has a fairly low output and will require a good quality preamp with plenty of gain to get the best out of it. (NOTE: ribbon microphones do not require phantom power and can be damaged if fed a phantom power signal from your preamp.) The mic is quite prone to plosives – so a double pop filter may be required for some singers. The figure-8 polar pattern probably won’t suit vocalists recording in untreated small rooms.

A VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: The MXL R144 produces a pleasant vintage sound that will work great in some styles, however if you need a microphone that will help your voice cut through a thick mix or provide pop-like sparkly high frequencies, then this isn’t the mic for you. If you already own a quality condenser microphone and fancy trying something a bit different, the MXL R144 is certainly worth checking out.

Manufacturer’s Website: http://www.mxlmics.com

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