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MXL V69 Mogami Edition
Low-cost large-diaphragm tube microphone with vintage sound
Review by Dan Richards

The Marshall Electronics MXL V69 Mogami Edition tube microphone is an improved edition of the MXL V69, and features Mogami cabling throughout, from the inner wiring as well as all cables included with the kit. I've had a chance to use the MXL V69ME over several months and pass it around to some engineers, and this mic has risen above the pack of low-cost large-diaphragm tube mics currently available on the market.

The V69ME kit comes complete with hardshell carrying case, shockmount, external power supply, windscreen, 7-pin Mogami interface cable and Mogami XLR cable. The kit has a retail price of $399 and a street price of around $299. The V69ME mic uses a 1" diameter diaphragm in a cardioid-only pattern and utilizes a 12AT7 tube. The internal electronics are transformerless. The equivalent noise level is a respectable 14dB with an SPL rating of a very healthy 140dB. There's no dB pad or roll-off filter, and I might like to have those options, but the mic offers good, straight-ahead performance. I wouldn't hold the lack of those features against it overall — especially in light of how well the mic sounds, and the fact that I never really had a need to use a pad anyway. While a lot of the less expensive large condensers on the market tend towards a frequency response curve that hypes the high-mids, the curve on the V69ME is relatively flat throughout with a very mild amount of scooping between 1kHz and 5kHz

Frequency response curve

The V69ME is quite colored and has some similar characteristics to the popular V67. I found the combination of color combined with a flat frequency response curve on a tube mic to offer a very "classic" warm sound, reminiscent of a vintage tube mic — and an era when music just plain sounded better. In using the V69ME on a number of different guitar amps, we found more often than not that the second track with the SM57 struck right in the cone was dumped in favor of just the sound of a single track miked with the V69ME. It gave a gentler, less harsh sound and the harmonics created by the tube sat nicely in the mix like so much ear candy.

Type Condenser, pressure gradient mic
Capsule size: 25mm
Tube: 12AT7
Frequency Range: 20Hz-20kHz
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Impedance: 200 ohms
S/N Ratio: 69dB (Ref. 1Pa A-weighted)
Equivalent Noise Level: 14dB(A weighted IEC 268-4)
Max SPL for 0.5% THD: 140dB
Size: 55mm × 215mm
Weight: 500g
Metal Finish: Black/Gold
On drums, even bashing with loads of cymbals, we were never able to overdrive the V69ME, and the flat curve tempered what can often result in overbearingly bright peaks. On vocals, the V69ME produced a nice airy top-end and a very present bass response. Tracks sat very well in the mix and required little to no EQ. The mic did a respectable job on acoustic guitar.

Over the course of several months, the V69ME was tracked with various mic preamps, including the Millennia HV-3D, Millennia M-2B, A Designs MP-1, Great River MP-2, API 3124, Behringer Ultragain Pro and the Studio Projects VTB-1. The V69ME performed well with all the various mic preamps. The V69ME was also directly compared to a number of other budget large condenser tube mics, including the AKG SolidTube, Rde NTK, SE Electronics Z5600 and Studio Projects TB-1. While all those mics have attributes that make them attractive, the V69ME excelled in warmth, high-end air and color — making it the most attractive budget tube mic for use on classic rock and any other types of music where a vintage sound is desired. The shockmount included with the V69ME — and even other shockmounts included with other MXL mics — are some of the best-designed out of any manufacturer we've tried.

With a buying price of around $299, there's a lot to like about the MXL V69ME. The build is solid and the sound is superb. I highly recommend this mic to anyone looking to add audio tools to their studio for lessening the harsh edge in their sound, and adding warmth, color and air. This mic performs as well as or better than mics costing much more. I've had the chance to evaluate quite a few MXL mics, and I've always been impressed by their price/performance ratio. Having made our way through most of the budget mics on the market, for a classic, vintage tube sound the MXL V69ME is the best mic under $1,000 we've tested.

Various MP3 audio clips of the MXL V69 Mogami Edition and other mics are available for download at The Listening Sessions.

For more information about the MXL V69 Mogami Edition, or other MXL products, please visit the MXL website at mxlmics.com.

This MXL V69 Mogami Edition review has been updated and amended April 2005 for Studio Reviews. Portions of this review were originally published by Digital Pro Sound in July 2003.

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