When I decided to mod my MXL 990, this video was a factor in deciding to try it out.
Michael Joly OktavaMods
Michael has been modding mics for about a decade now. The stuff that he puts out rivals mics 10x more expensive, as our friends at the Deli Magazine show us in this video.
Skills, not gear.
Any one of these mics is good enough to cut an album with. There will be differences in sound, but as you can hear in this video, the performance, the engineer, and the room have a much bigger impact on the final results than do the gear.
Can a Modded MXL 990 Compare to a More Expensive Mic?
My MXL 990 Mod vs. a Blue Baby Bottle.
After I completed my mod, I ran both the MXL 990 and my Blue Baby Bottle through my Apollo Twin to compare. While the Baby Bottle is by no means an expensive mic, it is a very nice-sounding mic indeed. I have used it for a couple years, and know its sound very well. I figured that I could tell what the MXL should sound like in comparison to it.
The differences that I heard.
First, there was a significant difference in output between the two mics. The MXL had about -6db less output than the Baby Bottle, which made it a bit of a pain to set the gain for. Once I finally got the levels pretty similar, I noticed that the Baby Bottle had a bigger bottom end in comparison to the MXL, but the MXL 990 was much more defined in the high end.
Take a listen yourself.
I did one take of the first verse of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.” Not the best performance of my career, but definitely works to showcase the differences between the mics.
I’ve never modded a piece of gear before. I have soldered guitar and XLR cables, and I’m somewhat technically inclined, but I have no training whatsoever.
The MXL 990 Mod
There are a load of mods that one can do to this mic, but I’ve read that 90% of the sound is determined by the capsule, so I decided to switch out the capsule with an RK-47 from Microphone-Parts.com. Apparently, the RK-47 is a take on the capsule from the U47 capsule, and is supposed to be extremely defined and clear, without being harsh.
Performing the actual mod on the 990
Installing it was a breeze. The only part of the entire mod that I found challenging was the soldering of the wires to the board. If you’re even remotely skilled with a soldering iron, you’ll probably have an easier time with it than me.