Submitted September 27, 2011 by a customer from att.net
"A solid budget mic that's a little cranky to set up"
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Maybe 7.5 - This won't be your go-to mic for anything, but it will be nice to have in the arsenal when you want something a bit warmer than the condenser and a bit less pushy than the dynamic. Probably be fun to try on different instruments but lacks the high-end for most acoustic stuff. Could lend itself to some interesting effect work for vocals and electric guitar - but remember it's a ribbon so don't go sticking it inside a bass drum or right up against a speaker cone, or you'll probably shatter the innards.
This is of course the only rating on a mic that really matters. I'm comparing the R144 to other condenser and dynamic mics in its price range - in particular the Audio Technica AT2020 and the Shure Beta 58A. Taking those as a reference 10, I give the R144 an 8 based on how much tweaking has to be done with the preamp and the recorder. You have to work with this mic to get a good sound out of it. I have your basic zZounds-supplied low-end home studio, and use an ART Pro Channel preamp which is anything but "Pro", but it's a solid budget preamp and gives good results if you a)swap the tubes for something better (like reissue Mullards) and b) know what you're doing with gain staging. The R144 requires a lot more input gain than either of the reference mics - to be expected in a ribbon mic. It also absolutely requires compression to avoid distortion peaks and EQ to sculpt some definition. But if you work with it you can get a full, warm sound out of the thing with some upper-end clarity. It's never going to sound like even a $200 - $300 ribbon mic - remember this is a hundred-buck-chuck model. But if you want to play with a ribbon and see what it's like this works. For demo-quality audio it works. This is a nice mic for what it is: entry level. And the sound is quite unlike a condensor or a dynamic. I'm not sure how a female vocal would come through here, but my mid-rangey male vocals were kept nice and warm with a little bass rolled-off and a little high-end boost, plus some mid-range adjustments with wide Q. Be aware this mic is VERY subject to plosive explosions without a good pop-filter (I found a dual-screen with side vents worked best), and it has a LOT of proximity overloading. You have to stand-off a bit for the best results. That said I didn't have much of a problem with room noise with the figure 8 polar pattern - just keep away from walls and corners and it will give you a nice bit of dimension.
For a hundred bucks you get a metal shock mount (pressure clamp variety), a cleaning cloth, a nice plastic carrying case, and the mic. A nice package. The mic has no frills: no pads, no high-pass, no whatever (I'm not even sure I've seen this stuff on a ribbon).
Ease of Use
This is a cranky little beast that requires a lot of attention to get set up - but that's mainly something you work-out when you first get it and once you are aware of its quirks you can make it do some tricks. Don't expect a lot of range from this thing. I've only used it for vocals but I imagine it might do a good job on a guitar amp (I DI a Boss GT-8 so I haven't tried it). I doubt it would have enough sparkle for acoustic guitar.
This is a cheap mic made in China and it looks, feels, and even smells like it. It's pretty solid but I wouldn't write home about either the materials or the finish. Like most MXL mics it's colorful and shiny. You get what you pay for.
Overall you get a good bang for the buck here - a nice package and a workable mic for a hundred bucks. What's to complain about?
No idea but I won't ding them for something I have no experience of. If you want to go by the supplied documents there aren't any except for a spec sheet and the usual marketing mumbo-jumbo.
The Wow Factor
It's "pretty" in the same sense that a dolled-up hooker is: lots of surface glitter, not much class. But we don't really care what it looks like - we only care if it gives us $100-worth of sound, and it does that.
Hobbyist with dreams
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