MXL CR30 Microphone

Oct 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Matt Bishop



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MXL CR30 mic

The MXL CR30 is a fixed-pattern condenser with a two-position pad.

Due to the boom in home and personal recording, a wide range of manufacturers offer value-based options from the beginning to end of the signal chain. Microphones in particular have seen a surge in affordable products that look a lot like their higher-priced cousins. The problem is in figuring out which of these can live up to the billing and deliver the goods.

Forums are filled with posts touting various mics as the secret weapon for this or that, but true value isn’t endemic to a mic that does one thing really well. If a microphone is going to earn a prominent spot in the locker, it needs to be well-constructed and possess the versatility to capture a wide variety of sources. To that end, MXL has consistently been at the forefront of creating quality microphones that are accessible to a broad base of users. I remember the first time I saw a v67 and how shocked I was when the guy told me what he had paid for it. The quality vocals we tracked that day only added to my surprise. The large-diaphragm, cardioid condenser CR30 is the latest addition to MXL’s family of microphones, and it proudly carries on the tradition of providing top-line performance without crushing the bottom line.

Out of the Box

The CR30 comes in a hard-shell case that holds the microphone, shock-mount and a microfiber cloth for polishing the attractive mirrored finish. The mic itself has a solid, weighty feel that inspires confidence in its ability to survive the toils of consistent use. The one switch for the onboard -20db/-10dB pad is firmly mounted and has a very positive transition from one position to the next. The robust windscreen shares the mirrored finish of the body and seems like it would also hold up well to use. The shock-mount is a typical MXL design that uses a metal frame with elastic cords providing suspension. A pair of wire handles release the tension of the cuff that holds the microphone in place. This feature makes it very easy to slip the CR30 in and out of the mount while maintaining a solid grip. Although the mount is functional, it doesn’t represent the same level of quality as the mic itself. The frame doesn’t seem like it would take much abuse, and the elastic is easily dislodged. Also the mount’s swiveling thread point is not as robust as I would like.

Into the Studio

The CR30 proved to be a willing partner in a number of applications. I first used it for a voice-over session with a corporate client. Not exciting work, but a good baseline test to see what the CR30 had to offer. The talent’s voice left much to be desired (okay, it was me) but the CR30 did not. I don’t possess a classic radio voice and could certainly use any help the mic had to offer. While the fairly transparent nature of the MXL didn’t miraculously transform me into VO star, its smooth and detailed response did create a workable version of my voice that was responsive to EQ and dynamics.

A percussion session for a children’s record seemed like a great opportunity to stretch the legs on this wide-bodied transducer. I decided to use the CR30 on everything we tracked to see how it would deal with the assortment of drums and toys. First up was a big metal snare drum being played with brushes. The CR30 accurately captured every detail of the swirling strokes and light brush hits. It also reached well beyond top head, pulling out the subtle sounds of the brass shell and gently excited snares. One thing the CR30 did lack was an airy top end. It wasn’t that it sounded flat or constricted, but it was missing some fairy dust that you get with world-class microphones.

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