MXL CR30 Microphone

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



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As the day went on, we also tracked washboards, spoons, bottles and anything else that was sitting around the studio. The CR30 continually performed well, creating realistic renderings of everything that was placed in front of it. It should be noted that the mic was very lively and picked up a good bit of the room. This can be either positive or negative depending on the source, the space you’re recording in, and what you want out of the track. I found the lush reverberation of the snare to be a welcome addition while the sharp reflections of the washboard made it seem a touch distant. Like I said, this characteristic is neither good nor bad, but it should be understood and accounted for.

As I was wrapping up the evaluation process for the CR30, a friend called and asked if I could track some demos for him. Thinking that this would be a perfect test for the CR30, I set up a simple recording rig in my back room similar to the setups found in bedrooms and rehearsal spaces all over the world. The session began with the CR30 sitting in front of a beautiful Gibson Hummingbird. Resting over the 12th fret, the CR30 produced a well-balanced and lifelike image, capturing the warmth and subtle details of this fine instrument. The mic did exhibit a slight exaggeration in the low-midrange, but it wasn’t demonstrative or unpleasant. Like the snare, it was also missing some shimmer on the very top end but the track didn’t sound incomplete.

As we continued, the CR30 proved to be equally competent with vocals. This particular singer had a notably intricate voice with unique characteristics, a challenge for any microphone. The quick, detailed response and three-dimensional nature of the mic really made the vocal shine. It jumped out of the speakers and avoided the boxy feeling that is so common with less expensive microphones. As with the guitar, the low-midrange seemed a touch elevated and the highs needed a little shelving, but overall the response was very good. At mixdown the layers of acoustic and vocal parts fit together into a realistic blend that made you feel like you were in the space.

Countless Applications

It was refreshing to work with an affordable microphone that can truly hold its own in a wide variety of applications. The CR30 proved to be a versatile tool that is both attractive and well-constructed. It would be nice to have a low-frequency roll-off, but it appears that MXL chose to focus on the quality of performance and construction instead of features, a concept that other manufacturers would do well to employ. Having roll-offs, multiple pickup patterns or other options can only benefit a user when the microphone sounds good and doesn’t fall apart. The attractive appearance, quality build and excellent overall performance of the CR30 proved to be a winning combination. It would be a great addition to any studio that needs a flexible tool that can wear an assortment of hats and look good in all of them.

Matt Bishop is a staff engineer at Alford Media Services in Dallas.


There are certainly situations where an SM57 is the perfect mic. However, just as often, we select mics based on how we have always done it. Snares, kicks, electric guitars—these are all applications for which dynamic mics have typically been the go-to solution. However, a condenser could be just what the doctor ordered when the old favorites aren’t delivering the goods. Condenser microphones will generally have faster and more detailed response with different accentuations based on the specific model. So whether you’re looking for a little more depth and texture, or trying to get an out-of-the box result that you hadn’t thought possible, the answer could be as close as your mic locker.


COMPANY: MXL Microphones



PRICE: $239

PROS: Excellent build quality. Versatile performer.

CONS: Quality of shock-mount. No LF roll-off.

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