I've never modified a microphone before, so I figured a good place to start would be the MXL 990. It was the first condenser I ever bought, probably close to 10 years ago. It hasn't been used in probably 7 years. So no big loss if I render it useless, right? I'm sure this has been done before, but at least this is another example. I recorded a comparison of this mic before and after 2 simple and free mods. I removed the 2 inner grill layers, and dampened the inside of the body with silicone caulk (when disassembled the base literally rang like a bell before).
In each recording, I recorded a spoken description (with a pop filter) and then a short drum section (it's the only instrument I play). The drum section is repeated 3 times in each example:
- The first is the MXL 990 only.
- The third is the Beta52/SM57 only in the first half and all three mics in the second half.
Each is of course the same drumset and the same mic placement. I recorded the first example, took the mic out of the shockmount, did the mods, and put it back in to record the second example. They are both recorded using a Presonus Firestudio Tube in Studio One Pro with no eq, compression, or any effects. I used the non-tube channels on the Firestudio. The gain settings are all the same except for the 990 on the 2nd example (it had to be lowered because the mic output was higher post-mod). Here are the 2 recordings:
I think the results are pretty amazing. Everything is much more open, top and bottom end. The two inner grill layers were basically acting like a sock placed over the mic. I'm not sure how much difference the caulk made, but it probably helped too. The output of the mic after mods was about 3 dB higher as well. I had to lower the fader on the voice in the 2nd example to even the volume with the stock one, and actually had to bring down the gain on the preamp with the 2nd drum section.
I might actually be able to use this mic for something now. I never used it as an overhead before, but I think it handled the job well after the mods. Maybe it would do ok as a hi hat mic. It might even be an option for a backup vocal or acoustic guitar. If anyone has one of these collecting dust, this is a pretty easy and free way to breathe some new life into it. I'm considering replacing the capsule as well, with either an RK47 or RK12 from microphoneparts.com. Let me know what you guys think of the results so far.