Other than hearing the sonic results of its transduction, it's arguable that nothing enamors a passionate tracking engineer more than holding an attractive and wellbuilt large-diaphragm condenser microphone. By ear and by touch, the MXL V88 ($199) is as alluring as many of its pricier peers in its product category. The cardioid V88 is a pressure-gradient condenser featuring a 32mm capsule and gold-sputtered six-micron diaphragm, internally wired with Mogami cable. It is compact and flexible — less than 6 inches long with a great shock mount — and comes in a durable aluminum "flight-lite" case.
Two V88s came into my world and sat in place of microphones that I didn't think could, or really should, be replaced. In testing them, I tried the V88s on vocals, stringed acoustic instruments, drums and percussion of all types, amplifiers, room/ambient applications, etc. — most every source I acoustically record on a regular basis.
Capable of handling 138 dB maximum SPL with a relatively flat frequency response, they worked well nearly everywhere I placed them. They often sounded much better than costlier mics that I have used for years on particular sound sources. Used singularly or as a pair, these V88s never sounded uncomfortably "forward" or brittle (as some in the new generation of affordable large-diaphragm condenser microphones can and do), and, most often, they effectively revealed the rich sweetness of those sound sources possessing such qualities. My favorite application was a spaced stereo pair on drum kit. Talk about a big, classic rock sound!
I recommend the V88 for anyone who wants a very good, very flexible, large diaphragm cardioid condenser with a limited budget. As a matter of fact, considering the low advertised street price I've seen for the V88, the best move would be to bite the bullet and buy two. You'll want to use them as a pair.
Contact: MXL Microphones | www.mxlmics.com
Strother Bullins is the Reviews & Features Editor for Pro Audio Review and a regular contributor to Audio Media.