Within the market for affordable condenser microphones, both the AKG Perception P120 and the MZXL 990 stand out in quality and affordability. This review is geared to help you make an informed choice when it comes down to selecting the right balance of quality, durability, and affordability.
AKG Perception P120 Professional Studio Microphone:
-Standard-use condenser microphone
-Sleek metallic-grey modern style
-All metal body to withstand wear
-Switchable bass-cut filter
-Switchable attenuation pad
-150dB maximum SPL
The AKG P120 is a great choice for musicians interested in home recording. At an affordable price, the P120 offers sensitive–at times too sensitive–vocal recording. The P120 is a great choice for recording instrument tracks via recording software. The microphone itself does not come boxed with recording software for this job, but must be purchased at extra cost.
Due to an inability to adjust the microphone’s directionality, one may notice that the P120 picks up quite a bit of ambient noise. This is balanced however by its switchable 20dB pre-attenuation feature.
The P120 does not come with any sort of pop filter or stand, so be prepared to shell out some extra cash in order to avoid any unwanted distortion when recording vocals. Furthermore, the microphone condenser requires phantom power so a preamp must also be purchased.
The build of the microphone is sturdy. Shelled in a metallic die-cast body with a mesh stainless steel grille, it is suburb at resisting dents and dings.
MXL 990 Condenser Microphone with Shockmount:
-Standard, affordable condenser microphone
-Beautifully designed vintage body
-130dB maximum SPL
The MXL 990 offers a great look and sense of style for its $80-$100 price range. Unfortunately style isn’t everything, and many complain that the mic fails to stand up in the mid-to-high recording ranges, with audio being reproduced as muddy. The multi layer mesh, while quite effective at diminishing breath interference during vocal recordings, tends to muddle the sound quality as well.
As with the P120, neither pop filter nor stand is included and must be purchased at extra cost along with recording software, preamp, XLR cables and converters. The mic does comes packaged with a shockmount, which will help ward off disrupting ambient noise.
Both the AKG P120 and the MXL 990 stand ahead of the $80-$100 price range pack in terms of quality for price. Both microphones are aesthetically attractive, however the MXL 990 has a great vintage look to it that stands above the P120’s sleek modern approach.
While the MXL 990 does come prepackaged with a shockmount, it isn’t enough to resolve the mic’s natural muddiness, and you’ll probably find yourself shelling out more money in the long run for a quality preamp in order to pick up the slack. And while the AKG P120 is slightly more expensive, it offers greater versatility in its sensitivity. If you are an established home-recording professional with all the right gear to capitalize on its quality, the AKG P120 is probably the way to go.