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How to setup a home studio

How to setup a home recording studio with MXL – even during a quarantine

Once limited to individuals with excess funds and loads of space, recording and mixing music at home is more accessible today than ever. With a few essential pieces of gear and a couple of inches of desk space, you can create your home studio without breaking the bank.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many individuals found themselves in a position where they had to record/mix tracks at home for the first time. If you didn’t already have a home studio set up, you might have attempted to record music with your phone or laptop microphone, and you may have been disappointed with the audio quality of your tracks. However, we’re fortunate to be living in a time where it’s possible to create a high-quality home recording studio on a budget.  

The Gear You’ll Need

Keep it simple – you only need a few essential pieces of equipment to create a fully functioning, project recording studio in the comfort of your own home:

It All Starts With the Microphone…  

If you want your vocals/instrumentals to sound like they were recorded in a professional studio, microphone selection is everything. This goes back to the phone/laptop recordings you might have attempted when we first went into lockdown – not great, right? If the vocals or instrumentals being captured don’t sound clear and natural at the source, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. The good news: MXL is here to help. With a range of high-quality, affordable, plug-and-play microphone solutions, MXL’s offerings will help you take your music, sound and creativity to the next level.

If You Need a Microphone

You’ve come to the right place. It’s hard to choose favorites, so we won’t, but some of our top-selling microphones for a wide range of recording applications include the MXL 770 and 990 Condenser Microphones. These are a great starting point when building your microphone collection. When choosing a microphone for your project studio or home workspace, it’s also important to keep versatility in mind. Choose a microphone that works well for a range of sounds, including vocals, instrumentals and more, to maximize your investment. Additionally, no matter which microphone you choose for your project studio, it’s also a good idea to invest in a pop filter and quality shockmount.

To get the essential gear you need in an all-in-one package, check out our microphone bundles, which offer recording flexibility and increased performance. With various options to choose from, including the MXL 770 and 990 complete bundles and the 770X multi-pattern condenser microphone package, these special offers provide the perfect combination of quality, flexibility, and value for any project recording studio. To provide our customers with all the essentials, each of these bundles comes with a shockmount, pop filter and 20 ft. balanced XLR cable.  

home studio with mxl 990

If You Already Have a Microphone

Already in love with your current mic, but can’t plug it into your computer? We have a solution – the MXL USB Mic Mate® Pro is a versatile and convenient microphone adapter that effectively converts your existing mic into a USB microphone, so you don’t have to buy a new mic to use at home. Simply plug it in and instantly start recording without having to install any special drivers.

Beyond the Microphone

After you have selected a microphone, you want to think about how you will get your sound into the computer. An audio interface takes your microphone or instrument analog signal and converts that audio to a digital signal. Some of our favorites include the Focusrite Scarlett, EVO Audio and Universal Audio (UA) Arrow.
Audient Evo Audio Interface
Once you have an interface selected, you’ll need a DAW to record into. There are many types of DAWs on the market – some are free (i.e. Garage Band and Audacity) and some are quite expensive. We suggest doing some research to find the one that best fits your recording needs. Some popular options include Pro Tools, Logic and Ableton.

Headphones or Speakers, or Both

Depending on your audio interface, you will have control of headphones and/or studio monitors. If you’re in a large space where noise is not an issue, a larger pair of studio monitors may be your best bet. If you’re in a small, shared apartment, you may have to stick to headphones only. Either way, there are a range of options on the market.

Some headphone we like:
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro
AIAIAI
Sony MDR-7506

In terms of studio monitors, our favorites include:
KRK ROKIT G4
IK Multimedia iLoud
Barefoot Footprint02s


And don’t forget about cables! We are a bit biased, but we prefer Mogami. Learn more about them here.

Need help choosing the best MXL microphone solution for your specific home studio recording needs? Please visit www.mxlmics.com for additional information, or give us a shout at sales@mxlmics.com and one of our team members can help you with your audio needs.

AC-404 Feature

When Clarity Matters, The AC-404 is a Reliable Part of Indico Systems Evidence Recording Systems

Indico Systems is globally changing the way industries record and mobilize digital evidence recordings in a secure, efficient and productive manner.

Through innovative software development, Indico has digitalized processes and procedures to improve the performance of recording suspect, witness and victim interviews, as well as interrogations and court sessions. Hundreds of customers around the world, including police forces, children’s safe houses, courts, military, hospitals, audit firms and the United Nations rely on the company’s solutions to provide accurate records of their operations. To capture pristine audio recordings, the company turns to MXL Microphones’ AC-404 USB-Powered Microphone.

To deliver Indico’s solution to users around the world, the company installs their ‘Recorder’ software onto a laptop, which gets packed into a portable case along with USB cameras and MXL’s AC-404 USB-Powered Microphone, for a truly plug-and-play solution. “When looking for camera and microphone solutions to integrate with our software, we knew USB-powered devices were the way to go, this way there are no additional power sources needed,” says Stig Knutsen, CEO of Indio Systems. “You simply plug your camera and microphone into the laptop, which has the ‘Recorder’ software previously installed, and you’re ready to go.”

When searching for a USB-powered microphone, choosing MXL’s AC-404 was a no-brainer for Knutsen due to its high voice intelligibility.

“When recording audio files such as interrogations and interviews to be used as evidence in court rooms, it is extremely important to capture crystal-clear, unfiltered sound. We tested out several USB microphones, but other manufacturer’s solutions could not compare to the high-quality audio of the MXL AC-404. Other mics’ recordings were much lower, and a lot more muffled. Once we heard the MXL mic, we immediately knew that was the mic for us.”

Indico Systems Portable Recorder System

Another benefit of MXL’s AC-404 USB-Powered mic for Indico Systems is its range of audio pickup. “Our customers are often surprised that they only need one microphone to capture the interview recording,” says Knutsen. “The AC-404 does an amazing job of capturing multiple sources of audio without an issue. Even if the interviewee gets up and starts walking around while talking, we can rely on the AC-404 to pick up an even and clear sound throughout the process. Whether the person is speaking right next to the microphone or on the other side of the room, the recordings always sound great.”

For Indico Systems, it is crucial that they provide their customers with an extremely reliable and durable microphone solution. “We have over 2,000 MXL AC-404 mics, and we are constantly packing, unpacking, and shipping them around the globe, so rigidity was also super important to us when choosing a microphone,” adds Knutsen. “The durable all-metal construction of the AC-404 has helped to ensure that when our customers unpack their kit, they are receiving a microphone in perfect condition. The MXL AC-404 is a solid microphone, and it always works. We are looking forward to trying out other solutions that MXL has to offer!”

The AC-404 captures crystal clear speech intelligibility for a variety of applications with easy plug-and-play USB connectivity and a low-profile design. Three microphone capsules in a surface-mount boundary form deliver a 180-degree pickup pattern with a 25′ range, making it ideal for conference rooms, courtrooms, connected classrooms and more. Designed to simply rest on any flat surface, the AC-404 is now available in white and black and its discrete and convenient design makes it the perfect solution for everyday use.

Learn more about Indico Systems here

Learn more about MXL’s AC-404 and other solutions here

Cooper Surles and Ross Stripling of the Big Swing Podcast

“The Big Swing” finds success podcasting with the MXL BCD-1

Breaking down barriers between athletes and fans, Ross Stripling and Cooper Surles launched “The Big Swing” podcast in January 2019 to discuss everything from sports to pop culture to finance, with a focus on all things baseball. When the co-hosts were looking to deploy a high-quality microphone solution to capture crystal-clear audio for their podcast, they found exactly what they were searching for with MXL MicrophonesBCD-1 Live Broadcast Dynamic Microphone.

“In our first few months of podcasting, audio was the biggest challenge for us,” says Stripling. “Once we were able to deploy the MXL mics and put them in front of each speaker, our audio went up twofold – the sound quality of MXL’s BCD-1 is incomparable to the previous solution we were using.”

The Big Swing Podcast with Justin Turner, Cooper Surles and Ross Stripling
(Pictured left to right): Cooper Surles, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Pitcher Ross Stripling and Los Angeles Dodgers’
Third Baseman Justin Turner

For Surles and Stripling, it is also important to have a portable and durable microphone solution as they travel from place to place recording “The Big Swing” podcast remotely. “When we travel, I keep the mics in my carry on, which gets thrown around a great deal, and while my luggage takes a real beating, the MXL mics remain in perfect working condition no matter what,” says Stripling. “They’re definitely durable and they’ve been exactly what we need.”

Additionally, as Stripling and Surles have no prior experience with professional audio equipment, it was crucial that they deploy a truly plug-and-play microphone solution for “The Big Swing” podcast. “When we first launched, we struggled a little bit to figure out some of the other hardware we were using, but with MXL’s BCD-1 mics, they’ve been so easy to work with,” says Surles. “We pulled them out of the box, plugged them in and they worked like a charm from the start.”

Surles and Stripling have become fans of MXL as a brand, finding their customer service to be extremely helpful and dependable. “It’s clear that MXL puts an emphasis on the creators and the people using their mics,” says Stripling. “They are available to us whenever we need additional equipment or have any questions about how we can use their product more efficiently. It’s been a huge help to have this relationship with MXL and we look forward to continuing to rely on the BCD-1 for all of our podcasting needs.”

MXL’s BCD-1 is an end-address dynamic microphone with warm, rich tones designed to make vocals stand out in any recording or live performance application. With a tuned grill that eliminates internal reflections and a built-in shock mount that prevents unwanted noise, the BCD-1 is an ideal solution for capturing crystal-clear audio in a variety of settings. Additionally, its built-in swivel mount allows for perfect positioning when combined with the optional MXL BCD-Stand.

Be sure to tune into The Big Swing Podcast!

Instagram

Apple Podcast

Twitter

WFH – How to improve your audio when working from home

In these bizarre times in our world, many of us find ourselves relying on our computers for communication. Like anything in technology, there are hurdles and difficulties. The camera is too dark, too bright, choppy connection, audio is fuzzy.

Here at MXL, we want to share information to help you improve your audio when working from home or just catching up with friends and family over a video conference.

Common issue/question:

Why does the microphone on my laptop or computer sound so bad and echoey?

At MXL, we often get customers looking for an upgrade in their web conferencing experience. We constantly hear things like “the sound is always so echoey” or “everyone sounds so far away.” We even had a customer ask, “Do computer manufacturers just not care about good audio?”

There are many reasons why users have these kinds of experiences, and we’ll try not to bore you with too many details. Typically the microphone in a computer is there to pick up audio; that is it. It’s a function and less about the quality of that function. This is similar to a steak from a sketchy roadside diner vs. the best cut of meat you have ever had from your favorite steak house.

In addition to microphone quality and steaks, the main issue with built-in microphones has to do with physics and something called Critical Distance. In a simplified form, Critical Distance is the distance at which the reflections and reverberations of a direct sound, equal or exceed the volume of the direct sound from the sound source.

Example: When you start to hear more of your voice bouncing off the walls in your office than direct sound, this is what can make it sound like someone is in a bathroom when they are on a web chat.

In a 10×10 room (bedroom or office), the critical distance of a sound to a source can be as short as 9.6″.

Unless you are sitting with your face pressed against your computer screen, you are likely more than 9.6″ from the microphone. Your computer microphone is going to be picking up as much if not more indirect sound (the echoey bathroom sound) than the direct sound.

How do we solve this? Get the microphone closer to you by using an external USB microphone.

MXL AC-404The AC404 is a USB boundary microphone. A boundary microphone uses a flat surface to avoid acoustic issues and enhance the audio (this is an oversimplified explanation). Using an external microphone also allows you to place a microphone right in front of you instead of far away at the top of your laptop screen.

In addition to those benefits in a mic like the AC404, we are using high-quality capsules, components, and circuitry, all tuned for the human voice to enhance clear communication.

For all of these reasons, many people already use external microphones or headsets for web conferencing for work or just catching up.

The MXL AC404 is plug and play with pretty much any computer capable of running a video conference. Adding an external USB microphone to your workspace should be hassle-free, and you’ll impress everyone with your improved audio quality.

MXL offers a few versions of the AC404; the differences are primarily cosmetic. Here is some info about them below:

 MXL AC404 – The base model AC404 mic

MXL AC404 White – The base model AC404 mic in white

MXL AC404 LED – LED version of the AC404. You can change the LED color with a dial under the base. Very cool for gaming.

MXL AC404Z – AC404 for Zoom applications, and it comes with a few accessories that integrators and installers prefer.

If you arent using one already, an external microphone can significantly improve the audio quality of your voice on web conferences, recordings, and presentations. Be sure to check out the AC404 and some of our other products.

MXL Greetings From California – Available Now!

MXL Microphones Pays Homage To Classic West Coast Styles

Greetings From California

The limited-edition Greetings From California Microphone Series Features Restyled Versions of MXL’s top-selling Condenser Microphones: the MXL 770, MXL 990 and MXL Tempo USB microphone.

For a limited time, alternate versions of the MXL 770 will be offered in Sky Blue and Vintage White, the MXL 990 in Coral and Surf Green, and the MXL Tempo, a USB-powered condenser microphone, in Surf Green.

“The new Greetings From California series microphones are a classic west coast take on MXL’s top-selling microphones,” states Trevor Fedele, Director of Sales at MXL Microphones. “We drew from California beach and surf culture to reimagine these microphones as if they accompanied musicians and artists on a trek down the historic Highway 1.”

MXL Tempo Surf Lifestyle Image 1

The new Greetings From California microphone series will debut in the MXL booth at the upcoming NAMM 2020 Show at the Anaheim Convention Center, Jan. 16-19, exhibiting at Booth #14302.

Contact your local MXL Dealer for more info.  Dealer Locator