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PCRECORDING.COM - Marshall MXL2001-P Review:

MXL 2001-P, 1" Large Diaphragm, Condenser Microphone
Price: MSRP $199.00 (US)

I have to admit, I had never heard of Marshall Microphones. My first thought when I came across a reference to them was "when did Marshall start making mikes?" Intrigued, I checked their website at Marshall Electronics (not affiliated with Marshall Amps) and discovered they offer a wide range of microphones. I am reviewing the MXL2001-P, 1" large diaphragm microphone here.

I received the 2001-P direct from Marshall. The first thing I noticed was its weight. At 470 grams, this microphone feels substantial and capable. Its machined brass body gives it a solid, durable feel. It is also very attractive as you can see from the image below and to the right. (Seen with the MXL56 shock mount).

The MXL2001-P employs a large capsule, gold-sputtered diaphragm that is coupled through an electromagnetic screen to a FET preamp and provides balanced transformer output. According to Marshall, the balanced transformer coupling allows for long cable runs without significant signal loss. Marshall claims that the microphone will provide high sensitivity that results in more detailed recordings. This claim turned out to be true.

The 2001-P features the specifications below:

Technical Specifications:

  • Type: Condenser pressure gradient mic with large 25mm diaphragm capsule
  • Frequency Response: 30Hz-20KHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Sensitivity: 15mV/Pa
  • Impedance: 200 ohms
  • S/N Ratio: Ref. 1 Pa (A weighted) 80dB
  • Equivalent Noise Level IEC 268-4 (A weighted): 20dB-A
  • Max SPL for 0.5% THD: 130 dB
  • Power Requirements: Phantom power 48V ± 4V
  • Current Consumption: 3.0mA
  • Size: 50mm × 190mm
  • Weight: 470 g
  • Metal Finish: Black

The microphone frequency response is depicted below in the graph. The microphone has a mostly flat response from its front side, employing a cardiod pattern. You might notice that the microphone has a peak response for frequencies between 3000 - 7500 kHz from the backside of the microphone.

Sound Quality:

I used the microphone throughout a series of reviews of soundcards and software for this site. Throughout, the 2001 worked very well and sounded very good. I discovered, as claimed, that it was very sensitive. For instance, my studio sits in a converted portion of my garage. If I was not careful, I would pick up a wide variety of "non-studio" sounds - - my children, the cat, the washer and dryer and the furnace to name a few. This aside, I subjected the microphone to a variety of sound tests.

Discrete sounds:
I was curious about recording discrete sounds. So, I recorded my hands rubbing together six inches from the microphone. I could hear the rustle of my skin on skin, including the change in tone when my fingers would cross my palm and then my palm would cross my other palm. Kind of a "swee-ooshh" sound, for lack of a better term. I recorded my keys jangling in my pocket, placing my ever-present coffee cup on the table and opening and closing my studio door. All of these sounded accurate, clear and present.

Musical Instruments:
On a musical note, I recorded a variety of instruments. These included harmonica, guitar, flute (bamboo, Native American), drums, and electric guitar. The 2001-P performed to my expectations. Most notably, I recorded both my Native American flute and my bamboo flutes. This was a bit of a challenge because of the aperture noise that can dominate when recording flute. I found that after careful placement I was able to record each instrument quite easily. I was able to distinguish between the sound of the aperture and notes on each flute. More importantly, I was able to pick up the particular timbre of the cherry flute versus the bamboo flute. Very nice.

Making Music:
My main instrument is a steel string acoustic guitar. I recorded it in a variety of ways, flat-picking, finger-picking, alternate tuning drone picking and with a slide. The microphone picked up the full range of the guitar including the overtones of the high strings. The response was quite flat with a crisp though subtle peak on the high tones. As a test, I plucked at harmonics while keeping a drone D-tuned bass string going. I was able to clearly distinguish between these tones.

Vocals:
I am a singer-songwriter so I recorded my vocals. Again, (for better or worse) the microphone accurately depicted my voice. I varied the volume of my voice and closeness of my placement to the mike throughout the test. The microphone proved capable of handling a wide dynamic range from very quiet vocals to suddenly very loud vocals. (This is not surprising with an SPL specification of 130dB). However, as compared to my voice, I thought the microphone faired better on the instruments. When I got real close to the microphone, my vocals had a touch of an overdriven compressed sound to them. I partially eliminated this with careful placement in my small studio but whenever I ventured close to the mike it would return to a degree. The microphone is very sensitive, even off-axis. It could have been picking up signals bouncing around the room resulting in phase cancellation of something. Nonetheless, a vocalist will want to be aware of the sensitivity of the microphone and its interplay with the recording environment. I imagine this microphone would work beautifully with a large choir where it could be placed a bit further away from the walls and the sounds could develop longer. Unfortunately, I did not have a large choir at my disposal to work with. I am working on that though.

Conclusions: At $199.00, the MXL2001-P is a knockout microphone that competes well with other more expensive microphones. It is smooth and very responsive to instruments and easily handles a full dynamic range. The microphone is clear, with crisp highs and robust lows. At this price it is an outstanding bargain.