MXL Genesis FET Studio Condenser Microphone
By Phil O'Keefe |
MXL revises their flagship Genesis tube mic with FET electronics, making it affordable to a wider range of recordists
By Phil O'Keefe
Large-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphones are usually the prized-gems of a project studio's mic collection, and they're often called upon to do multiple things - especially if the studio has a relatively limited collection of microphones at their disposal.
The MXL Genesis FET is a large diaphragm solid-state cardioid condenser microphone designed to excel on vocals, which is typically a common assignment for such microphones, but it's also intended to perform well as a utility mic, and MXL claims it will work well on a variety of instruments too. How well does it meet those expectations? Let's find out…
What You Need To Know
- This is the third microphone in the MXL Genesis line, which also includes the original Genesis cardioid tube condenser ($995 MSRP / $595 "street"), and the Genesis II ($1,099.95 MSRP, $899.99 "street") which is also a cardioid tube condenser, but one that features a warm/bright switchable dual diaphragm configuration for extra sonic options.
- Like the other models in this series, the Genesis FET features a 32mm large-diaphragm condenser capsule with a 6 micron gold-sputtered diaphragm. The polar pattern of the Genesis FET is fixed cardioid.
- The Genesis FET stays true to the styling accoutrements of the other Genesis models; the body is painted a deep, bright red with the Genesis FET name engraved into it and highlighted with gold-colored lettering, and a distinctive gold-plated grille providing additional visual accent - and a touch of bling.
- While maintaining the same basic look as the other Genesis microphones, the Genesis FET is a bit smaller in diameter, and because of that, and with the lighter, solid-state transformerless FET electronics replacing the tube innards of the other Genesis models, it weights less too, coming in at just under one pound.
- You should have no difficulty using it with standard mic stands, although a suitable counterweight at the other end of the boom, or sandbags placed on the base of the stand should always be used whenever using any larger-sized mic on an extended boom arm to improve stability and help prevent it from falling over.
- The included pop shield is another cool touch. It's 24k gold-plated to match the grille, and attaches directly to the mic body, so you don't need an additional stand to support it in position. It's also pretty darned effective at reducing plosives and other wind blasts from marring your recordings. A cushy rubber lining around the inside of the metal band that holds it to the mic's body prevents it from marring the microphone's finish, and also mechanically decouples the shield from the microphone, and helps prevent vibrations from plosive blasts that hit the pop shield from being transferred to the mic.
- There are other accessories included with the Genesis FET too. They include a shock mount for isolation from stand-borne vibrations, a polishing cloth, and a wood storage box.
- The shock mount is effective, and the design is fairly compact, which helps when you're trying to place the mic in tight, but since the Genesis FET is a fairly large microphone (it measures 8.86" long x 1.85" wide), placement may still be difficult in extremely tight quarters.
- The frequency response of the Genesis FET is rated at 20Hz - 20kHz and it's fairly flat. There's a slight bump at 100Hz, and an equally slight dip between 200Hz and 800Hz, and another slight boost that starts at around 2kHz and extends out to nearly 18kHz, but none of these deviate from flat by more than a dB or two.
- While it's quieter than its Genesis tube mic cousins, and reasonably quiet by FET standards (13dB A-weighted equivalent noise level, 81dB S/N ratio, 127dB dynamic range), it's not spectacular or record-setting in that regard. Still, for most users, self-noise will not be a significant issue with this microphone.
- The Genesis FET requires 48V (+/- 4V) phantom power.
- Maximum SPL is rated at 140 dB SPL @ 0.5\% THD, so it can handle all but the very loudest of sound sources without flinching.
- The Genesis FET, like all MXL microphones, was designed, engineered and prototyped in El Segundo California USA, and is built in their own factory in China.
- There is no onboard pad switch. Using the Genesis FET with loud sound sources may require using an inline pad or a pad on the mic preamp.
- Similarly, there is no high-pass filter switch, so you'll probably want to use one on the mic preamp when tracking, or from a suitable plugin at mixdown to remove any subsonic gunk that you may have picked up while recording.
- Some will lament the use of a double-layer grille. While this helps to protect the capsule from plosive blasts, wind noise, and moisture, it also means more internal reflections within the microphone's headbasket. I suspect the Genesis FET may sound even better if modified to remove the inner screen grille layer, giving it a single layer grille similar to the ones used on the MXL Revelation series microphones, but such modifications should not be undertaken lightly - it's easy to damage the internal components if you don't know what you're doing, and such modifications will void the microphone's three-year warranty.
This is yet another microphone from MXL that doesn't conform to the inaccurate stereotype that all Chinese-built microphones are harsh sounding, or excessively bright. While it's more expensive than many of the bargain-basement mics from overseas, it is also a much more balanced and polished sounding microphone, which makes it well worth the additional cost if the sound quality and fidelity of your recordings is important to you. While not inexpensive, it performs better than some microphones that cost even more, and while it's a bit more stripped-down (lacking the pad and high-pass filter switches), it still provides a lot of the character and sound quality of the very popular (and more expensive) Genesis tube microphone, but at a price that makes it affordable to an even wider range of users.
This is a very nice sounding microphone with tight lows, controlled, detailed midrange and an open sounding top end. There is no significant emphasis on any particular part of the audible frequency spectrum, making it a very good choice for "all-around" use on a variety of instruments and vocalists. The transient response is very quick; it sounds very detailed, and with a tonal character that leans more towards accuracy than a hyped sonic flavor or color. While no single microphone is ideal for every task, the Genesis FET does admirably well on a variety of different sound sources, including the sorts of things it would typically be called upon to capture in a project or home-based studio, such as guitar and bass amps, male and female vocalists, hand percussion, acoustic guitar, and piano. This makes it a valuable gear addition for those with limited mics to choose from, or who primarily want a good quality vocal mic, but one that can also perform well on other sound sources when called upon to do so. Its combination of solid sound quality and reasonable price definitely make the MXL Genesis FET worthy of your consideration if you're in the market for a FET vocal and multipurpose instrument microphone.
Price: $399.95 "street"
MXL's Genesis FET large diaphragm condenser microphone web page
MXL's Genesis FET introduction video
Harmony Central Review Preview - MXL Genesis FET
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.