MXL 550 Microphone is a small diaphragm, pressure gradient condenser mic. It’s yet another nice-sounding, low-price, entry-level studio mic that comes in a kit along with its smaller companion, the 551 for instruments.
In this article, I will give my honest review of the MXL 550 and go over the things I liked and disliked about this microphone.
Look and Build Quality
The MXL 550 mic is not terribly beautiful. It has a red body with top silver grill and that’s it. There is also a blue version which I actually like more. It’s not the type of mic you would show off with in your home studio or in a photo on your Twitter feed but in terms of build quality, I think this mic feels pretty nice although it’s not super solid. It has an all-metal construction, a metal grill and it does have a little bit of weight to it as well.
It’s worth mentioning especially if this is your first mic that this mic has an XLR connector, so it won’t work by plugging it directly into your computer. You need an audio interface that can also supply phantom power – to connect it to your PC.
Package / Kit
The MXL 550 is usually sold as a part of MXL’s 550/551R Microphone Ensemble kit which is a two-mic kit that also comes with a small-diaphragm condenser (the 551).
The set ships in a hard-shell storage/carrying case which feels really nice and will provide sufficient protection for the microphones. MXL almost always include these nice cases with their microphone and I think it’s awesome that they’re doing that especially with the price you pay for these mics.
Each one of the mics comes also with hard mic stand mount. These mounts are plastic though and provide no shock absorption so I’m not a big fan of them. If you’re going to be using this in a studio setting, I would recommend getting a shock mount.
Lastly, although mine came with two 5/8 to 3/8 inch microphone stand adapters, some complained that it didn’t come with those adapters so if you’re connecting it to a boom arm you need to make sure the required adapters are included in the box.
MXL 550 Specs
The MXL 550 mic has a frequency response of 30Hz to 20kHz and with a cardioid polar pattern. It also has a max SPL of 130dB and an impedance of 200ohms with a signal-to-noise ratio of 80dB. It requires a 48v phantom power.
MXL 550 Sound
Let me start by saying that the best thing about the MXL 550 mic, aside from its very low price, is its sound. I actually think this is a really nice sounding microphone.
On the acoustic guitar and the electric, it has a warmer sound than I typically go for but I actually liked it. On the voice, I thought it sounded absolutely great.
It starts rolling off at about 50Hz and it does have a tiny bass boost. Through the mid section there are a couple of dips and spikes but nothing really too serious. It does have a little drop starting at 2kHz and it eventually starts climbing at about 4kHz until it hits its highest peak of about 5dB at 10kHz. So as you can see, the MXL 550 does have a decently boosted high end.
The 550 picks sound form the front of the capsule and has a decent side rejection from the sides as well as the back. It tends to pickup more background noise but that’s because this mic isn’t designed as a streaming or gaming or general purpose mic, this is designed as an entry-level studio microphone.
Also, the 550 is more sensitive to plosives so I would recommend using a pop filter as it really helps.
MXL 550 Price
I have seen this mic on sale on Amazon for $54 but as of this writing, it’s $64.
It’s also worth mentioning that price may vary depending on the color you get. The blue version may cost more than the typical red one but the opposite is also correct.
As I said, the MXL 550 is actually a really nice sounding microphone. However, if you plan on using this as a general purpose mic for like YouTube, streaming games or Zoom conferencing, I don’t necessarily think I would recommend it. If you’re starting up a small studio or if you’re doing covers on YouTube or you want to just record music for fun, I think this mic is absolutely a great option especially considering that you can get the whole kit for as low as $54. It will get you going and you can progress from there.
The MXL 550 is also a great starting mic for voice-over work. However, if don’t need the extra instrument mic that comes with it, I would recommend going with a solo condenser like the MXL 990 or 770 at about the same price but with more useful extras like the shockmount.
If want to use this mic for podcasting though, I would strongly recommend you get a dynamic mic as it will help you a lot in rejecting background noises.