MXL CR89 Mic: Rich Sound with Low Noise

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MXL CR89 mic
The MXL CR89 Instrument Condenser Mic

MXL CR89 mic is a low noise large diaphragm condenser mic aimed at studios with a wide variety of recording applications.

Released in 2013, the CR89 was MXL’s attempt at a top quality instrument condenser microphone. “When we designed it we wanted something that a studio could use on a daily basis to be a workhorse for acoustic guitars, pianos, strings and cello and it happens to sound amazing on vocals as well” MXL says.

In this MXL CR89 review, we’ll look at its build quality, sound, characteristics and whether you should add it to your microphone collection.

MXL CR89 Build, Look and Feel

The MXL CR89 has an attracting black and chrome design. With its matte black body and the contrasted blacked out chrome grill and trim, the CR89 looks beautiful and is a little bit evil-looking. I don’t like the length of the mic though. Maybe I like taller mics but this one is definitely shorter than most mics out there.

The body is clear of any bills and whistles, no switches, no filters, no pads.

In the hand, it feels super heavy and screams quality.

MXL CR89 mic - top
The MXL CR89 has a stunning black and chrome look

MXL CR89 Mic Sound

MXL CR89 is a cardioid condenser microphone. It has a full, rich sound with low-noise and low proximity effect and can handle really loud sources very well.

MXL seems to have put a lot of thought and design into making this CR89 mic. Their approach was to make a neutral full sounding instrument mic that will be used everyday, capable of capturing all of the details of acoustic guitars, pianos, strings and cello as well as vocals. It’ll be able to handle subtle acoustic guitar tones to loud vocals while retaining a consistent sonic quality.

First, the CR89 large body is made of a high quality metal and designed so that it minimizes unwanted body resonance meaning it doesn’t resonate and, therefor, doesn’t color the sound of the mic. The tuned grill also reduces standing waves and harmonic distortion.

CR89 - back
The MXL CR89 has a gold-sputtered, 6 micron diaphragm

Internally, the CR89 uses MXL’s own “low-noise” circuitry of capacitors to keep the noise floor low and super quiet. Although it’s not as quiet as a Neumann TLM 103, it’s also a quarter of the Neumann’s price.

All of that has resulted in a surprisingly well sounding mic. For it’s price, the CR89 competes very favorably with some of the other mics that are designed this way. And although I don’t have mics that are a much higher in price range to compare it with, I got to say I was really impressed.

Honestly though, it has a little more upper mid-range presence than, maybe, I would like for everything. However, that can be smoothed out with a little bit of EQ.

The frequency curve is not ultra flat. It’s got a little bit of a rise slightly in the low-mid range which is not too bad and then it’s got a little bit of a dip around 1k which is actually generally a good thing. Then, again, a little bit of a rise at the upper mid around 8k then it rolls off. So, it’s not a flat mic but it’s also not an overly bumpy mic with big presence peaks with tons of sibilants and treble.

MXL CR89 frequency curve and polar pattern chart
MXL CR89 frequency curve and polar pattern

I think this mic could sound really good on women’s voices because it does not artificially bump the treble up which most women do not need and it will not overly emphasize sibilants.

Although the MXL CR89 is an instrument mic, it happens to sound amazing on vocals. It’s also a great voice-over microphone. With a dynamic range of 124db, in my opinion, this is more than enough for recording voice-over work.

The CR89 intentional low proximity effect allows for up-close, intimate recording without the added bass and woofiness common with most microphones.

On their site, MXL seem to be enjoying a quote from pro audio review magazine for this microphone where it won the comparison over the Sony C800G condenser which is a very well-known and extremely expensive high-end tube condenser microphone. Also, a friend of mine told me that he was very impressed with how it stacked up against the Sony C800G.

I think that it’s really quite impressive how a $300 mic like the CR89 can compete with a a $10000 mic. While the CR89 is not nearly the cheapest, it’s not the most expensive either especially when considering the quality of sound and versatility you get back by investing in this mic.

MXL CR89 Mic Specs & Features:

Type:Condenser pressure gradient mic with large 32mm capsule
Diaphragm:Gold-sputtered, 6 micron diaphragm
Frequency Response:20 Hz—20kHz
Polar pattern:Cardioid
Sensitivity-30 dB re 1 V/Pat
Impedance:150 ohms
Max output:1K load: + 13 dBu
Max SPL for 0.5% THD:138 dB SPL
S/N Ratio:80 dB (Ref. 1 Pa A-weighted)
Equivalent Noise Level:14 dB (A-weighted IEC 651)
Dynamic Range:124 dB
Power Requirements:Phantom power 48V ± 4V
Weight:1.85lbs
Size64mm x 185mm
Metal Finish:Black and Black chrome

Features:

  • Low noise circuitry
  • Large diaphragm for a full, rich tone
  • Intentional low proximity affect
  • Its tuned grill cavity help reduce standing waves and harmonic distortion
  • Large body was designed to minimize resonance
  • Transparent clear and natural sound

MXL CR89 Package and Accessories

aluminum case for the CR89
The MXL CR89 comes in a nice aluminum case

Unlike most cheaper MXL mics that come in a standard plastic black case, the CR89 comes in a very nice aluminum flight case that looks very elegant outside with generous amount of padding foam in the inside with keys to lock it up.

MXL CR89 shockmount
The MXL CR89 mic comes with a high quality shockmount included in the box

The CR89 also comes with a high quality, nice and beefy, heavy duty looking shock mount. It has a black metal frame with gray elastic bands to fit the whole vibe. The shockmount is a step up above the average MXL shockmount and on par with what you would see with some of the much more expensive microphones from Germany. It’s also got extra replacement bands for when they break.

Bottom Line:

If you’re a studio professional with a wide variety of recording applications, the CR89 will stack up very well with probably most of your higher end studio mics and give you a surprisingly good sound both on instruments and vocals. Likewise, if you’re a home audio enthusiast or a voice-over actor/narrator, the MXL CR89 is a great step up from the budget home studio condenser like the MXL 990 you probably already have. For beginners though, it’s recommended to start with a low price mic like the very popular MXL 770 or 990 and upgrade as your skills and needs grow.

MXL CR89 Mic Price:

The MXL CR89 originally sold for 349$. However, you can find on Amazon for as low as $299.

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