While the MXL R144 has a similar ribbon motor design to many popular mics like the Cascade Fathead and Nady RSM-4 / 5 (and thus sounds very much like those mics), the biggest difference to be found in this newest entry in the low-cost ribbon mic arena is headbasket resonance - it is quite pronounced in the MXL R144 and not noticeable in the Fathead and RSM-4 /5 mics.
Below is a graph of headbasket resonance (produced by tapping the body) of the stock MXL R144 (Red), with the headbasket removed (light blue) and with an isolation / diffusion base plate modification (yellow).
Stock MXL R44 Mechanical Resonance Graph
You can see a strong, single frequency tone just below 400 Hz created by the fundemental resonant frequency of the headbasket grille. The problem with a mechanical resonance like this is it can be heard under the right conditions. If the source material contains a lot of deep LF information it can set the headbasket to ringing - but not have enough midrange content to mask the 400 Hz resonance. So it might be wise not to use this mic on bass or drum apps.
In my Premium Mod for the MXL R144 the headbasket mechanical resonance is reduced by 16dB so the mic becomes clearer and more useable in a wider variety of applications.
This is Michael Joly writing, the guy behind OktavaMod. You're invited to contact me to discuss your mic needs and discover if a new, mod'd MXL R144 is right for you.
MJE-K47 Upgrade Suite - a universal problem solver for bright and sibilant mics
This OktavaMod upgrade to the MXL R144 converts the headbasket to a more open-sounding single layer grille and adds damping to the body to tame acoustical resonances. These modifications produce a great-sounding mic for drum overhead, guitar cabinet, piano or vocal use.
Ribbon mics are simple devices, but a big part of their sound is the output transformer. The OktavaMod Premium modification swaps in my custom designed, made in America transformer for better time and frequency domain performance across the audio spectrum.
Modified MXL R44 / 144
About 50% of the eight hundred or so low cost ribbon mics I've seen have come from the overseas manufacturer with ribbon sag - often 80% of the ribbon is sagging out of the magnetic gap.
This can cause mechanical "banging" noises when the mic is moved - the ribbon is so slack it scrapes the magnet pole pieces. A slack ribbon also creates a resonant frequency in the single Hz range thus making the mic very sensitive to footfall vibration and can also reduce output if the ribbon is bowed out of the magnetic field.
You can check any ribbon mic for sag very easily. Listen to the mic in headphones, gently tip the mic back and forth so first the front face, then the back face comes to rest parallel to the floor. If you hear a sudden "clang" or "clunk" this indicates a severely under tensioned ribbon flopping about in the magnet gap. Not good - should be retensioned. So the next step in my modification and QC process is to upgrade the ribbon to a more sensitive 1.8 micron aluminum and set for proper tension.
Video: Superior sensitivity of new 1.8 micron ribbon vs. stock 6 micron ribbon
Fully modified, the MXL R144 is a great performer with classic ribbon mic sound.
Click "Add to Cart" to purchase a premium ribbon mod for your MXL R144 ribbon microphone - you'll get an immediate confirmation email of your order. By the close of the next business day you'll receive a personal email with your scheduled modification and ship dates. Questions? Just click "Contact Me" - best, Michael
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