The inexpensive large diaphragm condenser mic market has seen an explosion of new products, making it difficult for companies to differentiate their products from the competition. The MXL V67i’s clever design doesn’t use identical dual diaphragms to provide multiple polar patterns, but instead uses two differently-voiced cardioid capsules, one on each side of the mic. The goal: provide two unique and useful sounds from a single mic.
Upon opening the included velvet-lined wood storage box, the V67i looks like a normal large diaphragm condenser. Sure, the gold-on-green color scheme is striking, but the main difference is those dual 1" capsules. Look closely, and you’ll see engraving at the bottom of the grille, with the front labeled “Wm” and the back labeled “Brt.” You select which side of the mic is active with a small switch; depending on its position, one of two red LEDs on either side of the mic (just inside the grille) lights up once it receives the required 48V phantom power. This makes it obvious which side of the mike is “hot.” The extra visual feedback is welcome, especially under low light conditions — and the geek in me thinks it looks cool, too.
The back of the mic has two switches, a –6dB pad and a low frequency rolloff. Unfortunately, there’s no mention of the slope or knee frequency in the two-page manual, but it sounds like it kicks in around 100–150Hz, with a fairly gradual rolloff. It definitely helped reduce the proximity effect when getting in really close.
An included clip attaches to the bottom of the mic body and does a good job at holding the mic where you put it; but as the mic is still somewhat susceptible to stand-borne vibrations (even with the rolloff), I recommend the optional shock mount. The only other included accessory is a brief microphone guide booklet, which offers basic tips on mic placement and use to help get a novice recordist (the V67i’s main target market) up to speed.
APPLYING THE V67i
So do the two different sides of the V67i really sound different? Yes. The “warm” setting seems flatter on the highs, with more bass extension below 150Hz, while the “bright” setting has a wide boost to the highs, with a very noticeable presence peak in the 8–10kHz range. I tried the mic on vocals, acoustic guitar, and guitar amps — probably the areas where it will see the most use in the average home studio — and being able to choose between two different sounds came in handy. I generally preferred the more neutral “Wm” setting for most vocals, but the “Brt” setting can be useful with a deep-voiced singer who needs the cut through a busy mix. That setting also brought out the articulation on an acoustic guitar with an old set of strings.
I also used the pad and “Brt” setting when recording some loud, overdriven guitar amp tones. When paired with an Audix i5 dynamic mic, the V67i blended well as an additional tonal color, delivering extra sparkle and sheen. I didn’t have a chance to test the V67i with drums, but I’d be concerned about getting it into stick range — while the fine mesh gold grille looks good, it’s pretty thin; you can see it flex if you poke it with even a slight amount of pressure. One good stick hit could result in at least a dented grille, or worse, a dead mic. As noise was not a problem, though, it would likely do okay as a compressed drum room mic.
The two distinct tonal flavors, and resulting flexibility, will be appreciated by those on limited budgets who need both a neutral and bright mic. The cardioid pattern is fairly wide, so if your room acoustics are lacking, getting it in close to the sound source will help reduce the pickup of unwanted room reflections and off-axis sound. The mic seems solid and well-engineered, which makes the flimsy grille perplexing when compared to the overall build quality. But the sounds are there, even when compared to the competition, and I would have no hesitation recommending the MXL 67i as a versatile, first or second condenser mic purchase for those on a tight budget.
Product Type: Dual capsule, large diaphragm cardioid condenser mic.
Target Market: Those with limited budgets and mic options who want more than one sound from a single device.
Strengths: Two distinct and useable tonal flavors. Inexpensive. LED indicators look cool.
Limitations: Head grille a bit thin and flexible, and easily dented.
Price: $199 list