A New Beginning
To say that the MXL Genesis Heritage Edition is an imposing microphone is almost laughably euphemistic. Were someone to break into my house, this is the first thing I would reach for to ensure I knocked them out and trust me, they wouldn’t be getting up afterwards. Technically speaking, it’s approximately one third of a Louisville Slugger. However, brawn does not exclude beauty and the Genesis looks resplendent in it’s Silver Frost and Chrome Grill finish. We’ve rarely had so much interest from recording artists regarding a microphone as we did with this top of the line, Large Diaphragm Condenser personally designed by electronic engineer, Leonard Marshall. From the very
beginning MXL’s remit has been to make the best quality mics at the lowest possible price which led to the the MXL 2001 model (their first LDC) which appeared way back in 1998 catching many by surprise. Large Diaphragm Condensers were never supposed to be so cheap – it quickly became popular with both voice over artists and small studio owners.
“The 2001 was popular with voice over artists and small studio owners.”
The Full Package
The Heritage is very nicely presented coming, as it does, in a very tidy, Bond Villain style, metal briefcase with custom foam inserts. It’s pretty hardy and I’d definitely trust it to travel with. Upon opening you’ll find a micro-fiber cleaning cloth, a solid feeling shock mount with spare elastic, a standard, Mogami branded XLR mic cable, the ‘Genesis’ emblazoned power supply, a very nice custom shaped, pimped out pop filter and a rather adorable, hand signed and dated certificate of excellence from final testing at the Torrence facility.
Like most LDC mics the Genesis is a simple, side address affair which MXL, after careful consideration, equipped with a cardioid-only polar pick up pattern. Some LDC featured polarity switches but we liked the simplicity of design featured on the genesis.
The spectrograph provided by MXL tells an interesting story. Beginning about 4dB under zero at 20Hz the curve raises gently to the first peak (under +2dB) at around 170Hz. We then see our first pronounced dip (-1dB) at around 260Hz. Interestingly – in the much maligned 500Hz region there is a 1/2dB boost before the curve hits the neutral zone, dipping slightly between 1 and 2kHz. Between 2 and 5kHz there is a healthy scoop (-2dB max) and then we have a very gentle bell which curves 6.5kHz peaking at +2dB about 10kHz and then drops gently back to zero around 17kHz.
Specifically the Genesis HE is designed to deliver smooth, clean highs with uncluttered mids and a tight bottom end. To these ends MXL have succeeded in capturing the essence of what most producers are looking for. It wasn’t unusual during tracking sessions to feel the need to pull back a little in the 500Hz region to keep a vocal seated in the track whilst trying to keep the overall vocal mix tidy in the Artist’s presence – but nothing more than minor tweaks.
“The Genesis Heritage keeps the top end classy, though.”
What many of us liked was the fact that despite the hi-end push in the Genesis’ frequency curve it’s not overly hyped like many of the more budget priced LDC’s you find. This is often done to trick the inexperienced ear into thinking a mic has a more sophisticated response. However, when you start processing those vocals in your DAW you’ll find the top end is brittle – coming apart like a cheap suit. The Genesis Heritage keeps the top end classy, though.
It's In The Mix
The recorded vocals generally slot very comfortably into your track – and this is most noticeable when that mix is dense or heavily populated. Of course we were utilizing the 150Hz, low‑cut filter switch located on the mic body which tellingly uses only a 6dB/octave curve (as subtle a curve as you are able to use), but the removal of the boxy frequencies in the 250Hz region and the dip around the 2.5 / 3kHz zone aid in the mellowing of any harshness.
Matching Power Supply (above)
” the removal of the boxy frequencies in the 250Hz region and the dip around the 2.5 / 3kHz zone aid in the mellowing of any harshness.”
Let's Get Technical
The Genesis Heritage is the Apex predator of the MXL range and has been there for some time. Using a NOS (no, stop it – shake that mental picture of Vin Diesel in the Fast and the Furious out of your mind) tube of the Mullard, 12AT7 variety – (NOS stands for New Old Stock, by the way), the HE definitely has a foot in the tastefully vintage arena. That tube is supplied via a dedicated 110/220V AC, 50-60Hz power supply whilst a six micron, gold sputtered diaphragm sits inside the 32mm diameter, chromed capsule.
Internally & Externally
cabled with Mogami (above)
“The Genesis HE is the Apex predator of the MXL range…”
With an A-weighted figure of 18dB there are no surprises when it comes to self-noise, especially for a voltage hungry tube microphone. However, the trade off is a beautiful, warm response that works equally well for Voice Over as it does for rapping and singing. MXL are quick to point out that the Genesis may be used for a variety of other applications such as percussion, drums overheads, piano, strings and guitar and there is a 10dB pad to handle excessive SPL levels up to 140dB with 0.5% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion).
The Heritage is very well suited to all different varieties of vocals – especially male rap performances. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was best on low, gruff, overtone festooned male rap vocals yet it also works very, very well on the higher, mid-rangey, Eminem style vocalizations,
especially when there’s tight diction and a punchy delivery. Now here’s another scenario which infuses either of the previous tones with a mumble-rap delivery. Laconic, jumbled and without syllabic definition. The Heritage still excels – keeping the sound crisp and articulate.
Beautiful detailing on the microphone body (above)
For the example (above) we cut the hooks on Wisconsin rapper Alex Brunner’s new track ‘SuperSport’. Alex’ voice is reminiscent of some of the previously mentioned tonalities – his style is modern but not too lazy and it was a great workout for the MXL. We didn’t get too much pushing from the mic on those higher mids which carry a lot of ‘resonance’ with a rapper of this nature. Thankfully, the HE doesn’t transfer these frequencies to disk and we ended up with a smooth, tidy vocal.
“Thankfully, the HE doesn’t transfer these frequencies to disk and we ended up with a smooth, tidy vocal.”
MXL very intelligently provide an icon-based guide on their site which gives you a very good idea on what sources will sound good with which microphone. Acoustic Guitar is one of the icons next to the Heritage so we decided to piggy back a session with Palm’s Studio session musician, Juan Pablo as he was slinging his trusty solid-top Brownsville six string. We used a classic, single mic placement technique with the diaphragm pointing somewhere between the sound hole and the twelfth fret. We were rewarded with a lovely,
shimmering top end and a reasonably full bodied mid range. The pick attacks were well defined and the freshly strung guitar sounded present with the only annoying resonances being easily notched out with the Sonnox DynamicEQ (see our test here). With some gentle compression and minimal EQ’ing from the amazing Softube Classic Channel Mk II, utilizing the new mid/side capabilities we had a very grown and sexy Acoustic sound that feels legit to the max. Good enough to slip into any mix – however busy.
“We were rewarded with a lovely,
shimmering top end…”
The MXL Genesis Heritage Edition wasn’t really a huge surprise for us, if we’re being honest. MXL is a solid company that have been around a long time though it seems very fashionable to be unflattering about their gear – however, if you don’t take the time to do some real research you’ll be missing out on possibly the bargain of the year… This is an extremely capable, great sounding microphone with a level of sophistication way beyond it’s price point. So let’s
talk about that price point. $449.95. Yes. Almost enough to buy you half an iPhone X. But not quite. The HE was enjoyed thoroughly by everyone who saw it. The unusually tasteful design (for MXL) and sophisticated finish really impressed the great unwashed whilst we enjoyed the excellent sonic balance – especially when it came to fitting the processed signal into a mix. The Heritage is a true bargain and something that any budget conscious pro should think about getting their hands on.
- Great Sound
- Value For Money
- Hard Case & Accessories
- Too big to fit in Kaotica EyeBall
- Can get crispy when pushed
- Having to Placate the Haters