How to Setup a Home Recording Studio With MXL

Once limited to individuals with excess funds and loads of space, recording and mixing music at home is more accessible today than ever. With a few essential pieces of gear and a couple of inches of desk space, you can create your home studio without breaking the bank. 

The Gear You’ll Need

Keep it simple – you only need a few essential pieces of equipment to create a fully functioning, project recording studio in the comfort of your own home:

It All Starts With the Microphone…  

If you want your vocals/instrumentals to sound like they were recorded in a professional studio, microphone selection is everything. This goes back to the phone/laptop recordings you might have attempted when we first went into lockdown – not great, right? If the vocals or instrumentals being captured don’t sound clear and natural at the source, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. The good news: MXL is here to help. With a range of high-quality, affordable, plug-and-play microphone solutions, MXL’s offerings will help you take your music, sound and creativity to the next level.

If You Need a Microphone

You’ve come to the right place. It’s hard to choose favorites, so we won’t, but some of our top-selling microphones for a wide range of recording applications include the MXL 770 and 990 Condenser Microphones. These are a great starting point when building your microphone collection. When choosing a microphone for your project studio or home workspace, it’s also important to keep versatility in mind. Choose a microphone that works well for a range of sounds, including vocals, instrumentals and more, to maximize your investment. Additionally, no matter which microphone you choose for your project studio, it’s also a good idea to invest in a pop filter and quality shockmount.

To get the essential gear you need in an all-in-one package, check out our microphone bundles, which offer recording flexibility and increased performance. With various options to choose from, including the MXL 770 and 990 complete bundles and the 770X multi-pattern condenser microphone package, these special offers provide the perfect combination of quality, flexibility, and value for any project recording studio. To provide our customers with all the essentials, each of these bundles comes with a shockmount, pop filter and 20 ft. balanced XLR cable.  

If You Already Have a Microphone

Already in love with your current mic, but can’t plug it into your computer? We have a solution – the MXL USB Mic Mate® Pro is a versatile and convenient microphone adapter that effectively converts your existing mic into a USB microphone, so you don’t have to buy a new mic to use at home. Simply plug it in and instantly start recording without having to install any special drivers.

Beyond the Microphone

After you have selected a microphone, you want to think about how you will get your sound into the computer. An audio interface takes your microphone or instrument analog signal and converts that audio to a digital signal. Some of our favorites include the Focusrite Scarlett, EVO Audio and Universal Audio (UA) Arrow.

Once you have an interface selected, you’ll need a DAW to record into. There are many types of DAWs on the market – some are free (i.e. Garage Band and Audacity) and some are quite expensive. We suggest doing some research to find the one that best fits your recording needs. Some popular options include Pro Tools, Logic and Ableton.

 

Headphones or Speakers, or Both

Depending on your audio interface, you will have control of headphones and/or studio monitors. If you’re in a large space where noise is not an issue, a larger pair of studio monitors may be your best bet. If you’re in a small, shared apartment, you may have to stick to headphones only. Either way, there are a range of options on the market.

Some headphone we like:
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro
AIAIAI
Sony MDR-7506

In terms of studio monitors, our favorites include:
KRK ROKIT G4
IK Multimedia iLoud
Barefoot Footprint02s 


And don’t forget about cables! We are a bit biased, but we prefer Mogami. Learn more about them here.

 

 

 


"The Big Swing" Finds Success Podcasting with the MXL BCD-1

Breaking down barriers between athletes and fans, Ross Stripling and Cooper Surles launched “The Big Swing” podcast in January 2019 to discuss everything from sports to pop culture to finance, with a focus on all things baseball. When the co-hosts were looking to deploy a high-quality microphone solution to capture crystal-clear audio for their podcast, they found exactly what they were searching for with MXL MicrophonesBCD-1 Live Broadcast Dynamic Microphone.

“In our first few months of podcasting, audio was the biggest challenge for us,” says Stripling. “Once we were able to deploy the MXL mics and put them in front of each speaker, our audio went up twofold – the sound quality of MXL’s BCD-1 is incomparable to the previous solution we were using.”

Pictured left to right): Cooper Surles, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Pitcher Ross Stripling and Los Angeles Dodgers’ Third Baseman Justin Turner

For Surles and Stripling, it is also important to have a portable and durable microphone solution as they travel from place to place recording “The Big Swing” podcast remotely. “When we travel, I keep the mics in my carry on, which gets thrown around a great deal, and while my luggage takes a real beating, the MXL mics remain in perfect working condition no matter what,” says Stripling. “They’re definitely durable and they’ve been exactly what we need.”

Additionally, as Stripling and Surles have no prior experience with professional audio equipment, it was crucial that they deploy a truly plug-and-play microphone solution for “The Big Swing” podcast. “When we first launched, we struggled a little bit to figure out some of the other hardware we were using, but with MXL’s BCD-1 mics, they’ve been so easy to work with,” says Surles. “We pulled them out of the box, plugged them in and they worked like a charm from the start.”

Surles and Stripling have become fans of MXL as a brand, finding their customer service to be extremely helpful and dependable. “It’s clear that MXL puts an emphasis on the creators and the people using their mics,” says Stripling. “They are available to us whenever we need additional equipment or have any questions about how we can use their product more efficiently. It’s been a huge help to have this relationship with MXL and we look forward to continuing to rely on the BCD-1 for all of our podcasting needs.”

MXL’s BCD-1 is an end-address dynamic microphone with warm, rich tones designed to make vocals stand out in any recording or live performance application. With a tuned grill that eliminates internal reflections and a built-in shock mount that prevents unwanted noise, the BCD-1 is an ideal solution for capturing crystal-clear audio in a variety of settings. Additionally, its built-in swivel mount allows for perfect positioning when combined with the optional MXL BCD-Stand.

Be sure to tune into The Big Swing Podcast!

Instagram

Apple Podcast

Twitter


Boost Your Performance: 5 Quick Tips for Singing Live on Stage

Whether you’re a first-timer breaking out of your shell, or a seasoned karaoke-ist who belts out blues on a regular basis, here’s a handful of quick tips to make sure your singing performance is at its best while on stage.

To help get you out there, try MXL's LSM-9 POP dynamic stage microphone. Developed specifically for performance, quality, and most importantly, fun, these brightly colored mics feature built-in noise cancellation and sturdy all-metal construction to ensure that you’ll sound your best, night after night.

Studies have shown that the act of singing can actually produce a number of extraordinary benefits for the brain. There’s the initial rush of the “singer’s high,” which is a blast of endorphins to the singer’s body that can actually increase the threshold for pain.

There’s the wash of dopamine and cortisol chemicals that come with the experience of listening to music and anticipating its emotional peaks, which results in feelings of pleasure, alertness, and lowered stress levels.

And studies have shown that singers in a chorus test higher for oxytocin immediately after singing with the group. Oxytocin is a chemical that can lower stress and anxiety and increases the feelings of trust between humans.

Here are some quick singing tips to remember for your next performance, so you can reap the benefits of what singing has to offer, and also continue to improve your sound along the way:

1. Conjure Up Some Confidence

If you’re a practiced singer, remember all the hard work you’ve done to improve your craft, and if you’re a beginner, remind yourself that you’re just going up there to have fun and give it your best shot.

Confidence plays arguably the biggest role in the overall effectiveness of a vocal performance. The psychologist Albert Bandura famously coined the term “self-efficacy,” which essentially explains that people’s beliefs about their own capabilities directly affects their decisions and actions that ultimately determines the final outcome. In short, it’s a self-fulfilling belief in one’s ability to either succeed or fail. Believing you can sing will help you sing better overall.

And singing confidently has nothing to do with the quality of your voice and everything to do with the feelings, emotions, and connection you have to the music. Michael Shurtleff, who was a famous Broadway casting director, once said that “the most important element in singing at auditions is not the forming of sound but the creation of a relationship…audiences are concerned far less with the quality of voices than with the emotional life that is being created. The great singers of popular music are not those with the greatest voices, but those who know how to communicate feeling.”

2. Sing From the Diaphragm, And Keep Your Jaw Loose

 

 

The diaphragm is a muscle that sits just inside the rib cage at the bottom of the chest. Breathing in from your stomach, where you can see the lower belly move out, and not your chest, allows the diaphragm to move down and make room for more breath.

A lot of beginners will incorrectly think they’re taking deep breaths because they are expanding their upper chest cavities. But for a really strong and sustained singing voice, the breath must come from lower down. Rest your hands on your belly and breathe in and try to push your hands out and as far away from your body as you can. Breathing like this will activate the diaphragm and produce a much stronger and more consistent tone.

Another mistake a lot of beginners make is they’ll tighten their jaw and face muscles while trying to sing high notes. It may seem counter-intuitive, but this is restricting the singer from being able to properly sing these notes.

For good singing, the jaw needs to hang loose at the hinge, and the facial muscles must be relaxed. The singer then lowers the loose jaw to create more space in the throat to hit these higher notes, which are powered through the deep breath from the diaphragm. Sometimes it helps for singers to imagine their mouth is like a nutcracker toy, where the jaw falls straight down from the face without any tension.

3. Listen Closely For Pitch

 

Listening is the main skill that can help with pitch accuracy, because after all, if you can’t hear that you’re singing off key then you won’t be able to make any adjustments to get your pitch back on point.

Singing perfectly on pitch takes a lot of training, and a great way to practice is to simply sing scales with a tuned piano and learn how to identify when you’re slightly sharp or flat. Envisioning your voice as a bar meter that is either above or below the intended note can also help you zero in on your pitch singing. The video game Rock Band does a pretty good job of this (if you’ve ever tried the vocal part), and it can help you visualize the pitch behind the lyrics while you’re on stage.

During a vocal performance, hone your ears as much as you can to the pitch of your own voice, and imagine yourself making these small adjustments to bring each note to exactly the right pitch.

4. Accentuate  Vowel Sounds

 

One trick to singing full over lyrics is to de-emphasize some of the consonants and leave your mouth in vowel shapes to create a fuller sound. Lyrics with harsh consonants, especially at the end of words (like the words “hold” or “understand”), can shorten and close off the sound if they are sung exactly like how they are spoken. If you try to sing the “-ld” part of “hold” too soon, you’ll squeeze out most of the pleasing, full sound. By contrast, if you hold the “o” sound, and close off the “-ld” sound just at the very end, then you can sing a perfectly intelligible lyric while still maintaining a full, robust sound.

5. Adjust Mic Distance for Volume Control

 

Mic technique can be crucial when singing so that you don’t overpower an audience with volume. As you listen to your voice while you’re singing, make note of how loud the signal is coming from the stage monitors. Make sure to communicate with the sound person to set your vocal to an appropriate level in the monitor that blends in nicely with the mix.

To help put some of the control back in your own hands, experiment with how far away you hold the mic, and listen as your volume goes up and down in relation to how close the mic is.

Want to learn more about microphones and technique? Check out our other blogs:

How To Mic A Guitar Amp

Mic’ing A Piano

7 Critical Tips On How To Mic An Acoustic Guitar


How to Start a Podcast: 8 Essential Components You Need

Here are 8 of the most important technology pieces you’ll need to get your podcast up and running in no time flat.

Read more


Dynamic, Condenser, Ribbon: 3 Types of Mics You Need to Know

Microphones, whether you know it or not, are essentially transducers, meaning they convert one form of energy into another. Microphones take acoustical energy and convert it into electrical, but the way this process happens changes depending on which type of microphone you’re using. Here’s a closer look at the three main kinds of microphones, and how they convert live sound into electrical signals:

Read more


Empire Sound Studio Utilizes MXL Mics for World Class Recordings

Empire Sound Studio, located near Dallas, Texas, has recorded some of the biggest acts in music in nearly every musical genre — and one of their favorite mic brands to use in the studio is MXL. MXL Microphones got a chance to talk to Alex Gerst, engineer and founder of Empire Sound Studio, about how the studio got its start and why MXL Mics have remained mainstays in the mic locker throughout the years.

Empire Sound Studio founder and engineer Alex Gerst with his collection of MXL Microphones.

Read more


Mic Stuff: 7 Critical Tips on How to Mic an Acoustic Guitar

There are many ways to record an acoustic guitar to get a wide range of different sounds, but no matter which techniques you use — and how many mics are involved — here are some things to keep in mind:

Read more


Mic Stuff: How Condenser Microphones Work

Condenser mics are best known for their sound sensitivity, wide frequency response, and phantom power requirements, but what’s going on inside to give them that signature sound? Let’s take a closer look:

Read more


Mic Stuff: Best Microphones for Instruments

As you may know already, MXL manufactures lots of microphones. Why? Because each one has its own character: a little something that sounds just right to your ears. “Best” is a subjective term after all. Your favorite guitar microphone might be rich and vintage-sounding whereas someone else wants complete transparency. We’ve compiled our recommendations of the best mics for certain instruments based on customer feedback. Not just what we say is the best, but what we’ve heard from countless users over the years. It’s not definitive but certainly a good place to start if you’re in the market for a new instrument microphone.

Read more


Mic Stuff: A Few Quick Tips on How to Mic a Piano

Recording a piano isn’t easy. The sound quality depends not just on the microphones, but on the condition of the piano and the room where the piano is located. For the best results, keep your piano tuned and in good working order.  Proper maintenance will eliminate one big hurdle of recording a piano. The rest is just a matter of good mic placement.

The piano is generally recorded using close mic’ing technique. Ideally, you'll want a minimum of two microphones. Usually, the microphone capturing the higher strings is assigned to the left channel and the microphone capturing the lower strings is assigned to the right channel in the final stereo mix, though the stereo spread generally is not hard left and right. While a single microphone can be used, the lower and upper extremities of the instrument will likely be compromised. To capture the full range of sound, pick up a pair of instrument microphones, such as the MXL CR21 Pair or the MXL 603 Pair.

Read more