The Musician's Room: Marshall MXL2003 Mic Review

A sound contractor brought by a relatively new mic which might be of interest to home recordists and was AMAZING to me. We did a comparison between one of our best house Mics, a Neuman TLM170, and the newcomer, the Marshall MXL2003. Though it was a quick test, it was pretty thorough. The conditions are listed below. Keep in mind, while the Neuman lists around $3000.00, the Marshall was offered to us by a supplier for $149.00!

General: The Marshall MXL2003 is a large-diaphragm, cardioid condenser mic which is powered by P48 phantom power. It is based around a 1.06" gold-sputtered diaphragm and a preamp housed in a tubular shell very similar to a Neuman U89 mic. The mic is finished in matte black metal and is shipped with a Z-type shock mount. Both mic and adapter appear well-built and have nice "heft". It has that solid feel like a much more expensive instrument. The 2003 is assembled in China.

On first listen, the signals from the two Mics were difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish from one another. In general, the Marshall exhibited the same sort of rich sound that I've come to count on from the 170s I've used for years. In an initial blind phase, I simply couldn't pick the inexpensive one! Given a knowledge of which-was-which, I was able to detect a tiny bit more refined upper-end from the Neuman and a slightly higher noise floor from the Marshall. There are small differences, but they are small. No kidding, appears to be an incredible value. I'm tempted to spend a little musical nest-egg I've been saving to pick up a pair of these for myself. The MXL 2003 has received excellent reviews in Mix Magazine and EQ.

Conditions of test: We placed the two mics side-by-side, running through identical Avalon Vt737 tube preamps with no EQ, using an SSL 4000G console for routing, and recording onto a Fairlight MFX3 multitrack workstation for repeated comparison. House monitors are Urei 813Bs powered by a QSC MX1500 amp. Subject sound was a rich male, baritone voice (professional announcer) with a broad spectrum of frequencies. We ran our Neuman in cardioid for the test.

Published Frequency Response Plot for Marshall MXL 2003 Microphone