MXL CR-77 Dynamic Vocal Microphone

by George Petersen
in Road Tests

MXL CR-77 Dynamic Vocal  MicrophoneLike so many of you, I’m a self-confessed mic junkie. And when an interesting new mic comes along, I’m hooked. So last year, at summer NAMM, when MXL unveiled its CR-77 live sound vocal mic, I was definitely interested.

First of all, a couple things have to be made clear. Yes, the mic does bear a more-than-casual resemblance to RCA famed Model 77 ribbon mic — in fact, visually, that’s part of its appeal. And this is not MXL’s first shot at doing a 77-appearing mic. That honor went to its V177 studio condenser mic, followed by its USB-77 condenser and UR-1 ribbon model — two USB mics. But the CR-77 is the company’s first dynamic mic to share that familiar RCA 77 silhouette, and it’s intended for live applications.

Modern Recreation

I don’t think there was any intent on the part of MXL to try to recreate the famed RCA 77 sound, but simply to offer a stage vocal dynamic in a fun package that reflects a bygone age. That said, the CR-77 has a stylish design all its own, with a black matte lower hemisphere paired with a black chrome center-band, grill and yoke. One thing that differs from the original 77 is the grill, which has smaller holes to help reduce feedback and an inner foam grill to help reduce breath noise and plosives. Also unlike the bi-directional RCA 77, the MXL CR-77 has a tight supercardioid pattern, which not only does an excellent job of increasing gain-before-feedback, but also keeps stray stage noises out of the vocal channel.

Physically, the CR-77 is sizeable, with the body measuring 6.75 inches and the overall size (including yoke) at 8.25 inches. At 22.4 ounces, it also packs a pretty good heft, so when used on a boom stand, it’s best to give that cinching barbell a firm turn to avoid mic droop. The construction is rugged and the mic includes a foam-lined, metal carrying case.

On the Road with the CR-77

The mic adjusts easily within its yoke via knurled thumbwheels on either side of the mic that lock it securely at any angle. The yoke itself extends just slightly more than an inch below the bottom mounted XLR output, so the only way to use the mic at an exact 90-degree angle to the floor when mounted on a straight mic stand would be to use a right angle XLR connector. This is not an issue with boom stands, but it’s certainly one of the reasons the original RCA 77’s had a rear cable-exit.

I had the opportunity to try the CR-77 in a number of settings and, overwhelmingly, performers were anxious to check it out.

The mic does have some kind of internal shock mounting, but it’s fairly sensitive to stand-borne and cable handling noise, which transmits clearly to the capsule. Depending on how active your performer is or whether your show includes a lot of stage jumping, you may need to add some HP filtering at the console to attenuate this.

The CR-77 definitely has a sonic character all its own. Overall, it has a bright sound (peaking about +8 dB at 6k Hz) and this is emphasized by the fact that on the LF end of the scale, it rolls off substantially below 100 Hz. The CR-77 also exhibits only the slightest proximity effect, so if your vocalist’s sound depends on working that close-in bass boost, this won’t be the mic for them. As with any mic, some work with certain performers and less so with others. I particularly liked the CR-77 on female vocals and was impressed when it handled some fairly extreme SPL’s from hoots and vocal screams. Yee-haw!

At a Glance

MXL CR-77: Vintage Flair

Modern capsule design with cool retro looks in a solid, stage dynamic vocal mic.

Pros: Classic styling; solid construction; excellent feedback resistance.

Cons: Short yoke limits cable placement; susceptible to stand-borne noise.

Price: $169 (MAP)

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