Why no "before and after" clips?

Occasionally I get asked about "before and after" clips. I don't post them, for a number of reasons:

  1. If you use the same mic (pre and post mod) to record the clips, you'll be recording two different performances, and there are many factors that can make one performance sound better than the other--most notably, the performance itself. Not to mention that the precise mic placement and other factors are very difficult to duplicate.
  2. If you are using two different mics (one that is modified and one that is not) of the same model (a pair of MXL 603's, for example) to record the same performance, that's not necessarily an accurate comparison either, since variances in other components of the mic (most notably the capsule) can affect the way one clip sounds vs the other. It's also not possible to position two mics in exactly the same position at the same time, and we all know that mic placement is a game of inches (or even fractions of an inch).
  3. The differences are subtle, but noticeable. In most cases, when you perform this mod to one of these mics, you're not going to think, "wow--this mod makes my $50 mic sound like an $1800 one". Although I did have someone make that exact comment to me once--I dismissed it as a gross overstatement. What this mod does is take a decent-sounding mic, and make it better.
  4. Listening tests are subjective. What sounds "best" to one person may not always sound best to another. If I posted some clips and emphatically stated that the post-modded mic sounded "better", I would undoubtedly have people who would try to argue with me. Ain't nobody got time for that.
  5. You've got nothing to lose by performing the mod. All that you're doing is replacing cheap, low-quality generic capacitors with high-quality name brand ones. Nearly anyone who knows anything about electronics and audio circuits will tell you that this will yield an improvement, and certainly won't degrade the quality of the mic. And you can always save the stock caps and swap them back if you think you liked the unmodified mic better (I've never had anyone undo the mod after the fact).
  6. Read the testimonials and my Ebay feedback. I've sold hundreds of these kits over the last several years, never had a single complaint, and have only received positive feedback. And I've had numerous return customers who came back for more kits after trying it out on a first mic for a test.

My personal experience is this: I purchased an MXL 603 pair and tried using them to record some acoustic guitar tracks. It was a high-dollar Taylor acoustic that sounded great in the room, and was being played by a very talented and experienced guitarist. I was very disappointed with the results. They sounded very thin and lifeless, and I had a hard time making those tracks work in the song that I was mixing. So I just did the best I could to make them sound as decent as possible. Needless to say, on my next few sessions, I did not use those mics. They sat in their case for probably close to a year, and I even considered selling them.

Sometime later, I discovered this mod and tried it out. I recorded a few tests using my own acoustic guitar (a mid-grade Carvin) in the same room and using the same mic placement. They sounded very good. In fact, they sounded so good that I tried them again on my next session. To my surprise, those tracks also sounded very good, and were much easier to mix. Then I tried them as overhead mics on drums. Again, they sounded very good, and after comparing them to some previous recordings, I decided I would have no problem using the MXL 603's instead of my modified Oktava MK012 pair, which normally cost over $600 new (for the mics plus the mod service).

Since that time, I've bought, modified, and used numerous variants of these mics (MXL 603, 604, 990, 991, V63M, etc.), both for myself and for others, and the results are consistently positive--the mod takes a decent (albeit unimpressive) sounding budget condenser mic, and makes it sound better. If that's what you expect from this mod, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

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