With the music industry moving quickly into the realm of DIY content creation, it is super important for you as a songwriter to be set with an arsenal of tools to keep up with the high-quality standards if you want to stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re recording demos, doing Zoom writing sessions or livestreaming on the internet, it all begins with the microphone. Meet the new line of professional yet extremely affordable mics from Mackie: their new EleMent series.
Mackie has been a popular live-sound choice for performers, and their product’s rugged build quality has been known to withstand years of wear-and-tear, while providing the same great sound quality that you heard the day you brought them home from the music shop. I’ve always thought that it was only a matter of time before they entered the realm of microphones and content creation gear. Mackie sure lives up to their reputation with providing reliable, “built like a tank” microphones with a sound quality that will make you do a double take after seeing the price tag. There are three mics in this series: the EM-89D (hand-held dynamic microphone), the EM-91C (large diaphragm condenser microphone) and the EM-USB (USB condenser microphone). All these mics sport a plug-and-play nature that is sure to keep Mackie’s name on stages all around, even if it’s temporarily the virtual world.
EM – 89D
The EM-89D is a dynamic, handheld vocal mic that will surely make its way into your live gig bag. It features a cardioid polar pattern with great outer rejection, making this the perfect mic to outfit all the singers in a loud, live band setting. The crystal-clear sound quality almost seems to be pre-EQ’d out of the box, and it fits my voice perfectly. I love that I don’t have to go in and scoop out so many frequencies off the gate with this microphone, which makes my vocal sound more consistent from gig to gig. The build quality lives up to the Mackie legacy, and can withstand even the toughest live show conditions. I wouldn’t suggest throwing it down a flight of stairs, but it’ll surely survive a fall off the mic stand.
This mic is a great grab-and-go for studio and online content applications as well. I’ve been using this mic for livestreams, coupled with a small PA system. I get compliments of how polished the sound is, even when the show is just captured from my iPhone. It is also a solid mic for anything you’d normally throw a dynamic mic on, and it takes the high SPL’s of amp cabs and snare drums like you’d expect it to.
To get you using this right out of the box, it comes with a mic clip, zipper pouch and a short XLR cable. You’d definitely expect the EM-89D to sit around the $100 range, but it’s significantly lower. Being less than the other industry standards yet carrying its own in quality competition and value, don’t hesitate to add it to your mic locker.
Mackie EM-89D street price: $49.99
EM – 91C
The EM-91C quietly became the go-to condenser vocal mic in my home studio. I don’t think there’s another large condenser mic on the market that sports the same build and sound quality at such a competitive price. This may not be your $2,000 or even $600 “prized” condenser mic that makes all your recordings sound like butter, but it’s not meant to be. This is the perfect all-around mic, with uses ranging from demo vocals, to livestreams and podcasts. Even un-EQ’d, its frequency and polar pattern is tailored to vocal applications. Using your knowledge on proximity effect, you can go from the quintessential “radio voice” sound to singing into a crystal-clear vocal mic with natural compression without having to add any plugins. This was the driving factor that led me to leaving this mic up all the time, as it’s a hassle to EQ or compress anything when you’re livestreaming.
I’ve been trusting this mic to achieve quality recording when I’m both singing and playing, and the cardioid rejection leads to a vocal track that’s well isolated from the guitar, especially after rolling off everything under 120 hz. This mic also works well on acoustic guitar, maintaining the body and high-frequency clarity that you’d desire.
If you’re looking for your first large diaphragm condenser mic, be sure to check this out. Yet, even if you’re a pro with a full mic locker, this mic will find much more use than you’d expect. It comes with a shock-mount and short XLR cable as well, so you can use this straight out of the box without having to hit one more aisle in the music store.
Mackie EM-91C street price: $79.99
EM – USB
The EM – USB takes out the need of an external interface without degrading the sound quality or performance, making this the perfect choice if you’re livestreaming, demoing, writing or giving online lessons. The mic hits the computer with almost zero latency, and all your input gain and monitoring functions are conveniently located on the body of the mic itself. No drivers or software are needed to use the EM-USB, and it is compatible with all major DAWS and livestreaming/video-chatting platforms. This mic provides a crystal-clear sound quality for both you and your audience.
The EM-USB is a great choice if either you need a USB mic to travel with, or if you’re just getting started recording your own music. Mackie isn’t lying with their “built like a tank” slogan, as this mic will withstand the tour bus or years of setup and breakdown in the home studio. It boasts similar tonal characteristics to the EM-91C with what almost seems like a “pre-EQ’d” frequency response, which is attractive to users who are just getting started, or who need a great sound from just plug-and-play. The mute button is useful during large co-writes or for giving lessons when you don’t want your mic to be heard, and there’s a nifty headphone port and level control directly on the mic, which I love for keeping all my cables and control coming from the same place.
If that isn’t enough to lure you in, the EM – USB also comes with a professional software bundle to get you making quality recordings straight out of the box. There’s a download code for Pro Tools First and a handful of useful, quality plugins that’ll get you recording quickly and easily. If you are a novice to recording, this is a great first step towards learning the tricks of the trade. For pro’s, this is a no-frills yet powerful version of Pro Tools which is great for producing quality demo’s and song sketches. I put this on my travel lap-top and, along with the EM-USB, this will become the perfect touring rig.
EM-USB street price: $99.99