Touted as "the world's first variable dual dynamic capsule microphone," this odd looking, half-cylindrical mic sports two phase-aligned dynamic mic elements, which are voiced differently, and a simple balance knob that can change the blend between the two capsules. Despite one side of the MXL looking like a Royer R-101 [Tape Op #80] that's been sliced lengthwise, this rounded, vented side is the back of the MXL, and the other, flat side of the mic is where the capsules reside, nestled in foam. This shape is actually really useful, and it's easy to get the mic in close on guitar amps (it's ready for high SPL sources) and out of the way if used on stage, while the blend knob remains easily accessible on the back of the mic. Also, the old trick of hanging the mic off the amp's handle would work well if needed. On guitar amps, this mic was an instant hit. I frequently use two mics on amps, and setting up a single DX-2 was so much faster and seemed to get some of the fullness I like from a double-mic'ing scenario.

On a Fender Concert combo amp, set to an even blend of the two elements, the DX-2 sounded a bit brighter overall than the standard Shure SM57 it was up against, and with less of the low rumble from the SM57. In some ways, this seemed a good thing, as the guitar tones popped out in the brighter midrange more, with less junk in the bottom end. When I used the DX-2 on electric guitar on a band's entire EP session (set at center blend), at mixing time, I felt that a few times shriller parts jumped out and had to be addressed with EQ. That's something I don't get a lot with ribbons or other dynamic mics I use. But it can also be a good thing when working with duller sounding amps or guitars; and overall, most of the tracks worked in the mix very well. Checking out the two capsules, I quickly determined that element 1 is the brighter one, and 2 sounds darker and more nasally to my ear — contradicting what's stated in the mic's literature. Blending between them, the sound gets quieter as you dial in more 2 than 1, perhaps due to some internal phase cancellation or to the tapers of the dual-gang blend potentiometer, but at the extremes, the signal is louder than center. On a snare drum, the DX-2 just didn't work well. Placing it on the snare, I felt like it would get hit easily. The lighter low end didn't impart the thwack of the SM57, and the brighter element imparted a bit of unruly harshness.

Is the DX-2 gonna keep me from having to put up two different mics on guitar cabs ever again? No, it's just not that good, especially when compared to the ribbon mics paired with dynamics (or condensers) that I tend to fall back on. But those combos can cost up to $2000 total, and this unique little bugger is only $99, and easy to throw on an amp. At that price, I'm keeping it in my mic cabinet, and I'll use it every once in a while when I think it'll help out.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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