Every once in a blue moon a deal on equipment comes along that grabs me by the neck and just says "I'm good, and I'm affordable...ya simply gotta buy me!" Recently, one of these little screamers took the form of an MXL Pro Pac from Marshall Electronics. The Pro Pac consists of an MXL 2001 large-diaphragm condenser mic, a 603S smaller-diaphragm condenser mic, two stand clips (one for each mic), two isolated shock mounts, two windscreens and two 15 ft Mogami cables... add to this the fact that the Pro Pac comes in a rather sexy flight case and you have a killer on-the-go package.
All this is well and good, but how does it all sound? In a word-great! Truth of the matter is that both the 2001 and the 603 have a full and present sound that works very well in a wide range of demanding applications (including voice). The 2001's capsule has the dubious distinction of being one of those Chinese U-87 knock-offs that have proliferated throughout the industry. However, lets face it... they did an amazingly good copy job. Heck, its case sort of looks like a black version of its ancestor, and although it doesn't have the U87's richness, it doesn't sound like a cheap imitation either. The smaller MXL 603S (the S stands for silver) has a surprisingly full sound. A slight upper-end boost adds a presence that, in most applications, opens the sound up without sounding harsh. Truth is, I've been using 2001s in both pro and project studio settings for years now-I luv 'em! Now that I've been introduced to the 603S's, they've already been put to use on a number of instruments with surprising results.
Ok, now lets get to the truly amazing part-the two mics, mounts, cables, screens and the case... the whole full-meal deal lists at the low price of $299.95, but it's not at all difficult to pick one up at a street price of around 200 bucks! Yup, you heard that right-$200 for two top-notch condenser mics!
On a final note regarding the solidly-constructed, really-cool case, I like the fact that the inside cutouts were built from two removable levels of foam. This lets me change the layout for storing and carrying the mics in various ways. For example, since I always record in XY stereo, I couldn't resist buying two Pro Pacs. Taking the lower foam cutout out from under each mic cradle gives me enough space to piggy-back two 2001's and/or 603's in a single cradle. This means that I can easily pack four mics in a single case. Likewise, the shock mounts fit in either cradle, so a case can easily carry a matched pair of these as well. Speaking of matches, Marshall will gladly hand match a stereo pair of 603's for an extra $50.
To say that the Pro Pac is well worth checking out is a major understatement. Your ears and your pocketbook will definitely thank you.