Apple, Audio/Video, Companies, Hardware, Mobile Computing, Opinion

Can MXL Keep Up The Tempo?

Not only are headphone manufacturers jumping onto the iDevice bandwagon this year, mobile sound recording is steadily joining in on the fun. MXL, a big name in professional and home studio recording, has debuted their new Tempo USB Condenser Microphone.

MXL Tempo USB Microphone as seen connected to the Apple iPad

USB Microphones have occupied the home studio for some time now, but mics that can connect directly to the 30-pin dock port of an iPad may be the "next big thing". The Tempo offers high-fidelity audio input to the iPad, as well as standard USB 2.0 ports on both PC and Mac.

The Tempo can work directly with mobile recording apps, capturing at a maximum quality of 48 kHz sampling rate by 16-bit depth. This format works well with the human voice, and even basic instrumentation, in case you also wanted to record a backtrack of your guitar and whatnot. A 3.5 mm headphone jack is built directly into the mic, allowing for latency-free monitoring.

Blue Microphone Spark Digital USB Microphone for the iDevices

However, after checking out Blue Microphone’s Spark Digital mic at CES 2012, the Tempo unfortunately falls behind in both features and user experience. First, the Tempo can only connect to this proprietary tablet through Apple?s iPad Camera Connection Kit, another $30 accessory. Hitting the shelves sometime this year, the Blue Spark will include a separate cable that will allow direct connection to the iPad?s dock port. The Spark also features on-mic volume, mute, and switchable sonic signature controls. It will also capture a broader frequency range than the Tempo, possibly opening up more instrumentation options during a mobile session.

While Spark?s price tag has not yet been announced, it looks like MXL may need to reattempt their venture into the iDevice craze. Or perhaps this expansion hasn’t been a primary focus for them at all. I have used many different studio condenser mics, including MXLs, for voiceovers and ADR (auto dialogue replacement) sessions in the past, and they?ve never let me down. Even their Studio 24 USB mic performed very well during an impromptu interview I engineered at a client’s home (underneath a furniture blanket fort). 

As manufacturers like Blue and TASCAM continue to embrace Apple popularity with newer and more compact recording hardware, will MXL stay comfortable with what they already do best, or will they give it another go?