Editor’s Choice: Marshall Electronics MXL AC-404 USB-Powered Microphone

I want to tell you guys a little story. A couple of days ago we got a shipment from Marshall Electronics with a few products to test out. The others are actually much more flashy and expensive, so you’d probably assume we’d reach for those to test first, right? But that isn’t the case. We see so much new technology that the thing that really catches our eye is a new product that fills a particular need.

I went straight for the USB-Powered MXL AC-404 Microphone.

The reason is simple! Cali and I are constantly doing conference calls via Skype, and we’ve never come across a small, portable USB powered microphone we could use that really sounds better than the ones built into our MacBook Air. Until now.

I unpacked the MXL AC-404 and was happy to see that it comes with an extra long USB cable, for reaching across a long conference desk, and a carry pouch. I zipped them up and took ’em with me.

Later, I gave Cali a ring on Skype and we started up a video call. At first I was using the built in microphone, but I told her I was going to plug in the MXL and give it a shot. As soon as I did, I asked her how it sounded and she actually had a shocked look on her face.

At this point, I was trying to figure out just how bad things were. I asked, “Can you hear me?” She was like, “Yeah!” And I said, “How does it compare?” Her reply – “Wow! It doesn’t!”

The funny thing is that the MXL was sitting several feet away from me on the middle of a table, while I had been talking directly into the MacBook Air’s mic. But she proceeded to tell me that by comparison the Mac sounded tinny and flat. But the MXL, despite being at least 2 feet further away, sounded more natural and open.

It’s extremely rare that either of us gets shocked by a piece of gear. So right away the MXL AC-404 earns a Geek Beat Editor’s Choice award. But even if it was just “really good” and not great, it would be deserving for solving a real need elegantly and cost effectively. Oh, I forgot to mention – you can pick it up over on Amazon for just over $80! That’s one heck of a good buy.

I hope MXL doesn’t ask us to ship this microphone back, because I don’t think Cali is giving it up! 😉


  1. says

    Sounds like I might have to give this one a try. MXL certainly makes some bitchin’ mics and I don’t doubt their quality one bit. I am, however, wondering if you’ve tried Blue Microphone’s Snowball. I’ve been using it a lot lately, as it’s a good all-around portable mic. I think it may be about $20 cheaper than the AC-404 too, depending on where you shop. I’d really be interested in seeing a comparison between the two.