Beyerdynamic M90 PRO X mic review: Well-rounded inside and out
The Beyerdynamic M90 PRO X condenser mic offers a precise, natural sound that makes it very easy to work with.
The Beyerdynamic M90 PRO X condenser microphone sits front-and-center in the longstanding German audio manufacturer’s new PRO X line of creator-centric microphones and headphones (including the DT 700 PRO X and the DT 900 PRO X, both of which are worth a look in you’re a mobile producer). Along with its speech- and streaming-tailored sibling the M70 PRO X dynamic mic (which I’ve given its own dedicated review), the M90 PRO X condenser features meticulous engineering and precise design at an accessible price point that’s aimed squarely at project studios and home recordists. I recently had the opportunity to test the M90 PRO X in front of several different musical sources at my home studio and based on my workflow and real-world context I found it a worthy addition to a gear collection.
The Beyerdynamic M90 PRO X’s design
The M90 PRO X looks nearly identical to its sibling the M70 PRO X and they’re both some of the best-looking microphones I’ve had the opportunity to test. The M90 PRO X features a matte black chassis with a simple grill around its sides and at its top. It connects to any microphone stand via the included shockmount—one that is much simpler than many others I’ve seen, but the design is fleshed out with clear intention. Specifically, Beyerdynamic says that it draws inspiration from the strength and simplicity of the Japanese maple tree. Most interestingly, the shockmount features a relatively deep central basket that holds the microphone firmly in place, which is a departure from the traditional ring-and-clamp design but much more secure.
As a condenser microphone, the Beyerdynamic M90 PRO X features a sensitive internal capsule that extends vertically from the base of the microphone. This design receives sound from the side of the mic and the M90 PRO X, in particular, has a heart-shaped cardioid pattern that receives sound from one side only. The face of the mic is clearly labeled and its side-address design is in line with just about every other condenser mic on the market; my only gripe with the design overall is that it shares a similar body and grill with the M70 PRO X—a dynamic microphone that receives sound through the top, not through the sides—so there’s the chance you’ll grab the wrong one if in a rush.
In addition to a shockmount, the M90 PRO X includes a rather large studio-quality pop filter with a gooseneck and clamp for quick adjustments. The pop filter reminds me of the Shure Popper Stopper, and it’s overall a more substantial design than I expected to be included with the microphone for no additional cost. The gooseneck itself is a bit finicky and requires some initial adjustment on the stand to achieve the sturdiest placement, but I was overall very satisfied with its quality.
Getting started with the Beyerdynamic M90 Pro X
The Beyerdynamic M90 PRO X comes in a simple package that features a molded plastic insert with dedicated spots for the microphone and the shock mount. Below this insert, the gooseneck pop filter sits in a cardboard box of its own. A rather snug drawstring bag provides a dedicated safe place for the microphone but the lack of any dedicated carrying case for the shockmount or pop filter makes it necessary to hang onto the entire box and molded insert for travel and storage.
Setting up the M90 PRO X for recording was a breeze, which is a big deal in creative contexts where inspiration might strike with little notice. It was very easy to affix to the shockmount by slipping it into the basket and securing it at its base using a simple screw-on ring. From there, the shockmount went onto a boom microphone stand, and I hooked up the mic to my Universal Audio Apollo 8 interface using a single XLR cable.
Like most condenser microphones, the M90 PRO X requires 48-volt phantom power to function. This is an incredibly common feature that can be found on all the best audio interfaces and mixers of any size but it’s still an important thing to keep in mind. It’s also not a USB microphone, which limits you to using industry-standard XLR cables and your own dedicated audio interface for recording. That may be a limitation to some select users but the M90 PRO X is completely up to spec with pro-grade recording gear with regards to connectivity.
The PRO X’s sound
The Beyerdynamic M90 PRO X revealed itself in recordings to be an incredibly versatile microphone with a neutral sound that wasn’t particularly exaggerated or unnatural. This bodes well for its efficacy at performing as an all-around studio workhorse, which is one of the most common duties for condenser microphones in pro studios. Unlike the M70 PRO X, which is a dynamic mic that’s engineered to greatly enhance frequencies of speech, the M90 PRO X has a frequency response that remains flat through the midrange and has just a slight boost up to 5 dB at 5,000 Hz. It’s very typical for studio microphones to have an upper-range lift like this, as it emulates the weighted frequency response of the human ear, which isn’t entirely neutral or “flat.”
I tested the M90 PRO X on vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar amp, kick drum, and drum overheads in an attempt to emulate the all-around duties of a standard workhorse studio condenser like the similarly priced AKG C214. Compared directly with the C214, the M90 PRO X offers a flatter midrange response that gives it a slight advantage when it comes to recording instruments, especially mid-heavy guitar amps and percussion. Both microphones excel at capturing vocals thanks to their high-frequency lifts, with the M90 PRO X offering a slightly more buoyant and production-ready sound on the front end.
The M90 PRO X’s light high-end boost never came off as feeling “cheap” or “thin” sounding and instead added some air to recorded sounds that I found very lively, especially on voice and electric guitar. Low-end was always full and present without sounding boomy or unclear and midrange frequencies sounded smooth and detailed. Sources with an excess of high-frequency information, like drum cymbals, did begin to veer into harsh-sounding territory but that’s to be expected when recording top-heavy sounds with an added high-frequency boost. This excess of “air” might be suitable for recording a very particular and bright drum sound that works in traditional pop productions, but it was a bit too intense for my taste; I happen to prefer using very “dark” microphones that might otherwise be too woolly or veiled for recording shrill sounds like cymbals.
One critical fact to remember is that superior sensitivity is what causes condenser microphones to perform so reliably across a variety of sound sources. The flip side to this reality is that they’re notorious for picking up room sound, reverberations, and noise from the outside world. For this reason, the M90 PRO X will always sound best in a room with some amount of acoustic treatment or isolation. It’s still a fantastic choice if you want to record a number of different instruments and vocalists but if you’re in need of a reliable voiceover/podcasting mic, the broadcast-tailored sound of the M70 PRO X dynamic microphone might be more your speed.
So, who should buy the Beyerdynamic M90 PRO X?
The immediacy and versatility of the Beyerdynamic M90 PRO X make it a really impressive piece of equipment for its price point. Beyerdynamic has a reputation for meticulous engineering and it’s clear that the PRO X was built with that same drive and intention. Small workhorse condenser microphones should be the very first piece of gear on the list for studio owners who want the most bang for their buck and the M90 PRO X is undoubtedly one the best options on the market that I’ve tested for that purpose. The Beyerdynamic M90 PRO X’s combination of value and design makes it well worth a look for musicians, engineers, and producers of every type.