Look around you on a train, in the mall or at the movies, and you’ll have no doubt that we’re in the age of mobile devices. More than just a phone and Web browser, these devices have also become our primary tool to take pictures and shoot video. MXL Microphones, a division of Marshall Electronics, is based in El Segundo CA; as a company known for being on the leading edge of technology, MXL certainly hasn’t missed the advent of the mobile age. According to MXL Director of Sales and Marketing Perry Goldstein, “Traditional users having transitioned from camcorders and DSLRs to mobile devices, along with new users entering the market and using their mobile device as both a communications device and a camera, have created a very large market for accessories.” It’s a market that MXL is extremely well positioned to tap into.

“Since about 2009, we were looking at the mobile products market and wondering what sort of audio products could be made for these devices,” Goldstein explained. It quickly became clear that manufacturers were focused on improving the quality of the cameras the devices offered. And, with more video apps being created, market-watchers began to notice mics entering the market to improve audio-capture capabilities. “Users quickly found that the built-in mics were very limited in their capabilities,” he elaborated. “It was our vision to create a full line of mics for these devices: similar to the ones used by professionals for the broadcast market. We wanted to have a mic for every occasion.” And, although it took about three years to launch the line, MXL’s very excited that its Mobile Media Series has arrived.

The Mobile Media (or MM) Series is composed of cell phone- and tablet-compatible microphones designed to work with any 3.5-millimeter jack, regardless of the device’s particular OS. “We designed them to plug into the 3.5-millimeter analog jack because that’s the only universal audio input,” Goldstein remarked. He expounded further by saying, “We decided to use electret mics, since they sound better than dynamics. We’re able to get power from the device. Plus, we have a headphone jack on all of our cables, since the device’s headphone jack is lost when our mic is plugged in.” Clearly, the line was well thought out during its lengthy period of gestation. The initial fleet of models includes the following: MM-110, MM-130, MM-160 and MM-VE001.

Let’s take a look at each of the models in turn. The MM-110, a boundary mic, is designed to pick up a radius of about 180 degrees and has a 25-foot distance. Its low-profile chassis is well suited for table placement, and it’s designed to record meetings, interviews and lectures. The MM-130, a handheld mic (or, as it’s sometimes known, an interview mic) is probably the most commonly used one. The electret capsule allows for dual polar patterns: omni or cardioid. It also has a high and low gain switch. The mic has an XLR jack with a separate six-foot cable. “We decided on a removable cable, rather than a built-in cable,” Goldstein revealed. “With a long cable, the subject can stand far away from the camera for a full headshot. And, a removable cable can easily be replaced if it breaks.”

The MM-160 is a lavalier mic with a six-foot cable. “We use an omni capsule, because less-experienced subjects have a tendency to move their head during an interview,” Goldstein noted. “This gives the speaker the ability to move around without losing audio pick up.” The long cable allows the subject to be far enough from the camera to get a full headshot. Finally, there’s the MM-VE001 kit, which includes a mini shotgun mic and a mounting system. The mic is battery-powered and plugs directly into a DSLR. “In order to use it with a mobile device,” he began, “we add a special cable that has impedance matching and a Y adapter for the headphone jack.” The mic has roll off and three-step gain. Because a shotgun mic must be mounted, MXL includes a grip with a cold shoe mount, handgrip and tripod capability. The device holder is adjustable so the user can pair just about any cell phone with it.

Thus far, and probably not surprisingly, the response to this line of products has been extremely enthusiastic, as measured by both placement and sell-through. “It’s a real attention-getter at trade shows,” Goldstein enthused. “It’s been especially well received in two professional markets: music recording and journalism.” And indeed, few things could better underscore the excitement buzzing through the marketplace about the Mobile Media Series than the fact that the entire line, as a whole, won “Best in Show” at the 2014 NAMM show. “Real seasoned professionals who are used to working with the best cameras in the world are moving to their mobile devices, and they’re in real need of quality audio solutions,” Goldstein explained. And, with MXL’s diverse array of Mobile Media models, every user has one that’s well suited to his or her needs.

The newest Mobile Media offering, available soon, will be the MM-4000: a portable, four-mic mixer. “It has four TRRS input jacks, which is the jack that our MM line uses,” Goldstein remarked. “Each input has its own variable gain. It has a 3.5-millimeter analog out, with variable gain and USB digital out.” There’s a headphone out jack with volume, and the product’s powered either by two AA batteries or through the USB bus. It has a quarter 20 thread for tripod mounting. Made with a lightweight, all-metal construction, the product’s analog output can be plugged into the headphone jack of a mobile phone. In addition, iPhones and iPads can take a digital audio signal through the Lightning jack, with a USB adapter.

We are currently in an era of MI retailing in which broadening your store’s selection—whether to include lighting and trussing products or to incorporate video-centered gear and mobile-device accessories—has become essential. “It seems that the music stores are slowly adding these products to their assortment,” Goldstein affirmed, adding, “The market for professional solutions for mobile devices is in its infancy. Retailers are placing them on their Web sites in order to gauge the need and sales velocity. Once the market matures, we’ll see them move even more into brick-and-mortar music stores.”

All shipping now except the MM-4000, these truly innovative products range in price from $59.95 to $249.95.

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