*An Oldie But a Goodie* Kenwood MC-90 Mic

When Kenwood’s MC-90 Deluxe Desk-Top Microphone first hit the shelves, it was lauded as the ‘bee’s knees’ of mics; a ‘must have’ DXcessory for any ham or 11m DXer whose shack featured a Kenwood rig.

Being somewhat of an audio religion extremist, I’d trialed a number of desk mics in search of that impeccable sound so I was chuffed to get my hands on this unit, and provide a brief commentary for the DA-RC.

Manufactured in Japan and released back in the early 2000’s, the Kenwood MC-90 was marketed as a ‘high-quality DSP rig companionable desk mic’.

Not only was it a great looking mic (and still is for its vintage) but also a perfect match to the DSP feature in the Kenwood TS-2000 transceiver which came out at pretty much the same time.




Looking Back…My Experiences

Testing on a TS-2000, the wide response of the MC-90 works very well on SSB with the rig’s internal audio settings.

I had a lot of fun, in fact, interchanging between the transceiver’s Conventional, Bass and Hi audio menu options and testing the sounds via the 2000’s monitor system.

With the MC-90 mic, the Hi audio selection is my favorite as it seemed to cut through the bands and made my TX more audible in a pile up.




Weighing in at 1.1 kg (equivalent to about 3 stubbies of beer hihi) the MC-90 was supplied with two interchangeable heads that have different tonal characteristics.

These are not distinct cartridges like with some mics, but 2 separate ‘shells’ that screw on the end.

One has a flat frequency response for good overall performance when talking locally.

The other offers exceptional clarity and an output level characteristic that peaks at around 3 kHz.

This makes it superb for DX work!



Featuring PTT Lock, up/down controls (See close up pic above), and measuring approximately 90 x 205 x 175mm, there’s also a 3-position (M, V1 or V2) EQ switch on the base to tailor low-range cut-off frequency to suit the operator.

Another option I suggest is using an EQ instead for a tailored response.

I’ve found that the MC-90 works extremely well into my Behringer Ultragraph DEQ1024 EQ, for instance, with or without amplification.

Another positive is that the MC-90 has a Cannon XLR connector instead of the old 12 pin on the MC-60.

This way you can use other mics on the base or use the MC-90 mic with a regular mic cable.



POSSIBILITIES

Most owners agree that the MC-90 Deluxe Desk-Top Microphone isn’t appropriate for use on FM due to the deliberate lack of sensitivity by design.

I had the idea of building a small amplifier which fits internally giving about 20db boost without any noticeable degrading of quality.

This actually worked well on all modes but, unfortunately, was still too quiet for comfortable FM use.

Considering the basic specification and the fact that it’s only useful on SSB, it’s difficult to justify the expense for this microphone which retailed new at over $300 AUD.

But when you’ve got a TL-922 roaring away in the background (which I don’t) or a noisier XYL threatening divorce proceedings for excessive TITS (Time In The Shack) that’s where it pays dividends.

In my opinion, though, it truly compliments the DSP rig giving beautiful audio with the unwanted extraneous sounds drastically attenuated and completely removed when using an EQ noise gate.



As it happens, since the mic’s appearance on the ham scene some 20 years ago, the price has dropped.  You can now pick one up on eBay for around $100 AUD if you’re lucky.

73 de Darren