Michael Joly Engineering is the current focus of my long career in analog audio product design and manufacturing: two years at the legendary Stars Guitars custom shop in San Francisco, fifteen years under David Blackmer (founder of dbx Inc. and Earthworks Microphones), and over twenty years of microphone modifications under my OktavaMod brand.
For decades I’ve been involved with microphones at the circuit, transducer, and head-basket levels. But these are mere technicalities. Whether you’re buying your first mic or adding a new one to a nearly packed locker, my goals stay the same: to make your mic buying decisions easier and to help you make better recordings - and MJE is surprisingly affordable.
Contact me through the green button above and let's get to work.
75 ReviewsEndorse Profile User 17736
I sent Michael a new Rode NT1-A and got back what I asked for - a Neumann esque sound with tight lows. It performs wonderfully and was money very well spent. I chose the 6 micron version as opposed to the 3 micron. I'd tell other VO people about it, but that's not good for my business...just kidding....I tell everyone about this mod.
I use the Fatboy by Michael Joly. It gives the warmth of a U 87 for 1/10 of the cost. Not to mention the customer service is second to none. I was hearing interference when recording vocals, and contacted Joly Engineering to ask what it might be. Without hesitation they told me to send back the Fatboy and set me a replacement that day. Love them!!
I had the "Ultimate SDC Mod" done on a pair of MXL 603s. What a difference from the stock mics!! The high end used to have a "phasey", shrill sound and now they sound smooth and natural. The mushy bottom end has been tightened up considerably. I've used it on acoustic guitar, drum OH's and even choir. Michael was great to deal with! Thanks!
Michael's Mics and mods are fantastic and, if that were all, it would be worth the 5 stars, but I've also had some of the best customer service experiences I've ever had from anyone, anywhere. I could not be happier and will always recommend their work. Also, I've learned so much by reading Michael's posts and articles, many thanks there, too!
The MJE-384K "Roadster" capsules are on par with any of the best Schoeps or Neumann small condenser mics I've ever used. Cymbals, percussion, and acoustic instruments sound natural and full of life with my modded NT-5s. The Roadsters pass the key jingle test with flying colors! (My KM184 did not) My Rode NTK and Oktava MK219 are next for a mod.
Great mic mods! I had Michael mod an NT1 - it sounds very good and is a go to mic quite often for vocals and acoustic guitars. Highly recommended and solid customer service.
I've been working with Michael's K47H Oktava mod for a couple years now, and am alway impressed by its depth of field, detail, and pleasing roundness on the top end. Great on violin, various horns and woodwinds, and vocals. One of the most frequently used microphones in my cabinet! Great sound, great pricing!
Amazing microphones for a killer price. I constantly get rave reviews on anything I record, and that is due mostly to the small arsenal of Michael's modded mics that I own. I would never buy from anyone else.
Also, he's a great guy who will take time out of his day to make sure you're getting the right mic for your needs. Highly recommended!
Great stuff! Mk 012 pair with great detail. Thanks Michael!
Bought a pair of MJE K47H Capsules, very happy with the sound and quality. Michael Joly was also very helpful and informative with questions that I had.
I own the MJE-990 "Hulk" and the new MJE "FatBoy" modded mics. These microphones are nothing short of phenomenal. I've used them on everything from vocals to acoustic instruments (guitar, mandolin, banjo, violin) to guitar amps and even bagpipes! They never fail to produce an accurate recording of whatever source I choose! Sell your Neumann today!!
I owned the MJE-384K "Roadster" capsules ! UNBELIEVABLE! I know the schoeps colletes.... These Michael Jolly's capsules are also "open" and clear as the MK4. Great Job!!!
I used my pair of MK-219's quite a bit for recording drums and amps . . . with the pad on, of course! I found out about Mr. Joly's mod's for these. I sent one and held back the other, so that I could do an A-B comparison. His service was prompt. I did my comparison. Wow. I sent the other one to him right away! They are now my fav's for vocals.
I own some mods and some original MJ mics and they are awesommmmme!!!! Also, his tech support is outrageously generous and excellent
SELL YOUR NEUMANNS and BUY THESE MICS!
I sold 2 Neumanns and spent the money on 12 of Michael Joly's mics.
It's not just about the money. Joly's mics are either wholly indistinguishable from Neumann's, or BETTER. Neumanns are delicate & not very versatile. Joly's mics are rock solid, and VERY versatile.
Best mics I ever bought, bar none
I have a MK-219 with premium Electronics. It sounds gorgeous. My dealings with MJoly have always been cordial and speedy. I am self produced so I want to spend minimal time fussing with sound. With this mic, no fuss no muss. I should get another!
Own several MJE mics - all winners.
Stunning mics and absolutely top notch service. The audio world is a better place because Michael Joly is in it!
Had an Oktava 219 premium modded by Michael. Great service and communication.
The real deal is the sound. I used it for one session on standup bass that was maybe 14 or 15 feet away from the drum kit. The rhythm track and space from the front and the back of the mic are outstanding. Vocals and acoustic guitar..Love it. want 205 ribbon mods next
Michael Joly microphones sound freaking outstanding! I am a big supporter of his work and am looking forward to add more of his mics to my locker. Customer service is great and shipping was fast. I bought "The Hulk" mic and have used it on just about every source imaginable and it hasn't let me down yet. Keep up the great work Micahel!
Amazing mic mods and customer service! Save thousands on mics that sound just as good!
The Joly Mics are everything I need - great sounding!
Michael is a good guy and easy to do business with. He has great ears (or... at least ones I appreciate;-) his modified microphones are very musical. I own 9 now, 1st mod was 10-12 years ago and I’ve never had issues with any of his mics. I doubt anyone will be disappointed with MJE’s customer service, design and/or work.
Microphone quality and customer service are top notch Michael is very hands on with his business and makes every customer feel like a friend.
Got my 1st MJE in 2014, now own MK-012, v250, LR-44, Hulk, NT1A, TCM1050, Roadster & K47H caps. I've bought new & mods. Use @home studio & live on strings, perc & vox. I own AEA/Neumann/AKG/Peluso & MJE is right there. Amazing value, but best of all? MJE customer-svc is as good as it gets. Do yourself a favor and get this man on your team.
I never ordered MJE - just wasn't sure - but then the FatBoys were on sale and I gave them a try. I'm sold! These quickly earned a place with mics I leave out, my go-to mics. Sound coming out is a little bigger than what goes in. It's not that mid-forward sound that I never liked in an 87. Don't need to EQ these. Add shockmount and pop filter;-)
I am the proud owner of a Hulk 990. I have owned an AKG 414, TLM 103, AT4040, and an AKG Solidtube here at home, and the 990 blew them all away, especially on vocals. I'm also happier with the sound I get here with it through a Focusrite Forte or M-Audio Projectmix than I was with a U-87 through a Focusrite Liquid Pre in a very nice college studio.
I have a couple of Michael's modified Rode NT1a microphones and they are my work horses for all sorts of recording duties. I'll use them to mic a piano, for singers, and V.O. work.
His work took a "meh" microphone and turned it into gold. The difference is night and day. I have a couple more microphones that are standing by for his magic touch.
I've gassed for a MJE mic for years! The skill in doing what you do on his planet makes up for 10% of who you are the other 90% is your character. Any dealings I've had with Michael have been excellent, he's a good soul and shares his knowledge freely.
I do voiceover work (audiobooks), and bought Michael Joly's MJE-47K capsule head with the MK-012-01 body. It is my favorite microphone. I prefer it to far more expensive alternatives.
I have had a pair of modified Apex Ribbon mics now for 5 years. and are still perfect. Are used on drum O/H to violins, cello's, electric guitars. Have been on many recordings.
Thanks Michael for the advice and service.
Years ago, I bought a MJE MK-319 with premium mod upgrade from Michael Joly (Oktavamod) and it has been the best mic purchase I've ever made. I highly recommend his mics to everyone. If you can't hear the difference, why pay the difference??? Stock up your premium mic locker three times as fast. I promise, you won't ever look back. - Jeff B.
I bought an MJE LR-44 about a year ago. I've used it in several applications where I wanted a vintage sound, and it's delivered 100%. I live in a college town with lots of young recording artists, and my LR-44 has gone out on loan for several acoustic music projects. We're learning what ribbon mics can do thanks to MJE's affordable high quality!
1 MXL v87 mod and 2 Hulk 990 Mods. In an upgrade of my home studio I bought a $1500 tube mic from a retail store; didn't fit the bill and returned. I had 3 MXL's upgraded by Micheal. Each is far superior (in my judgement) to the tube mic and I ended up with 3 superior mics instead of 1; with $ left over. Great stuff, exceptional service. Cool!
I had him mod an MXL 603 for my daughter to use to record herself, and it worked really well. A couple of years later, we had him mod another, and by then he had changed his 'gill' mod slightly. Slightly disappointed that they did not match, I contacted him, and he happily (and quickly) 're-modded' the first one to match - great service!
I've had two MXL mics modded by Michael. I use them both for music, vocals and instruments, and a lot of audio book/voice over work that my wife does. They work so well for me that I'm probably going to be selling the several mid-priced microphones I have collected over the years. I just don't use them anymore. No need. Thanks Michael.
I've been building my home studio for years and there are lots of expenses. Until I discovered Michael Joly's work I had little hope of having the kind of microphones I needed for the work I wanted to do. I have owned several top flight "B" level microphones like Mojave etc but the MJE mics I have are by far the best and I can actually afford them.
I emailed Michael and outlined the problems I was having with my vocal and acoustic guitar recordings. All I can say is he got right back to me with a recommendation of his modded MXL-910, now known as the MJE Fatboy. The mic is as advertised, and I'm no longer dealing with that ugly sizzle on my vocals and acoustic tracks.
Was about to sell my old RØDE NT2 (nice looking paperweight compared to U87) when I considered having it modded. Came across Michael Joly's name on the web. Based on his rep I sent my mic off for a mod, which cost around what the mic originally cost (approx. $400). The result? Great! As in "Neumann-ish" great. Punches WAY above its weight.
I had him mod my Oktava MKL2500, my Oktava ML-52-02 Ribbons, and plan to have him mod my Oktava ML-102 mics when I get the money. He's always answered questions quickly and really knows his stuff. Best of all his mods are the best! My MKL2500 is my go to mic now for vocals, guitar, and a bunch of other stuff. Fantastic!
Bought the MK012 and MJE K47h combo. Incredible sound and versatility. I'll be ordering another someday so I can use the in pairs! Additionally, Michael has always responded to emails promptly. Absolutely flawless support!
I took my Joly modded Rode Nt-1 to a friends studio who is an NPR music reviewer. We did a shootout with his U87 and much to his chagrin he liked the Joly mike better than his precious Neuiman...about a $3000 price difference too.
The price of MJE products is simply incredible for the quality of performance. Had a pair of NT2As modified to upgrade one location rig several years ago; they became my go-to main pair for most jobs. Since then, we added 3 Roadster capsule sets for NT5 pairs (huge difference from the Rode caps), and a pair of NT1a Mods. Looking to add more!!
I replaced my Neumann tlm 103 mic with the MJE Hulk 990 and to be honest i don't have any regrets this MJE Hulk 990 Mic sound fantastic. Excellent quality products and first class customer service. Good guys:) Thank You Michael
I could never have afforded a pair of microphones in the class of the MJE 910's I bought pre-modded from the site. They've been the most versatile, best sounding microphone for everything from close-miced acoustic guitars to room mics on a 6-person rock band in a barn. I'm absolutely going to buy more of Michael's modded mics in the future!!
Just a church sound guy here who uses the MJE 'Roadster' capsules for my Rode NT5s to tame the sibilance of choral recordings...
Michael modded my two MK-219's with the premium upgrade a while ago now, and they have always been a highlight of my mic closet. What he can do to a sub-par mic is nothing short of amazing. Highly recommended.
Michael's Round-Top Premium mod on a dented Oktava 319 produced a great mic, accentuating all the good qualities of the 319. It came back smoother, though, with a beautiful, mid-range tone perfect for lead instruments and vocals to step out with. Punches (pun intended) above its weight. Next up - a pair of MK 0-12s for stereo duty.
MJE mics are absolutley my favorite. At one point, I owned an entire selection of Nuemann and other high-end studio mics. Now, apart from a few sm57s, every mic in my studio is an MJE. There's no doubt that they are simply the best mics and the prices are insane.
While I have yet to send my mics to Michael for modding, he has quickly responded to my emails and questions. I have also made recent purchases of mics recommended by Michael for modding. When I am ready to invest in my mods, I will only deal with Michael. Very impressed up to this point.
I had a Bluebird modded; it didn't work out of the box, I was a bit disturbed that after waiting, my mic came back broken. MJE was quick to remedy the situation, and I remain astounded at what simple changes can do to the character of a microphone. Trust restored, I sent my Apex 460 for modification; this mic also has improved to world class
I own two MJE modded Oktava MK-012s. They replace a pair of KM184s that I sold. Use is for ambient and FX field recording as stereo pair, foley, and recording for film. With shockmount, these are perfect for this use. I Don't miss the Neumann's. Just bought 10 more for student filmmaker use. Love MJ's various advice posts too.
let's just say that it was a VERY good day here at ncrstudio when my MJ's arrived! Could not believe how well they did in a shootout against my Manley Reference Cardioid...which is like...ten times the price!!!! Awesome value for the $$$!
First let's talk about the service. I was updated continually through the process, from the time I submitted the order until the mics were shipped. I had an MK 319 and a MXL V67 that Michael modded and both are worlds apart from the originals. I can't say enough about the quality of the workmanship and the resulting sound. Five stars I not enough.
Whatever I record using whatever mic believed to fit the situation most, I'm grabbing my MJE-v250 for a second track. That's when you discover the MJE mic sounded the best. Again. It goes on everything, and shines.
I have 2 Hulk 990's from Michael, and I am set to receive my modified Oktava MK-012's today. I can't wait to get my hands on the MK-012's! I use the Hulk 990's religiously on overheads, piano, organ and multiple stringed instruments. Thanks Michael for making such beautiful microphones!
No Brainer! The Joly Mics are everything I need - great sounding, adaptable to many situations, and inexpensive compared to any of the 'Classics". I have a 990 Mod and a Gomez that work great in any number of circumstances. The Gomez is great on Guitar Cabs or to tame a singer's high end, and the 990 mod for OH drums and Vocals. Simple!
Joly mics stand with (and often beat) name brand mics at 5-10x the price.
Fantastic person making fantastic mics.
I bought a 219. from Mike and had him mod a 1040. The stunning thing about these mics now is I no longer have to dial in an eq setting. AT ALL. Now eq can be used as an effect. Mind blowing.
His work has made the biggest difference in my mic collection. He's innovated the use of solid core copper (Evidence) wire in his mics as part of his many steps to get the truest signal path.
I have enjoyed my hulk mod for over a year now. This for me was a major step in home recording, mind you my original mic was a simple studio projects B1! Needless to say, my recording have been much more clear, mixing has been much more enjoyable, and paired with my Kaotica eyeball and UAd plugs....I couldn't ask for much else.
I have two MK219s I had one modified so I could do a shot-out between them. No surprise there was a huge difference! But what was a surprise was how much I started liking that mic. I had the second one done and now I have a very nice matched pair of LDCs..
MJ mods are top notch with expertise, uniquely accessible & easy to buy. Had 2 cheap CAD GXL1200s upgraded & stereo matched. Also had an NT1A upgrade, sounds much better now. Upgrades were fast & communication was great. At one point the NT1A & a CAD had a technical problem, getting it fixed was quick and easy. Would definitely buy from again.
I purchased a pair MJE-384K to replace my stock Rode NT5 capsules. I use them exclusively as spaced pair drum overheads paired w/ the pres on my first gen Midas Venice 240. The improvement has lifted my drum tracks to a level of professionalism that gets rave compliments. Possibly the best mod for the best price out there. Amazing.
I have had MJE mod several mics for me (two Oktava 012s, two Oktava 319s) and have purchased one of the already modded MXL 900s. One of the 319s in now in the studio of a famous actress and narrator (though I don't want to use her name without permission). In comparing an AKG 414 (recommended by her agent), the Oktava was the clear winner.
Ive got my rode modified years ago and I have never looked back. It just sounds amazing, it really does sound more high end. Sending the mic for mod has also been a very smooth experience. I've also coverd it in an article on my blog. Http://getinstrumental.com
Michael modded my Oktava MK01. It was decent sounding before, but after things really opened up. I recorded an Irish harp with it and heard a much more clear, present sound. It was pretty amazing the difference the good parts meant. I have purchased 4 additional mics from him since, all of them great sounding and for the money, fantastic bargains.
Regardless of when I was engineering and producing for a national indie release or a private bedroom project, my Joly-modded mics always got a lot of use, especially for acoustic guitars and vocals, in spite of whatever else might have been available. Joly's products now make up the majority of my mic locker. Superlative service, great people.
I do practically all my vocal recording with an Oktava 319 that Michael Joly modified. Not only do I love it, but I have a recording engineer friend with world class creds who calls me a couple times a year to borrow it. Michael Joly made a pretty good mic into an indispensable go-to piece.
I recently acquired 2 MJ Fatboys and 2 modded CM90's and I was blown away by both! I got them mainly for drum OH and Room, but now they're my to go mics for everything else. The fatboy on vocals combined with my isa430 is a dream. The modded cm90 give my acoustic sources an upfront sound as if you where in the room with the player. Best bang ever!!
I am a bit of a sound nerd and I'm very picky about the mics that I use. A friend of mine introduced me to Michael Joly's work. Completely amazing. The frequency response and warmth from his mics easily compare and better the industry standard mics.
Excellent service, well made products. You can't ask for anything more.
I have had both a few mics modded, and bought a new MJE K47H from michael. in both cases the service was very personal and responsive. as far as the mics go, they've taken the place over more"expensive" mics as faves in my studio. thanks! keep up the great work, and devotion to new products-R Ryan Pritts/ El Guapo Recorders, NC
I am totally blown by my matched Oktava MK 0-12's. They sound PHENOMENAL. The first thing I recorded with one of them was actually a male singer, and it just had such clarity and warmth. Not only was the mic fantastic Michael was a real pleasure to do business with and he was happy to answer all my questions. I will definitely be coming back!
You learn most about a company or a person by how they cope when things don't go to plan. I have purchased several microphones from MJE and I can vouch that they provide excellent quality products and first class customer service. Good guys!
The quality of Michael's NT1a mod I use exclusively for recording my texts is top notch. Having done recordings with both the unmodified and the modified version of the mic I'd say the mod is worth its money many times over. Plus, Michael does not only engineer like he means it - he also *really* cares for customer satisfaction. Outstanding.
Interview with Profile User 17736
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I design, engineer and modify recording studio microphones
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Classic sound! Whether its the sound of an acoustic guitar, male or female vocal, piano, drums ... Michael Joly Engineering microphones and modifications provide a classic "VingtageVoiced" studio microphone sound in the small diaphragm condenser, large diaphragm condenser and ribbon microphone categories.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My ability to help other people to do their best and most communicative work. My microphones are only a means to this end.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: MJE mics are being used by everyone one from chart-topping engineers such as Damian Taylor (Björk), Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliot Smith), KRAMER (The Fugs, Half Japanese, Bongwater, Shockabilly, Ween, Butthole Surfers, Pulp Fiction soundtrack...) and Adam Lasus (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah). 10,000+ indie and major label artists, engineers and producers have joined the Michael Joly Engineering roster.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Move the mic !!!
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: My style? omg - I'm a former punk rocker, old school analog audio engineer who is a serious student / practitioner of the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, Anthony De Mello and Marcus Aurelius.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I moved to San Francisco in 1976 and soon joined Stars Guitars, the legendary custom guitar shop. So I've been an active analog audio design engineer for almost 40 years.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Use your own ears! Listen to my sound samples.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are you recording? What mics have you used? What mics do you own? What are your iconic recordings?
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Great question! Because I compare the results of my work against the classic mics like the Neumann U 47, U 67, U 87, KM 84 and Coles 4038 people think I "clone" those mics. I do not make "clones". I simply do my best work and compare the result, via carefully created A/B comparisons, to the classic mics - and let people come to their own conclusions.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Michael can you mod my ... <insert mic>. The answer, almost always is - yes. We can mod your mic and give you classic "Neumann-ish" (U 47, U 47, U 87, KM 84) sound.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Helping people communicate their spirit and vision to others.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: World class sound that is affordable to project studios as well as A list commercial facilities.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Just got here, but I'll be looking around!
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Georg Neumann, David Blackmer (my mentor and founder of dbx Inc. and Earthworks microphones)
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: We're 95% finished with the re-design of our website: www.OktavaModshop.com. An international (Italian, French, American) team of web designers and IT specialists have almost finished.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: My MJE-K47H / MK-012 microphone combo sounds A LOT like the elusive, and expensive, Neumann U 67. I created the capsule and headbasket specs for the K47H "capsule head" and Premium Electronics upgrades for the Oktava MK-012 body.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I have a custom microphone shop in Hyannis, MA on beautiful Cape Cod. We have workstations for 5 techs , a packing and shipping area and a back room for the machine tools, ribbon microphone bench and mic storage.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: There are two paths for clients to engage me - either by buying a new microphone from me or by sending one of their existing microphones to me to be upgraded. Turn around is one business day.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Unlike when I was coming up and working for David Blackmer, founder of dbx Inc. and Earthworks microphones, there is a dearth opportunities for young folks to learn directly from experienced mentors. So I really like working with young folks who are just starting out and establishing their careers and mic lockers.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A copy of Marcus Aurelius's "Meditations" and Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now". Because I'd be lost without them. Then ... a peice of string, a tube of some sort and some kind of membrane to stretch. My books would sooth my soul and with the other stuff I'd invent music - all over again.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Doesn't matter, thought the soft-and-euphonic qualities of MJE mics do improve the sound of digital recording.