What is it?
BB29 is a cardioid condenser mic from Latvia’s JZ Microphones and is the first in their signature series. It’s a single membrane design with 24mm centre-tapped diaphragm manufactured using their golden drop technology.
According to JZ this method achieves a lighter and more agile diaphragm. The mic has a cassette-style body with a slightly oversized headstock and although roughly the same size as their Black Hole mics, with no hole it’s more reminiscent of their Amethyst mic (originally from Violet Design mics).
Construction is very good with a lovely matt black finish and grille. On the front is the JZ logo in gold and on the back at the bottom is your serial number. At 330g the BB29 is fairly light and uses a custom low profile suspension cradle that’s very easy to fit the button holders on the side of the mic. Alas, this is a paid-for extra.
There’s also a mic stand thread on the bottom of the casing next to the XLR connector, so the mic can be mounted directly to a mic stand. Although, to be fair this doesn’t offer much directional flexibility.
In keeping with the other JZ mics we’ve tried, the BB29 is 48V phantom powered and features hand-built fully discrete Class-A electronics. However, this time the output is transformer coupled, and I’m pretty sure this is the first mic I’ve had from JZ that uses this configuration.
At 20mV/Pa the output is reasonably healthy and noise figure (9dB-A) excellent, but there are no further options such as a low cut filter or level pads.
Performance and verdict
My initial testing revealed the BB29 to have a nice lift in the upper mid-range, but also a reasonably narrow cardioid pattern with a pretty smooth transition to off-axis. Much like the Black Hole 2, the BB29 is quite sensitive to plosives, which is a bit of a shame as there’s some good low-frequency proximity as you move in close.
This can be easily resolved with a decent two-layer pop shield, and with this in place, we could then get in really close for intimate vocals or speech. Even so, with the BB29 you’ll be reaching for that pop shield a bit quicker than you would with some other large capsule condensers.
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This is a great system which really does give you the character of classic vintage microphones at a price that won’t make you faint.
• Sontronics Aria
The Aria delivers a silky smooth response with a touch of valve flavour thrown in for good measure.
Compared to the Black Hole 2, the BB29 sounds more solid in the low mid frequencies. On acoustic instruments such as acoustic guitar, this delivers a punch. On more edgy sounds like percussion and metals, you’ll get a balanced sound with crisp attack and a smooth top end.
In conclusion, although it’s very stylish I don’t think the cradle offers enough positional flexibility, and the fact the cradle isn’t included in the price is also a bit disappointing.
What’s more, although you could purchase a third-party pivot elbow and use that to enhance the on-body stand thread, again that’s a bit of a workaround which seems crazy on a mic of this price. That said, we can’t fault the tonal quality of the BB29, and it is without question a beautifully constructed mic.
MusicRadar verdict: The BB29 is beautifully constructed and sounds very good, but you’ll have to pay for the shock mount if you want mounting flexibility.
The web says
“To test out this microphone, we recorded a cover of I’ve Got A Feeling by The Beatles. Special thanks goes to Steve Maggiora for doing the vocals and playing keys, and to Blair Sinta for playing the drums! I really liked how this mic sounded. It has a lot of girth and thickness to it, but it also has a little bit of crunch!”
Produce Like A Pro
“With its tucked‑in midrange and broad treble emphasis, the BB29 epitomises what I’d describe as a ‘modern’ sound (it is, apparently, designed to respond well to heavy compression) and in practice, I think it’ll find use mainly as a vocal mic. There’s plenty of competition in this category, and if you’re after a similar up‑front, present vocal sound, you could also consider choices like the Sony C100 and Neumann TLM103“
Sound on Sound
Produce Like A Pro
Chris Selim – Mixdown Online
- TYPE: Condenser mic
- TRANSDUCER: Electrostatic
- POLAR PATTERN: Cardioid
- FREQ RESPONSE: 20Hz to 20kHz
- NOISE: 9dB-A SENSITIVITY: at 1kHz 20mV/Pa MAX SPL: 140dB SPL (2.5kOhms, 0.5% THD)
- PRICING: Shock mount 99€
- CONTACT: JZ Microphones