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TZ Audio Stellar X2 mic
Old 14th October 2019
  #1
TZ Audio Stellar X2 mic

VERY inexpensive mic. Booth Junkie is raving about the mic.

http://techzoneaudioproducts.com

This is a part of their statement. "We take ordinary microphones and redesign them completely. We replace their circuits and capsules with our own".

Booth Junkie is raving about the mic in a side by side comparison with a Neumann U87AI.

For $140, gotta be worth looking at.
Old 1st December 2019
  #2
It's just a Schoeps circuit in a BM-700 body. It's most likely similar to the Alice build, but with a large capsule. There's a DIY build for it floating around somewhere from a few years ago. There is absolutely nothing special about it, or any mic in a BM-700 body using a large diaphragm capsule. The DIY community has been doing this for YEARS. They should add a switch and include a switchable patterns, a pad, and a high pass filter, it's completely possible, and it's not much more expensive to do.
Old 3rd December 2019
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
It's just a Schoeps circuit in a BM-700 body. It's most likely similar to the Alice build, but with a large capsule. There's a DIY build for it floating around somewhere from a few years ago. There is absolutely nothing special about it, or any mic in a BM-700 body using a large diaphragm capsule. The DIY community has been doing this for YEARS. They should add a switch and include a switchable patterns, a pad, and a high pass filter, it's completely possible, and it's not much more expensive to do.
Even if it's nothing special, do you think it could sound good enough to at least be useful? I'm always skeptical of things like this, but if I can get good clarity and depth without too prominent color, it could be a way to save money on a utility mic. I'd be looking for something for my road kit.

If you're already familiar with this circuit topology/design, I'd appreciate some insight.
Old 3rd December 2019
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Anyone tested their updated version? Does it hold up to the real deal (u87)? Looks interesting but 200$ is still wasted if it doesn't provide excellent recording quality. Please let me Know if anyone has any practical experience with it. Thanks!
Old 4th December 2019
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by obascin View Post
Even if it's nothing special, do you think it could sound good enough to at least be useful? I'm always skeptical of things like this, but if I can get good clarity and depth without too prominent color, it could be a way to save money on a utility mic. I'd be looking for something for my road kit.

If you're already familiar with this circuit topology/design, I'd appreciate some insight.
It's basically a Schoeps copy circuit like in just about every cheap mic that doesn't use a U87 circuit. But in a BM-700 body and using a K47 capsule like the MJE Hulk 990. Grabbing just about any cheap transformerless MXL mic and putting a Chinese K47 capsule will accomplish the same thing, sometimes for cheaper.

There's nothing wrong with the circuit, I just wouldn't pay for one of these mics when I can buy an MXL 2010 and drop in a sub $50 Chinese K47 capsule, and get a better mic for roughly the same price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssimonn321 View Post
Anyone tested their updated version? Does it hold up to the real deal (u87)? Looks interesting but 200$ is still wasted if it doesn't provide excellent recording quality. Please let me Know if anyone has any practical experience with it. Thanks!
Does it use a K67 capsule? There are designs online for the Schoeps circuit with corrective EQ made to fit these mics floating around online. Assuming they use the proper corrective EQ and FET biasing it should be just fine.

I don't have any actual hands on experience with the mic though, but assuming they implemented the necessary parts it should be a decent enough mic, though I would just get a used Oktava MK-319 or AT4040.

Last edited by Dohreetoh; 4th December 2019 at 08:01 AM..
Old 4th December 2019
  #6
Here for the gear
Thank you for all your inquires about our microphones.
We understand your concern, so we are here to address them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
It's just a Schoeps circuit in a BM-700 body. It's most likely similar to the Alice build, but with a large capsule. There's a DIY build for it floating around somewhere from a few years ago. There is absolutely nothing special about it, or any mic in a BM-700 body using a large diaphragm capsule. The DIY community has been doing this for YEARS. They should add a switch and include a switchable patterns, a pad, and a high pass filter, it's completely possible, and it's not much more expensive to do.
Yes, this is based on the traditional scheops circuit but besides that, it is very different from circuits you will see from the typical Chinese condenser microphones. It is highly optimized in that it uses high quality parts such as 5% WIMA capacitors and it has been modified to provide high frequency EQ filtering. Each microphone also has a pot for adjusting the bias of the JFET and polarization voltage manually. This is something you don’t see in any microphones at this price range. This new circuit is also a huge improvement from the more prototype version that Booth Junkie received. It has a much lower noise floor and features gold traces which you can see in the included pictures. I can assure you that there is no other microphone manufacturer company that uses such high quality parts for their circuit at this price point.

See Images from our Website:
https://techzoneaudioproducts.com/

In terms of our older model, yes those use the BM700 body with the Chinese mystery metal. Our original microphones, including the one we sent to boothjunkie was more of a prototype with spray painted body and not the best quality frame. Part of the price increase was trying to source a high quality microphone body that was actually all steel. The body are still from China but they are much higher quality than even expensive Chinese models. You can also see in the picture how there are screws to the frame and not just a cheap Chinese mold like the BM700.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
It's basically a Schoeps copy circuit like in just about every cheap mic that doesn't use a U87 circuit. But in a BM-700 body and using a K47 capsule like the MJE Hulk 990. Grabbing just about any cheap transformerless MXL mic and putting a Chinese K47 capsule will accomplish the same thing, sometimes for cheaper.
The capsule is not your typical Chinese capsule, it uses mylar imported from Japan that is 3 microns thick to provide a very high sensitivity microphone. We also do extensive quality control such as frequency sweeping to ensure no capsule sounds overly harsh. Our gold sputtering is also very smooth and even when compared to other capsules at this range. One of the easiest ways to tell if a capsule is a high quality is by looking at the gold sputtering. The gold layer should be thin enough that even the slightest light passing through it, shows transparency and holes from the capsule's backplate. Going to eBay and searching for capsules, you will realize that none of them offer this. You can also look at well known Chinese microphone brands (not going to name them here but I am sure you know who they are) that their gold sputtering is very rough and not at all transparent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssimonn321 View Post
Anyone tested their updated version? Does it hold up to the real deal (u87)? Looks interesting but 200$ is still wasted if it doesn't provide excellent recording quality. Please let me Know if anyone has any practical experience with it. Thanks!
We have reviews of our updated version that we you can hear comparing to a TLM103. As the comments and feedbacks said, our microphones actually sound warmer and fuller than the TLM103.

Review Video: https://youtu.be/dK51A1WRSkM

We hope we are able to clear some stuff with our microphones, trust us this is not just another average Chinese microphone.

We are selling at 199.99 for people not on the waitlist but 169.99 for people on the waitlist.
Old 4th December 2019
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by TZAudioProducts View Post
Thank you for all your inquires about our microphones.
We understand your concern, so we are here to address them.



Yes, this is based on the traditional scheops circuit but besides that, it is very different from circuits you will see from the typical Chinese condenser microphones. It is highly optimized in that it uses high quality parts such as 5% WIMA capacitors and it has been modified to provide high frequency EQ filtering. Each microphone also has a pot for adjusting the bias of the JFET and polarization voltage manually. This is something you don’t see in any microphones at this price range. This new circuit is also a huge improvement from the more prototype version that Booth Junkie received. It has a much lower noise floor and features gold traces which you can see in the included pictures.

See Images linked below:
https://techzoneaudioproducts.com/X2VintageInside.jpg

In terms of our older model, yes those use the BM700 body with the Chinese mystery metal. Our original microphones, including the one we sent to boothjunkie was more of a prototype with spray painted body and not the best quality frame. Part of the price increase was trying to source a high quality microphone body that was actually all steel. The body are still from China but they are much higher quality than even expensive Chinese models. You can also see in the picture how there are screws to the frame and not just a cheap Chinese mold like the BM700.



The capsule is not your typical chinese capsule, it uses mylar imported from Japan that is 3 microns thick to provide a very high sensitivity microphone. We also do extensive quality control such as frequency sweeping to ensure no capsule sounds overly harsh.



We have reviews of our updated version that we you can hear comparing to a TLM103. As the comments and feedbacks said, our microphones actually sound warmer and fuller than the TLM103.

Review Video: https://youtu.be/dK51A1WRSkM

We hope we are able to clear some stuff with our microphones, trust us this is not just another average Chinese microphone.

We are selling at 199.99 for people not on the waitlist but 169.99 for people on the waitlist.
Thanks a lot for the info. It's always good to have manufacturers around to answer questions. Be careful not to come off as SPAMMING though, as I've seen a few others get a slap on the wrist for that.

I think these mics look very good for low cost mic's.
Old 4th December 2019
  #8
OK, so this company seems pretty cool. They have an X2 Vintage as well as the X2 and a X3 is in the pipeline I believe, but I'll let the manufacturer tell you more about that.

I like to help new companies get a bit of attention, but I have no association with them. I just like to point to new products etc and then I contact the company to get a bit more info if I can. Be great to hear from anyone who has heard any of their mics.
Old 5th December 2019
  #9
If there's ever a multipattern model I'll be sure to look at that one.
Old 5th December 2019
  #10
Here for the gear
Future plans with Stellar X Series!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dohreetoh View Post
If there's ever a multipattern model I'll be sure to look at that one.
Yes, we definitely have plans for that in the future! Our X3 has some ambitious goals such as an edge terminated capsule and a capsule suspension system and of course, multipattern as well!

Thank you for your interest in us!
Old 7th December 2019
  #11
Gear Nut
 
Antagon1st's Avatar
 

I received the email, but the mic isn’t available on Amazon yet. However, I do like the sound, from the new videos that I’ve seen! I cannot wait to get my hands on it, as I have a few mics to compare it to. (A vintage Neumann U48 and a pair of vintage U87s). Maybe even my Advanced Audio CM67. Regardless, I know that I’ll be keeping this one in the locker.
Old 7th December 2019
  #12
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Antagon1st View Post
I received the email, but the mic isn’t available on Amazon yet. However, I do like the sound, from the new videos that I’ve seen! I cannot wait to get my hands on it, as I have a few mics to compare it to. (A vintage Neumann U48 and a pair of vintage U87s). Maybe even my Advanced Audio CM67. Regardless, I know that I’ll be keeping this one in the locker.
It is live now on Amazon!
Old 8th December 2019
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Accompianist's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TZAudioProducts View Post
... it has been modified to provide high frequency EQ filtering. Each microphone also has a pot for adjusting the bias of the JFET and polarization voltage manually. This is something you don’t see in any microphones at this price range. This new circuit is also a huge improvement from the more prototype version that Booth Junkie received.
Did the prototype Mike tested also have the high-frequency attenuation circuit? Same K67 capsule as well?
Old 8th December 2019
  #14
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Accompianist View Post
Did the prototype Mike tested also have the high-frequency attenuation circuit? Same K67 capsule as well?
The one we sent is very different, although it did have a similar high-frequency attenuation circuit it did not have the same capsule.

The more U87 sound you are hearing from the New X2 is because we made changes to the mylar used and the gold sputtering technique on our capsule which is why I mentioned there's no way a capsule on eBay can compete with ours.

The circuit in terms of tone is exactly the same but the biggest improvement is its noise floor and its use of higher quality components with tighter tolerances.

When Joe compared it to the 103, just like the comments said, the X2 is actually warmer and more balanced sounding. This makes sense even comparing the FR of the X2 and the 103. In the video, he also clearly demonstrates the new noise floor which is very competitive with the 103 as well.
Old 9th December 2019
  #15
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TZAudioProducts View Post
It is live now on Amazon!
Just put in an order, looking forward to it!
Old 9th December 2019
  #16
I'm happy I brought this company and their mic's to your attention. Let us all know how you like em etc.
Old 9th December 2019
  #17
Mine arrives tomorrow and I'm looking forward to running it through some paces.
Old 12th December 2019
  #18
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I received my X2 today and have been "playing around" with it all evening. I am very impressed with the build quality, the included shock mount is good, and the storage case (which kind of looks like a tiny Anvil case) is a nice touch. I did some vocal recordings years ago with a Neumann U87 so, unfortunately, I can't really recall what I thought about it. I'll primarily be using the X2 for voiceover recording and, so far, I'm loving how I sound.
Old 12th December 2019
  #19
I finally got a chance to work a little bit with the X2 tonight and I'm very impressed. Basically it's a pretty nicely balanced microphone. Good solid lows without any evidence of muddiness or boom. Just a little bright at the top but surprisingly smooth and crisp overall. (Forgive me but I'm one of those Oktava "dark" mic weirdos). I particularly like the midrange on this guy. It's warm and natural sounding without the sort of hardness that can make me reach instinctively for the EQ. Also this mic has a surprisingly high output, so you won't need to push your preamp hard at all to get a healthy signal. Combined with the low noise floor, you won't have any trouble getting a nice solid, clean sound out of it without much messing around.

Here's a short sound clip. First a male, and then a female a cappella vocal. I simply ran the mic through an M-Audio DMP3 pre (my most neutral preamp at modest settings - and cheap too) with no compression or EQ whatsoever, a bit of gating and then I just added a touch of reverb. It's really very easy to set up and record with this thing. Just get one, you won't regret it.

http://chirb.it/1rxDMO
Old 15th December 2019
  #20
Here are two more clips of the TZ Stellar X2 in action with no EQ or compression. Once again, a cappella singing with harmonies this time. The more I use this mic the more I like it. I'm beginning to think that it represents a genuine high water mark for inexpensive LDCs.


http://chirb.it/kzyF8N

http://chirb.it/st2L9y
Old 16th December 2019
  #21
Gear Nut
I just received this unexpectedly today as it was scheduled for delivery on Tuesday, so a bit of a surprise. I have spent around an hour recording with it and about 10 minutes checking it over. Here are my initial thoughts:

Overall verdict - it is a great sounding microphone for $200, I have not heard a new microphone at that price that I'd currently prefer.

The microphone was very well packaged. The case is similar to what AKG uses on many of their microphones, although this one is a slightly lighter weight version.

The accessories are all fine, nothing high end but the shock mount has an internal pad to prevent scratching the microphone and assist with holding it securely while recording. It seems totally serviceable. The zipper pouch is pretty much the same thing that Shure gives you with an SM 57. The foam windscreen was oddly deformed as though it was crushed for a long period of time. I'll see if it returns to normal in a few days, but will likely never use it.

The microphone itself is finished in a matte black type of paint. It is well done with no chips or scratches and appears professionally applied. I can't tell for certain but it appears similar to a urethane type paint so would expect it to hold up well. The housing is steel, I confirmed it with a magnet. The microphone is much smaller and lighter in weight than most of my other LDC microphones. It doesn't feel cheap, just lighter and smaller than I expected.

There are two PCBA's inside and both appear to be through hole. I didn't see any SMT parts but couldn't see the back sides of the boards and didn't want to further disassemble the microphone prior to a recording session. There is a potentiometer that appears to be used for bias adjustment and it looked as though a red lacquer was applied to it - likely to suggest it was calibrated and that it is not intended to be adjusted.

The microphone is very good sounding. It is quiet, but all of my microphones are so quiet that it isn't ever noticeable in use. It does not sound exactly like a U87 to me, but it does have a very similar tonality.

There are a few things that strike me about this microphone, especially at the $200 price point and I have to give TZ audio kudos for this debut:

1. It seems to be much less susceptible to plosives than most of my other microphones, especially my Neumanns.
2. It seems a little less sensitive to the room acoustics and any background noise compared to my other condensers - sensitivity? pattern? I don't know, just an initial observation, maybe I just need more time with it.
3. It really sounds nice - very smooth, warm and articulate with a good sounding proximity effect. It is brighter than my Octava MK219 but not quite as bright as the AKG Perception 220.
4. the low frequency emphasis sounds a little larger than depicted on the frequency response graph (50 - 250 Hz sounds like there is a couple of db boost to my ears). In this respect it sounds warmer than some other microphones and not unlike some of the Neumanns.
5. It seems like a very good value, but for those claiming it is the same as a Neumann or is hand made, let's be realistic! While it sounds similar, it is not comparable in build quality, look, feel, or weight. If you own a Neumann, you will know what I mean as their product is like audio jewelry. In my opinion the Stellar X2 is more similar to a Rode NT1 in build quality.

Well, I hope that info. is of help to someone if they are curious about this microphone.

Cheers!
Old 16th December 2019
  #22
Here for the gear
 

It picks up less room? That's exactly what I'm looking for. I have a hulk u87 clone Michael Joly but its insanely sensitive and picks up so much room. I like the tone but want a tighter sound. More focused. Anyone tried this mic with acoustic guitar?
Old 16th December 2019
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
Accompianist's Avatar
 

Here's the frequency response graph from TZ's website. Those of you who have the X2, does this look right?

Old 16th December 2019
  #24
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by fried fingers View Post
I just received this unexpectedly today as it was scheduled for delivery on Tuesday, so a bit of a surprise. I have spent around an hour recording with it and about 10 minutes checking it over. Here are my initial thoughts:

Overall verdict - it is a great sounding microphone for $200, I have not heard a new microphone at that price that I'd currently prefer.

The microphone was very well packaged. The case is similar to what AKG uses on many of their microphones, although this one is a slightly lighter weight version.

The accessories are all fine, nothing high end but the shock mount has an internal pad to prevent scratching the microphone and assist with holding it securely while recording. It seems totally serviceable. The zipper pouch is pretty much the same thing that Shure gives you with an SM 57. The foam windscreen was oddly deformed as though it was crushed for a long period of time. I'll see if it returns to normal in a few days, but will likely never use it.

The microphone itself is finished in a matte black type of paint. It is well done with no chips or scratches and appears professionally applied. I can't tell for certain but it appears similar to a urethane type paint so would expect it to hold up well. The housing is steel, I confirmed it with a magnet. The microphone is much smaller and lighter in weight than most of my other LDC microphones. It doesn't feel cheap, just lighter and smaller than I expected.

There are two PCBA's inside and both appear to be through hole. I didn't see any SMT parts but couldn't see the back sides of the boards and didn't want to further disassemble the microphone prior to a recording session. There is a potentiometer that appears to be used for bias adjustment and it looked as though a red lacquer was applied to it - likely to suggest it was calibrated and that it is not intended to be adjusted.

The microphone is very good sounding. It is quiet, but all of my microphones are so quiet that it isn't ever noticeable in use. It does not sound exactly like a U87 to me, but it does have a very similar tonality.

There are a few things that strike me about this microphone, especially at the $200 price point and I have to give TZ audio kudos for this debut:

1. It seems to be much less susceptible to plosives than most of my other microphones, especially my Neumanns.
2. It seems a little less sensitive to the room acoustics and any background noise compared to my other condensers - sensitivity? pattern? I don't know, just an initial observation, maybe I just need more time with it.
3. It really sounds nice - very smooth, warm and articulate with a good sounding proximity effect. It is brighter than my Octava MK219 but not quite as bright as the AKG Perception 220.
4. the low frequency emphasis sounds a little larger than depicted on the frequency response graph (50 - 250 Hz sounds like there is a couple of db boost to my ears). In this respect it sounds warmer than some other microphones and not unlike some of the Neumanns.
5. It seems like a very good value, but for those claiming it is the same as a Neumann or is hand made, let's be realistic! While it sounds similar, it is not comparable in build quality, look, feel, or weight. If you own a Neumann, you will know what I mean as their product is like audio jewelry. In my opinion the Stellar X2 is more similar to a Rode NT1 in build quality.

Well, I hope that info. is of help to someone if they are curious about this microphone.

Cheers!
Hello, thank you for your feedback!

We do want to note that there are no SMT components used as we believe in hand making all our microphones. This microphone was not meant to be a true replica of a U87 but rather in between the 103 and 87. We liked the presence boost in the 103 but not the closed feeling of the 87 so we chose to go in between. We also found the 103 to be harsh for some sources and that's the reason for that decision. As for build quality, unlike the NT1, the inner frame is full steel and not plastic. I am not quite sure about the boost in the lower frequencies through.
Old 16th December 2019
  #25
The frequency chart is pretty much what I'm hearing. It has a surprisingly balanced sound to my ears, particularly in the upper midrange. But I think Fried Fingers might be right about a slight boost in the lows. On the other hand this might just be a perceived consequence of those smooth mids.
Old 16th December 2019
  #26
I was under the impression the bias was intended to be adjustable. Can TZ confirm this?
Old 16th December 2019
  #27
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Funk View Post
I was under the impression the bias was intended to be adjustable. Can TZ confirm this?
We adjust the bias with our precision multimeter and once set, we put Loctite (the red mark) in it to prevent vibrations from turning the potentiometer. It is not meant to be adjusted by customers.
Old 16th December 2019
  #28
Thanks for clarification.
Old 16th December 2019
  #29
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Accompianist View Post
Here's the frequency response graph from TZ's website. Those of you who have the X2, does this look right?

That frequency response plot looks flatter than what I hear on this microphone, it sounds like maybe a 2 dB boost from 50 - 250 Hz on mine. Also, around 8 - 15 kHz it sounds like a 2 - 3 dB boost. I trust my ears more than that graph especially since I have no idea how that was created (there are no manufacturer agreed upon standards for frequency response measurement and reporting).
Old 17th December 2019
  #30
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by fried fingers View Post
Thanks for clarifying the targeted sound on the microphone, you basically nailed it. In reference to the build quality comment, I also noticed that the frame is metal. What I meant was that the look, feel, and weight of the Stellar microphone was more reminiscent of a Rode NT1 (although the NT1 is physically larger) than a Neumann microphone.

I am curious about the hand made remark. Are you indicating that the PCBs have all of the electronic components hand placed and hand soldered here in the USA?

Thanks again for making a great product at a great price!
In regard to the statement that our microphone circuits are hand-assembled yes you are correct. Every component is individually tested before being placed in our circuit boards and is individually soldered by hand. But is it done here in the USA? No, but we make sure that every step that our PCB assembler takes while producing our circuit boards is approved by us to ensure the best quality. For example, some components like the WIMA capacitors are imported from Germany directly to the assembler to be tested one by one. All the JFETS and resistors are checked to make sure they are within tolerance. We would have done it here in the USA but the price to even assemble a PCB would be almost the cost of the Stellar X2 per piece. So we decided to go the route of finding an experienced assembler that understood the level of quality that we needed and that would be willing to do it. We wanted to provide a great sounding microphone but wanted to keep it affordable for many people. By choosing not to assemble our circuit boards in the USA we managed to keep the price down while keeping the same type of quality as if it were done by us. We see no reason to do it here in the USA as the quality would not change but instead greatly increase the price. This attention to detail and commitment to quality carries over to the final inspection and testing that we do here.

Hope that helps and we are glad you like our microphone's tone!
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