Home » Recording Resources » Featured Reviews » March 2024: JZ Microphones BT202

Not your everyday pencil condenser


Review by Alex Hawley

The BT202 represents the latest offering from JZ Microphones, a Latvia-based company designing microphones since 2007. As the only small diaphragm offering currently in the lineup, the BT202 builds on similar designs from early in the company’s history; the BT201 (released in 2008) featured a similar “baseball bat” shape but was centered around a modular capsule system. While JZ didn’t bring back the magnetic swappable capsules, the BT202 is positioned as a smooth studio workhorse.


Staying true to the sculptural aesthetic we’ve come to expect from JZ, the design of the pencil condenser style body is quite eye-catching. The tapered neck and textured matte-black finish are contrasted by a golden JZ logo—a unique and classy-looking microphone.

The diaphragm measures 13mm in diameter, and Class A discrete electronics are used throughout. Similar to the company’s larger Vintage Series (like the Vintage 12 reviewed May 2022) the BT202 is a transformerless design, making it well-equipped to handle extremely fast transients.

Regarding specs, BT202 has a listed frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Based on the graph, we expect a ruler-flat response from 30 Hz to 6 kHz, with a gentle lift from 6 kHz to 12 kHz. Other notable specs include a -12dB-A noise floor, a max SPL handling of 140dB, and a dynamic range of -128dB.

The BT202 is sold in a stereo pair and ships with mic holders, a 5-year warranty and a foam-lined cardboard box. A wooden box is available on the JZ website as an add-on, but the cardboard box the pair comes with also serves as a viable storage option.

JZ Microphones BT202Piano

I tested the pair of BT202 condensers on a range of instruments in the studio, starting with a spaced pair configuration on a grand piano. This particular piano, a Yamaha C7, has a brighter tone that I typically pair with ribbon microphones, depending on the context. To my surprise, the BT202 brought a similarly warm and smooth character. The low-frequency response immediately sounded huge, even slightly dark, which was surprising coming from a pair of pencil condensers.

The midrange is round and natural, and there aren’t any edges or peaks of which to speak. It’s smooth and forgiving, and as I blended the Yamaha C7 into the full mix, its shape seemed to melt into the arrangement. The source felt embedded and full without fighting with any of the lead instruments sitting on top. This particular arrangement was a simple duet with violin, and the response of the BT202 on piano felt tailor-made for the occasion.

This natural tonality extends to its high-frequency response that, while fast, detailed and clear, is nicely balanced with a gentle rounding that keeps the BT202 from even getting harsh. On piano, I found it translated slightly warmer than what I perceived in the room (which I was happy with, as it balanced the naturally bright sound of the piano I was recording).

Despite the warmth and gentle rounding, the fast transient response still captured every detail of the piano, including the sound of the hammers as the pianist’s playing grew in intensity and dynamics. The spaced pair configuration provided a nice wide image and the mics perfectly captured the nuance and emotion of the performance. If you are guessing that I really liked the BT202 on piano, you are correct.

Guitar and More

I had similar experiences with other sources: acoustic guitar, percussion and even guitar amps (which is not where I’d generally stick a pencil condenser). On acoustic guitar, its personality was less pronounced than piano, with a tone that sounded closer to reality. Placing the BT202 in a standard position around the 12th fret resulted in a balanced and natural sound, with clarity in the top-end and a controlled low-end response. Based on my tests with grand piano, I was expecting the rich low-end to translate to a somewhat boomy result on acoustic guitar, but this was not the case. I captured a range of playing styles and dynamics, and from fingerpicking to strumming, the BT202 was reliably detailed and smooth. Its compact shape also made it easy to orient the mics in various stereo-miking techniques.

On percussion, the combination of fast transients and smooth character is well-served. While I didn’t have the opportunity to try the mics as overheads during my testing, I wouldn’t hesitate to use them in that role.

Final Thoughts

Looking back at the frequency response graph it feels a bit misleading. This is a case where you cannot judge a mic by its specs or chart, as the BT202 has a bit more character than its facts and figures suggest. While its tone is mostly balanced, there’s an underlying touch of warm coloration.

In some ways, it’s almost the inverse of similar mics in the category, as the rich low-frequency content, smooth mids and warm highs aren’t typically what you’d expect from a pencil condenser. The BT202 is a cozy and intimate-sounding microphone but in a very musical and useful way.

Wrap Up

With a unique voice to match the interestingly vibey aesthetic, the JZ Microphones BT202 easily has what it takes to be a studio workhorse. This is especially true for sources that will ultimately be blended into a full arrangement in a supporting role, as the rounded edges and full-bodied lows will enrich your recordings.


Price: $999 (pair)

More From: usashop.jzmic.com

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