jz microphones bb29

Behind the scenes with JZ Microphones: “This is where the magic happens!”

“I think the secret for JZ Microphones success is listening to our audience.” 

Andris Evelis, Head of marketing, is dissecting the brand’s industry appeal, and his comment seems perfectly appropriate for a microphone specialist.

The manufacturer has won over a legion of admirers with its hand-crafted condenser microphones, its unique Golden Drop Capsule technology is revered by artists and technicians alike. 

Producer and engineer Josh Newell (Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne, Black Veil Brides), says: “The V67 is everything you’d want if you mixed a vintage tube with a modern mic: It has a full low midrange with a great top end. Great for guitars and bass, both acoustic and electric, and so good on vocals that I even liked how I sounded singing through it.”

Joe Chiccarelli, record producer and mixer (The White Stripes, The Strokes, Jason Mraz), comments: “I’m loving the Amethyst mic. I’ve been having some good luck using it on backing vocals, acoustic guitar and snare drum overdubs. I love the midrange. It’s forward and aggressive but not harsh at all. Very unique sounding mic. A welcome addition to the mic locker.” 

So when you get down to it, what makes a JZ Microphone unique? Audio Media International sat down with Andris Evelis (virtually, of course), to learn more about the company, its singular approach to making microphones – and the Eurovision Song Contest…

“I think the main reason for our success is the people we work with everyday,” says Evelis. “They are professionals in their own field. Some of them have been working in this niche for 30-40 years. 

“The next big thing is our high manufacturing standards. While crafting a microphone is a relatively simple process, manufacturing the premium level mic that can compete or even beat the best mics in the market takes tons of effort, especially when it comes to quality control!”

And then, notes Evelis, there’s JZ Microphones hands-on approach to production. 

“Lots of processes are made by hand. This is where the magic happens! Two companies can use the same materials, the same tools, but the human element is what will push one of the companies forward. While the CNC machine can drill and grind a specific part of the microphone, it takes a human hand to process it and take it from good to premium.”

JZ Microphone Range

The JZ Microphone range is now three strong, the latest member of the family being the Signature Series BB29, released earlier this year.

It’s been ”a huge success already” says Evelis. The BB29 is stablemate to the Black Hole series, which offers clear, super-detailed, uncoloured and modern sound, and the Vintage series, which is warmer, edgier, he says.

The new BB29 combines both vintage and modern elements when it comes to sound characteristics, we’re told. “For this year we are not planning any new microphones, we are still working on promoting the BB29, also we are extending our accessories line with wooden boxes and shock mounts.” 

While all JZ condenser mics are equipped with the brand’s trademark Golden Drop capsules, the capsule types are different. “The thickness of brass, the number of brass plates, number of drills on a plate, number of screws and the way how we tension the membrane – it all impacts the sound.” 

 “If engineers are looking for a clear and natural-sounding mic with lots of detail and no coloration, we suggest Black Hole series microphones BH2 and BH1S. If the preference is a neutral-sounding mic with extra pop and edginess on the top end and some coloration, then the new BB29 microphone will work. 

“However, if a client looks for that warm vintage sound with smooth midrange and airy highs, you have Vintage series V67, V47 and V11.”

The JZ Mics team

And what of the company itself?  Base of operations for JZ Microphones is Marupe, Latvia. “The facility is 1400m2” adds Evelis. “We have 16 people working to craft the mics. The youngest is 34 years old, the most experienced ones have more than 60.”

Some of the team are semi-pro musicians, confirms Evelis. “This helps us to speak with engineers and producers in their language, also, it helps in developing new products. When it comes to Black Hole, it’s the work of our founder, designer Juris Zarins. He has very unique ideas when it comes to design…”

Given that travel isn’t really on the cards at the moment, if we were to take a virtual tour of the JZ Mics factory, what would we see?

JZ Black Hole micrphones against a white background

“On the first floor there are dozens of modern CNC machines and some tools and machines for bending, folding and drilling the metal parts. There are also colour painting, laser engraving, powder coating and hand-soldering zones. 

“On the second floor there is our lab where we make our capsules and test the mics. Besides that, you’ll find a warehouse and packaging room.”

There’s a small studio on site, used for quality control and testing, says Evelis.

For such a relatively small country, Latvia seems to be home to a disproportionate number of audio manufacturers. So does music have a particular significance in local culture?

“My personal thought is that this is a small country syndrome,”  Evelis confides. “We want to be heard all around the world, so we work extra hard to achieve that. It’s just in our blood! The second thing, Latvians have a long history in engineering and audio.”

Latvia famously had its musical moment in the sun back in 2002. A regular contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest, it actually won that year with a white-suited Marie N and her archetypal Euro disc track I Wanna.  

“I remember that very well!” says Evelis. “I was 12 back then and Eurovision was one of the main yearly events. It was a surprise, and it was celebrated throughout the country!”

 JZ Mics wasn’t involved, not least because the company wasn’t born till 2007 – “however I’m sure that it gave the audio industry in Latvia a kick!”

Find out more about JZ Microphones