Is it just me, or does the BB29 never cease to amaze you either? I kinda felt compelled to write this as I’ve been working on a lot of super interesting projects, both personally and for JZ;
But recently I reached for the BB29 for recording and it was quite simply like falling in love with it all over again. So, let me walk you through what I’m talking about.
Let’s dive in.
Transformers: Color In Disguise
Transformers are a weird and wonderful solution to a lot of problems. Quite often, in my own mixing I’ve found myself in the early stages of my career wishing and wanting for a type of saturation I just didn't understand. Enter transformers and their many uses.
I first came into contact with this knowledge a few years ago when listening and watching several informative pieces from William Putney, and he described transformer saturation as a ‘warm sausage bump in the lower mid range’. Now, I don’t know about you, but I heard that and needed to know more.
Slowly, I discovered that transformers can not only effect the low end content, but equally the top end content which is why the BB29 shines so much - the expensive, luscious high end content of this microphone simply is amazing.
Despite having the same capsule as the Black Hole Series (although somewhat finely tuned), it has a vastly different timbre, while still retaining the modern quality we love in the Black Hole Series. On top of that, it’s high SPL capability gives the BB29 the ability to add that saturation mentioned earlier at a much later point, allowing you to put this in front of loud sources and push the source you’re recording to a the perfect point of velocity without the worry of internal clipping.
Transformers made mics we know and love in part what we loved so much about them, and I genuinely consider this in that league; I have no doubt that as this ages, it will retain the grace it’s always had in terms of sound, design, and durability.
The Secret Puzzle Piece
The BB29 is simply designed to stand out in the mix. There’s no better way to describe it to be completely honest; but this doesn't mean it's difficult to mix - actually completely the opposite.
As I’ve said time and time again within these blog posts, we should always be aiming to capture the source at the highest level so as to make your life easier once at the mixing stage. Well, the BB29 basically helps you cut those corners trying to find the perfect way to record due to it’s design.
Aside from the frequency response, the tight polar pattern and consistency in proximity effect means you can play with not just the distance of the mic from the source, but also the axis positioning, making this a highly versatile mic.
If you have one already, try angling the mic next time you use it on for example vocals, or acoustic guitar; often i’ve found that if something is too bight or too bass heavy, this simple change has been a total game changer.
Lastly, the Golden Drop Technology within all our mics gives them a much faster and much more accurate transient response. However, with the BB29 being so bright, one could be forgiven for assuming this would make it harsh; on the contrary - the transformer coupled output smooths the transient response making it the perfect blend of smooth top end commonly sought after.
Jack Of All Trades
As mentioned transformers add a subtle harmonics and saturation that can smooth transient heavy material, which is what I believe makes it just so useful on a number of sources. Acoustic guitars are rather percussive and strumming patterns can give unwanted buzz, hum, and pick attack that is hard to work with - the same applies to vocals, or overheads for drums; but the BB29 yet again shines on all these sources due to its innovative design.
Possibly the best point for me is that it allows me to balance my source material (so often it’s bordering on outrageous at this point…) For example, a jazz drummer or pianist can often have very dark unfinished cymbals, or a pianist with a felt piano is much duller in top end compared to a typically wood hammered piano.
The BB29 allows you to balance that out, and plays nicely with all preamps to help you decide on how to shape the tones of anything thrown at it. From bright, transient heavy material, to dark, softer and much more ‘body-content’ sources, I’m yet to find something this microphone doesn’t blow me away upon listening back.