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'Optimus' PZM/boundary any good ?

Sorry for this budget-question, but how useful is the boundary ('PZM') mic that Radio Shack has for US$39.99 ?
It's the Optimus #33-3022.

Since someone here will be visiting the US soon I was thinking about asking him to get me a pair.

Applications will mostly be for loud sources, like room for drums or guitars.
(Will add the 'usual' PZM-mods)

Any good ? At least usable ? Or just a cheap mic with a bad capsule ?





recordist Sat, 04/24/2004 - 16:17

PZM Mics

I have used a pair of Realistic PZM mics for drum overheads for about 12 years now - typically not to pick up the entire set, but to grab just the cymbals. I cut most of the lower frequencies.

The tracks by themselves sound terrible and thin, but once they're added to the full mic'ed drumset, they add GREAT clear high-end! Not harsh or distorted, they are the clarifying finishing touch that completes the character of the drum set.

Both my PZM's have had the simplest, quickest, easiest modification: 2 9-volt batteries wired in series for power (18 volts instead of the single AA 1.5 volts). Much more signal, much less noise!

Any time that I can get one for cheap, I pick it up. I expect to be using them for many more years. When I got word that they were being discontinued, I ran around to all of the Radio Shack's in my area, and picked up whatever was left - usually floor models - the clerks thought I was nuts: "You sure you want this? It's been out on the shelf, there's no box or paperwork...most people don't like these funny-looking microphones."

In fact, I even had a client who didn't want me to use the PZM. I asked him why not, and he told me "Because it doesn't LOOK like a microphone.". NO KIDDING.

Frankly, you can't go wrong with these cheapie mics - they have their own applications, they sound pretty darn good, and they're super cheap. Find an aquaintance who doesn't realize what he has, and buy it from him. YOU WIN!

clintrubber Sun, 04/25/2004 - 07:06

I like them and like the idea that they're a nice DIY-subject. Indeed, can be a bit noisy and I noticed they're not that hard to overload. Haven't tried higher voltages yet though, both problems will likely become less then (unless the overload is caused by the capsule itself...).