[re-posted from Pro Audio Workshop, because I'm lazy. Thought they might have some comments on construction, and y'all here might be interested in a mighty good sounding $200 large capsule side address condenser mic]
I had another impulse microphone purchase yesterday, based on a review I read from a reviewer that I trust. Apparently this mic has been around for a year or so, but I hadn't heard of it. There are several reviews out there, along with some poo-pooing on Gearslutz, with the theme that it sounds a lot like a U87, and only costs 200 bucks.
It's the Stellar X2 from ToneZone
I don't want to try to review it here because I don't do a lot of work any more so don't have the opportunity to try it on varied sources, but I'll tell you that on my spoken voice, it really does sound darn close to the first of my U87s that I picked out of the closet I think that's a good start. It feels like a quality microphone, nothing cheap looking or feeling about it with the exception of the sticker that covers one side of the Anvil-ish case that it came with. I plan to peel that off once I decide to keep the mic.
It's made from parts coming from various places (just like cars) with final testing in California. It's a single pattern cardioid with what looks like about a 1-inch center terminated capsule. The manufacturer says they get their diaphragm mylar from Japan and have a gold-sputtering source that they claim produces a thinner and more even coating than others. There are two circuit boards inside, with no surface mounted components, a few Wima capacitors, and 1% resistors. I don't know what the transistors are or where they came from, but it looks like all discrete components. Transformerless output, of course (wha'cha expect for $200 and good quality?) and the case is steel and doesn't ring when tapped.
Based on some replies from the manufacturer to criticisms on Gearslutz, which weren't about performance at all but that you could build a similar one yourself (quoting a capsule and body source), both the capsule and their version of the Schoeps mic amp circuit have gone through a few revisions from what the GS reviewer's version, so if you go to Gearslutz for your reviews, take that, and the manufacturer's polite and detailed replies, in stride.
It seems like one of their intended applications is as an upscale voice mic for professional podcast producers and out-of-work voice-over artists setting up to work at home. My hands are messed up with neuropathy these days so I can hardly pick (or even hold one) but I'll probably strum into it in the next couple of days, and will likely keep it for those times when I run out of U87s (which means needing more than two) or using them for their omni or figure-8 patterns.
Tonezone at heart is a distributor of a bunch of decent quality brands of home hi-fi equipment. The microphone is apparently a division or subset of the distributor. They also make a similar model ($250) that they're aiming toward those who prefer the U47 over the U87 for certain things, and they're also working on a multi-pattern version. I don't know who's involved with this company, but they sound like they're more seriously into understanding microphones than importing ready-made designs.
They sell through Amazon and also have their own eBay store for direct sales. Today's my last day of the free month trial of Amazon Prime, and I ordered the mic about 10 AM, and it was on my doorstep when I got back from my walk at around 4 PM. Amazing.https://techzoneaudioproducts.com/products/the-new-stellar-x2-large-capsule-condenser-microphone