ADK THOR LARGE DIAPHRAGM CONDENSER MICROPHONE — AudioTechnology
ADK hammers out a truly versatile LDC with Thor.
Review: Brad Watts
Thor; the Norse dude with the hammer. Not the first moniker that springs to mind if you’d been asked to name a microphone. Who knows what’s going on there, apart from it seems ADK microphones enjoys running with names and themes for its mic ranges, rather than some string of numerals. The manufacturer’s latest additions are large diaphragm condenser mics: Odin – a cardioid LDC design, and Thor – a multi-pattern LDC. Perhaps the names will serve you best when returning from the mic cupboard claiming you’re either of the Norse deities in a silly Norwegian voice — always handy in a slow session. Anyway, parked in my recording garage are two ADK Thor model microphones. If for reference you prefer a more microphone-centric model number — the T-7 is the more official moniker for Thor. They’re versatile mics — and resoundingly cheap considering the multitude of recording tasks one could use them for.
According to internet folk-lore, ADK has a reputation for quality mics at affordable prices — and the brand appears to have a loyal following in the United States, where the mics are designed and the company based. Australia is yet to latch on, but should Aussies decide to take up the ADK mics I’m sure they’ll be pleased with the outcomes. These mics are very well made in ADK’s Chinese factory, use decent quality components, and most importantly (at least in the case of the Thor as it’s the only model I’ve auditioned) sound very good.
Apparently the T-7 is an evolution from previous ADK large diaphragm models. Reportedly, users were asking after brighter and darker voicings of ADK’s S-7 model large diaphragm condenser. The mic was consequently released in a darker voiced design, dubbed the S-7B for brass instrument sources, and the S-7C for a crisper response with dull instrument sources. All very well but you need to own the three S-7 models for the range of voicings, so here’s where the T-7 concept steps up to the plate. Why not incorporate all these voicings into the one microphone! Brilliant! This is the ingenuity behind the T-7. It includes easy switch adjustment for light, dark, and neutral voicing alterations, alongside the more typical options for a multi-pattern LDC mic. So, without further adieu, let’s have a look, and then a listen to the ADK T-7.
HARD AS NAILS
As I mentioned briefly, the T-7 is of very acceptable build quality. You can take the barrel sleeve off the microphone easily, and all the threads and fittings mate correctly upon reassembly — unlike countless wannabe mics in this price range. Upon inspecting the innards I also noticed a very tidy mini-connector between the main circuit board and the XLR connector — very thoughtful should maintenance be required down the track. I will say I was a little sceptical of some of the solder joints on the three circuit boards. The barrel is heavily engraved, including individual serial numbering, then filled clearly with white enamel — there’s no confusion with the switching. The remainder of the casing is finished in a matte-black. All four of the three-position switches click to their relegated positions unambiguously with a perfectly solid click. It’s a sturdily designed microphone that should have no trouble performing either on-stage or in the studio. The supplied microphone mount is a simple solid screw attachment — a shock mount for the mic is an option, though if Professional Audio Services get enough orders they might be able to throw the shockmounts in. When it’s time for the T-7 to take a nap, ADK ship the mic in a presentation quality wooden box sporting a decent catch and lined with blue pseudo-velvety stuff — included is the usual complimentary satchel of silica-gel.
Toward the business end of the T-7 is a dual layer mesh grille protecting the one-inch dual diaphragm transducer capsule. The grille is quite open, with no extra foam or material obstruction between the grille and the capsule. You can even see the conical riser below the capsule to help aid diffraction within the capsule space. Between the grille and body section are the four three-position switches. At the near-side (i.e. the address side when using the mic in cardioid mode) are the filter and attenuation switches. The filtering offers either flat, or two flavours of high-pass at 100 and 150Hz. Both filter settings don’t seem to distract from the mic’s response, doing just as they should — keeping out low-end and retaining tops as succinctly as when the filter is set flat. Attenuation offers three settings: 0dB, -8dB, and -18dB. This feature in itself lends the T-7 to a wide range of applications. A mighty maximum SPL handling of 148dB means you could safely use the T-7 for anything on a drum-kit: kick or snare, through to large guitar amplifiers, then back down to acoustic guitar and strings, and of course, voice. While we’re kicking numbers about, I’ll mention the very healthy 14mv/Pa sensitivity, 80dBA signal to noise ratio, and 150Ω impedance. All these specifications will give your Neumann mics a very good run for their money (then do the fiscal appraisals and decide how many ADK mics you could own instead).
Heading to the far side of the T-7 you’ll find a three position switch for swapping the polar pattern of the capsule between cardioid, figure-eight and omni. The cardioid setup is very pleasing indeed, with a smooth, even response that initially had me thinking this mic was somewhat uninspiring. In reality the ‘straight’ cardioid setting is remarkably neutral, and therefore extremely useful and ‘honest’, if you will. Finding microphones at this price point to return such results is no easy task believe me. If M-S recording is your game, the figure-eight setting is going to be welcome, and for wide open neutrality and relatively no proximity effect, the omni setting shines. Surprisingly open and detailed after acclimatising to the cardioid setting.
48 SHADES OF THOR
Where the T-7 gets really interesting is when combining filtering, attenuation, and the three voicing positions. To reiterate, the T-7 can be set at its neutral or flat state for a starting point. As always with recording, start flat and work from there as you could end up chasing your tail, especially with a mic offering so many sonic permutations. Set flat, the T-7 is clear and strong. An even, unadulterated and honest response. Set to the more subdued setting, perhaps the one you’d use on brass instruments, tops are cleared out beyond 12kHz, the next setting adds some very pleasing shine to the top-end, which I found gave acoustic guitar some wonderful twinkle indeed. This would be useful with strings also. On vocals I was also impressed, however anything but the flat setting wasn’t applicable to my voice — of course, mileages will vary dependent upon source. All that said, with so many possibilities I’m putting the T-7 into the ‘must-have’ category, with the deciding factor being the price. For this dollar why wouldn’t you own one?
To round things up, I can’t fault the T-7 at all. In its standard setup the mic sounds solid, real, and to return to a previously ‘hammered’ adjective, honest. When you start mucking about with the filtering you’ve got a vast palette of voicings and consequently an extraordinarily versatile microphone. Add a useful selection of polar patterns and it becomes one of those mics everyone should own. And, like all mics of this ilk, you should have two. If it’s good, have a couple for stereo and overheads. At this price, why wouldn’t you?