ADK Thor and Odin Microphone Review

Brandon Drury —  March 25, 2013 — 10 Comments

ADK Thor Microphone

Comparison Shop For ADK Thor

Time Saving Thingy: The ADK Thor > API 3124 > Ashly PQX-571> Distressor > La3a is my favorite vocal chain I’ve ever had and it worked better on a wider range of singers than any other vocal chain I’ve ever had.

Now for all the filler. I hate reviewing microphones, but here goes.

I remember being particularly fond of the ADK S5.1 mk2 . It was only a $200 microphone, but there was something about it that just felt right to me. I can’t explain it. I told Larry, the owner of ADK, that I wanted 4 of ‘em. They were going to be my workhorse condensers on toms, random instruments, and a lot more vocals than you may expect.

He said, “Hold off.” You’ve got to hear the new ADK Thor and Odin.

Okie dokie.

We Miss The ADK Thor / Odin

I think Ruprect summed it up well the other day. Out of the blue she said (yes, he’s a “she” today), “Dude, I miss the ADK Thor.” Nothing provoked this conversation. There was no, “So what do you think about the ADK Thor?” He just missed it. He was doing voiceover-ish videos for the Addictive Keys piano sampler/mangler for ScrewTube. It’s not like we don’t have other tools around here. He was using an SM7b. Life ain’t that bad.

I have to admit it. I went through a phase where I was using the Thor or Odin on everything. More importantly, I was happy. The ADK Thor through the API 3124 was FUN. I’d pull a bit of bottom out, run it through the Distressor lightly for its not-so-obvious compression and then through the La3a for it’s de-esser-like qualities. Vocals were basically done. 2 particular singers that I found HARD to capture ended up working extremely well with this setup.

One thing that separates the ADK Thor and Odin from other mics in similar price ranges is it does have an obvious character, but this character is subtle enough not to paint you into any corners like all my high end condensers seem to do. There is a thing (maybe it’s just the extra top end) that an AKG 414 or Gefell M930 doesn’t bother with and you have to EQ back in. I just don’t seem to get my top end as “sweet” / “pleasing” when EQing either of those two more expensive mics. This could all be in my head.

We tossed the Thor and Odin up as drum overheads for a punk rock thing. They were quite a bit brighter than the Gefell M930s I’m used to. It was a new sound. It didn’t bother me. I just turned ‘em down a little bitty bit. No big deal. Sometimes I’ve thought that a little more 10k in the Gefells would be fun for overheads although EQing them never really got me there.. I guess if you had this exact sound in your head of what the overheads should sound like, either one could be more ideal. I’m fairly neutral and as long as the sound is fun for me we move on.

On acoustic guitars I found myself needing to cut the bottom end a lot less than with the Gefell M930s. There wasn’t anything “less good” about them. Just a little bit different.

The Thor and Odin did just fine on percussion. No issues. No need to reach for anything else. Some guys say that percussion and car keys are the true test of a microphone. The Thor and Odin passed the test just as well as anything I own.

We did well over 300 videos for the upcoming Hyper Guides. I started with the Gefell for the first 20 or so. I decided to try out the Thor. I never took it down. I just liked it. No giant reason. I don’t sound like I’m 40 feet tall or anything. It just felt right. My need to fiddle diminished, which is an epic step for Brando.

I’ve used a lot of mics around here. Some mics are nice, but I don’t miss them. I miss the ADK Thor and Odin.

All ADK?

I’m seriously considering selling all my condenser microphones and going with ADK for everything. I’d get 4 of the s51 mk5.2s (I’d have to start calling them a snake’s name as you guys know I think all audio products should be named after a snake. ) I’d get two ADK Thor or Odins. I’ve have to decide how important polar patterns are to me. Then I’d get a couple of their tube condensers although I’m not sure I’d need ‘em, but sometimes this sound comes in handy. You guys know how damn good the ADK TC-47au was.

The objective side of me doesn’t know if my liking of ADK is all in my head. They’ve been VERY good to us sponsoring many contests. I can’t rule that out. However, there are some sounds I’ve fought with for a long time and the ADK mics seem to slip in there and work. It could be multiple flukes. I don’t know. I do know that I sold my AT4033s and AT4050 a while back. Nothing wrong with those tools. I don’t miss ‘em.

I’ve had good condensers from all sorts of companies in here. I don’t miss ‘em.

The objective side of me didn’t see a great use for the tone controls on the Thor and Odin. It has a little EQ circuit in there that can switch into a ribbon-like mode. It’s alright. I didn’t hear anything I couldn’t EQ in/out later. You never know. I may grow into it and find something extra useful about it, but I didn’t press the issue. I think the idea was to give the Thor a “ribbon mode”. Mr. Skeptical in me knobs that ribbons have saved me time, but I’m not sure if that’s because they really have some kind of fairy dust in them or if they just ignore 12Khz when you don’t need it. Not sure.

I guess people taking a more purist approach with their tracking could find uses for the modes that either boost top end, cut top end, or stay neutral. I’ve got analog EQ right there and if something is a little dark, I boost exactly where I want it (and vice versa). So I suspect this feature would be of more value to me if I was using an audio interface with no outboard on the way in.

Heavy Mics

The Thor and Odin are rather large and heavy. That’s a pain in the butt for wimpy mic stands. (I’m hearing great things about Tama Mic Stands and can’t wait to give ‘em a try.) They aren’t quite as heavy as an Shure SM7b, but they weigh much more than most of my other LDCs. I’m not sure what that means….thicker metal maybe. I guess that means they sound heavier. ROLLED EYES SMILEY

Shockmount

The shockmount on the Thor or Odin (I’m not sure if it’s always included or not) is excellent. What makes a shockmount excellent? I’ll to you. It’s the same thing thing that makes a car excellent. An excellent car starts when you turn the key. An excellent shockmount lets you screw the mic directly into the shockmount and it isolates vibrations from the mic stand. That’s it.

I’m boycotting all those clampy clampy designs. I won’t buy a mic with the clamp-on style ever again. You’d have to be a hell of a salesman to convince me that the clamp on design is ever ever ever smart. It says a lot about a company when they have done their homework to know that the clamp on shockmounts are dog vomit. (Big points to Peluso and ADK for getting their shockmounts right.)

Other Mics?

Someone asked me what made the ADK Odin and Thor better than the ADK S5.1 mk2. I didn’t have a confident answer grounded in science. It was a feel thing, I guess, which means it’s soaked in my own psychological shortcomings. There is something about the top end if the Thor and Odin that felt right to me with the API. I wasn’t nearly in love with it on other preamps, but to be honest, I haven’t been in love too many times when it comes to preamps and microphones mating together.

I’m sure there are many microphones out there that will get compelling music to the finish line so don’t run out selling whatever you got now to get the ADK Thor or Odin thinking this is the solution to all your problems. It’s a freakin’ awesome tool for the money, but it ain’t gonna make you go platinum tomorrow.

Conclusion

– There is something I really like about the ADK Thor and Odin with my signal chain.
– Both Ruprect and I miss it. We’ll need to get one or two more very soon.
– There are other competitors out there in the $300-400 camp, however, I don’t feel a compelling reason to bother with them. They may be just as good or better, but I know the ADK Thor / Odin has been a winner.
– I’m becoming a bigger and bigger fan of the mid-priced tools with performance that exceed their price tag. I can’t sum up the ADK Thor and Odin any better than that.

Brandon

Brandon Drury

Posts Twitter Facebook Google+

Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of RecordingReview.com and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

10 responses to ADK Thor and Odin Microphone Review

  1. Brandon… You’re right on with the critique of clamp style shockmounts. I have the MXL 770, my mic of choice because it’s all I can afford ATM. It seems like a very good mic, but yeah, the camp shockmount sucks. Because they add weight to one side of the mount, they make the mic sag to that side. Using tighter elastics didn’t help. I had to bend the crap out of the clamp handles so that they didn’t touch the cradle. That worked. But I’m probably going to modify the clamp and get rid of the handles all together.

  2. If the ADK Odin and Thor are fairly similar in specs ~ would you chose one over the other if you could only purchase one ? And why?

    RR

  3. This review sums it up nicely for me. There are a quite a few high end mics laying around the studio for us to utilize but there was something VERY good about both the Thor and the Odin. Anything that enables me to spend less time screwing around with plugins to doctor a vocal (or any other source) and more time focusing on getting a great performance is a winner in my book. The price point is the icing on the cake.

  4. Brandon,

    Thanks so much for the review. I was wondering what your expert opinion would be on these mics. I had bought a pair of Thor’s (S/N”s: 0047 and 0062) to do my “live-matrix” recordings in my performance studio and perhaps to carry along to certain key gigs for some nice MS show recordings. For my nearly all live mic arsenal, the Thor’s are a whole new level of clarity and depth and have the ability with the multi-pattern/multi-pad/multi-presence selectors to behave like a number of different purpose-built mics. I have to say that even after 6 months of exploration, I haven’t yet found applications where I was displeased with the results (user error notwithstanding.)
    When you talk of shock mounts, what kind came with your mics? Mine did not come with the “spider” mounts, merely a solid mount with an adjustable joint….which I don’t consider a shock mount. Not being a consummate recording engineer, I can’t say that I have picked up on any vibrational noise, but I was worried about the long term effects on the sensitivity of the mics from not being isolated with the spiders.

    Currently, my mics hang on a custom-made bracket attached to a pole which is mounted to the ceiling of the performance space by means of a 3″ puck of neoprene rubber. I figured this would be all the vibrational dampening they would need in this out-of-the-way position. However, I was hoping for something more when it comes to taking them out and about.

    Thanks for everything!

  5. I don’t suppose you’ve used them on a grand or upright piano. I’m in the market for a pair of large diaphragms for that job.

  6. I don’t suppose you’ve used them on a grand or upright piano. I’m in the market for a pair of large diaphragms for that job

    No, I don’t have a mammoth piano here at my place. I wouldn’t hesitate to put them on piano for a second, however.

  7. When you talk of shock mounts, what kind came with your mics? Mine did not come with the “spider” mounts, merely a solid mount with an adjustable joint….which I don’t consider a shock mount. Not being a consummate recording engineer, I can’t say that I have picked up on any vibrational noise, but I was worried about the long term effects on the sensitivity of the mics from not being isolated with the spiders.

    We had the spider-style shockmounts included with the ADK Thor and Odin. It’s common for manufacturers to give us the fully-loaded version (or just toss the extra shockmounts in there).

    the long term effects on the sensitivity of the mics from not being isolated with the spiders.

    I’m not expert, but the vibrations are soooooo small that can make earthquake-like sounds in a microphone, that I can’t imagine those vibrations making any real impact on the long term sound/reliability of the microphone. The earthquake sound comes from a person taking a step. If taking a step 2′ from electronic equipment adversely affected it, I’d imagine carrying the microphone 10′ would be absolutely catastrophic.

    In short, the shockmount is there to keep the rumble out of the microphone. Nothing more.

  8. If the ADK Odin and Thor are fairly similar in specs ~ would you chose one over the other if you could only purchase one ? And why?

    The Thor has selectable polar patterns. (Figure 8, omni, and cardioid). The Odin is cardioid only. That’s the only real difference that I’m aware of. When used in cardioid, I heard no difference in sound.

  9. Brandon,
    I have been getting your newsletter for several years now, and find them very helpful. Thanks.
    I notice most of the time you write about solo singers. What about larger groups of performers?
    What microphone would you prefer for a group of 20 men, or a choir of 30? What polarization, number of mics, type (condenser or dynamic), would you suggest.
    Would the Thor or Odin from ADK be a great mic to use in such a situation.
    Thanks again for all the excellent information through the years!

  10. Brandon,
    I have been getting your newsletter for several years now, and find them very helpful. Thanks.
    I notice most of the time you write about solo singers. What about larger groups of performers?
    What microphone would you prefer for a group of 20 men, or a choir of 30? What polarization, number of mics, type (condenser or dynamic), would you suggest.
    Would the Thor or Odin from ADK be a great mic to use in such a situation.
    Thanks again for all the excellent information through the years!

    Hey Jim,

    A big flaw in advice in this gig is everyone has RADICALLY different noises they are capturing. I’ve recorded real drums probably 1,000 times. I’ve recorded real piano a WHOPPING once and it was an out-of-tune piano we used only a room mic on. I’ve never recorded a single choir in my life. That kinda sucks when I think about. SMILEY

    So I really can’t give much advice in terms of tools without getting quite generic and covering that “When You’ve Never Recorded This Before…” type of article. Therefor, I’m gonna have to do you a favor and shut my trap for a change. SMILEY Sorry I’m useless on this one.

    You may want to create a thread in Recording Toys And Tactics.

Leave a Reply

*

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>