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ADK S51 MK5.2 Condenser Microphone Review

Brandon Drury —  October 9, 2011 — Leave a comment

ADK S-51

I’m not going to write an article.  I’m just going to toss down some random thoughts to save both you and I time.

Comparison Shop For ADK S51

The ADK S51 is the 3rd prize in this months  ADK Metal Mayhem contest.  ;)

I hate writing microphone reviews because there aren’t too many times that a microphone REALLY stands out as being superior.  There is no clear consensus whether a Shure SM57 or a Royer R121 is better on guitar cabinets (or maybe 1,000 other options).  The choice is purely personal and, frankly, I can make due with either them 99% of the time.  The only time a mic warrants a review from me is when it replaces some mic in my collection as a go-to mic on a given source or it ties a more expensive microphone.  With the ADK S51 MK5.2 I feel obligated to let you know about this awesome sounding microphone.

I’m buying four of these ADK S51 MK5.2s microphones.  They will officially be my tom microphones, bass cabinet microphones, and serve general purposes where I need a little extra top end.  I prefer my Gefell M930 or Neumann KM184 slightly on acoustic guitar depending on what I’m going for.

Yes, I’m comparing this budget mic to German mics that cost 5x as much.

The top end boost on this mic is VERY reasonable.  The old timers that use ribbons on everything won’t be into this mic.  More modern guys who can’t fit vocals with a huge bottom into  modern dance song will appreciate the slight boost up top.

I got confused and thought this was a $500 mic.  (Too many mic reviews going on.)  After I had concluded that I wanted four of them I saw the price.  When I realized this mic goes for $199 at Zzounds and Musiciansfriend I laughed.

At $199, this thing provides a mostly neutral sound with a little bit of top end added.  For a song that was more of an R&B-type thing I chose it over my Peluso 2247 short body, Peluso 251, and even the ADK TC-47AU  even though all of those mics are badass.

On a screamo vocal that needed more edge than most pop stuff I’ve been doing lately, I couldn’t find a more ideal mic in my closet.  (My Soundelux U99 is dead and needs to go to the shop.  It probably would have won on that vocal.)

The ADK S51 MK5.2 condenser microphone is priced in that ballpark of the Audio Technica AT4040, Rode NT1a, and many others.  While I am surprised how good a Rode NT1a was for the money, I’m finding with Rode that you need to move up to the $300 NT1000 to get to a mic I can use on a daily basis without flaws that I consider closer to the objective.    If you are absolutely stuck at $200, you can’t beat the ADK S51 MK5.2 from what I’ve heard so far.  There may be a Studio Projects mic that compares.. Not sure.  The Audio Technica mics require a poorly made shockmount that is not going to last you five years.  To replace/fix it costs half the price of the mic and that rules them out of my recommendations for anyone in the market for such a mic.

I don’t hear any objective flaws with the ADK S51 MK5.2.  What does that mean?  It means that when I put this up against my Peluso 2247, Peluso 251, and Gefell M930s all of the mics were usable.  I didn’t hear anything “cheap” that would have ruled out the S51.  That’s why it can work on lead vocals even when I have mics laying around that cost 13x as much.  It has its character and on the right source it just sounds right just like any other high end microphone.

I have no problem saying that this is my #1 recommendation to beginners looking for a good starter microphone because you CAN NOT outgrow it.

Brandon

Saved Comments


bayouland – 10-11-2011, 09:36 AM
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We’re in total agreement on this one. I have several ADK S51s in my arsenal along with several of their other models, including A6s, Hamburgs, and Viennas. Like you, I also have quite a few other mics costing umpteen times more, but more often than not I reach for an ADK. Look, I’ve been in this recording game for over 28 years, and having used just about every mic out there, my experience tells me that you just can’t beat ADK when it comes to performance/value. Just my 2 cents.David

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MattMe – 10-11-2011, 10:57 AM
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Brandon,Just wondered if you’ve ever used any of the Red5 Audio range of mics? A couple years ago when I was just geting started and buying my first bits of hardware I came across a review for their Condensor mic, the RV6 at £60 (around $90?).I’m by no means a recording pro (or even that experienced an amateur) and I’ve not really sued many other mics, but I am a bit of an audiophile. I’m really happy with the mic so far and I’ve used it for vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion and general other ‘ambient’ sounds for tracks I’ve worked on and always got what I’d consider good enough results.I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on these mics as someone with a whole lot more experience than I. Be good to know if you thought it worthwhile an upgrade, or how it stacks up against other ‘budget’ mics.Good egg.Matt.

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BlackCatBonz – 10-11-2011, 11:44 AM
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This will be going on my list of gear.

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MikeGSaxman – 10-11-2011, 04:10 PM
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About the Rode NT-1A: “flaws that I consider closer to the objective.” Could you please elucidate?

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na118 – 10-11-2011, 05:36 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by MikeGSaxman View Post
About the Rode NT-1A: “flaws that I consider closer to the objective.” Could you please elucidate?
I think Brandon once said that the high end bump on the NT1-A emphasizes sibilance and makes it a real pain to fix. At least that’s what I remember him saying about the “Monsters” contest (tracked with the Rode).

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jpierre – 10-11-2011, 07:17 PM
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Brandon whats your take on the ADK TC Mk 9 versus the S51? or anyone who has experience with these mics…

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cathomas – 10-11-2011, 09:14 PM
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Any reason this looks identical to a Carillon Axis 5/?if it was painted black and the switches were on the front instead of the back, of courseIs ADK just a rename of Legacy/Carillon/Medeli etc?

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brandondrury – 10-17-2011, 03:09 PM
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my experience tells me that you just can’t beat ADK when it comes to performance/value.
That’s been my experience thus far, as well.
I’m really happy with the mic so far and I’ve used it for vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion and general other ‘ambient’ sounds for tracks I’ve worked on and always got what I’d consider good enough results.I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on these mics as someone with a whole lot more experience than I.
I’ve never used the Red5 mics. That (along with Gauge) is a microphone company that I’d love to try. If you are getting the results you are after, there’s no reason at all to even question your tools. Now crank out a song!
About the Rode NT-1A: “flaws that I consider closer to the objective.” Could you please elucidate?
I was highly surprised by the NT-1A in the performance / $$ category and I did get some very good results with it. Everything in my review still stands. However, it was taken with price as a consideration. I did have some issues with sibilance with it. The Monsters contest was one example of that mic being a little tough to work with, however, I want to point out that I overworked my LA-3A compressor on the vocals for that particular session as I was just learning how to use it. So, for that one particular audio file, it wasn’t the NT-1A’s fault. The NT-1A is very usable, but it had a tendency to get a little peaky here and there. I’m not hearing that with the NT1000, which I’m testing now.The ADK S51 was reviewed without $$ being an issue. It’s a great freakin’ mic no matter what the damn thing costs. If it cost $1,000 I wouldn’t judge it any differently. It just happens to only cost $200. For you hobbyists out there, 95% of you are never going to need anything else.
Brandon whats your take on the ADK TC Mk 9 versus the S51? or anyone who has experience with these mics…
I can’t say anything about the mk9. I’ve not touched it. So far ADK is my go-to company. Everything I’ve used from them I’ve liked….a lot.
Any reason this looks identical to a Carillon Axis 5/?i
Yes. The reason is about 500 microphone companies all stole the look of the Neumann U67 / U87. I assume this is more profitable than designing a new mic body. Brandon

bobbybovine’s Avatar
bobbybovine – 01-05-2012, 02:24 PM
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I can’t seem to find any ADK retailers for Canada and their website doesn’t list any authorized dealers. Anyone know where I can source them here in Canada?? I want some of those s51′s

Bob

Brandon Drury

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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.
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