By now, all of us have become accustomed to the flood of studio-oriented microphones originating from the shores of China. First came the condenser, then the tube condenser, next up was the ribbon microphone, and now we have the latest item, the tube ribbon microphone. I’m going to let the cat peek out of the bag just enough to tell you that this might be the most usable Chinese microphone to arrive so far.
The Nady TRM-6 ($499) comes neatly packaged in the de rigeur aluminum flight “lite” case along with an all metal shockmount, dedicated power supply, 10-meter microphone/power supply interconnect, foam windscreen and soft vinyl case for the microphone itself.
All of the components appear to be of the same quality level as other OEM style microphones originating from China, which is to say sufficient to perform the task at hand. Internal construction is of reasonably decent quality, though you will notice some sloppy wiring and indifferent metal work inside the mic. This is not your father’s Neumann, nor is it priced as such. Like virtually all the other OEM Chinese microphones, the quality of the cable and connectors on the microphone and power supply are considerably lower than the Neutrik or Switchcraft other pricier gear would likely feature.
Rather than the RCA-style enclosure that most of the other Chinese ribbon microphones have adopted, the TRM-6’s 45mm low-tension two micron-thick aluminum ribbon is housed in a U 47-style enclosure. The ribbon is protected by a mesh grille, though the manual warns against using the microphone without a windscreen or pop filter for vocal usage. Incidentally, the ribbon element itself is not covered by the warranty, due to its relative fragility.
While I initially viewed the tube as a bit of a marketing gimmick, it’s actually a great match as it makes the ribbon sound accessible to those without high gain/low noise preamps (such as the 85 dB of gain and transformer coupled ones in my Audio Developments AD146). Chances are good that TRM-6 users will never have to worry about tube availability thanks to the smart decision to use a standard 12AX7A tube rather than a more esoteric choice. This will also allow users to experiment with NOS and other tubes allowing for some sonic adjustment. That said, the supplied 12AX7A seemed just fine to me.
Studio, post production
Figure 8 pattern; 45mm aluminum ribbon; 12AX7 vacuum tube; ships with shockmount, travel case, mic pouch.
Nady | 510-652-2411 | www.nady.com
- Smooth and warm sound
- Included shockmount
- High output for a ribbon microphone
- Price-to-Performance ratio
- Flimsy output connectors on microphone and power supply
- Sloppy internal wiring/construction
An affordable tube ribbon microphone that is definitely worth a listen.The TRM-6 must be used with the included (or other universal) shockmount as there is no provision made for stand mounting the microphone, which is probably a good thing — the body of the mic was somewhat resonant when tapped.
You’ve probably gathered by now that there is nothing special about the construction quality or visual design of the TRM-6. But what is special is the sound!
The Nady microphone has a smooth, warm, and (dare I say?) fat sound. It’s the kind of microphone that sounds tube-y in a good way. Unlike most of the other “Made in China” tube microphones I have heard, there was no hazy electronic veil overlaid on top of the sound source. Self-noise is stated as a respectable 16dB. Other than usage as an ambient microphone, the self-noise of the microphone was not intrusive, and the characteristic of the noise was broadband enough as to be mostly unobtrusive.
Positioned about 5 feet away from a GMS maple drum kit, the TRM-6 yielded a fat sound, which emphasized the sound of the kick and snare drums rather than the cymbals. The cymbals were reproduced without the normal splashiness that is the hallmark of inexpensive microphones. Heavily compressed, the resultant sound needed just a touch of high frequency boost to be nearly perfect. It’s almost perverse how cool the finished sound was. Adding in some Audix D6 on the kick drum, and Audio-Technica ATM-23 on the Ayotte Keplinger stainless steel snare drum provided the quintessential minimally-miked roots-rock sound.
Positioned 6 inches away from a Marshall bass cabinet driven by a FBB Custom fretless bass, the TRM-6 once again proved to be a winning combination when paired with the Audio Developments AD146 console. With the DAV Electronics Broadhurst Gardens No. 1 microphone preamp, it sounded warm and smooth.
The TRM-6 seemed to miss the leading edge of the transients when called into action miking a Tom Anderson Strat-style guitar thorough a Marshall JCM 800 2210 halfstack, although the creamy sound produced was quite nice. I would think that the TRM-6 would absolutely kill on a Jazz box played through a vintage amp.
On male vocals, the Nady microphone sounded large and authoritative. The TRM-6 actually made a beyerdynamic M88tg sound small by comparison. An Electro-Voice RE-20 sounded as large in the low-end, but lacked the midrange “creaminess” of the Nady. Suffice it to say that the Nady was the antithesis of condenser microphones like the Gefell M71K and amazing Violet Audio Amethyst Vintage, which are my normal go-to microphones. It’s not a sound that you will use all the time, but when you need something warm and fat, I’ve heard nothing anywhere near the price of the TRM-6 that will even come close.
In a market crowded with microphones that are very similar to each other in construction and sound, the Nady TRM-6 manages to distinguish itself by providing a sonic signature completely at odds with most of its price class. Inclusion of the tube output circuitry brings the ribbon sound to those lacking high-gain preamps. Definitely worth a listen!