Recording - May 2018 - 14

ADK

Custom Shop
12 Series
Four mics offer a common heritage to everyone
from beginner to seasoned professional

REVIEWS BY PAUL VNUK JR.
ased in the Pacific Northwest, ADK is a microphone
company founded by mic connoisseur Larry Villella.
ADK was an early player in the home studio
revolution, offering high-quality, affordable imported
microphones. Nowadays, ADK mics are built in the USA
from American and Belgian designs, using high-end parts
from all over the world (see below).

B

When the ADK Custom Shop launched about five years
ago, it started with two product lines: the Z-MOD Series of
9-pattern tube mics and the solid-state Custom T-FET Series,
Custom Shop versions of some of ADK's earlier Studio Series
solid-state mics. Later, ADK added the Custom TC line of
single-pattern tube mics at more affordable prices.
We've reviewed a bunch of Custom Shop mics over the last four
years: the Z-67 (still my favorite Z-MOD mic) and the Hamburg
14

RECORDING May 2018

67-T (May 2014), the Z-251 and Cremona 251-T (October 2015),
the Z-800 (February 2017), and the TC-49 (October 2017).
With model numbers like these, it's easy to guess at the
target sound of each mic, but ADK is quick to point out that
these sounds are just inspired starting points. I find them to be
sonically within their various "families of origin," but not so
close as to be considered clones.
This month we dive into the ADK mics inspired by the classic
AKG C 12. This is the first time I have had all three series sideby-side at once; I was able to line up and try out a Z-MOD
Z-12, a Custom TC TC-12, and the Custom Shop update to
one of the oldest ADK mics, the T-FET Vienna 12-T.

Three's company-four is also company

One way that ADK stays away from the "clone wars" is its
construction, selection, and tuning of components. Each Custom Shop line makes use of just one body, one grille, and one
head basket, all globally sourced and hand-assembled in the
USA. These mics use audiophile-grade internal components,
three-way-tested 5-star tubes, Belgian-designed PC boards,
and transformers by Jensen, Lundahl, Lehle, and Sowter (these
have been chosen for optimal performance with each capsule
type; the Z-12 has a Sowter transformer).
All three Custom Shop 12-inspired mics share the same
vintage-toned red enamel finish, and (as with all Custom Shop
mics) you can choose a Copper or Silver edition. The Copper
edition comes in a standard aluminum carry case with XLR
cable, shockmount, ring mount, gooseneck pop filter, slip-on
windscreen, wooden mic box, and (if it's a tube mic) the
appropriate power supply and multipin cable. The Silver
package features all of the above, plus upgraded Accusonic
cables, a selection of hand-picked alternate tubes to try (just
for tube mics, duh), all housed in a spacious tweed-style case
with multiple felt-lined compartments.
That may sound a little over-the-top, but it gets better: ADK
is one of the few microphone companies whose Custom Shop
is truly custom. The staff at ADK will craft a mic to your tastes
and specifications, with your choice of capsule tuning, transformer, tubes, and even your own custom one-off color.
Of the mics being reviewed this time, the Z-12 is the largest
of the bunch at 8.9" tall with a 2.1" diameter. It has a chrome
head basket, a large bottom mounting thread, and offers 9
polar patterns on its external power supply.
Its baby brother the TC-12 is also a tube mic, but it is a
cardioid-only model and is much shorter at 7.25" x 2.1". It has the
same large mounting threads, but has a brushed silver head basket.
The Vienna 12-T is a 3-pattern (cardioid, omni, figure-8) mic
with onboard switching and includes a 2-position pad with
16 dB of total attenuation and a 2-position highpass filter. It
measures 8.5" x 1.5" and has a brushed silver head basket.
According to Larry, the unique tonal flavors of these mics
are all created through acoustics and capsule tuning rather
than artificial internal EQ tricks. Because of that, the engineers
at ADK are rightfully proud of their bank of custom capsules,
developed by sister company 3 Zigma Audio. The Z-12 and
Vienna 12-T have a dual-diaphragm 3Z-12D capsule, while
the TC-12 has the single-diaphragm 3Z-12S.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2018

Contents
Recording - May 2018 - Intro
Recording - May 2018 - Cover1
Recording - May 2018 - Cover2
Recording - May 2018 - 1
Recording - May 2018 - 2
Recording - May 2018 - 3
Recording - May 2018 - 4
Recording - May 2018 - 5
Recording - May 2018 - Contents
Recording - May 2018 - 7
Recording - May 2018 - 8
Recording - May 2018 - 9
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Recording - May 2018 - 11
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Recording - May 2018 - Cover3
Recording - May 2018 - Cover4
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