Test Reviews of Pro Audio Gear and Mixing Consoles

Audio Bricks
ToolMod analog Audio Modules
by adt-audio

Translation of a test review from German Studio-Magazin by
Dieter Kahlen

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As far as the mechanical construction of the housings and other details with no effect on the tonal and technical properties of the system are concerned, the analog audio 'plug in's' of the ToolMod system are simpler than the V700 modules that are made of stainless steel, with massive, machined aluminum knobs; the limitation to the most important module types and no options made even more savings possible. All these changings had - regarding to manufacturer's statements - almost no effect on the sonic performance. The typical adt-audio properties, as there are mic preamps with high quality input transformers, input and output level of more than + 30 dBu, parametric EQ's based on the 'Vienna Bridge' principle, can be found with no changes in the ToolMod system as well. However, extensive surround sound equipment, control room regulators and source selectors that can be installed with the other module systems are not possible with the ToolMod's, which is definately no problem for most of the users at all.

In difference to the complete channel strip ToolKit, that offeres almost the same functions in a fixed configuration, the Toolmod compenents let the user decide how his ToolMod unit is configured. Of course it is also possible to reassign the modules later; the user can start with a very small setup and upgrade system at a very low cost rates at any time. Several frames can be supplied by a single power supply. The combination of the ToolMod gear with a ToolKit channel strip or ToolMix summing mixers is an interesting option as well. All units of the adt-audio Tool series use the same power supply units anyway.

Rear View of 1U high FrameFrames and Power Supply Units

The 1U high frame that was used for our test devices can hold up to five modules. Inside the frame, vertical metal spacers separate the module slots. If double wide modules, like the TM105 5 band EQ, have to be installed, this spacer that is fixed in the frame by 4 screws can be easily removed by the user. There are no guarding rails, since the variable slot width for single and double wide modules make this impossible. A DIN multipin connects the module and the frame pcb that distributes the power supply and ground and connects the module i/o's to the connectors on the rear panel. There are no additional summing rails; all inputs and outputs of the particular module are made externally. Power Supply Unit ToolPwr-M

Each module slot has 2 xlr connectors and two additional TRS jacks. With mono standard modules the input on the female xlr is available in parallel on one of the TRS connectors; however, the TRS connectors are used for side-chain or key inserts of compressors and gates and for the right channel of stereo modules. Regarding to the manufacturer, stereo modules will be available in the near future as well as 2U and 4U high vertical frames that can hold up to 11 modules.

Power supply units of different capacity can be used with the ToolMod system, which is compatible with all other adt-audio 'Tool' devices as well. Our test system was equipped with the compact power supply unit ToolPwr-M that can handle two to three 1U high frames; the 2U high, rack mounted version can be used with 4 to 7 1U high frames.

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