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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Sound Check

The result of the sound check in our studio was as pleasant as the result of the measurement; the ToolMod units are very flexible tools for amplification and processing of audio signals with outstanding sonic performance that are best suited to demonstrate DAW oriented users what well designed analog audio system can achieve. You’ll need getting used to the readability of some scales and the access of some control elements, caused by the cramped design of the controls on some of the faceplates; a compromize between the function set and the available space was necessary. Before getting used to the gear, good lighting conditions are helpful. Even though such a layout requires more attention than a typical vintage device with two or three bakelite knobs on a 3u high top plate, the ToolMod units can be adjusted extraordinary fast and precise after a short phase of getting used to it, if the user knows what to do and what the goal should be achieved. The luxurious parameter kit offers always the right tools for the particular functions that operate as excepted and deliver the desired result. Unfortunately this is neither the case in the digital nor the analog domain a matter of course.

We selected the outstanding UM75 of Microtech Gefell for the sound test of the TM101 mic pre that was in parallel connected to the transformer balanced input module of our adt-audio mixing console. Since both pre amps are designed by the same person and are almost identical, the differences were only marginal; nevertheless the TM101 appeared to be a hint more precisely in the high frequency range – potentially a result of better optimized op amp selection with the ToolMod mic pre. However, the differences between ToolMod and the input amplifier of another console module with lower price were a lot clearer. This pre amp showed up with overemphasized high mid range. In total the TM101 offers a very nice warmth that indeed remains unobstrusive – it simply sounds ‘right’, extremely neutral und genuine in the meaning of the possibility to use this mic pre universally, what actualy was the intention of the manufacturer.

The 5-band eq TM105 turned out as an extremely flexible equalizer for the treatment of single tracks – a classical console channel eq of the highest quality level that can handle subtle adjustments as well as global corrections without any difficulty. The TM105 produces precise, tight bass signals and silky, clean high frequencies; the control ranges for the frequencies are extremely wide and overlapping and offer more than 1 band for almost every problem. The low mid band, for examples, reaches down to 20 Hz and be used as an additional low band as well. Even extreme settings, for example with a snare drum, will not result in unnatural sound performance.

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