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ADK Z-251 vs. Upton 251 male vox
Old 6th August 2020
  #61
Quote:
Originally Posted by whinecellar View Post
Hey folks, been looking for a good 251-style "star" mic for my studio, and I hear nothing but raves about the ADK Z-251, along with all the other models in their Z-Mod line. Larry seems to be a gem of a guy to deal with, too - I'm a big fan of companies who provide great service and interaction with their customers. The ADK would be the top of my price range, and I'd gladly swing for that fence if that's as good as it gets in this particular ballpark.

However, the other one I keep hearing great things about is the Telefunken TF51. It's a good bit less $$, and seems to be more of a 251-C12 hybrid, but reviews are great as are the demos I've heard. Just wondering if anyone has played with both before I start pulling out the plastic.

I tend to like the open top end of a 251-style flavor, but the last thing I want is a sibilant mic; I'm ready to have something that works great on just about any singer, and ideally with a smooth, open top end that takes well to EQ and compression. I've read a few stellar impressions of the Z-67 as well, which is obviously a whole other flavor...

Thanks in advance!
All i can say is the ADK Z 251 is so good it should be verboten
Male baritone here - with all the patterns, a nice pre and Chandler lil devil comp for soundshaping you can make this baby sound like any Tele-Neumann-AKG flavor to my ear. Just listened to a track recorded on fig 8>LaChapell pre> comp on slow attack and release and about 50% dry, sidechain 80 hz - - listened back again and just couldn't imagine any part of it sounding more gorgeous: massive sweet bass (U47?), fat punchy mids (U67?) and sparkly top (C12?)... man the presence, the huge magic realism... the kind that leaves your mouth dry while trying to declare: Now THAT's a tube microphone!

If you haven't decided yet i can send you the track described - no ITB processing except AKG BX25 IR, done.

Ps, if you send it through about 5 cassette recorders you can probably even make it sound 'washed out' hi ho...

Last edited by cracker satchmo; 6th August 2020 at 09:11 PM.. Reason: Ps
Old 6th August 2020
  #62
Quote:
Originally Posted by cracker satchmo View Post
All i can say is the ADK Z 251 is so good it should be verboten ...
Yeah, agreed. I ended up buying a Z-251 and for my taste (whatever that might be!), it is hands-down the best mic I've ever used, and I've used a LOT. Actually just released the first single we tracked with it, and I couldn't be more thrilled with it:



Thanks to Larry & co. for such outstanding products, and even better interaction and service!
Old 6th August 2020
  #63
Wow so happy for you!

On this track we hear it can do 251 as well:)

Soulful voice like the lady singing and - voilà magic...

Thanks for sharing - - -
Old 7th August 2020
  #64
Yep - still loving mine - was tracking a pop vocal today just on the Apollo pres, and it just sounds “right”...
Old 7th August 2020
  #65
Lives for gear
Has anyone been on this site?

http://danielsdennis.com/2016/08/tel...hone-shootout/

Good comparison, and yeah I dont think the Adk 251 is as close to the tele as I initially thought.
Old 8th August 2020
  #66
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellohead View Post
Has anyone been on this site?

http://danielsdennis.com/2016/08/tel...hone-shootout/

Good comparison, and yeah I dont think the Adk 251 is as close to the tele as I initially thought.
I’ve had them back to back personally; whilst you might notice a difference, it’s more a difference than a $7.5k improvement....also probably no more different than any given original 251 is to the next one!

I’ve also used the ADK to retrack a vocal already cut on the Tele...no one noticed!

I’m obviously biased and I’ve definitely not done a scientific test...but in use, the ADK definitely holds it’s own!

(If you want to look online, you can check out the band “CLEWS” - “Crushed” has the Tele 251 on vocals, “Hollywood”, “Crushed II”, “Feel” have the ADK).
Old 8th August 2020
  #67
Lives for gear
 
chymer's Avatar
 

Larry is awesome and his mics are incredible.
I love my Z-12.

A couple years ago I tried out all of his Z models and put them up against some popular models.
I did some pretty extensive A/B testing on acoustic guitar and vocals and drum room mic.
I had
-vintage blackbird tele 251
- manly c ref
- vintage u67
- upton 251
-all the ADK z-mods

Basically I found the z-12 to sound amazing for what I wanted which was a nice modern vocal mic (but warm) and great on acoustic instruments.

I have a bunch of audio I can dig up if y’all are interested.
It’s funny I found the z-12 sounded identical to the upton-251, I literally could not tell them apart.
The vintage blackbird Tele 251 sounded great but not better than the z-12 just a different take on the same flavor.... c-ref was a little crispy I remember and the Vintage u67 was just not the flavor I wanted.
The z-mod mics are exceptional.
Old 9th August 2020
  #68
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Progger's Avatar
Seems like the ADK folks are really competent and above-board, and they've always been very cordial and cool when chiming in on threads. I'm a big fan of companies doing good work while keeping cost reasonable, and they appear to be doing a great job of all that.

I'm curious if anyone knows which company makes their capsules? Not in a judgmental way in the slightest, I have a huge amount of respect for several of the Chinese manufacturers, and the capsules in Vanguard, Advanced Audio, Manley Ref C, and ADK mics are undoubtedly professional-caliber and excellent. My own 3U Audio mic is a supreme to joy to work with. I'm just interested in knowing who amongst the affordable eastern makers is doing such good work while keeping costs reasonable.
Old 13th August 2020
  #69
Here's an update from me (the OP):

I ended up purchasing the ADK and it is a great mic. I cannot say for sure on the capsule, but I have heard it is Chinese-based. For my voice the ADK is still a bit harsh in the upper mids, and I'm finding that hard to reduce without impacting the vocal overall. Some have suggested putting Heiserman or Campbell capsule in it, but I'm not there yet.

That being the case, I'm about to embark on a demo of the Upton 251. Dallas has re-voiced his capsule and I've heard some really great clips with it, and several trusted sources have recommended it to me. It may or may not be a significant step up from the ADK, but only by demoing it on my voice will I hear that.

Happy to post some comparison clips once I have completed the demo.

Last edited by packermans4; 13th August 2020 at 09:19 PM..
Old 13th August 2020
  #70
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toledo3's Avatar
 

That was also my conclusion when comparing the ADK to a vintage 251, to a C12 clone constructed by Oliver Archut and with a true vintage CK12 capsule supplied and refurbed by Klaus Heyne, and to a Lucas CS1.
Old 14th August 2020
  #71
Quote:
Originally Posted by packermans4 View Post
Here's an update from me (the OP):

I ended up purchasing the ADK and it is a great mic. I cannot say for sure on the capsule, but I have heard it is Chinese-based. For my voice the ADK is still a bit harsh in the upper mids, and I'm finding that hard to reduce without impacting the vocal overall. Some have suggested putting Heiserman or Campbell capsule in it, but I'm not there yet.

That being the case, I'm about to embark on a demo of the Upton 251. Dallas has re-voiced his capsule and I've heard some really great clips with it, and several trusted sources have recommended it to me. It may or may not be a significant step up from the ADK, but only by demoing it on my voice will I hear that.

Happy to post some comparison clips once I have completed the demo.
I think that with a lot of music, the vocal is required to be far more bright than the classics of yesteryear.

I find even using a vintage 67, the ADK 251 or a Wagner 47, many voices (especially when singing hard) have a 4k-ish resonance that I find distasteful - even painful (the Tele 251 does it too FWIW). I don’t really know why it happens; I suspect closer miking has something to do with it.

Regardless, I generally find if I’m adding tops to the vocal in the mix, I’m needing to address that area - either with dynamic EQ, using something like soothe, using notch EQs or using Izotope RX to literally paint out resonances.

So don’t be surprised if you still find yourself needing to address those high kids - whatever mix you use!

(I should also add I frequently hear songs on the radio where I think people HAVEN’T addressed this - and I notice the difference. Tom Elmhirst alludes to a similar thing when discussing Amy Winehouse’s mixes (he notes how on the album, you can hear other songs not mixed by him without his notch EQs, and the difference it makes), John Hanes in our recent Q+A mentions a similar approach in his and Serban’s work).
Old 14th August 2020
  #72
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
I think that with a lot of music, the vocal is required to be far more bright than the classics of yesteryear.

I find even using a vintage 67, the ADK 251 or a Wagner 47, many voices (especially when singing hard) have a 4k-ish resonance that I find distasteful - even painful (the Tele 251 does it too FWIW). I don’t really know why it happens; I suspect closer miking has something to do with it.

Regardless, I generally find if I’m adding tops to the vocal in the mix, I’m needing to address that area - either with dynamic EQ, using something like soothe, using notch EQs or using Izotope RX to literally paint out resonances.

So don’t be surprised if you still find yourself needing to address those high kids - whatever mix you use!

(I should also add I frequently hear songs on the radio where I think people HAVEN’T addressed this - and I notice the difference. Tom Elmhirst alludes to a similar thing when discussing Amy Winehouse’s mixes (he notes how on the album, you can hear other songs not mixed by him without his notch EQs, and the difference it makes), John Hanes in our recent Q+A mentions a similar approach in his and Serban’s work).
I have to do the same man, so many times I have to nudge out 4k on the c800g, and sometimes I automate the vocals so that everytime I sing hard etc, an EQ filter gets added to match the softer EQ parts.
Old 16th August 2020
  #73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Progger View Post
Seems like the ADK folks are really competent and above-board, and they've always been very cordial and cool when chiming in on threads. I'm a big fan of companies doing good work while keeping cost reasonable, and they appear to be doing a great job of all that.

I'm curious if anyone knows which company makes their capsules? Not in a judgmental way in the slightest, I have a huge amount of respect for several of the Chinese manufacturers, and the capsules in Vanguard, Advanced Audio, Manley Ref C, and ADK mics are undoubtedly professional-caliber and excellent. My own 3U Audio mic is a supreme to joy to work with. I'm just interested in knowing who amongst the affordable eastern makers is doing such good work while keeping costs reasonable.
From ADK website:

It took three microphone experts including a Ph.D. in Physics, a design genius in Belgium, 10 Grammy Winning Engineers and a 40-year-old microphone collection to create these microphones!

I don't know which company makes them as in physical manufactoring, but one thing for sure it's their own design - btw the design genius from Belgium is JP Gerard of NoHype Audio fame, the m'sieur is a true master tuner and i bet he had a major hand in getting them where they're at.
Old 16th August 2020
  #74
Lives for gear
 

I wonder who was the 40 year old?

Chris
Old 17th August 2020
  #75
AB3
Lives for gear
What tube is used in the ADK?
Old 17th August 2020
  #76
Quote:
Originally Posted by AB3 View Post
What tube is used in the ADK?
Mullard 12AX7/ECC83: Reissue, not NOS
Old 19th August 2020
  #77
Quote:
Originally Posted by packermans4 View Post
Mullard 12AX7/ECC83: Reissue, not NOS
Spend the money and get a NOS Telefunken 12AX7. It took my ADK z-251 up several notches. Much warmer and smoother. WELL worth the difference. The mic really benefits from a world class tube. I also did the same thing with my ADK Z-47 and then promptly sold my Flea 47.

Larry, the owner of ADK is one of the real gems in this business and goes the extra mile if you have any issues.
Old 19th August 2020
  #78
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertgeorge View Post
Spend the money and get a NOS Telefunken 12AX7. It took my ADK z-251 up several notches. Much warmer and smoother. WELL worth the difference. The mic really benefits from a world class tube. I also did the same thing with my ADK Z-47 and then promptly sold my Flea 47.

Larry, the owner of ADK is one of the real gems in this business and goes the extra mile if you have any issues.
Thanks for the info on the NOS TFunk tube. That's interesting, because my understanding was the TFunk tubes were more open and airy, while Mullards are known to be an overall warmer tube.
Old 19th August 2020
  #79
Lives for gear
 
roger's Avatar
 

12AX7s don’t belong in 251s or 47s.
Old 19th August 2020
  #80
Just did a classic Christmas record (crooner vibes) and shot out a vintage U67, Sony C37a and an ADK 251, not sure which version, the ADK was the winner for us.

I will say that it was on a singer who knew that 251 style mics sounded best on his voice from experience, but it was the clear winner. I was impressed.
Old 20th August 2020
  #81
Quote:
Originally Posted by roger View Post
12AX7s don’t belong in 251s or 47s.
What's your tube of choice?

Likely a circuit consideration, but I've also tried a GE 6072 and that is not as good as the reissue Mullard.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #82
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertgeorge View Post
Spend the money and get a NOS Telefunken 12AX7. It took my ADK z-251 up several notches. Much warmer and smoother. WELL worth the difference. The mic really benefits from a world class tube.
So I just got a NOS Telefunken 12AX7 for another mic and decided to pop it into the ADK first. You are absolutely correct. This tube does make the mic smoother and warmer (in the key areas), and addresses the upper mids that are generally harsh on me. I cycled through the polar patterns, and figure eight sounds pretty much "finished" short of some low cut.

Thanks for weighing in here. I think the comparison with the Upton will now be even more interesting.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #83
And here we go...
Attached Thumbnails
ADK Z-251 vs. Upton 251 male vox-shootout.jpg  
Old 3 weeks ago
  #84
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by packermans4 View Post
And here we go...
Aaaaaannnnnd...... ?????
Old 3 weeks ago
  #85
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Aaaaaannnnnd...... ?????
Keep in mind, Dr. Bill, I don't have near the skills or experience of many here including yourself. With that level-set...

For me these things can take some time to do right! Between unforeseen vocal problems and storms over the holiday weekend the opportunity has been limited. Plus I've been experimenting with mic placement, as well as the setup in the pic vs. directly on each capsule. While I know multiple takes are not always smiled upon, the reality is each mic sounds best (to me) one at a time. A lot of work and singing, but if I'm going to spend this much on a mic, I need to be sure I hear it the best way possible so I'm not making a decision based on poor testing (user error).

That being said, I'm aiming to have some clips soon for anyone interested.

Thus far: In cardioid the ADK sounds a bit more mid-heavy (1k-2k) to me, and while sounding a bit "rounder" does not quite have the same clarity in the lows/low mids. The polar pattern changes on the ADK bring some similarities in certain frequencies but it seems there is always a tradeoff. The Upton is a bit more scooped, has a natural smoothness, is a bit less harsh in the upper mids, and is very well balanced across the spectrum. Need to play with EQ to see how each may handle that differently as well.

Also have been trying the ADK with stock Mullard and NOS Tele, and will also be trying the Upton with a NOS Mullard 12AT7, which was recommended to me by another Upton owner as a must (I'm sure you know who that is, Dr. Bill).

The ADK is certainly no slouch and I could make it work. I think I'm starting to understand some of the references I've seen to "the last 10%" you get with great mics/capsules. More subtle than overt, but there. Just a matter of how much that is worth to someone and what they're willing to pay. Let me see what I can crank out today, and thanks for asking.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #86
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by packermans4 View Post
Keep in mind, Dr. Bill, I don't have near the skills or experience of many here including yourself. With that level-set...

For me these things can take some time to do right! Between unforeseen vocal problems and storms over the holiday weekend the opportunity has been limited. Plus I've been experimenting with mic placement, as well as the setup in the pic vs. directly on each capsule. While I know multiple takes are not always smiled upon, the reality is each mic sounds best (to me) one at a time. A lot of work and singing, but if I'm going to spend this much on a mic, I need to be sure I hear it the best way possible so I'm not making a decision based on poor testing (user error).

That being said, I'm aiming to have some clips soon for anyone interested.

Thus far: In cardioid the ADK sounds a bit more mid-heavy (1k-2k) to me, and while sounding a bit "rounder" does not quite have the same clarity in the lows/low mids. The polar pattern changes on the ADK bring some similarities in certain frequencies but it seems there is always a tradeoff. The Upton is a bit more scooped, has a natural smoothness, is a bit less harsh in the upper mids, and is very well balanced across the spectrum. Need to play with EQ to see how each may handle that differently as well.

Also have been trying the ADK with stock Mullard and NOS Tele, and will also be trying the Upton with a NOS Mullard 12AT7, which was recommended to me by another Upton owner as a must (I'm sure you know who that is, Dr. Bill).

The ADK is certainly no slouch and I could make it work. I think I'm starting to understand some of the references I've seen to "the last 10%" you get with great mics/capsules. More subtle than overt, but there. Just a matter of how much that is worth to someone and what they're willing to pay. Let me see what I can crank out today, and thanks for asking.

No worries man!!! Do it when and how you see best. Just checking back after I saw that gorgeous pic. . BTW, as far as testing goes, there is no right, wrong, best or worst. All methods are flawed in some fashion. Do what suits you best. Look forward to your thoughts.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #87
Shootout 1

Here you go. Raw vocals and rough mix. Voice not the best shape, but hopefully you'll get the idea.

Mic 1/2 and 3/4 recorded simultaneously through two preamps on my Spirit M4 board, configured as per pic in previous post. Main pre is normally MA5.

ADK with stock and Telefunken 12AX7 tubes
Upton with stock and Mullard 12AT7 tubes

Vocals Files: No EQ or processing

Mix Files: Vocals through AudioScape Opto, EQ HPF at 105, a very little cut at 632 and 1365, a bit of Seventh Heaven Medium/Near Hall verb with a bit of predelay, and entire mix through AudioScape BUSS Comp.

Thought I'd do it blind first to avoid predispositions. I won't wait long to reveal. Hopefully I did these mics justice.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9p8zmoqaf...IyW_V1tDa?dl=0
Old 5 days ago
  #88
Quote:
Originally Posted by packermans4 View Post
Here you go. Raw vocals and rough mix. Voice not the best shape, but hopefully you'll get the idea.

Mic 1/2 and 3/4 recorded simultaneously through two preamps on my Spirit M4 board, configured as per pic in previous post. Main pre is normally MA5.

ADK with stock and Telefunken 12AX7 tubes
Upton with stock and Mullard 12AT7 tubes

Vocals Files: No EQ or processing

Mix Files: Vocals through AudioScape Opto, EQ HPF at 105, a very little cut at 632 and 1365, a bit of Seventh Heaven Medium/Near Hall verb with a bit of predelay, and entire mix through AudioScape BUSS Comp.

Thought I'd do it blind first to avoid predispositions. I won't wait long to reveal. Hopefully I did these mics justice.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9p8zmoqaf...IyW_V1tDa?dl=0
Based upon the overwhelming number of responses (queue the crickets), here is the reveal.

1 = Upton w/NOS Mullard
2 = ADK w/stock Mullard reissue
3 = ADK w/NOS Telefunken
4 = Upton w/stock EH
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