I was prepared to be underwhelmed, as most ribbons just end up collecting dust around here due to their low output and characteristic dark sound. Still, I had plenty of sources to track that need a mellowing out (horns, slide guitars, even fiddles), so I figured I’d give it a go.
As is customary these days, the TRM-6 ships in a nice aluminum flight case complete with a shock mount and power supply. Additionally, the mic was packaged with a pop filter — a nice touch.
Similar in build quality to most of the other mid-priced Chinese mics I’ve encountered, the design of the TRM-6 was neither good nor bad; functional, but on par for the price. Overall, the packaged components were solid, but the shock mount could be less bulky, as it made it difficult at times to position the TRM-6 alongside another mic on the same source.
APPLYING THE TRM-6
Up first was a Martin Shenandoah guitar, and a musician behind it who had a voice that I thought might benefit from a ribbon. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But Jay, ribbons are too dark for acoustics and (most) vocals.” But I would have to retort, the TRM-6 wasn’t like that at all. The internal preamp was obviously designed to open up the top end, making it more useful on such sources than the average ribbon. As a result, the highs were much more similar to what a condenser would produce, yet retained the smooth, rich nature associated with a ribbon.
The same went for the TRM-6 when put up on vocals: rich lows and mids with a smooth top. I found that its overall coloration imparted a retro vibe, and that the output was easily useable, needing only about 30dB of gain to get it where I wanted.
On a distorted, rock guitar, I encountered some overload resulting in a certain unpleasant grit in some places. The specs said the mic was rated at >135dB SPL capacity, so I figured it must have been an outside problem. Mind you, I was using a Focusrite Octopre, which has no pad. But the manufacturer’s lit said the mic didn’t need a pre, due to its high output. Hmmm. . . .
First I put an inline pad on the mic’s out, and then into the Octopre, which smoothed the sound out considerably. Then I skipped the pre altogether and ran the TRM-6 into a dbx 160x’s line input. It needed only a 9dB boost to send a proper level into the line input of a Digi 002. True enough, the TRM-6 made good on its claim of being able to perform preamp-free. In fact, the guitar seemed to have more solid lows when skipping the pre and using the 160x for a small boost.
Curious, I then tried the mic on several other pres (stock pre on the Digi 002 and a Joe Meek 6Q). The result: The Octopre and 002 sounded better with the 10dB inline pad, but the 6Q sounded fine, even without engaging its onboard pad. Still, through the tests, I found that where most ribbons sound too boomy for loud, distorted guitars, the TRM-6 had a rich, tight low end that not only suited my needs, but was totally unexpected.
The best way that I can put it is this: The Nady TRM-6 is an unusual mic. But that’s not a bad thing — it’s good to have some variety in the flooded mic market. The TRM-6 is quite colorful on quieter sources and a good thickening addition for electric guitars, though you need to get used to its unusual output characteristics. Still, an inline pad is common fare in just about any studio, so this is hardly an inconvenience. And while I’d never pretend that a mic at this price is the greatest thing on the market, the TRM-6 provides a useful variation on a theme, and can likely justify its price in a variety of project studio situations.