The TGX10 is a dynamic/moving-coil pressure-gradient microphone with a supercardioid polar pattern and a capsule capable of withstanding high sound pressure levels (up to 140dB is quoted). It's designed for use with percussion instruments, particularly snare drum -- at only 75mm long, it doesn't obstruct a drummer when it is placed near a snare, especially if you use a mic lead with a right-angled XLR. The TGX10 comes supplied in a rugged foam-lined case, and has its own 3/8-inch and 5/8-inch threads for mounting directly onto a mic stand without the need for a conventional mic clip.
There is also a flexible microphone 'claw' mount designed to fasten onto the drum itself, eliminating the need for a regular stand. There can sometimes be a problem with mechanical noise when using clamps directly on to instruments, but Beyer claim that the TGX10 is "insensitive to handling or mechanical noise". The quoted frequency response of 50-15,000 Hz should be more than adequate for its purpose, and the supercardioid polar pattern should ensure rejection of unwanted hi-hat and cymbal sounds.
In use, the TGX10 is very easy to position at the desired angle and, as promised, with the minimum of inconvenience to the player. It sounded crisp on snare, and with proximity effect, displayed an adequate bass response. On rack and floor toms the mic gave an accurate response as expected, with full bottom end and the same crispness at higher frequencies. The supplied 'claw mount' did its job well enough once fitted to the drum, with little handling noise as per spec, though I did find it a little fiddly initially. Once you get the mount to its most convenient position it does not easily fit back into the supplied case, with the result that you either neglect to use the case, or elect to use a standard mic stand. My favoured method was to use the TGX10 on my smallest boom stand when using it on snare and floor tom, thereby making positioning easy and secure without using too much floor space.
All in all, this is an excellent microphone for most types of drums, and I would certainly make it one of my first choices for snare on many sessions. John Verity
£175.08 including VAT.
+44 (0)1444 258258.
+44 (0)1444 258444.
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Music Interface Technologies ZCord II Mains Lead
MIT make a range of 'Audio Interface Networks' that are essentially replacement leads for various applications. They all feature one or two moulded 'bulges' along their length containing various secret electronic components, which are claimed to improve audio sound quality in various ways. Leads are available to connect between guitars and amplifier inputs, as well as between the output of the amplifier and the speaker. However, the lead under review here arguably doesn't appear in the audio chain at all, as it is designed to replace any standard IEC mains cable. MIT say in their publicity material that it lowers noise, improves clarity, and provides greater dynamics. Bold claims indeed!
Although many people remain unconvinced, there are several mechanisms that can cause audio quality to be affected by mains interference. For a start, the purity of the incoming mains signal itself is often dubious, especially if you live near any factories, or in the depths of the country. We are also surrounded by RFI (Radio Frequency Interference), which can be picked up by mains cables acting like an aerial. A third source of mains interference can be other nearby digital equipment (such as computers and digital recorders) which emits stray RF signals.
The ZCord II aims to filter out any existing interference riding piggyback on your mains voltage, as well as stopping any further pickup along its length by using heavy-gauge shielded cable. Although the theory is sound, you will only see an improvement in your audio quality if you are suffering from such interference in the first place. Ironically, it is often the very devices that may produce such interference that are particularly susceptible to its introduction from elsewhere. Samplers, CD players, DAT recorders, and computers may all (depending on the individual design) benefit from the ZCord II. So, did I notice any difference in my setup?
Many of the devices that I would have liked to have tried with it either had captive mains leads or wall warts, including both my DAT recorders, two power amps, and mixer. I tried it with my Akai sampler, my keyboards, and my PC, as well as a couple of CD players, and although I can't claim any revolutionary changes, at times low-level detail did seem to be improved when playing CDs. However, it is impossible to perform quick A/B tests with a mains cable, at least without risking damage to the equipment concerned.
After hearing the significant difference when trying the MIT guitar leads, I must admit being rather disappointed with the ZCord II -- it provides rather more subtle improvements which depend largely on the combination of equipment you have, and how susceptible it is to RF interference.
I am still a firm believer in the benefits of improving mains quality, and will carry on cleaning the pins of my mains plugs with wire wool. Despite being a convert to the cause, however, I do feel that the ZCord II is expensive at £135 -- several other hi-fi mains cables that claim similar improvements are available at prices between £25 and £100. This is definitely a try-before-you-buy product. If you suspect that you are suffering from RFI then try the ZCord II instead of a standard IEC mains cable -- you may be blown away by the improvements, particularly if you are surrounded by digital gear or in a stage environment. On the other hand, you may hear little or no difference at all. Martin Walker
£134.99 including VAT.
Class A Distribution
+44 (0)1392 496379.
ADSG Jaz Drive and Media
Direct-to-disk recording has many advantages, but cost-effective and low-cost backup is not one of them! However, removable drives are getting cheaper and larger in capacity, to the extent that they are already rivalling two-inch tape in terms of cost per track minute. The 1Gb Jaz removable media drive from Iomega has become popular for hard disk audio, as it is fast enough for small-to-medium scale multitrack recording and the cartridges, while not exactly cheap as an archivable media, are reasonably affordable. Recently, a new 2Gb Jaz drive has come onto the market, offering backwards compatibility with the 1Gb media while being fast enough to handle around 16 tracks of simultaneous audio playback. The professional market, however, is understandably concerned about reliability -- and that's where ADSG comes into the picture.
ADSG, or the Advanced Digital Systems Group to give it its full title, is an R&D facility belonging to Sony Pictures that markets its own professional drive and media products. Having seen the Jaz drive, they felt that it could be adapted to professional work, and the outcome is that Iomega now manufacture for ADSG a version of their drive fitted with a special version of firmware, then tested for 48 hours. ADSG then go on to test the drives for a further 24 hours continuously under the control of specially developed software that really puts the drive through its paces. ADSG have also devised a stringent 48-hour media test that checks each cartridge through multiple read/write/verify cycles in nine different drives, so as to ensure compatibility when media is moved from one drive to another. Product that passes the test gets the ADSG badge, but as you'd expect from this additional testing, the price is a little higher than the standard Iomega product. However, this only puts around 10 percent on the drive cost, and the media is essentially the same price as off-the-shelf Jaz media.
On paper, the drive looks reasonably fast, but still not as fast as even a fairly standard fixed drive. The relevant figures are: Transfer rate 8.7 Mb/S max, 7.35 Mb/S average and 20Mb/S burst rate. The seek time is 10mS on read and 12mS on write with an access time of 15.5mS. A number of clients who also use the drive with Pro Tools and Dreamhire report that the drive will handle 16 tracks of simultaneous editing. Certainly I managed to confirm this using my own Pro Tools system, though drive fragmentation and complex edits may reduce this number in real-life applications.
It's rather too early to say if the 2Gb Jaz drive will become an 'industry standard' means of interchanging audio files, but in the short-to-medium term, it seems to have a lot going for it. Jaz drives have turned out to be rather more reliable than was initially expected, and having 2Gb available in the same format cartridge is very attractive. If paying 10 percent more for the drives secures a properly tested piece of hardware that's been optimised for audio/video applications, then it has to be worth it. Paul White
Drive approximately £349; cartridges around £130;
contact ProTape for exact prices. Prices include VAT.
+44 (0)171 323 0277.
+44 (0)171 580 6852.
Yorkville YSM1 Monitors
If the name Yorkville doesn't mean a lot to you, don't worry, you're in good company -- I'd never heard of them before the review items showed up. The company, it turns out, is Canadian, and they claim to have over 30 years' experience in designing speaker cabinets, though they don't actually say how long they've been working on drivers and crossovers! The YSM1 reviewed here is a relatively low-cost 2-way speaker based around a 6.5-inch roll-surround woofer and a one inch soft-dome, Ferrofluid-cooled tweeter mounted in a front-ported cabinet.
Cost savings have been made on the cabinet cosmetics, though the use of internal bracing means that the enclosure functions quite adequately. The box is made from black ash finish, three-quarter inch particle board, and all the corners are square. A spacer behind the tweeter places it noticeably proud of the front panel, which you'd expect to cause some edge-diffraction effects. However, the removable grille also includes a baffle with driver cutouts, so when this is in place, the drivers are nominally flush with the front of the baffle.
The passive crossover operates at 2.5kHz and has a 12dB/octave low-pass filter combined with a 6dB/octave high-pass filter, giving a nominal input impedance of 6(omega). The overall frequency response is quoted at 40Hz to 20kHz (within +/-3dB) and the power requirement is around 70 Watts per channel. Connection is via gold-plated rear panel terminals, which can accept banana plugs, spade terminals or bare wires.
Considering their low cost, these speakers perform pretty well, although they do suffer from a slightly aggressive high end that makes drums and percussion seem a little splashy. Other than this little vice, they present a clear, detailed sound with good stereo imaging and a creditably solid bass end. Voices sound clear and natural and the sweet spot is wide enough to let you wander well off-axis without the sound of the mix changing too much. If you like your monitors to be slightly on the bright side of neutral and you seek quality on a tight budget, these speakers are well worth looking at. Paul White