Triad-Orbit is a new brand of professional microphone stands from Access Products Group, a company that has been designing and producing products for other market leaders for over twenty years. The Triad-Orbit catalog includes Triad stands, Orbit booms, and Micro mic adapters - all clean-slate designs.
The Triad stands are my favorite part of this line-up. They come in three sizes - T1 through T3 - with a smaller Mini promised for future release. From a distance, they look like a regular mic stand, but up close, the details jump out. The T3 stand weighs over 14 lbs on its own - there is no bumping this model over! Add a boom or even a Micro adapter, and the weight goes up. The tripod base is unlike anything I've encountered. Each leg has four ratcheted positions, so the stand can tilt up to 65°, allowing you to adjust the stand for uneven surfaces, or for times when you need the mic to be just a few inches closer, without adding a boom or sandbags to the base. The stands remain stable even when all legs are angled high, like a tee-pee. Drum mic'ing was a breeze with the added placement options. Liz, one of our engineers at Treelady Studios, commented, "These are built like my drum stands. They are so stable." Although the company says the legs are foot-actuated, we always used our hands to adjust them - out of respect for the heft and finish of the Triad. The height-adjust collars are heavy-duty clutch- barrels instead of the cheaper pipe screws. Covered in knurled rubber, the grip is comfortable and makes adding torque a breeze. On the T3, the vertical segments are even air-suspended. The tops of the stands have a hexagonal aperture, which accepts the heavy-duty IO quick-change mounts of Orbit booms and Micro adapters. A mic mount (in US threading with an included European adapter) comes standard.
While the advanced engineering of the stands may be missed upon first glance, the Orbit booms do not hide their innovative features. The core mechanism is a stainless steel ball that fits into a socket, resembling the hip joint from a Terminator robot. The socket is a clamp that provides 360° of horizontal rotation and 220° of tilt. An oversized T- handled screw tightens the jaws of the clamp around the ball joint. Like the stands, the ends of the Orbit booms accept IO quick-change adapters.
We also tried the unique Orbit 2, which is dual-arm boom with a Compass Point triple-ball joint mechanism in its center. This allows a single Triad stand to hold two independent booms, which is useful for tight, precise positioning of mics. In a lot of their user literature, Triad-Orbit shows how useful the Orbit 2 can be on a grand piano, allowing two mics to approach the strings from a single stand. That may be fine and well, but on a Leslie, the Orbit 2 is the way to go. One arm hits the top horn and the other arm takes the bottom. (In fact, LC tried the Orbit 2 at Jackpot! Studio and discovered the same application.)
The Micro adapters are IO-quipped, with a 1.2''-long brass hexagonal shaft that mates with the tops of the various Triad stands and Orbit booms, locking in via a spring-loaded collar. We tested the Micro M1 and Micro M2 mic adapters, which incorporate miniature versions of Triad- Orbit's trademarked ball joint. The M2 has a short-stemmed mounting arm. The M1 is similar, but with a longer stem ton accommodate hanging larger microphones with spider shockmounts. There is also the IO-R coupler that allows you to retrofit your existing boom or stand for use with the IO quick-change system.
In real-world use, we were especially fond of the Triad stands. During one conversation, I told the staff that, if money were no object, I would replace every straight stand we own with a Triad-Orbit. The stands are so stable and difficult to knock over by accident. Add the angling functionality of the tripod base, and you have an amazing studio tool. While we were reviewing these products, we had a session during which we did a vocal mic shootout. Don't ask how, but our U 47 long-body clone was set up on a standard music-store tripod. As life would have it, the client walked by, kicking the stand accidentally. The mic flew, hit the deck, and suffered substantial internal damage. Had the mic been on a Triad T3, the client might have hurt his foot, but my mic would have survived unscathed.
The Orbit booms were mixed for us. The single-boom Orbit O1 was outstanding for guitar amps, drums, vocals, and anything we used it on. And it's reassuring to know that an expensive ribbon mic won't suffer damage from the sudden wind blast it would encounter if its boom slipped or fell. Buying more of the O1 booms is high on my priority list. Use of the dual-boom O2, on the other hand, is a love-it or hate- it affair. I can think of live sound, worship, installation, or classical engineers who will find the O2 to be a space-saving, precision piece of equipment. We felt that the O2 works best when the mics are drooped, mounted to an M1 or M2 with the stem hanging downward (which does make them great for grand piano recording). At our studio, we rarely place mics that way, and so fiddling with so many ball joints was awkward. But if your positioning constraints are too much for more than a single stand, then the O2 could be your savior.
The IO quick-change system is not only sturdy and easy to use, but we discovered an unexpected plus. The IO-H head-only piece is really helpful when your vintage mic or special shockmount has thread damage. Case in point, the integrated mounts of our U 47 fet and "bottle" mics can no longer take day-in-day-out threading. By keeping an IO-H affixed to each of these mics, we reduce wear on their mounts and ensure that they are hung on strong Triad-Orbit stands. I suspect many studios will be interested in this application of the IO couplers.
If you are fed up with stands that slip or fall over, check out the Triad line. If your boom arms are stripped, drooping, and about to give way, check out the Orbit line. I've said it before, and I'll repeat it here: We spend so much money on handmade mics, why would we entrust them to a $25 mall- store mic stand? That's so foolish. If you own premium tools, you need to protect them. Just be warned, when you go to clean up, don't simply grab the Triad stand like it weighs 2 lbs. You may need a new shoulder socket if you do. But then again, maybe one of those Compass Point joints will be available for humans soon.
(Stands start at $139 street; booms $109+, IO adapters $39, discounted multi-packs available; www.triad-orbit.com)