Anyone familiar with TAMA drum hardware will have the same reaction to learning that the respected drum maker is now selling mic stands: What took so long? I'm actually old enough to remember the debut of the Spartan and Titan stands. Before TAMA's stands, drummers used unstable, flat-bottom stands. Consequently, TAMA stands have been the most copied hardware since the kick pedal. Within the Iron Works family are three product lines: Standard, Tour, and Studio. Standard is the most economical and lightweight. The Tour line is targeted at live sound, media, and theater situations. Studio is the most durable (and pricier) line, and those are the products we reviewed here.
During the NYC AES Show in 2017 I noticed that TAMA had taken out a small booth and was showing mic stands. I've long been frustrated with all the friction-based clutch boom stands at Jackpot! Recording; no matter how much they cost these booms all started to droop after a few years - or sometimes immediately - after purchase. I was also tired of non-telescoping booms; the long ones that would end up sticking out in front of amps or drums and getting continuously bumped out of position. These TAMA Iron Works Studio booms appeared better built than any I'd seen or used before. Being that all of my stands were tripod-based, and the main, straight part of the stands seemed to be in decent shape, I initially opted to purchase five Vice-Grip Boom Tilter with Iron-Core Telescoping Boom Arms (MS756BB, $69) to try out as replacements in my studio. Not all outlets carry this "accessory" part, but after a bit of searching I found them online. In real studio use these booms quickly became favored, leading me to order more to swap out all my booms. The Vice-Grip tilter's "multi-steel-plate compression" technology is the only non-teethed locking clutch that I've ever used that really works. Even a slight turn of the knob will provide more support than grabbing a big pair of pliers and cranking on my old boom stands. The rest of the tightening knobs and die-cast locking thumb nut (to tighten against the mic clip's threads) all set without trouble and hold their positions better than most stands as well. The inside telescoping part of the boom is solid cast steel, not tubing, as are the legs in the full Telescoping Boom Stand. In fact, many of the parts on the Studio stands are cast metal, not plastic, and I'm expecting years of work out of them. I went on to purchase two full TAMA stands after my booms - the Telescoping Boom Stand (MS756BK, $129) and the Low Profile Telescoping Boom Stand (MS756LBK, $129) - and the rest of the build quality is better than my existing stands by a long shot. I also bought a Round Base Extra Low Profile Telescoping Boom Stand (MS756RELBK, $119). This is great for kick drum mic placement, and unlike the Tripod Cast Base Garrett is confounded by (below), the Round Base won't tip over easily and is very heavy. In fact, all these mic stands are heavier than comparable stands by other manufacturers.
At Treelady, we tested the Telescoping Boom Stand, the Low Profile Telescoping Boom Stand, and the Tripod Cast Base Straight Stand (MS750TBK, $79). The Tripod Cast Base confused me initially. Instead of the common, round weighted base, it has a solid cast tripod that takes up a smaller than expected footprint. Immediately I noted how it was susceptible to being knocked over and had to write to TAMA for an explanation. The designers in Japan chose this base because they ran into many setups where there was always a need to add "just one more stand" in a previously mic'd environment. Although they said most of their tests were with classical musicians, anyone who has recorded drums understands where this is headed. This TAMA mic stand was designed to be added at the last minute, provided stable support, and allow placement that does not damage mic cables. Ah, I get it. We liked the other stands, and the Low Profile boom now gets so much use that we have to order more.
I think it's telling that my studio did not receive review units of any of these TAMA Iron Works Studio mic stands to try out and pass judgement on. We've purchased four rounds of booms and stands to solve problems at Jackpot!, and they all performed excellently. The cost may be slightly higher than other brands' quality mic stands out there, but I wish these had existed when I first outfitted my studio. It would have saved me a lot of money in the long run and avoided a ton of frustration and annoyance compared to the build quality of most mic stands.