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Review: Violet Stereo Flamingo, Violet Finger, & Violet Vintage Amethyst

July 2007 - As the owner of a small independent record label in Madison, I spend most of my time trying to sell my Artist's records. However, I am occasionally called upon to produce or engineer a session for one of my artists. I recently had the opportunity to try out three different types of Violet microphones on a session for an up and coming Female/Male Pop Duo. While the recording was intended for limited release, the budget was tight so to save time we did the tracking in my small Pro Tools LE project studio. While I have a nice selection of lower end microphones and one mid-priced large diaphragm mic, this session had one song that was being requested for a small independent film, so I wanted to improve my arsenal. I contacted the rental division at Full Compass and found they had some Violet microphones available. As I had been reading about this company's mics with great interest, I thought I had found the perfect opportunity to both improve my artist's recordings and see if I should invest in a serious upgrade. For this session I used the Violet Stereo Flamingo, Violet Finger, and Violet Vintage Amethyst.

The first thing I have to say is that the Violet Microphones look amazing, with a retro/modern feel that my artists found exciting. The Stereo Flamingo looked like something right out of a sci-fi flick. Its large spherical cardorid condenser capsules had all of us convinced it would sound great before we ever plugged it in. As the female singer noted immediately the Vintage Amethyst looked a lot like the maid "Rosie" from the old Saturday morning cartoon series "The Jetsons;" with it's unique square shape she hit the nail right on the head. However, the mic I found most intriguing was the Violet Finger, a sleek black single medium diaphragm transducer mic that was shipped with an FRR Reflection Ring. This ring when placed on the body of the microphone was supposed to greatly alter the polar pattern, frequency response, and sensitivity of the mic. That seemed like a lot to ask of a little ring of plastic no matter how cool it looked, I was ready to find out!

First up was the Stereo Flamingo, which I used in this application on the main Acoustic guitar. The manual helpfully suggested setting up the mic about 10cm from the guitar at about where the neck attaches to the body. With that done I rotated the spherical heads into a stereo pattern and went in to check the sound. It was GREAT a warm full tone that filled the room. I then tried several other placements to check and found the original placement seemed to offer the best sound and with a little more tweaking I was easily recording the best sounding acoustic guitar parts I had ever had in my little studio. We tracked five songs with the Stereo Flamingo and they all sounded amazing!

Next, I used the Violet Vintage Amethyst to record the female lead vocals on this session as the literature aid it was particularly well designed for the female voice. The artist I was working with has a great voice that some folks consider quirky and in the past it has been difficult to get a natural tone for her. Not with this microphone, we got such a clear, crisp representation of her voice, it literally sounded like she was standing right next to you. While some folks pick a mic to add warmth or color to female vocals, if you already have a singer with a great voice and want to capture it this is the microphone for you!

Finally, the Violet Finger with the FRR ring. I used this mic on the various other acoustic instruments we recorded that day (mandolin, banjo, and violin) but was most impressed with what we got from it with the nylon stringed guitar track. Like many other folks, getting a nylon stringed guitar to sound natural and "clean" when recording had baffled me. Even after reading countless articles and talking to some really wonderful engineers my tone was still always more bassy and muddy then I wanted. Enter the Finger. Again I placed the mic in the recommended position but this time when I checked the monitors I wasn't as pleased with the results; after a few moments I located the sweet spot, which in this case was about six inches from the guitar between the sound hole and where the neck joined the body. The sound was very good (much better then my general recording tone) but still not quite what I was hoping for. I then placed the FRR ring on the body of the mic and slid it down to where the "proximity" effect would be noticeable. The only word I can use to describe it would be WOW. The tone changed in the most wonderful way; suddenly I was recording the sound I had always wanted. All the musicians couldn't believe the difference that little ring made not to mention the tonal changes you could achieve by simply moving the ring up and down the microphone. It's a wonderful microphone - really more like getting at least three or four different sounding mics for the price of one. I didn't want to return it the next day. This is definitely a mic I will be adding to my studio.

Thanks Violet, your mics turned my project studio into a world-class facility.

Eric Hester
Slothtrop Music

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Choose Violet!

"This mic [Amethyst Vintage] is an amazing discovery! It has all the detail you would expect with a condenser mic, yet it has a body and warmth that I love from tube mics."

- Joe Barresi
(Kyuss, The Melvins, The Jesus Lizard)


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