Violet Design Wedge Microphone ReviewLARGE-CAPSULE CONDENSER OFFERS BIG LOW-MIDS AND HIGH SENSITIVITY 5/01/2009 8:00 AM Eastern
Noted for the striking industrial designs of its products, Violet Design debuts the distinctive-looking Wedge — a single-diaphragm, cardioid condenser, side-address microphone.
The microphone's preamp is a Class-A circuit using a FET, a bipolar transistor and capacitor-coupled output section, and no transformer. The microphone has a 20 to 20k Hz response with a gentle lift that starts at about 2.5 kHz, peaking in the 5 to 7kHz range and rolling off starting at about 15 kHz. Self-noise is rated at 5 dBA (DIN/IEC A-weighted) and max SPL for 0.5-percent THD is 135 dB. Sensitivity is 30 mV/Pa, and it uses less than 1.75 mA of 48-volt phantom power current.
The mic's internal construction is excellent and rugged, with two small PCBs mounted back-to-back on metal rails using brass hardware. The center-tapped, 1.1-inch, 6-micron capsule is shock-mounted on the end of an aluminum “stalk” that is more than two inches long and extends above the lower body. The onboard electronics is a Class-A circuit using a FET, a bipolar transistor and capacitor-coupled output section, and no transformer. The Wedge comes in a foam-lined wooden box, along with stand-mount but not a shock-mount, which is available as an option.
At a studio with a classic API console, I compared the Wedge to both an AKG C-451 and a vintage C12. When recording acoustic guitars, I heard an increase in the low-midrange frequencies, which allowed me to place the mic farther away. I started by placing the Wedge over the sound hole about 18 inches back. However, aiming the capsule toward the guitar's bridge and moving out about 20 inches proved to be the sweet spot, striking a good balance of string brilliance vs. the guitar's body tone. The pickup pattern, as compared to the C-451, is very broad and allowed more freedom for the guitarist to move around without a sound change.
On vocals, I compared the Wedge to a large-diaphragm AKG C12. The C12, by comparison, sounded almost scooped out in the low midrange. The Wedge was as bright sounding as the C12 although not as smooth in the high frequencies. My singer has a boomy sound so he had to work the Wedge farther away than the C12 — and just as well, as I noticed that the Wedge was more sensitive to pops and wind noise. I would recommend always using the shock-mount and a good pop screen.
Recorded with the Wedge, assorted hand percussion and tambourines sounded great. Shaking a tambourine about two feet away produced a good balance between the “hit” and back-and-forth shaking. The hits accented the backbeat, while the shaking covered the eighth-note subdivisions. To assert control, some producers like to record separate tambourine passes of each, but the Wedge made the hits more present over the shaking than the other mics — a natural-sounding balance. When I used both the C12 and C-451, the impact of each hit sounded distant as if it were compressed and out of balance.
The Wedge was a solid winner for miking electric bass guitar cabinets. That extra low midrange worked perfectly for the sound of the metal-coned speakers of a 350-watt Hartke bass amp and Fender Jazz Bass combination. The recorded bass sound was round and full, yet it retained all the spank when the bass player popped strings. For the same reason, I recommend the Wedge for out-front miking of kick drums as the Neumann U47 FET is often used. The Wedge's long length would work well for poking through a small hole in the top of a bass drum tunnel.
Violet Design's Wedge is an all-around, good studio workhorse microphone. Although its extra length may preclude tight miking on snares or inside of kicks, I found it to be a dependable and warm microphone — especially good for bright and brash sound sources. I used it like any other condenser microphone but a little farther away from the source and got surprisingly good results every time.
Barry Rudolph is an L.A.-based recording engineer/mixer.