|The Wedge's 0.8-inch diaphragm alongside its fully assembled, striking body. |
If you've not yet discovered Violet Design, I can guess what you're thinking: "Another over-priced, under-supported, boutique, large-diaphragm condenser microphone?" Well, hopefully I can dispel those nasty thoughts in the next few minutes with my own experiences with The Wedge. Violet Design has been producing microphones since 1996 with two things in mind: quality components and quality construction. In the Wedge, it shows.Features
According to the very informative booklet that accompanies the mic, The Wedge's specs are in line with most large-diaphragm condenser microphones: a typical frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, discrete solid-state electronics, a fixed cardioid unidirectional pattern, 130 dB dynamic range, no pad, and no frequency roll-off. It's very solidly constructed with gold-plated XLR connectors.
I'm usually not one to judge a book by the cover, but at first glance it is already off to a great and unusual start. It comes housed in a very nice purple-stained and foam-lined wooden box with a surprisingly strong recessed magnetic lock. Nice, because that's one less latch that can be broken. It also comes with a thread-on stand holder and European (3/8") to US threaded (5/8") stand adapter. If you choose, you can visit the website (www.violet-design.com) for three other shock-mount options and various pop filter designs. Also available from the website is a "shock and pop" kit.
The look of the microphone itself is not your typical large-diaphragm condenser. Unusually, The Wedge has an extremely tall and acoustically open double mesh head (approximately two-thirds of the length of its 8.27-inch long body) surrounding the capsule; I soon found out the reason for this design when a good, old-fashioned mic shootout ensued.In Use
The way I like to conduct a mic shootout is very straight-ahead and simple; I try to choose mics that are of the same type with a very proven track record. For this particular shootout, I employed a Neumann TLM 193 and an AKG 414 with a Focusrite ISA 428 preamp.
As soon as I plugged in the mics and set the pres identically, the differences were immediate. Starting off with a vocal test, it became very apparent why Violet designed The Wedge's windscreen and capsule in the manner it did; it very much lends to its openness and transparency. Further, the size of its polar pattern is considerably larger than that of the other two mics.
The Wedge's screen also seems to do well with plosives (however, nothing ever replaces a good pop screen). It also offers a bit more presence (where it counts) than the other two mics; I referred back to the booklet and looked at the frequency response graph and, lo and behold, there it was: a slight but smooth bump starting at around 2.5 kHz and crossing the flat line again at about 10.5 or 11 kHz — not too much for my taste and definitely not harsh.
Next, I moved on to my trusty 1959 Gibson J50 acoustic guitar. I've always found the subtleties of acoustic instruments — as opposed to amplified/distorted guitar cabinets, for example —most revealing when trying out a new mic. This guitar itself can be quite boomy if you don't get mic placement right, and, as with the vocal test, I found that The Wedge has a definite sweet spot as you increase the distance between capsule and source — around about 6 to 8 inches (probably a little further than you'd think). At this point, The Wedge really showed what the low end was made of, and a fully unclouded view of low-mids was represented here, too. I didn't feel the need to reach for an EQ to dip the usual suspects out following a little finessing of the mic placement. The Wedge also seemed to shine on handling the transient response of the plucked strings.
Last but not least, I put The Wedge on a grand piano to test its bass response. I put it on the bass end of the soundboard, and it was excellent in handling the super-low frequencies. I wish that I had two of them for this review, in order to get a full stereo image of the piano.Summary
All in all, I was very satisfied with The Wedge. With its quality components and obviously solid construction, attention to detail, not to mention an affordable price, I would definitely recommend this mic to anyone building a stable of great-sounding, sturdy, workhouse microphones. In my book, The Wedge is a winner.Sterling Winfield is a Texas-based producer/engineer/mixer with gold and platinum credits for artists such as Pantera, Damageplan, and HELLYEAH.