The Violet Amethyst Vintage is a physically compact electrostatic studio microphone based on a large dual diaphragm transducer. Compact means overall dimensions of 168 x 63 x 41mm, and a weight of 350g.
Both the capsule and the electronics are mounted in their own balanced shock mounts and there’s an optional external (very funky) shock mount for the microphone which I found very easy to mount and extremely effective in a studio environment. The microphone is powered from the usual +48V phantom power and has a standard 5/8” stand mount and comes included with a 5/8” to 3/8” screw adapter. A gold plated 3-pin XLR provides access to the balanced discrete Class A output.
The quoted frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz and the response graph shown in the user manual looks very flat indeed with a very minor boost around 4kHz and a slightly more pronounced peak around 12kHz. Polar response is quoted as cardiod and although there is no polar pattern included in the manual it is evident that the cardiod pattern is quite wide. As we shall see, these turn out to be very desirable characteristics.
The quoted self noise is 7dB A-weighted and this excellent figure is reflected in operation.
Yes occasionally I’ll come across a microphone that won’t do a good job of recording my Gibson Les Paul Standard/Fender Champ combination (not a problem for the Amethyst by the way), but I find that the real test of this type of microphone is how is copes with acoustic guitar and vocals.
Using the recommended ‘point it where the neck meets the body’ at a distance of approximately 10cm, I recorded using my small bodied electro-acoustic guitar paying particular attention to get a good range of tones and styles ‘down on tape’ (well Sonar in this case!) I recorded ‘flat’ through a very neutral Buzz Audio Elixir 500 Series pre-amp. Play back monitoring was through my PMCs. So how did it sound?
In a word …. fantastic! I haven’t come across many microphones which so faithfully reproduce my guitar sound. It really was like listening to the performance live again. The hi end was crisp but not brittle, bottom E string was particularly good with no boominess and no requirement for hi pass filtering. I feel sure that the dual-diaphragm construction of the capsule which presents a very open cardiod pattern and the frequency response have been very carefully matched to produce a beautifully balanced microphone transducer.
Moving on to vocals, the picture is similar. Very natural, and even though this is not a ‘classic’ valve microphone, there was enough warmth and plenty of vitality in the recorded vocal. I might turn to something else for male blues and rock vocal to get a bit more grit but that’s a comment more than a criticism.
As you can tell I’m pretty excited about this microphone. It’s been around for a number of years but doesn’t seem to have been much shouted about. Well that’s a shame because it’s a hidden gem. I don’t think I’m going to send this one back!
Best features : Sparkling Sound Quality
Weakest points : sound may not be coloured enough for some
Rating : 9/10
Transducer type electrostatic
Operating principle pressure gradient
Diaphragm’s active diameter 26 mm
Frequency range 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Polar pattern unidirectional – cardioidOutput impedance 50 ohms
Rated load impedance 1000 ohms
Suggested load impedance >250 ohms
Sensitivity at 1000 Hz into 1000 ohms load 21 mV/Pa
S/N Ratio CCIR 468-3 weighted 76 dB
S/N Ratio DIN/IEC 651 A-weighted 87 dB-A
Equivalent noise level DIN/IEC A-weighted 7 dB-A
Maximum SPL for 0.5% THD at 1000 ohm load 134 dB
Dynamic range of the internal preamplifier 127 dB
Phantom powering voltage on pins #2 & #3 of XLR +48 V (+4/-8V)
Current consumption <1.5 mA
Output connector 3-pin XLR male, gold plated contacts
Dimensions 168 x 63 x 41 mm