The Magneto Audio Labs Variohm is a well-built, new tool for tweaking the tone of microphones. It's especially helpful when used with mic preamps that might sound too neutral or colorless.
For Home Studio Recording —
The Variohm Invariably Works
With any audio processing, the result’s satisfaction quotient is in the ear of the beholder: EQ, compression, limiting, phase adjustment, etc., are all subjective. One guy’s sonic treat is another guy’s ear splitting headache.
That is why I like the Variohm, its effect is enough to change the sound — with the right mic and preamp — but not so over the top to be annoying. I see it as an effects pedal for microphones.
I played around with the Variohm quite a bit in my home studio and was able to dial-in sounds that I really liked. My best result was when I used it with a TASCAM HD-P2 flash recorder with built-in mic preamps. I wanted to record this old Fender solid state guitar amp that had a kind of cool-sounding, etched midrange, but it was a little harsh. I wanted the emphasized midrange sound without all the hard edge. To record the amp, I settled on a dynamic mic, the Audix i5.
I set up the recorder/preamp to 24-bit, plugged the mic cable into the Variohm and then its cable plugged into the TASCAM. After playing around with the settings, I dialed in 50 ohms and the result was softer, somewhat bigger sound with a warm bass and near total elimination of the harshness! It had an effect almost like analog tape saturation. I tried the same audio without the Variohm, running it through a Mackie Mixer and and just rolling off the EQ. The Variohm version sounded better to my ears. Less muffled.
Overall, I was impressed with the Variohm. Need stereo, buy two. They are inexpensive. Impedance changes for a microphone may not always make an audible change, but the Variohm is another processing tool for your recording bag or rack. And unlike an effects pedal, it does not need a battery.
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