The Flamingo Standard is at the top end of the Violet Design range both in terms of price and it has to be said in pure physical size. This is a large microphone!
The combination of massive housing, internal capsule shock mount, integrated head shock mount and the included external shock mount are claimed to work well together to reduce low frequency rumble and in practice this proves to be an accurate claim.
There are three models in the Flamingo range. The Standard reviewed here, features a large dual-diaphragm transducer working into a 6267 vacuum tube based class-A pre-amp which feeds a large (for a microphone!) custom wound balancing output transformer.
This substantial microphone requires a heavy duty mic stand and has a suitably ample shock mount with two clip belt type straps. These are a little fiddly to fasten but once in place the microphone is held securely.
As with most valve mics the Flamingo has an external PSU which provides stabilised DC with current limiter for the vacuum tube heater’s protection during warm up.
Only after heating of the cathode do the stabilised plate and polarisation voltages begin to rise from zero to their normal operational voltages. The audio output of the microphone is muted until the end of the sequential starting process and there’s a digital display showing the actual plate voltage, which on the demo model showed around 120 volts.
And the wooden case for the mic and PSU is well …big! so much so you could just about house a full size violin. It even has a carrying handle!
Once up and running I had to jump for my preamp’s gain control (which I’d left at around 3 o’clock after testing another microphone) such was the very high relative level of the Flamingo’s output. Yes, you will still need a pre-amp, but you’ll be working at modest gains in comparison to what you’re used to.
All of this brings us to the microphone’s audio qualities which are equal in standing to it’s physical size and high output level. The fixed cardioid pattern is not too tight and this together with the tube based preamp and dual capsule provide a beautifully warm and smooth sound. You would definitely use this microphone on vocals, male or female; both will sound warm and nicely textured. This is not a reflection on any lack of clarity available, simply that the detail sits nicely within a velvet glove of warm smooth sound.
I didn’t reach for the EQ once during the testing of the Flamingo, it just seems to work. There’s no muddiness in the mids or mid lows and the excellent detail available allows the Flamingo to work well on a very wide range of material, certainly on acoustic guitar and I should think it would be stunning on sax and other wind instruments.
It’s not so often you get this level of balance between tube warmth and sparkling detail. When you add in the bonus of very low self noise, only 7dB-A (very good for a valve mic) and high signal level handling, then you only have one dilemma. How do I justify the substantial price. There’s no simple answer, but you can make a good value for money case if you are recording studio music to the very highest standards.
Best features : Warmth, smoothness and detail
Weakest points : high price, and not one to pop in your top pocket!
Rating : 8/10
Transducer type electrostatic
Operating principle pressure gradient
Frequency range 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Polar pattern cardioidOutput impedance 100 ohms
Rated load impedance 1000 ohms
Suggested load impedance > 250 ohms
Sensitivity at 1000 Hz into 1000 ohms load 26 mV/Pa
S/N Ratio 87 dB-A
Equivalent noise level 7 dB-A
Maximum SPL for 0.5% THD at 1000 ohm load: 134 dB
Phantom power voltage: 48V (±4V)