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Anyone try the Handcrafted Labs Varis? Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 31st August 2011
  #1
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Anyone try the Handcrafted Labs Varis?

I have. Its really good. I'm amazed I have seen no talk of it anywhere on this board.
Got it today and quickly patched it in the chain and started A/Bing with my Pendulum OCL-2. Different sound of course, but god damn folks it sounds really good. Varis quickly won the job, and I was grinning the whole time.

Anyway, wanted to open a discussion if there wasn't one. I've been looking for this very sound for quite a while, and other Vari Mus of this caliber are out of my price range. And I never liked the Manley one, just never seemed like anything to get excited over. This one combined with the hp options, different tube modes, wide control over attack and release settings and switches for all controls made it appealing, and it just so happens to sound super duper good.

Anyone else?

this is what I'm talking about btw: http://papa-movie.com/html/vari_gain...sor_varis.html
Old 31st August 2011
  #2
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I would also be interested in hearing some feedback as there is a nebula emulation out for this vari-mu which I think sounds great. After using the emulation it I want the actual hardware but I'll need to make a few more $$$ for that happen...I due time for me heh
Old 31st August 2011
  #3
want one badly! robert babicz aka rob acid owns one so maybe ask him??
Old 31st August 2011
  #4
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SSssssshhhhhhhtt!!! heh
Old 31st August 2011
  #5
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SHUT UP! It's a secret. If people knew how good Albert's (=Mr HCL) work is, they would abduct him and keep him in their basement lab.
Old 31st August 2011
  #6
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Noise?
Old 31st August 2011
  #7
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Whats the price on that?

And how does the switches feel? They seem to be the china ones?
Old 31st August 2011
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riccardo View Post
Noise?
Seems pretty quiet to me, I cranked up my headphones to see what I was dealing with and it was negligible. I don't know where the switches are from, but they feel good to me.
Price is 2100euro-3k.
Old 4th September 2011
  #9
The varis is a very good sounding vari mu with a lot different sound options and a clean but not boring chain. He helps a lot to clean out the bass (but not thin him out) and glue a mix with a slight 3D-effect, give him a nice additional power or (in triode mode) make the sound easier (smother) to listen. He have a fix place in my master chain and is with no doubt on the same level with gear from manufacturer like innertube, tube tech, gyraf or manley (i prefer the varis over manley)

Sent from my HTC Vision using Gearslutz.com App
Old 5th September 2011
  #10
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It does indeed look awesome and is good value for money.

Are they CE approved yet? I remember a thread about this a while ago as the earth lift disconnected the earth from the chassis

I'm a big fan of the Knif Vari-mu compressor myself.
Old 5th September 2011
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
Seems pretty quiet to me, I cranked up my headphones to see what I was dealing with and it was negligible. I don't know where the switches are from, but they feel good to me.
Price is 2100euro-3k.
Wow, that's cheap for the features and circuitry is boasts alone. Keeping my eye on this company, which is new to me
Old 5th September 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
The varis is a very good sounding vari mu with a lot different sound options and a clean but not boring chain. He helps a lot to clean out the bass (but not thin him out) and glue a mix with a slight 3D-effect, give him a nice additional power or (in triode mode) make the sound easier (smother) to listen. He have a fix place in my master chain and is with no doubt on the same level with gear from manufacturer like innertube, tube tech, gyraf or manley (i prefer the varis over manley)

Sent from my HTC Vision using Gearslutz.com App
I agree with everything, but will add that the circuit is more than just clean I think. Its clarifying and does smooth out the bass range like Dan said even with no gain reduction. The transformers and path enhance in a beautiful way, but stay out of the way of the mix. In other words, just the right kind and amount of enhancement. This is in pentode mode, triode mode is mellower and won't be used as often, but will come in handy with harsh mixes.

Its a a really hefty circuit and sounds it too. I would go as far as to say its a better product than some of those companies listed make. Its a much more powerful circuit than what Gyraf does (I have the G14), and sounds to me like its in another class from what Manley does. I've only used the Manley in tracking, but was never knocked out by the tone of the unit or the action of the compression.

I'll ask them about the CE approval. I'm guessing they got it sorted.
Old 5th September 2011
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben F View Post
Are they CE approved yet? I remember a thread about this a while ago as the earth lift disconnected the earth from the chassis
The thread was long enough that a few people missed it wasn't an issue at all. The two posters that made up that 'problem' from thin air took one pic (which didn't represent every serial model) and complained that the earthing of the unit in that picture wasn't standard. None of them ever SAW or touched a real HCL box and they bashed every HCL owner (and my tech... ) as idiots for not seeing the 'problem'. The unit pictured had the earthing in a way you could choose to have it like standard and then like "technical ground", i.e. a seperate path for earthing in the studio - for example some Manley gear has that too, in some of their boxes. It's for professional installations where knowledgeable electricians make efficient and ground-loop free special wiring for the racks... not for noobs or home studios. Everybody still worried can ask the owners of HCL gear to have a look at their boxes. You won't find a problem.

Albert, correct me if I'm wrong.
Old 5th September 2011
  #14
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Many thanks, Nate and Dan, for sharing your experience and impressions. And Franse, of course
OK, mainly & historically we produce stuff upon personal direct orders of middle/big studios & persons there/their colleagues & friends, as our main goal since oldest times, and for whom a marking of personal unit by symbols takes not main place vs performance in real use and sounding. And also, we make not big amount of orders (we`re small maker yet) upon of anyone who wish, with same quality and key features put into devices. Of course, the devices are conforming to standard IEC grounding scheme, e.g. -

http://papa-movie.com/VARIS_PSU_1111.jpg or http://papa-movie.com/Velvet_PSU_2.jpg

except those few particular devices performed on demand, to avoid direct connection of device cases with steel racks and devices there, which were grounded through "true" ground, with metal plate in wet earth. "Dual" grounding, simultaneously through third pin and "true" earth grounding is prohibited, not mention for senselessness for such grounding, because of dirtyness of ground wire, with industrial hums and affecting onto grounding chains in result. On this reason, some techs remove ground pin in plugs/outlets or use other way to disconnect, if they use true grounding in earth.
Old 5th September 2011
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarra View Post
I would also be interested in hearing some feedback as there is a nebula emulation out for this vari-mu which I think sounds great. After using the emulation it I want the actual hardware but I'll need to make a few more $$$ for that happen...I due time for me heh
LOL I also have Nebulized one ( love the 5 and 7k versions) but sure its just the color (for now ). I like what it does, maybe can say smile sort of saturation? lively though, I also wish I had the hardware.
Old 7th September 2011
  #16
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The Varis is the most versatile tube mu compressor available. The feedback selecter, side chain filters, & tube modes won me over. It is very clean in terms of distortion, but has a faltering mild low & high boost. Gives a perfect amount of presence, Great color.
HCL customer support is top notch.
Old 11th September 2011
  #17
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all i can say is that the varis is these days my main mastering comp.....
Old 31st October 2011
  #18
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I have an HCL Varis.. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! Shes a real beauty on the inside too! Took a look up her skirt and theres nothing but hand-wiring, tubes, and big ol transformers! It sounds fantastic on my mix bus... any other Varis users here? What settings have you found work best on your mix bus? I dont do mastering btw. Thanx! (oooo! My first gearslutz post!)
Old 19th January 2012
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
The varis is a very good sounding vari mu with a lot different sound options and a clean but not boring chain. He helps a lot to clean out the bass (but not thin him out) and glue a mix with a slight 3D-effect, give him a nice additional power or (in triode mode) make the sound easier (smother) to listen. He have a fix place in my master chain and is with no doubt on the same level with gear from manufacturer like innertube, tube tech, gyraf or manley (i prefer the varis over manley)

Sent from my HTC Vision using Gearslutz.com App
I have a Varis "Phantom Ediction" ...Thanks to Albert

Old 19th January 2012
  #20
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what new does the "phantom edition"?
also, what is the noise floor on them?
Old 19th January 2012
  #21
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It's a courtesy of Albert sherbina. It's a customize product. The other "noise floor" are a Drawmer Font one, UA LA 610 SE, Electrix Warp and DR 4000.
Old 28th February 2012
  #22
Thinking of getting a Varis....
So bumping this for any more feedback and/or shootouts.
Old 17th March 2012
  #23
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Hi there, I have been happily testing my Varis this morning and can conclude that the noise floor is nothing to be concerned about, this is serious equipment, thats all I will say for now.
Attached Thumbnails
Anyone try the Handcrafted Labs Varis?-varisgs.jpg  
Old 18th March 2012
  #24
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This is a wonderful machine. I concur with what is written, a slight low end bloom and a subtle flattering presence through the mid mids and highs. And an increase of depth in the stereo image. I have not got into hitting it at varying level or anything yet but the fact it is switched throughout is a great thing for mastering, side chain is also going to be useful. To me this is like a "expensive" button, albeit at a rather non expensive price point. It can also be quite spritely with the x 2 modes on the attack release which is great since Vari Mu circuits can be described as a tad slow. You would think twice using it on already open/bright material but for anything lacking punch/presence/openness/depth/highs this thing is a potentially better alternative than eq alone.

I am sure this is going to be a very useful addition to my palette of tools : ) Happy days.
Old 19th March 2012
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SASMastering View Post
This is a wonderful machine. I concur with what is written, a slight low end bloom and a subtle flattering presence through the mid mids and highs. And an increase of depth in the stereo image. I have not got into hitting it at varying level or anything yet but the fact it is switched throughout is a great thing for mastering, side chain is also going to be useful. To me this is like a "expensive" button, albeit at a rather non expensive price point. It can also be quite spritely with the x 2 modes on the attack release which is great since Vari Mu circuits can be described as a tad slow. You would think twice using it on already open/bright material but for anything lacking punch/presence/openness/depth/highs this thing is a potentially better alternative than eq alone.

I am sure this is going to be a very useful addition to my palette of tools : ) Happy days.
Thanks Barry for review.

Do you think that will be good as the main tool. Before even I start to think about this baby I would like to know the price..
Old 19th March 2012
  #26
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Hi there, my pleasure, I am not sure if anything can be a main tool, every tool does a different job. If you are looking for a first mastering compressor there may well be equals. As mentioned you might want to counter the high frequency adjustments the box makes if it's bright source material if you want the GR character or subtle low end beef (but then you still get some image effects) It depends what your goal is ? I would say this compressor has coloration so if you want clean/flat FR dynamic range control it might not be the right choice. There are many times when any given piece of kit is not the right tool for a job. (as an example, this morning a largely acoustic guitar/percussion/vocal music today with a lot of vocal pops, (no recourse to de pop in the mix) the VARIS is exactly the wrong thing for this job as the vocal pops which I was removing in the vocal would be emphasized by the low end and the thinness of the guitars etc would not need any brightening.

Personally I think that overly clean analogue compression is not really needed as there are great, clean ITB dynamic range control options. But the coloured ITB options are not as good as the analogue counterpart yet. If you are using 1dB or so (the cliche mastering compression amount) why do you need a £2,000.00 box for clean control of a few peaks ? Better to get a tone box IMO, but then you can say a tone box won't suit as many differing types of material, decisions... decisions.

It is why kit lists tend to get longer I guess as no single tool does every job well. (It is one of those annoying things that the more kit you own the more you realize certain tools excel at a fairly small range of tasks, but I guess bettering knowledge is understanding your old knowledge was not complete.)

Just get in contact with HCL for current pricing.

EDIT: I am already interested in the tone of the S2 device made by HCL, I think I have a valve/transformers bug.
Old 20th March 2012
  #27
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This thing is gold, the time constants are sweet, the pump is warm, the image is big, doing the ground work for a synth based album today and this machine is absolutely spot on for the job. (This is a machine which says.... "Mr Mastering engineer please do not only use the obligatory 1dB gain reduction, I can do so much more ..... like 5dB sounds fantastic.) It is tempting but I am keeping it minimal till I am more familiar with the machine. I also like the way the GR meters represent what one is hearing and the scaling suits me also, that is often not the case and it's a nice touch and gives the machine another feeling of class and suggests the people who make it know exactly what they are doing.I just heard what happens to bass when you hit it hard. Big up HCL !

Oh and no messing with the output levels L/R on capture the stepped controls are 100pct spot on.
Old 20th March 2012
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SASMastering View Post
This is a wonderful machine. I concur with what is written, a slight low end bloom and a subtle flattering presence through the mid mids and highs. And an increase of depth in the stereo image. I have not got into hitting it at varying level or anything yet but the fact it is switched throughout is a great thing for mastering, side chain is also going to be useful. To me this is like a "expensive" button, albeit at a rather non expensive price point. It can also be quite spritely with the x 2 modes on the attack release which is great since Vari Mu circuits can be described as a tad slow. You would think twice using it on already open/bright material but for anything lacking punch/presence/openness/depth/highs this thing is a potentially better alternative than eq alone.

I am sure this is going to be a very useful addition to my palette of tools : ) Happy days.
I would say though that triode mode is a bit warmer, and closer to a flatter high end presentation. I use it with bright material and it does the trick nicely.
Old 23rd March 2012
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
I would say though that triode mode is a bit warmer, and closer to a flatter high end presentation. I use it with bright material and it does the trick nicely.
i use the triode-mode more and more, a nice and relaxed sound.
when you switch from pentode to triode, you lose a bit level, this can fool you
Old 23rd March 2012
  #30
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Hi Thermos, that is the mode the unit is in as it's an early version, albeit immaculate. I do not think I would want it any brighter than this though, it might shadow the lows and overall harmonic warmth vibe it imparts in tandem under GR. Sounds like a very pleasing balanced my ear. (Although I do have the hugely useful feed forward/feedback modes/ HPF sidechain / high|low speed, switches on the rear.)

Here is the unit in it's new home... (not sure whats going in that 1u yet, something for this coming financial year, got to earn it's keep)
Attached Thumbnails
Anyone try the Handcrafted Labs Varis?-varis-rack-shotgs.jpg  
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