A year ago, I stumbled across a Kickstarter campaign to build a robotic mic mount. I'd always wanted something like this, where I could remotely move a mic from the control room while actively listening to the changes in placement for the optimal tone. As there was an investor's 33% discount, I ordered the simplest unit, the V1. It took brothers Jon and Mike Russo a little longer than they had hoped, but in December 2015, they started shipping DynaMount production units. I set mine up immediately on a guitar amp for sessions, and as the V1 is a simple, single-axis mount with no rotation (the V1-R has rotation), I set it up so that I could move the mic closer and farther (a span of 6.25'') from the speaker. Did this help? Hell yes. I flashed back on every time I had walked into the live room, made some assumption, and moved a mic a little bit just to return to the control room and wonder if it was actually a better tone than I'd had previously. With DynaMount's free app (iOS, Android, and Chrome), I was able to numerically "see" and control (via Wi-Fi) the position of the mic in its range of movement; and via easy-to-use preset buttons, I could store settings (press and hold, just like a car radio preset) to reuse or quickly compare. What I noticed the most was that now I could listen to a whole band do a run-through, and I'd adjust the mic on a rhythm guitar to have close proximity for chunk and low notes, or pull it away for more depth of field and a lighter rhythm. I may have been able to guess on this before, but now I had sonic proof. To be able to tune the sound to fit the track, in real time, is a marvel.
I liked the V1 so much that I wanted to review it here. When I told the brothers, they sent out their deluxe X1-R, with dual-axes and rotation, for me to try as well (also available as the X1 with no rotation). This allows us to move the mic side-to-side (5.5"), adjust distance (6.25"), and rotate (360°). Is this better than the V1? Uh, yes, of course! Is this too many options? Could be if you are prone to getting lost in options. I'm not prone to that, and I work fast, so I quickly ran through a few settings on the different amplifiers I was using and found interesting spots that I'd save. What was most interesting was setting a mic slightly off center of the speaker cone and then playing with the rotation and gaining certain tonal control over the sound. I was gaining new colors. Nice! I was running a ribbon plus dynamic mic on a stereo bar on both units, and even though they bounced a bit while moving into position, they held sturdy. Even though sometimes laptops have trouble staying connected on my Wi-Fi network, my DynaMount has had no problems, even in the far corners of Jackpot!
These mounts can also be USB controlled if Wi-Fi is not available. The apps have already been upgraded, and in fact, one of my earliest requests (to save login info on the Chrome app) was implemented quickly. Using the mount to move the mic in the middle of a recording take is not recommended, and the rotate feature makes far too much noise to consider this (the mic clip is mounted right on a motor), but the belt-powered axes are pretty quiet, and I bet one could get away with something wild if needed! The initial setup on both took me a while, and I suspect I was skipping steps and being sloppy, as I was distracted by a tracking session setup.
I've found myself using both mounts on most sessions, but exclusively on guitar and bass amps. I desperately need to try this on "outside" kick drum mic soon, as I suspect I will hear massive phase changes that I will be able to tune in. I was hoping to try it on snare, but I doubt the armature would fit in the limited space typically surrounding a snare. I've held up the V1 near drums during setup and gotten a few "I don't think so" comments, but maybe sometime it will work on a sparser kit. I also need to try the X1-R on an acoustic guitar, as long as it doesn't make the artist laugh or get Terminator-style scared. I can tell you that I am super glad I bought the V1, and am wondering how I will force myself to return the X1-R. I'm so glad these devices finally exist!