The Valan Atlas PMS3 was originally manufactured in the late 1960’s by Valan Electrics, Birmingham, England. It is the only microphone stand that I can think of that has appeared regularly as a ‘must have’ on the Technical Riders of many well-known performers. A quick glance around the internet reveals pictures of famous users including Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Helen Reddy, Ozzy Osborne, Led Zeppelin, Status Quo, Deep Purple, The Slits, The Clash and Bono (U2)
It has also been a firm favourite with comedians. Here below is British comedian and national treasure Ken Dodd. On stage at the Theatre Royal Norwich.
So what is it about the Valan Atlas that makes it so different to other mic stands.
1. Thanks to its unusual woven wire clutch mechanism the height is instantly adjustable. It goes up and down with a single movement of the hand and stops wherever you let go. So no faffing around slackening or tightening anything.
2. It has a very heavy cast iron base with a small footprint. This makes it extremely stable but also very easy to tilt in any direction. You can even lean it right over like Bono in the picture above. It is perfect for the theatrical showman/woman.
3. The small footprint of the base also means that the performer is unlikely to trip over it! From the sound engineer’s point of view it also means that singers and guitarists who tap their feet are less likely to hit it!
4. The solid construction of the stand and its clutch mechanism also acts as an excellent shock absorber. This helps protect the microphone against unwanted handling noise.
5. The middle section covering the clutch mechanism also forms a very comfortable hand grip at waist height.
6. The chrome finish is superb and always looks fabulous under a centre spot.
The Bad News and the Good News.
Very sadly Valan Electrics went out of business in the early 1980’s. The last mention of them I can find is in a Studio Sound survey in July 1981. However, these iconic stands have remained popular and the good news is that they are once again being made by US company RCI http://www.rcistarlite.com/micstand1.htm
We all know that cut-price microphone stands are never worth it. They will always let you down (usually in the middle of the gig)! Valan Atlas PMS 3 microphone stands have never been cheap. However, they are beautifully made, a joy to use, and will last for years. I bought mine in the 70’s. It has been centre stage on thousands of shows and still looks as good as the day it left the factory. Worth every penny!