The Audio Variometer, Why Use One?

There's a bunch of reasons why you might want an audio variometer. These are amazingly useful little pieces of technology if you don't plan on doing 'sled-rides' for the rest of your life...

  • ideal for learners or low-time pilots who don't need complexity or a high price tag
  • very small and very lightweight, so ideal for mounting on your helmet
  • easy to 'keep your eyes outside the cockpit' while busily centering that thermal!
  • long battery life compared to more sophisticated instruments that need more power
  • handy as a backup in case batteries fail or other problem with 'main' vario
  • handy for tandem pilots who can't find a convenient spot to mount larger instruments

Here's some currently available audio-only varios, listed below. There's not a huge amount of variation in the prices. As usual, don't hold me to these prices since they are only a guide, which will soon be out of date.

Get a second or third-hand audio variometer if you can, this is one piece of paragliding gear that your life doesn't depend on!

And of course anything electronic tends to get cheaper as time goes by.

As is my habit on this site, I've organized the info to make it as easy as possible to compare.

Company: Malletec
Vario Model: Mini Vario
Price: US$169
Weight: ??? developed 1991, but probably still pretty light
Dimensions: ??? but is meant to be mounted 'in your helmet' :-)
Attachment: Velcro
Power Source: 200 flight hours on the battery, what's the bet it's the same Lithium as all the others...
Other comments:

  • fixed volume, this audio variometer can be heard 10 m (30 ft) away in a quiet room
  • mount anywhere the heavy-duty clip will hold it
  • lift-only audio indication, with increasing beep-rate and pitch as lift increases
  • very sensitive in weak lift, averaging behaviour is useful in bumpy lift

Company: Flytec
Vario Model: Sonic
Price: US$189
Weight: 46 g (1.7 oz)
Dimensions: 89 x 35 x 18 mm (3.5 x 1.4 x 0.7 inches)
Attachment: Velcro
Power Source: Lithium CR2450, 3V/500mAh, good for around 200 flight hours
Other comments:

  • adjustable volume
  • intended for mounting on helmet
  • optional sink tone/alarm with settable threshold
  • attachment Velcro and carry bag included
  • very reliable

Vario Model: IQ Sonic
Price: ???
Weight: 40 g (1.5 oz)
Dimensions: 89 x 37 x 19 mm (3.5 x 1.5 x 0.7 inches)
Attachment: Velcro
Power Source: Lithium, probably 3V/500mAh like the Flytech, good for over 200 flight hours
Other comments:

  • adjustable volume
  • mount anywhere
  • adjustable sink tone threshold
  • Acoustic Scale Indication (ASI) which helps the pilot to estimate climb rates

Company: Renschler
Vario Model: Solario Mini Vario
Price: £110.00
Weight: 36 g (1.3 oz)
Dimensions: 54 x 36 x 21 mm (2.1 x 1.4 x 0.8 inches)
Attachment: ??? probably Velcro
Power Source: The massive spheroid thermo-nuclear device around which our planet orbits
Other comments:

  • adjustable volume
  • adjustable sink-alarm threshold
  • once charged well in bright sunlight, operates well in all light conditions
  • yes, it's a solar audio variometer :-)


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