The concept is simple enough - instead of having two separate wired devices (headset mic + in-ear monitors), DPA has integrated the two together in one solution.
By Nolan Rossi, Church Production, December 2015

DPA's d:fine headset mic has a new feature added aimed at broadcast production in the form of the new d:fine™ In-Ear Broadcast Headset Microphone. The concept is simple enough - instead of having two separate wired devices (headset mic + in-ear monitors), DPA has integrated the two together in one solution. Now churches with larger broadcast needs will connect with this product concept right away. This is the type of solution that a sports or network news operation would use as a way for the broadcast to pick up the host’s voice while also providing a monitoring solution should the director of the show need to communicate to the host while live on the air.

In that sense this product set may seem to have limited applications in the church market --- those that are producing their own television content. But the more time I spent with the product, the more applications I discovered for the broader church production market. Let’s talk about the headset first, and then I will get into applications and in the end you can be the judge if it’s right for your church.

d:fine replaces older, clunkier, broadcast headset microphones. The first versions of these headsets looked like something a WWII bomber pilot would use to communicate with home base. As technology has improved, things have become smaller, more lightweight and more comfortable for the user. This lightweight aspect is what DPA has hung their hat on with the d:fine™ headset mic series, and I think the newer d:fine™ In-Ear Broadcast Headset Microphone lives up to the hype.

Out of the box the d:fine looks a bit more intimating then I imagined. I was expecting an integrated cable, one lead that had some type of breakout connector at the end but DPA designed this product with separate cables for the microphone and in-ear monitor. Multiple wires aside, DPA designed it in a way that the all wires are well managed and neatly kept together. The headset never became tangled or confusing in use and when I put the headset on for the first time it felt effortless. I quickly forgot that I was wearing the mic. This is because the construction is so incredibly small and lightweight. The wires and headset mount are the thinnest materials imaginable. The only rigid, bendable metal is in the microphone boom itself and so the rest of the headset is malleable and feels very comfortable to wear.

The sound of the microphone is what I have come to expect out of DPA; simply beautiful. I love standard DPA headset mics and this version of the d:fine™ is no different.

It has low feedback characteristic for a headset mic and I had no trouble dialing in a natural sound that worked wonderful for my needs. The in-ear monitors are not going to replace a musician’s favorite in-ear buds, but they’re not intended to. They produced reasonably good sound that is suitable for broadcast needs, though when I listen to music through them I thought they would worked just fine for musical performance needs.

The d:fine™ does come in few different models and options. There is a dual-ear version with two in-ear monitors, a dual-ear version with a single in-ear monitor, and there is a single ear version with a single in-ear monitor --- three different variations of the same basic design. Directional and omni microphones options exist and can choose between black and beige color choices. But with these options and functionality, it really come down to the application and for that I think there are quite a few options for you and your church.

The first application is in musical theater production. If your church does musicals around Easter or Christmas then the d:fine™ would be a perfect fit for you. The lightweight nature and low-profile design is ideal for theater where you want the technology to be as unobtrusive as possible. Moving around stage while dancing and singing would feel natural for the performer and the d:fine™ would produce professional sound quality for the sound engineer and audience.

Another application would be a replacement headset for any production team member. If you are the video director for your church or a service program director sitting in service then chances are you rack up a lot of time with a headset on, and let’s face it most headsets are uncomfortable. Much like a musician investing in a good custom pair of in-ear monitors, the d:fine™ headset would bring much needed comfort to the hours that you rack up with a headset on and it would sound much better.

Here’s the application that really intrigues me: Imagine it’s Sunday morning and your pastor or maybe the worship leader is on stage welcoming people, setting up the offering, and giving announcements. Half way through the announcements the host gets mixed up or forgets the details and gives out the wrong information. What often happens next is, from the stage, they ask if a particular person is in the room that can relay the right information. Next comes some awkward shouting from the back of the room with correct info, the host laughs it off and then delivers the corrected info.

These sort of things happen in service all the time and for the most part they don't distract too much from what’s going on; but what if it could be corrected with a direct message to the pastor’s ear using the d:fine™ In-Ear broadcast mic? A service program director could press a button and instantly be communicating to the host, correcting the information without disrupting the pace of the greeting from stage.

Here’s another common scenario: What if your host or pastor is speaking past the allotted time? A quick "times up" through the in-ear monitor could be relayed. I'm aware that most churches use a confidence monitor in this way, as a type of communication to those on stage, but an in-ear monitor provides instant communication. By using the d:fine™ in this way you are creating a two-way communication loop from stage to the production team that didn't exist before. Communication is power and it can make the difference in otherwise confusing situations.

Here’s another common situation: How many times has you pastor called for a slide only to stand there twisting in the wind until someone from the production team shouts "we don't have that"? It is an honest mistake, but the end result is that your pastor is on stage expecting something that for whatever reason the production team can't give. 

While the production team is scrambling to see if they can cover, your pastor keeps asking for the slide and the stalling is creating an awkward pause in an otherwise fluid message.

Improving communication is paramount in any mass media and even more so in a church environment in this current day and age. The DPA d:fine™ In-Ear Broadcast Headset Microphone is a low-profile professional microphone. By adding the benefit of an in-ear monitor, churches have a new tool for improved communications between stage and behind-the-scenes staff. The result could be more accurate, well-communicated, smoother running and safer events.


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