By György Rajna, Production Sound Mixer and DPA Master
As a motion picture sound professional, I am an everyday user of the DPA d:screet™ Miniature Microphones and I can say I have gained quite a lot of experience about their characteristics. These mics have become an essential part of my location sound recording equipment. I know exactly what I can expect from them amongst the wide variety of circumstances they need to perform in our industry.
I mainly use d:screet™ 4060s and 4061s, as these are the ones that match the sensitivity of my radio microphone system. I use 4061 Capsules for wide dynamics dialogue (from normal level dialogue to fierce shouting) and 4060 Capsules for whispering or as a spot mic or hidden microphone in situations when I cannot use an open (boom) mic. In situations when extremely wide dynamics have to be covered – and when the situation allows – I normally choose to rig two capsules on the artists. One a 4060 and the other a 4061. Thus, if the radio transmitter sensitivities are set properly, splitting the dynamic range gives absolute freedom to the actors and mental salvation to me – not having to worry about extreme high or low levels. This system has been working for me very well for the last couple of years.
Some weeks ago, I was lucky enough to receive a couple of d:screet™ CORE capsules for testing. According to DPA, the newly designed CORE capsule electronics can cover a wider dynamic range with less harmonic distortion. When I first read these lines, I was thinking there must be some trade off – some other characteristics must suffer to accommodate these amazing new features. I figured that the sound was probably different or the electronics inside were less weather proof or mechanically more sensitive. I was very excited to give them a proper blast.
My intro to CORE by DPA
I am currently working in a ninth century period drama TV series featuring incredibly physical and loud battle sequences as well as very delicate and quiet courtyard gossip scenes with almost zero level whispering. All of these are filmed in exterior locations or on film sets that, although they have a roof, are totally exposed to the outside temperature and humidity of winter. These extremes in dialogue level and weather conditions provided me with the opportunity to put the new d:screet™ CORE capsules to a proper real-life test. The results so far are amazing.
The CORE capsules I am testing have been performing flawlessly so far. I have used them for three weeks in the above-mentioned circumstances. Even after a few fight sequences and a couple of rainy and snowy days, they still provide the same lovely DPA sound without any noticeable mechanical or electronic wear.
Wider dynamics / less harmonic distortion
Distortion is something that is difficult to judge when not comparing inputs and outputs on proper metering applications, even more so when it is all about screaming and shouting as the voice of an actor may sound distorted as it leaves their mouth anyway. It is not something I can speak about very technically but my experience is that when the d:screet™ CORE 4061 I have for testing is exposed to a sudden scream (with properly set transmitter sensitivity), it does not suffer at all. There is no popping, no clicks; the audio it passes on sounds like something that still has plenty of headroom. It is crystal clear.
DPA does not advertise any decrease in self-noise compared to the now “legacy” capsules, the following is my subjective opinion. I feel a bit crazy anyway, writing that the d:screet™ 4061 Capsule is noisy, but to be honest, with my radio microphone system, I have always preferred the d:screet™ 4060 Capsule for modest levels. The 4061 can become somewhat hissy when the transmitter gains have to be cranked up for unexpected whispering. However – and this is what I found the most convincing at first “sight” – the CORE 4061 seems to have a somewhat different sounding noise floor, which makes the sound of the microphone more acceptable in forced gain situations. This notion has since provided me with the opportunity, for example, to use the same microphone on an actor in a quiet scene and later in a shouted one – without having to re-rig their radio mic. Likewise, to my taste, a CORE 4060, when used in spot mic mode, can be gained up as much as it can be easily mixed together with an open boom microphone, whereas the “legacy" 4060 capsules do have their limits in this respect, when it comes to a quiet film set.
To cut it short, all I can really honestly say about the new CORE by DPA capsules is that I find that they just work as advertised. I have found no trade-off for the new features. To my ears, they are lovely.
About György Rajna
György Rajna has been in the motion picture industry since 2000. He started his career as a sound apprentice at OB events and then swerved off into episodic drama and film to learn boom operating and the other merits of production sound recording. Gaining more and more practical experience, György realized that he was lacking the global understanding of motion picture sound creation. After acquiring a university degree in film sound, his main work is in production sound mixing, however, thanks to his academic background, he has experience in post-production sound as well.