06/06/16

CPM AUDIO REVIEW of d:vote™ INSTRUMENT MICROPHONES

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"I really think this is the most compact and simplest to position drum microphone on the market." Reviewer / Nolan Rossi
Review by Nolan Rossi for Church Production Magazine - June 2016 issue

Audio engineers, let’s be honest. We are all really comfortable with mic’ing the typical instruments that an average Sunday morning offers us. I’d even wager that many of you keep the same microphones on your drum kit, your guitars amps, etc. I get it. We all go through seasons of experimentation and then times of constancy. The question is what do we do about “bluegrass Sunday,” when an accordion, fiddle, and mandolin show up? For most of us we don’t get much experience with these types of sources and so our microphone locker doesn’t provide us the tools to win in these situations. DPA is one company that has a great solution for these situations. In fact, I’ve used the company’s microphones on tour in the past and they have provided excellent solutions for situations such as these.

CLOSER LOOK & CELLO APPLICATION
The new 4099 instrument microphone is designed to cover a plethora of instruments with its versatile mic clip options. I took it into my studio for an in-depth look at what it can offer. The 4099 is a compact super cardioid condenser microphone; its small and sleek design is useful in tight situations. Atop a small, 5.5-inch, gooseneck rests the capsule, which has a shock mount and windscreen. The cable, thin by any means, comes in 2.2mm (designed for upright bass) and 1.6mm (designed for handheld instruments). At the end of this cable the mini connector works with virtually every wireless transmitter on the market. In addition, a mini connector to standard XLR adapter is provide for a hard wire connection. The same 4099 microphone works in an exhaustive series of smart microphone clips that provide solutions unique to each instrument. Each clip option designed for its purpose is described by the letter following the model number. The 4099B is for upright bass, the 4099C is for cello, and so on. DPA has designed clips for the accordion, upright bass, brass, cello, drums, acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, piano, saxophone and violin. A standard microphone stand adapter is available, as well as a music stand “clip on” adapter. The “universal” clip utilized a nylon strap the user can wrap around and belt onto an instrument. There is a mounting option that will work for virtually any instrument and situation. As stated before, I’ve used these microphones on stage in the past. What I’ve seen most often is the application for cello. Every touring cellist that I’ve worked with travels with his or her own 4099. It is the
standard for this application, without a doubt. The microphone is so easy to travel with and does the job so well that a cellist does not have to worry about how their sound will be reproduced. I can attest to the quality of the sound and to the design. The mount works brilliantly by attaching to the strings just bellow the bridge. The gooseneck offers multiple positions to place the microphone.

Although I had experience in the past, I still wanted to hear how the 4099 worked in this isolated studio situation. I asked my friend Cara Fox to come and play a bit for me in the studio. Cara plays for All Sons and Daughters, Gungor and Kari and she also plays at her home church, Journey in Franklin, Tenn. We spent about 45 minutes recording parts and listening to the 4099. There are two popular mic’ing techniques for the 4099 with the cello. One option is to position the microphone toward the f hole of the cello. This produces a warm and resonate sound. It sounds more classical to my ear, and if I was working with a quartet I would probably mic the cello in this fashion. The other popular position is to place the mic right under the bridge, aimed at the body of the cello. This provides more detail on the top end while still remaining balanced. This is typically what you see from cellists that are accompanying bands. That extra detail in the top end helps to cut through a band mix. The design of the clip makes it easy to position while perfectly isolating the sound of the cello. No handling noise is heard; just the pure sound of the instrument. Similar to the cello application, I’ve had great success using the 4099 on violin and mandolin. The clips here work by attaching to the body of the instruments. The clip provides a stable foundation for [a mic] that is inevitably going to be in some type of motion with these instruments.
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DRUM APPLICATION
Since I had experience with this mic in certain applications I wanted to try something that was new to me. I chose the 4099D (drum clip) because the drum kit is a more common source for Sunday morning. I also choose it because I questioned if it could stand up to the task. With the high-energy drummers that we often have on Sunday mornings, using condensers on the drum kit can be a challenge. The drum clip is [thoughtfully designed], yet simple. I was able to attach the clip to various types of drum hoops (metal/wood), but I never had a problem clipping and positioning the microphone. The 4099 has a 90-degree mounting ability so that you can position the microphone in any way needed on a drum. Because of its compact size, I was able to fit the microphone into the compact areas with ease.

I really think this is the most compact and simplest to position drum microphone on the market. Now I put up another type of clip on a condenser microphone that I own because I wanted to be able to compare both the sound quality as well as the bleed of the 4099D to something that I was familiar with. My assumption on the outset was that the 4099D would sound great for a jazz or country style of playing, but it would become less usable with a higher energy-style of playing. I was wrong. After listening back to what was a common worship style of playing, I preferred the 4099 to my other mics in every way. There was much more detail in the 4099—and I picked it every time in a blind test. My concern about cymbal bleed completely went away. I found the cymbal bleed to be no worse than other dynamic and condenser microphones that I use in a similar fashion. On the toms I found it to be very accurate, capturing the low end beautifully. I really thought the 4099 worked well on the snare drum. The super cardioid pattern provided the needed rejection from the hi-hat and other cymbals. I loved how the mic gave the snare punch in ways that the other mic lacked. I’m looking forward to using the mic in this application in the future. I came away from my time with the 4099 [very] pleased. With endless clip options you will be able to mic any instrument that comes into your church. As useful and innovative as the clips are, they would be useless if the mic did not sound good. Fortunately, the 4099 provides exquisite sonic results, capturing everything from upright cello to dynamic drums with precision and detail. Any church would be wise to have a few of these on hand. The 4099 covers more common tasks like strings, but it is an [ideal] utility microphone for any situation. Because each mount is a bit different, prices vary between models, but the 4099D and C sell for about $619.99 street price.
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Read the review on-line here

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