As good as the guitar recordings came out with he d:dicate™ 2011A, I was just as impressed with the d:dicate™ 2006C’s omni pickup of the Yamaha U1 piano. The late 1970 piano’s wood tone, combined with the solid wood, of the room and smooth walls, were captured perfectly.
by John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
Mention DPA Microphones to anyone knowledgeable about professional-level recording and you will get nods of approval. DPA’s line of classic d:dicate recording microphones
have been relaying the sound of recorded instruments onto your favorite recordings for many years. Those classic DPA mics, however, are well over $1,000.
With advances in microphone technology, DPA has been able to engineer lower-cost microphones that give the same, open, accurate flavor of their more expensive brethren. Two recent additions to the DPA d:dicate model lineup
are the d:dicate 2011 cardioid
and the brilliant d:dicate 2006 omni capsules
; both of which use the company’s highly accurate, twin-diaphragm capsule technology.
Since DPA has a variety of capsules and preamps to mix and match, I requested an MMP-A preamp/mic body
to use with the d:dicate 2011 capsule (termed 2011A
) and the compact MMP-C preamp
with the d:dicate 2006 capsule (termed 2006C
). Mixing and matching these capsules and preamps are standard DPA combo packages for these models.
The d:dicate 2011C capsule/preamp is the cardioid (directional) capsule version, which came with the MMP-A body preamp. The d:dicate 2011A utilizes capsule technology containing two opposite-facing, miniature capsules — custom built into a twin-diaphragm, one-capsule housing. Combined with a solid state electronics, hand-select, low-noise preamp/body, the d:dicate 2011A has a fairly linear frequency response, high-dynamic range, low self-noise and, for a cardioid excellent off-axis response. The d:dicate 2011A price is $949.95.
DPA d:dictate 2011A cardioid
Meanwhile, the d:dicate 2006C is the MMP-C body preamp with the similar designed capsule but contains an omni-directional, twin-diaphragm capsule. Omnidirectional mics have a bit more accuracy in the bass frequencies and smooth mid/treble, while also picking up more of the room sound than cardioid microphones. Piano, in particular, sounds wonderful when recorded via an omni in a room that flatters an instrument’s liveliness. The DPA d:dicate 2006C has a retail price of $829.95.
Having used numerous DPA microphones during my tenure at Pro Audio Review magazine, including the well-regarded 4011A, which is now in the high-end spectrum of the d:dicate series, I am familiar with the excellent pedigree that DPA brings to recording. Their upper-end microphones have been used on countless music recordings, broadcast and movie sets. Their reputation for low noise, accuracy and rugged durability has ensured sustained popularity with the high-end crowd.
DPA d:dictate 2006C omni
However, the d:dicate 2011A and 2006C are half as much money as their upper-end siblings. How much compromise is there in the sound when building to a lower price point? After just a few recording sessions with the less costly, omni and cardioid DPAs under review, I quickly learned how good they are. And, of course, you must remember that, though cheaper than DPA’s higher-end products, their $950 and $830 price tags are not cheapo microphone prices — when compared to the ultra-low cost, recording mics (mostly made in China) — some for a $100 or less.
Using the d:dicate 2011A and 2006C quickly reminds you how much better your DPA mics are versus the lower-end models in the marketplace, and they even exceed many of their competitors and those that exceed their price tags.
To test the DPA mics, I recorded acoustic guitar, jazz guitar and upright piano. I used the cardioid d:dicate 2011A to record my Martin custom shop OO-28 for finger-style picking. The body of this guitar is made from select East Indian Rosewood, has a solid red spruce top and features an early 1930’s bracing pattern. It was strung with Martin silk and steel strings to give it a quasi-classical tone, but with a bit more bite on the top.
With my Gibson L5 Custom, double-pickup, solid-wood, hollow body jazz guitar and an original Fender 1965 Deluxe Reverb amplifier, I used the d:dicate 2011A as well. It was placed about six-inches from the Fender amp. I have recorded that setup numerous times with a variety of different mics. The guitar/amp combo sound is warm, smooth, yet authoritative with lots of sustain.
With the omni d:dicate 2006C, I recorded my 1975 Yamaha U1 upright piano. This particular piano has a more European flavor with a warm upper midrange, low treble and a tight bass register. Sounds great for a small, full-size acoustic piano. I placed the d:dicate 2006C on a bar mount on a mic stand — about two feet from the open top. The solid-wood floor room, with multiple pieces of furniture and some throw rugs, has a nice evenly balanced sound — with a bit of room liveliness that is perfect for omni microphone audio capture.
Equipment-wise, I used the ultra-quiet, True Engineering P2 microphone preamplifier, one of the quietest preamps we have ever measured. Since I had only one of each mic, all recordings were made live-to-two-track, dual-mono, utilizing a TASCAM DA-3000 master recorder. I set the audio to 24-bit and a 192 kHz sample rate for one set of sample recordings, and another identical playlist using the DA-3000’s 5.6 MHz DSD setting. All mic cables were from the Wireworld Professional line.
The first recording was the Martin guitar, using the d:dicate 2011A. I played a number of finger style chord structures and laid down the mono tracks — first in 24-bit PCM and then DSD. Upon playback, the first thing I noticed was how dynamic these mics are: from a gentle thumb-picked note to a full finger array hitting the strings hard to produce a bar chord crescendo—the guitar is very live in its presentation. That bit of punch in the low treble, a DPA company character that I love, was there in spades.
In fact, I have some 10-year old recordings of the Martin guitar played through the top-end d:dicate 4011A, though it was a different recording setup. The d:dicate 4011A has a slightly flatter response from 2K to 20 kHz. This explains that punchiness heard in the lower cost DPA model, but the dynamic range, clarity, ultra quiet precision that I associate with DPA, is also embodied in the lower-cost d:dicate 2011A.
On the jazz guitar/Fender Deluxe amp, the d:dicate 2011A was perfect. The extra punch compensated for the guitar’s rich warm tone. Instead of tilting too darkly, the d:dicate 2011 Arelays the perfect balance of sound for this instrument. Playback was absolutely gorgeous when I auditioned the DSD 5.6 MHz oversampling tracks.
I am familiar with the excellent pedigree that DPA brings to recording. Their upper-end microphones have been used on countless music recordings, broadcast and movie sets. Their reputation for low noise, accuracy and rugged durability has ensured sustained popularity with the high-end crowd.
As good as the guitar recordings came out with he d:dicate 2011A, I was just as impressed with the d:dicate 2006C’s omni pickup of the Yamaha U1 piano. I thought it might be a bit bright because of the large picture window behind the player position on the opposite wall, but the glass never intruded on the quality of the pickup. The late 1970 piano’s wood tone, combined with the solid wood, of the room and smooth walls, were captured perfectly. The complexities of the room reverb decay, the upper-end register’s warm tinkle and the upright’s taut upper bass were all there on the recording. If you liked omni instrument mics on piano, you have got to give the d:dicate 2006 an audition.
The DPA d:dicate 2011A Cardioid and d:dicate 2006C omnidirectional Recording Microphones, are both a more economic means to get much of the heralded, high-end DPA accuracy, and the ability to bring out the inner detail of any musical instrument. For piano and guitar, they presented a focused portrait of each instrument’s sonic intricacy that was truly satisfying to listen to — again and again.
And I also respect DPA for building a lower-cost, high-performing series of microphones, yet still making them in the Denmark homeland. We are definitely giving both microphones an Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award. For home studios and big time, professional live and studio recording, I strongly recommend these microphones.
John Gatski has been evaluating consumer, audiophile, home cinema and professional audio gear since 1988. In 1995, he created Pro Audio Review, and he has written for Audio, Laserviews, Enjoy The Music, The Audiophile Voice, High Performance Review, Radio World and TV Technology. Everything Audio Network is based in Kensington, Md. Articles on this site are the copyright of the ©Everything Audio Network. Any unauthorized use, via print or Internet, without written permission is prohibited. John Gatski can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org