Musician’s monitor engineer uses more than 20 DPA mics to accommodate the natural sound of the live instruments used for her orchestra-based performances
When seven-time Grammy® winner Gloria Estefan belts it out during a live performance, her ear is trained to pick up on any imperfections. That’s why her long-time monitor engineer, Craig Melvin, relies on the precision of DPA Microphones to eliminate noise and capture the natural sound of the live instruments used during Estefan’s orchestra-based performances. To meet these audio requirements, Melvin depends on a combination of DPA 4023 Compact Cardioid Microphones, d:screet™ 4061 Miniature Omnidirectional Microphones
, d:vote™ 4099 Instrument Microphones
and d:dicate™ 4011 Cardioid Microphones
Melvin has employed the d:dicate 4011s for years in a rock music setting, but until recently, had not considered using them as orchestra mics. After hearing a live orchestra performance that had incredible sound, and discovered that DPA mics were behind the excellent audio.
He knew instantly that he had found the string mic for which he was looking. “DPA Microphones didn’t originally cross my mind when I was looking for a replacement string microphone,” recalls Melvin. “Then, my ears were opened to the possibilities of these mics. Orchestra miking is a different animal. It doesn’t have as much close miking as you find in rock music. Once Eric Schilling (recording engineer for Estefan) and I heard the DPAs used for the violins, there was no going back to anything else. Add to that the benefits of all of the mounting hardware and it was a no brainer.”
As for Estefan’s opinion of the mics, Melvin says, “Gloria is not only an accomplished singer, but a great musician as well, so she picks up on subtleties in her audio. I’m responsible for what she hears in her ear monitors. She knows how things should sound and she can detect any compression artifacts immediately. She’s got a great ear and, having just finished recording her Standards with an orchestra in a studio setting, I appreciated hearing her positive comments about the live sound we achieved with the DPA mics.”
Shortly after personally purchasing a supply of DPA Microphones to bring on the road during Estefan’s promotional tour, Melvin knew he wanted to add more to his collection. He found himself admiring the DPA d:vote with the magnetic mounts for the Steinway grand piano, which he complimented with a DPA d:screet™
4061 in the hole. As that worked out very well, Melvin was ready to add more DPAs to his setup.
“DPA Microphones are solid workhorses, so much more consistent than some other microphones that we had used,” explains Melvin. “Our thought process was, if DPA is making mics for strings, then those are the mics we need. It was that simple. We did a couple of the orchestra gigs and that’s when I purchased all the DPA mics. I wanted to have that consistency for all the shows going forward.”
Now, with an inventory that features a variety of DPA Microphones, Melvin is always ready to experiment with different combinations to find the best sound possible. “We did a show with the DPA d:vote™
4099 on the Steinway grand piano and kept the d:screet™
4061 in the hole. I was amazed at how great that sounded,” he notes. “The d:vote™ works great for the Steinway, and the magnetic mounts make it so easy.”
mounting hardware for the violins, violas and cellos allow the musicians to easily adjust the positioning on their own to meet their comfort and bowing needs without compromising the sound during a performance. Included in Melvin’s microphone collection is the d:dicate™ 4011, which is ideal for close miking instruments in a live performance or studio setting. This provides for accuracy, uniform off-axis response and low distortion of the natural sound. Melvin currently relies on the 4011 for flutes and saxophones.
Even today, Melvin considers adding more DPA Microphones to assist his monitoring needs, with his eye on the drums next. “I was thinking about picking up a couple of d:vote mounts for drums,” he adds. “I’ve heard people say how well they work for toms and hand drums. I used the original version of the 4011s with the 4003 Omni Microphone early in my career with Gloria for the kick and snare drums. We did a show a while back where it was just a pair of 4003s on the drums with a separate kick mic, and it was perfect for that jazz style.”
Estefan recently released her 23rd studio album, The Standards, which received a Grammy® nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. In addition to her musical career, Estefan is an actress and entrepreneur. She co-owns multiple restaurants and hotels in Miami with her husband, Emilio Estefan. The Latin crossover artist is currently in pre-production for an autobiographical Broadway show.