Technical director for school’s music department relies on an assortment of company’s mics to solve live miking challenges
Students at California Baptist University’s (CBU) Collinsworth School of Music are not only taught the art of making music, but the best possible way to enhance the performance aspect of their instrument or voice. That’s why their professors and mentors turn to DPA Microphones for on-stage amplification, which ensures that students gain first-hand experience with world-renowned professional equipment. With an audio locker that features a combination of the company’s d:vote 4099 Instrument Mics, d:fine™ Directional Headset Mics and a stereo pair of d:screet™ 4061 Omnidirectional Miniature Mics, the school is guaranteed an audio solution that covers the variety of music department needs for on-campus performances as well as on-the-road ensembles.
Matthew McConnell, technical director for the School of Music at California Baptist University, was familiar with DPA’s reputation of excellent quality products, but it was his test seven years ago of a stereo pair of d:screet 4061s as a live miking solution that turned him into a loyal user. Since then, DPA mics have been integrated into Collinsworth’s equipment supply, creating a new generation of enthusiasts.
“Before discovering DPA Microphones, I’d tried everything to make the piano sound good live, but I wasn’t happy with any of the results,” McConnell recalls. “Since I wasn’t having much luck with anything else, I bought a stereo set of the DPA d:screet 4061 mics and thought they were fantastic, and then I just went from there. Now, I don’t have many students who haven’t used a DPA mic. I’m a firm believer in the observation factor, so if they’re seeing the mics in use and hearing them on live recordings, they can better understand the benefit of using DPA mics.”
During touring season, students discover, through firsthand experience, the advantages that come along with DPA. This includes ease of use and exceptional clarity, the same factors that McConnell initially found to be valuable.
“I bought my first d:vote 4099s because I was trying to solve a problem,” shares McConnell. “For years, I didn’t like the sounds I was getting from the string bass, so I looked around for clip-on mics and pickups, I didn’t really like any of those or how they worked. When I found the d:votes, I bought two because of the rubberized bass clip. I loved how easy it was to get the clips off the instrument as well as having some flexibility to be used with other instruments. I tried them out and thought they were great. I also loved how they sounded and how the performers could move around because it’s attached to the instrument. As a FOH guy, the sound the mics produce isn’t changing when the students move around. I get very consistent sound and levels, which makes mixing so much easier. Once I discovered how well the d:votes worked, I bought more for the cello players and then woodwinds and percussion. I thought, ‘These are great! I’m going to use them wherever I can!’ ”
When McConnell introduced the d:vote 4099s to students, they were wary that the clips would damage their personal instruments. But, once they saw how the rubber clips can easily be unclipped and repositioned on the instrument without any damage to the body, they were eager to use them. The d:vote 4099 creates an effortless solution for students who are in charge of setting up and tearing down their own equipment. Students have also learned of the mics’ accurate natural sound, balanced EQs and functionality.
“These mics really come in handy for our performances, which are largely led by students,” continues McConnell. “During the school year, students perform in large ensemble groups at churches and schools throughout Southern California. Upon graduation, we send four elite groups on a two-week tour of America’s western hemisphere, where they are tasked with setting up their own equipment. The clipping and repositioning of the d:vote is so simple that two violinists often share one mic connected to a wireless transmitter by swapping it onto their instruments between solos.”
In addition to the d:vote series, the music department has integrated the d:fine directional headsets into its mic rotation for vocal clarity. Used primarily on the conductors who often MC their own shows and stand in front of loudspeakers, a potentially problematic spot due to feedback, the school is using the mics in a unique manner.
“The d:fine headsets sound great and make it possible for the conductors to wander around and interact with people without feedback issues,” adds McConnell. “But, the truly remarkable thing about the d:fines is the way we use them for our piccolo and flute players. Since the instruments are so tiny, we had a hard time miking them. We were using overhead mics, but there was a ton of bleed from other instruments. So, we decided to outfit the musicians with d:fine headsets, and it’s been great. Since the end of it is so close to the ear where the d:fine sits, the mic ends up producing a sound that’s just like the performer hears. We also get great rejection of unwanted noise with the cardioids pattern and we’re able to really amplify the flute sound.
“Everyone’s got it in their head that you need to have a solo flute with full brass choir accompaniment behind it, but on an acoustic stage, you’re never going to hear that,” he continues. “In a studio you will, but not on a live stage without amplification. This has been the best way that I’ve found to accomplish that. The d:fine tames down the piccolo to make it musical. It’s the same thing with the flutes. I’m able to get a great sound with the d:fine on the flute, with very minimal amounts of processing on the console. The feel of the mics is great, too. With other mics, the flute players hated wearing headset mics, they didn’t like how they felt. I gave them the d:fine mics and they loved them and said they’d never want to use anything else ever again.”
Established in 2002, CBU’s Collinsworth School of Music holds students to high standards that encourage them to be the very best persons, students and musicians that they can be. In exchange for the hard work they commit, CBU musicians find a challenging program of study, an outstanding community environment and limitless performance opportunities in the United States and abroad. McConnell credits the support from Dr. Judd Bonner, Dean of the Collinsworth School of Music, for being the primary advocate in the students’ access to the DPA mics.
For more information on DPA Microphones, please visit www.dpamicrophones.com.