by Chuck Mitchell
I know we all love our 57 for ’bout everything when we’re in a pinch with little to choose from. BUT when it comes to getting incredible mileage and versatility out of a pair of compact, affordable microphones, my winner is a pair of DPA 4061’s, currently available as a pair in kit form, model SMK-SC4061.
These mics are omni directional, which you would think presents issues. But in most cases, their micro size allows for them to have advantages where tight proximity is an option. Many times I show up at gigs with all kinds of compromising mics on the Piano. I usually bring these mics and use them for piano more than anything. They come with very cool, small magnet mounts that allow for virtually any placement around the harp area. Sometimes I combine them with an SM57 on the underside of the piano, about 1/3 down between the floor and the sound board for warmth and/or additional gain. However, they perform GREAT in the studio for recording an acoustic guitar in stereo. I just hang them about a foot away dangling from a horizontal boom mic stand. Its like you’re just sitting in front of the guitar. For live nylon or acoustic without a pickup, I just use one of the accessory mounts or a small piece of tape to mount it just out of reach of the hole and player’s space, under the frets.
There’s always those surprise instruments; like cello, violin, banjo, Ukulele, etc. This mic kit comes with many mounting accessories, including what would be needed for using it as a lav. I’ve even purchased the optional 9v belt-pack for providing them with remote phantom power and used them for field recordings when producing sound effects.
The downside is that they are fragile. I take precautions by taping the microdot-XLR adapter that is on the end of each mic to a secure point such as the chair of the musician, a music stand, or even the leg of the piano so that if someone snags the mic cable on stage, it doesn’t take down my tiny DPA wires. I’ve made it to about 20 years with my original pair and cables, changing only one of the microdot-XLR adapters.
There are many awesome and expensive DPA mics specifically for piano, cello, etc. but for less than $1000, this kit gets you 80% of the way there with 20% of the money.
Chuck’s passion for music and sound recording started in his elementary school years with reel-to-reel tape and playing keyboards in bands. Now, with over 30 years experience and a B.A. in the field of music, sound and technology, Chuck brings the balance of art, design, and technical applications to the table with a wide array of experience. As a composer, he has extensive experience and has composed with and for such greats as Thomas Dolby, Bob Ezrin, and others. As an AV system designer and sound engineer, his ability to create solutions, listen critically, and assemble resources brings every project to completion with excellence. As the owner and visionary for Voice of the Arts, Inc. and TechArts, Chuck is responsible for project designs, operations, management, quality assurance, staying within budget, and delivering on time. Chuck has also served as a dubbing consultant on several international films for 20th Century Fox, Lucas Films and DreamWorks such as Star Wars Episodes 1, 2, and 3, Shrek, Spirit, Titan AE, and El Dorado, bringing these films to Russia, China, Greece, Spain, Poland, among others. Today, it is always evident that his commitment is to bring creative solutions to his client’s needs. Check out Chuck’s blog at http://techartscreative.com/blog