As we know, there is no one “perfect” microphone that fits all scenarios. Sound can get pushed out in a wide/tight… sometimes a space is more reverberant than we’d like… or background noise can be an issue. There are different issues that we have to deal with on set and each microphone fits a given need for certain situations.
Previously, we felt our “arsenal” of microphones was adequate and ample. We have mics that we like inside and outside, for use in live spaces, lower sensitivities, looser/tighter frames & importantly, matched sets. Well, we had the chance to add in a full spread of DPA microphones to our list. We were quite pleased with the additions.
Our pre-DPA load out was as follows:
- 2x Schoeps CMIT-5U Shotguns
- 2x Sennheiser MHK-50 Supercardioids
- 2x Schoeps CMC641Supercardioids w/ GVCs
We’d commonly use the CMIT for exteriors and the MKH-50 for the majority of our interior work. The 641 would come into play in tight closeups, reverberant rooms and as a versatile plant mic. The 641 also got some play with the GVC swivel for a lower profile when we were in situations with tight headroom or walking through doorways on walk-and-talks.
In October, we had to send a Schoeps CMIT5u back to Germany (which takes time) to get it checked out for an occasional ticking sound while using it wirelessly. I ended up buying my first DPA 4017B to use as a temporary replacement. We liked it… a lot.
In December, in addition to our existing DPA 4017B, we received the following:
- 1x DPA 4017 Shotgun Capsule (for a total of 2)
- 2x DPA 4018 Supercardioid Capsules
- 1x DPA B Preamp (for a total of 2)
- 2x DPA C Preamps
We’ve had the DPA gear mixed in with our pre-existing kit for about 3 months now. We’ve slowly integrated it into our workflow. It can take some time to become confident with microphone choices on the fly in the quick-paced environment that we work in. Over that time, we’ve learned about the DPA microphones and have come to rely them as essential parts of our kit.
Chapter 1 – On The Boom
RF & Humidity
Schoeps microphones sound great. We love the rich sound of the CMC641 up close and we also love the range and punch of a CMIT5u, even from five feet away on an exterior wide. They almost can’t be beat. Schoeps owners love them… until the occasional humidity flutter hits the CMC series. Or the occasional RF “tick” we sometimes experience while running a wireless boom with the CMIT. Now, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, you have no choice but to go to another microphone.
In three months, we’ve really enjoyed the clean, crisp sound of our DPAs. We’ve also experienced no RF problems or humidity issues. We are going to keep our ears out as we get into the warmer, wetter months ahead, but we’ve also talked to other DPA users and they tell us that it has not been an issue.
Much like the Schoeps CMC series, the DPA line is totally modular. You can switch from a 4017 capsule to a 4018 using the same preamp in the time that it takes you to unscrew and re-screw in the desired capsule. That means you can switch from a shotgun to a supercardioid using the same preamp.
Sound & Reach
The DPA 4017 shotgun has a fantastic reach and a great, full sound. It compares very similarly to a CMIT in an exterior wide. The DPA is a great microphone, especially when you consider the lower price, the modularity and RF immunity when compared to the CMIT.
The DPA 4018 supercardioid has become one of my favorite microphones for interior use on the boom. It fills a gap I wasn’t really aware that I had in my microphone package. Typically we’d use the MKH50 for medium work and go to a 641 for closeup work (when we could). Now we use the 4018 for medium and closeup work to great result.
In certain situations, the 4018’s reach was not quite as deep as that of our MHK50, but the 4018C gives us a lower profile option for walk-and-talks through doorways that used to demand the CMC641 with the GVC swivel. When pushed to a medium shot, the 4018 just packs more punch than the 41 and with a smaller profile than the MKH50.
Shooting a scene in a reflective bathroom on a medium/tight lens? The 4018 delivers a great sound while reducing some of the effects of the reverberant space similar to the 641, but with more “bite” when at a higher headroom.
As DPA is very exacting to get an almost identical flat frequency responses from all their different microphones, including lavalieres. Because of this, the DPA products we’ve tested seem to mix exceptionally well together.
B Preamp vs C Preamp
The main differences between the two preamps are size and the filter options. The B is the larger of the two and has both a low frequency roll-off filter and a high boost filter switch built-in. The C preamp is about 2 ½ times smaller in length than the B preamp. The B preamp weighs just a bit more than the C, but not by much: 1.48g vs 1.45g.
In-Country Service Center
If you have a DPA that needs service or repair, there is a service center in the USA. Telephone support is also available. Sennheiser also offers a USA service center and support. Schoeps offers top-notch USA support through Redding Audio, but any microphone service must be sent to Germany.
|DPA Microphones, 1500 Kansas Ave. Suite 3A, Longmont, CO 80501
We’d like to see a slightly denser foam option for both the 4017 & 4018. The current offerings are not quite as wind-resistant as the windscreens that come with our Schoeps & Sennheiser microphones. That said, this is only noticeable when doing quick interior cueing and is a minor issue.
The 4017B comes with a nice case that can hold other DPA accessories too.
Price points (as of 2/12/16):
- $2199.00 Schoeps CMIT-5U
- $1199.95 Sennheiser MHK-50
- $1622.00 Schoeps CMC641
- $1799.95 DPA 4017B Shotgun Capsule with B Preamp
- $1709.95 DPA 4018C Supercardioid Capsule with C Preamp
Prices are all in the same ballpark with the CMIT on the high end and the MKH50 on the low end. Many will find the 4017 to be a bargain at $400 less than the CMIT. I think the reach on the 4018 is well worth the additional $90 when compared to the CMC641.
We’re extremely happy with the DPA offerings. They have definitely helped to make our work sound better. We even have a new “go-to” microphone for medium and close-up interiors, the 4018. Kudos DPA!
Next up > Chapter 2: Battle of the Plants!