Recording - May 2013 - 42

B Y PA U L V N U K J R .

DPA Microphones
d:fine Series headset microphones
Techniques for an unusual approach to vocal recording—and a great mic to do it with
For this issue on recording vocals I thought
it would be worthwhile to look at an area of
vocal recording we don’t often dwell on, and
report on an exceptional mic for the task.
I have been recording and running frontof-house sound for many years now. The
performances range from spoken word
(for sermons, seminars, dramatic readings), to plays and musicals, with a cast
ranging anywhere from a single person up
to ensemble casts of 10 to 14 people. The
best tool for this job in recent years, fast
replacing the lavalier-style microphone, is
the over-the-ear or headset microphone. I
have used many makes and models over
time, and my hands-down favorite is the
d:fine Series from DPA Microphones.
In this review I will point out the specifics
that make the d:fine an excellent choice for
serious recording of stage vocals, while
teaching some general tips for getting the
best recorded and live sound from headsets of any type.
More than fine
Like most headset mics, the d:fine consists of an ear piece with an adjustable
attached boom and a cable made to connect to a wireless body pack. We will take
a more in-depth look at how it fits below.
The d:fine is available in two polar patterns, omni and cardioid, each with a number of configurations and colors—Black,
Beige, Brown and Lime Green (great for
when your actor is an alien monster...only
half kidding), in several different boom
lengths, with single or dual earpiece.
A few specs (see the DPA website for
more): The omni has a frequency range of
20 Hz–20 kHz with 3 dB soft boost at
8–15 kHz, and the cardioid’s is 100
Hz–20 kHz with 3 dB soft boost at 8–20
42

RECORDING May 2013

kHz. Self-noise is 26 dBA (omni) and 28
dBA (cardioid), and max SPL is 144 dB.
DPA will provide pretty much body-pack
connection for the d:fine (Lemo, TA4F MiniXLR, mini jack, etc.), but I recommend DPA’s
own Micro-Dot connector (same as on the
4099 d:vote series of instrument mics
reviewed in our June 2010 issue), as this
allows the most compatibility; you can buy
separate adaptors for any of the above,
which connect to the Micro-Dot. That way
you’re not tied to any one system.
Each d:fine ships with a large molded
nylon case, color-coded identification
clips (so you can tell which mic is on
whom from front of house), wind screens
and a makeup guard.
Wearing the mic
Almost as important as a headset mic’s
sound is its comfort, and the d:fine excels
in this area. While much of the competition
make use of rigid or bendable wires for fitting the mic to the ear, DPA chose to use a
thin flexible wire that wraps around the ear
with an under-the-ear base that is contoured to the ear’s anatomy. DPA is very
specific about how it should be placed on
the ear, and it’s best to read the manual or
watch the online video on DPA’s website.
There is a small divot on the earpiece
that sits on the small bump at the base of
your ear, not on the earlobe, and the top
wire goes up and over the top of the ear,
not around the ear. Once properly placed,
the d:fine is so light, I have had users forget they are wearing them.
DPA also includes a small collar clip to
help control the placement and tension of
the cable. It must not be so loose that the
cable flops around, but not so tight that it
pulls the mic out of position.

Additional to being available in various
boom lengths, the d:fine is adjustable and
you can move the mic capsule forward
and back to get the best placement by the
mouth. It’s best to be close to the corner of
the mouth when at all possible, never in
front of it.
Lastly you want the capsule to be as
close to the face as possible. The d:fine
has a small face guard that allows skin
contact, but I get the best results when the
d:fine floats a few millemeters away from
the cheek. This is especially important if
the person has a stubbly beard, which
can occasionally crackle against the mic.
Sonic setup tips
The main reason I gravitated toward the
d:fine over previous models was due to
DPA’s reputation for pure and clean
sound. With the d:fine I found myself
using much less eq on my miked vocals,
which not only gave improved sound but
also meant less struggle with feedback.
The goal is to have the person sound as
close as possible to how they would
sound standing next to you having a conversation, both in the room and over the
sound system. Start by ringing out the mic
in the room while the subject wears the
mic but is silent. This will give a good indication of the overall volume threshold you
have to work with as well as the troublesome sonic nodes of the room.
Next have the subject start to speak or
sing; their voice will naturally trigger additional resonances and peaks that you will
need to rein in with eq. After finding the best
balance, you can then start to factor in compression and even de-essing if that is an
option (most digital consoles feature both).
When I can, I will set up a compressor with



Recording - May 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2013

Recording - May 2013
Fade In
Contents
Talkback
Fast Forward
Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Readers' Tapes
Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Intro
Recording - May 2013 - Recording - May 2013
Recording - May 2013 - Cover2
Recording - May 2013 - 1
Recording - May 2013 - 2
Recording - May 2013 - 3
Recording - May 2013 - Fade In
Recording - May 2013 - 5
Recording - May 2013 - Contents
Recording - May 2013 - 7
Recording - May 2013 - Talkback
Recording - May 2013 - 9
Recording - May 2013 - Fast Forward
Recording - May 2013 - 11
Recording - May 2013 - 12
Recording - May 2013 - 13
Recording - May 2013 - Jim Anderson Records Patricia Barber
Recording - May 2013 - 15
Recording - May 2013 - 16
Recording - May 2013 - 17
Recording - May 2013 - Lewitt Authentica LCT 940
Recording - May 2013 - 19
Recording - May 2013 - PreSonus Eris Series High-Definition Studio Monitors
Recording - May 2013 - 21
Recording - May 2013 - 22
Recording - May 2013 - 23
Recording - May 2013 - How To Record Great Vocals At Home
Recording - May 2013 - 25
Recording - May 2013 - 26
Recording - May 2013 - 27
Recording - May 2013 - 28
Recording - May 2013 - 29
Recording - May 2013 - 30
Recording - May 2013 - 31
Recording - May 2013 - 32
Recording - May 2013 - 33
Recording - May 2013 - Audio-Technica AT5040 Studio Vocal Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 35
Recording - May 2013 - 36
Recording - May 2013 - 37
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-ins To The Rescue—Real-Life Remedies For Vocal Tracks
Recording - May 2013 - 39
Recording - May 2013 - Moon Professional 3500MP 2-Channel Microphone Preamp
Recording - May 2013 - 41
Recording - May 2013 - DPA Microphones d:fine Series Headset Microphones
Recording - May 2013 - 43
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Toontrack EZmix Pack: Vocal Toolbox
Recording - May 2013 - 45
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: iZotope Nectar Elements
Recording - May 2013 - 47
Recording - May 2013 - 48
Recording - May 2013 - 49
Recording - May 2013 - Blue Spark Digital USB Microphone
Recording - May 2013 - 51
Recording - May 2013 - Plug-in Outlet: Noveltech Vocal Enhancer (and Character)
Recording - May 2013 - 53
Recording - May 2013 - Readers' Tapes
Recording - May 2013 - 55
Recording - May 2013 - 56
Recording - May 2013 - 57
Recording - May 2013 - 58
Recording - May 2013 - 59
Recording - May 2013 - Recording Fundamentals. Chapter 17: Sweet Spot Conundrums—Part 4
Recording - May 2013 - 61
Recording - May 2013 - 62
Recording - May 2013 - 63
Recording - May 2013 - CAD Audio Acousti-shield 32
Recording - May 2013 - Advertiser Index
Recording - May 2013 - 66
Recording - May 2013 - 67
Recording - May 2013 - 68
Recording - May 2013 - 69
Recording - May 2013 - 70
Recording - May 2013 - 71
Recording - May 2013 - Fade Out
Recording - May 2013 - Cover3
Recording - May 2013 - Cover4
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