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Old 07-06-2007, 06:48 PM
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Default Best mini cardioid condenser for DB

I just picked up an Acoustic Image Coda R series III a couple of days ago and have already gigged twice with it. It's a fantastic piece of gear, IMO. I used it outdoors on the 4th combined with my Ampeg PB212H cab which boosts it from 400W to 500W and I was able to run it half Master and half gain on the channel. It was quite loud with no feedback. The pick-up I used was the K&K bassmax with no pre-amp. I was able to run the EQ flat.

I suppose that pick-up is perhaps as good as any;- I've never heard a pick-up that was substantially better, just slightly different in one way or another. Still, I want something that amplifies the acoustic sound of my bass now that I have an amplifier that will easily allow microphones.

So I am going to tread into that quagmire of miniature condenser microphones. The Acoustic Image has phantom power, so it makes it possible to use those mic systems that either will work without a separate pre-amp or have the pre-amp powered by the phantom power so it doesn't need a battery (I am particularly averse to battery powered gear). Also, I don't need a blender because the Coda has 2 channels and I can blend on the amp very easily, so blenders aren't a necessary part of my strategy.

I didn't expect to find so many mics that could be used this way, so I need some help figuring out which is most useful. The ones I have found that qualify for use in this fashion are very diverse in price, but generally have fairly similar specs, although some appear to have more low end sensitivity than others. I'm willing to spend more money if it really makes a difference in sound quality. Keep in mind I use a 5-string DB and need some sensitivity down to 30 Hz. Most of the ones here will accomplish that by proximity effect if no other way, and the cheapest option seems to have the most low end down to even 10Hz, although I see that much low frequency sensitivity as a potential problem.

Below are some that I am considering and I welcome suggestions on the pros and cons of these, or other ones I might have missed, from anyone who has experience with miniature condensers that mount on the instrument. I'm interested most in getting a much, much better sound than any pickup produces without getting feedback at a small venue volume level. I think I listed them in descending price order or close to that. The top one sells on the web for around $1500, and the bottom one for a little more than $100. Except for the AKG, they are cardioid pattern. I'm not sure how to describe the AKG 411 pattern since it is a different type of design. Anyway, post your experiences positive or negative with any of these or others that are similar in function and design.

DPA 4021 (pre is built into the capsule, but amazingly small despite that)

AMT SB25 (pre is box that can run on phantom)

SD Systems LCM 100 XLR (pre is box that can run on phantom)

Audio Technica ATM 350 (pre is box that can run on phantom)

Shure Beta 98 H/C (pre is box that can run on phantom)

K&K Golden Bullet mic XLR (pre is box that can run on phantom)

Audio Technica Pro 35 (pre is box that can run on phantom)

AKG C 411 (this is a surface mount type contact condenser mic, it is not a piezo) (pre is box that can run on phantom)

Last edited by David Powell; 07-07-2007 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 07-26-2007, 09:26 PM
Bob Branstetter Bob Branstetter is offline
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Default AMT S25b

I've been using an AMT S25B with a tailpiece mount for a couple of years now and have no complaints with this setup. I currently mix it with a Fishman Full Circle and usually have a mix of roughly 50-50 or maybe 60-40 (AMT to FC). By using this mix I can get plenty of volume for most jobs out of my Series III Coda and still sound "acoustic". On quiet jobs, I sometimes just use the mic alone. I've never had a problem picking up drums or other instruments with the AMT. I position the mic right on the center seam just below the end of the fingerboard. I use a pair of women's hair ties attached to the bridge legs to center the goose-neck and minimize movement of the mic head. With this setup, I have no problem keeping the mic positioned 1/8" or closer to the top. I did not like the AMT stock mounting system that clamps to the bouts. With that setup, you have to attach it for the job and then unattach it when you put on your case. A real pain! I designed the tailpiece mount so that the cord is detachable, but I leave the mic on my bass at all times. I keep the black box (preamp) attached to the top of my Coda with Velcro. I once did an A-B in a recording studio against a vintage Neumann U67. The Neumann did sound better, but the (very experienced) engineer said he thought that I could take the AMT into any studio in the country and wouldn't have to apologize for it.
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Old 08-02-2007, 01:51 PM
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Audix ADX20i. The regular model hasa cardoid pattern, but I prefer the hypercardoid model, which is less prone to feedback.
(Link to pic)
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Old 08-08-2007, 01:14 AM
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Well, this thread didn't take off probably because I first posted it in the wrong place and then I reposted it and it said moved, and well, it was confusing I think. So after several weeks, and probably the day before or maybe even the hour before Bob Branstetter posted about the AMT, I ordered a mini-condenser off of the list after I found a supplier. But don't let that stop anyone from posting about any mic on or off the list. I will post again about the mic I ordered as soon as the midget arrives, hopefully in a few days. Thanks Bob and Jonas for contributing. Any mini-condenser favorites that you have and care to talk about, I am all ears....
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Old 08-08-2007, 10:01 AM
Eric Hochberg Eric Hochberg is offline
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Default Audio Technica Pro 35

Just played a gig with Patricia Barber at the Green Mill in Chicago and the club has recently purchased one of these as a "house" bass mic. While I couldn't hear it from the bandstand (it was going solely through the PA mains and I was also using a pickup and amp) the very talented soundman told me he is happy with it.
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Old 08-08-2007, 01:05 PM
Greg Clinkingbeard Greg Clinkingbeard is offline
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I played Bob Branstetter's bass at a jam session last weekend and thought the sound was very nice. Due to the proximity to the drummer's ride cymbal the mix was less mike and more FC, but he had a really warm, natural tone with plenty of wood and air. The tailpiece mount for the AMT is an install it and forget about it thing. If I had an amp that would take it, and the cash, I would spring for it myself.
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Old 08-15-2007, 02:22 AM
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OK, I've had this thing long enough now to comment and I've used it in the worst room (acoustically) that I normally gig in as well as in a few rehearsal situations. I bit the bullet, went the distance, maxed it out as they say, and forked over for the DPA 4021 and it's fancy little shock mount bracket. The worst thing is that I have no direct basis for comparison, except something like a dynamic mic stuck behind the TP or perhaps one of my cheap condensers that needs to be on a boom stand. I almost feel like I should get that Audix, Audio-Technica, or something a lot less expensive to see how much difference in sound there really is so I can confirm what I paid for. I suppose I could A-B it with my MXL 991 on a mic stand just to hear something else, but I am sure these would be worlds apart.

Some of its' "quality" is less tangible and probably not something appreciated on a A-B listening test such as the fine callibration that makes this one of the microphones that is good enough to use for scientific sound measurement purposes (of course when do most players need that?). Then there is the material and quality of construction of the the unit. Even though the wire is very thin, it does not feel flimsy. And the housing has a "heft" for its' size that confirms that it is mostly metal and probably no plastic anywhere in the capsule. And it has better humidity resistance and durability as well as a tolerance for higher sound pressure levels and the nearest to a flat response of anything I've heard. So there might be some quality in the package that is pure durability, and some that is just tighter adherence to performance specifications. The fact that the pre-amp is internal to the housing of such a small capsule would appear to be the main premium feature that separates this from other fine mics like the AMT.

I was looking for a tiny mic I could just plug into a phantom power source and not need an intermediary pre-amp box. I think the DPA is very rare in this respect, if not a bit precious because of it. It really sounds great to my ears. My bass only louder? I don't know if that can be used to describe what comes from a mic. But it is the first time that I felt I was really hearing my instrument amplified well.

Feedback rejection is better than I expected, also. I can stand right in front of my AI combo and at the "just before feedback point", it is just as clean there as behind or off to the side. The worst position for feedback seems to be at about 45 degrees and to one side. On the safe side, I am able to run the channel at about 9:00 o'clock with the master at 12:00 o'clock. If I run the Ampeg 212H cab as extension, a bit out in front of my position, I can use the same gain settings and be much louder and still, no feedback. I am using the notch on the AI, and its' position is room dependent. It is loud enough this way that I don't need to blend in the piezo in most rooms I gig in. I'm thinking a bit of both might actually cut through the mix best so I still have some experimentation to do.

Nothing is perfect of course;- and with the DPA it is a small issue with the very precious mounting gadget. It has a clamp for the afterlength that uses a foam strip sandwich that could be a bit beefier. The foam compresses too easily and the clamp is then subject to slipping. Other than that, the clamp works great and is a pretty finely machined and designed piece of work. One twist loosens the whole mechanism and one twist tightens it. It reminds me of the way the accessories for my Rolleiflex cameras were made;- really hard and precisely machined fine steel. It looks flimsy and under-engineered, but in practice, the metal parts are truly pared down to the minimum structure for a mounting clamp and once it is tightened into place, it is pretty solid. It just needs stiffer foam in the clamp part. I'll probably alter that and put thin cork in place of the foam. This is a bit frustrating because at the price of this mounting rig, DPA should have paid more attention to this. Still, it's the only flaw I could find in an otherwise really nicely made device.

I also want to hear how it records from this close in. Conventional wisdom is that recording is best from some point out in the room, but if close micining can sound good this might be the mic that does it. Live, it sounds so much nicer than a piezo that I will only use the piezo when volume is a big issue. Right now I am just enthralled with the smooth and even response.
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Old 08-15-2007, 12:08 PM
Bob Branstetter Bob Branstetter is offline
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David - Could you post a photo of the shock mount or a link to a photo. I tried to find one on the net and didn't see anything that looked bass mountable. The specs look good. If it is anything like the AMT, you should experiment locating the mic. What sounds good in your livingroom may not sound good on the job. For me and several others the best sounding spot that produced maximum, usable output was well removed from the ff holes area (at the end of the fingerboard, right on the center seam and almost touching the top). Let us know how it works on jobs with drummers and noise. Since you have an AI Coda, adjusting the mix is pretty easy. The only bad thing is when you have to dial up the piezo, you hear how bad it really sounds compared to the mic.

Are you able to leave the mic on the bass more or less permanently attached? That was my biggest objection to the AMT mic system. After about a half dozen jobs I knew that I had to design something that would eliminate the set up and tearing down on every job. That got old real fast.
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:46 AM
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I'll get a photo of it up and how I mount it soon. There's a not so good photo of it here (look in the appications / bass link), but it shows it pointing off toward the f hole and that is not how I am positioning it. The mount allows a good deal of flexibility and swivel and I have it almost dead center just under the bridge with the mount crossing the afterlengths of the A and D strings.

I haven't had time to mess with it yet but there is a separate little wire doo-hickey that has a cork screw at one end and it came with the microphone and was not an accessory extra. Looking at that thing, I think it might be possible to get it up under the Fingerboard extended down toward the bridge. I'm thinking screw the cork screw end into a carefully shaped wine cork, glue (hide glue) the wine cork to the underside of the FB and then I have a mount in that position. The position just under the center of the bridge is working pretty well, but I've seen the position between bridge and fingerboard used by many professionals and I'd like to try that.

It is possible to leave the whole shooting match clamped onto the afterlengths, coil the cord and drop it into the quiver, and pack. The only problem there is that too soft foam that gets compressed and then slides down the strings. I think if I remove the mount after every use, the foam is not such a problem, but it definitely compresses too quickly for leaving it in place. I might replace the foam with cork this afternoon.
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Old 08-16-2007, 02:08 PM
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Default Photos of DPA 4021 mount

Here's some photos. In the third photo you can see the compressed foam in the clamp mechanism. In general I like the way the mount works, but it just needs stiffer foam.







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Old 08-16-2007, 02:41 PM
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Question Feedback?

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Originally Posted by David Powell View Post
Here's some photos. In the third photo you can see the compressed foam in the clamp mechanism. In general I like the way the mount works, but it just needs stiffer foam.








Nice looking pickup/mic.. How is the feedback as compared to something like an Underwood or Shadow pickup when played at high volumes or near the amp?
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Old 08-16-2007, 06:53 PM
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Ken, the only direct comparison I can make is to my K&K bassmax. Using the Acoustic Image Coda Combo (down-firing 10, forward 5 and tweeter), I can run the K&K at 12:00 o'clock on both the master and the channel gain with no danger of feedback in most situations. I've been able to use the DPA mic alone in a couple of situations where I have previously used the K&K alone, so direct comparison in those rooms is possible. In those rooms I was able to use the DPA with the channel gain at the 9:00 o'clock position with the master at 12:00 o'clock, so the gain is considerably reduced. Of course the "loudness" that is produced is not necessarily the same relation as the channel gain, but it is a pretty good indicator.

To compensate, I used my Ampeg PB 212H cab as an extension on the AI. This increases the efficiency of the head (400W to 500W) and more than doubles the speaker area, so it makes up the difference quite well. I'm not sure why, but adding the extension cab did not decrease the channel gain before feedback. I placed that cab about 90 degrees to my DB off to my right and just slightly forward. The AI was behind me and slightly left. These were pretty close quarters. I did use the notch filter on the AI with the DPA mic. Position of the notch is definitely room dependent. With a concrete floor the notch is at the top of the high frequency range while on a carpeted hollow wooden stage, it was rolled all the way to the bottom end. Also in one room it was better with the bass boosted just slightly on the amp. The other room was OK with flat EQ (the wooden stage).

This approach works really well in a small room and of course sounds much better than the K&K. I was actually very surprised at how good the feedback rejection is on the DPA. It's definitely the best of any cardioid condenser I've tried for anything. It rivals some dynamic CAD vocal mics I have that are as near to feedback proof as any mics I've seen. Unfortunately I haven't tried any of the other miniature condensers.

It seems if it is going to feed back, the position is not too important except if the AI is 45 degrees and in back of the bass. In front, 90 degrees to the side or even directly behind the bass is fine. I was able to move around just as I normally would and didn't feel like a slight side step would set the thing howling, but there is a fine edge to the level, and I have to stay under it. Just a tick beyond that 9:00 o'clock position and all is lost. First it gets that really boomy uncontrollable response and just beyond that, it howls at whatever mid frequency the room supports.

One day we'll have to gather up a bunch of these other mics and test them side by side. I don't know many other players using mics locally. Chris Wood is from here and I see his brother Oliver pretty regularly and we are good friends and I know Chris uses a tiny mic mixed with a Fishman FC. I think it must be the Crown mic that is sometimes supplied with those. He has it mounted in a similar position to what Bob B. describes. On stage he is playing mostly with the Full Circle cranked up. Maybe next time I see those fellows I can egg him into a comparison some way. He's a bit famous you know, but pretty down to earth.

I really do like the fact that the DPA mic as you see it is all there is to it;- no pre-amp or battery box to connect in between. Of course it means you must have a phantom powered system but these days that is almost every house board.
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Old 08-16-2007, 07:42 PM
Bob Branstetter Bob Branstetter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Smith View Post
Nice looking pickup/mic.. How is the feedback as compared to something like an Underwood or Shadow pickup when played at high volumes or near the amp?
Ken - most of us who are using mics with bass amps (as opposed to using the house PA) use the mic mixed with a pickup. I've used an AMT S25B mic and a Fishman Full Circle for about 2 years now. I've never, ever, had any pickup that I thought truly sounds anything like what the bass sounds like when it is recorded with a mic in the studio. By mixing the mic with the pickup, I am able to get a good "acoustic" sound in most situations Feedback will always be a problem with open mics that are near a speaker. The better mics for bass reject feedback and picking up noise like drums and cymbals, but if the volume is loud enough, they will all feedback. By mixing the mic and pickup, you can vary the relative amounts of mic and pickup according to the job you are on. One relatively quiet trio jobs, I mix in more mic and less or no pickup. When high volume is required the mic gets turned down and the pickup goes up. Even a little mic in the mix adds a great deal to the overall sound at higher volume.
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Old 08-16-2007, 08:56 PM
Mark Mazurek Mark Mazurek is offline
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The DPA mics are a very nice 'luxurious' mic to use on an instrument.

Known for very accurate and detailed reproduction.

Usually used for recording fine instruments accurately. To use these in a live setting to amplify is a VERY nice luxury.

Looks like a great set-up.
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:52 PM
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Question Huh?

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Originally Posted by David Powell View Post
Ken, the only direct comparison I can make is to my K&K bassmax. Using the Acoustic Image Coda Combo (down-firing 10, forward 5 and tweeter), I can run the K&K at 12:00 o'clock on both the master and the channel gain with no danger of feedback in most situations. I've been able to use the DPA mic alone in a couple of situations where I have previously used the K&K alone, so direct comparison in those rooms is possible. In those rooms I was able to use the DPA with the channel gain at the 9:00 o'clock position with the master at 12:00 o'clock, so the gain is considerably reduced. Of course the "loudness" that is produced is not necessarily the same relation as the channel gain, but it is a pretty good indicator.

To compensate, I used my Ampeg PB 212H cab as an extension on the AI. This increases the efficiency of the head (400W to 500W) and more than doubles the speaker area, so it makes up the difference quite well. I'm not sure why, but adding the extension cab did not decrease the channel gain before feedback. I placed that cab about 90 degrees to my DB off to my right and just slightly forward. The AI was behind me and slightly left. These were pretty close quarters. I did use the notch filter on the AI with the DPA mic. Position of the notch is definitely room dependent. With a concrete floor the notch is at the top of the high frequency range while on a carpeted hollow wooden stage, it was rolled all the way to the bottom end. Also in one room it was better with the bass boosted just slightly on the amp. The other room was OK with flat EQ (the wooden stage).

This approach works really well in a small room and of course sounds much better than the K&K. I was actually very surprised at how good the feedback rejection is on the DPA. It's definitely the best of any cardioid condenser I've tried for anything. It rivals some dynamic CAD vocal mics I have that are as near to feedback proof as any mics I've seen. Unfortunately I haven't tried any of the other miniature condensers.

It seems if it is going to feed back, the position is not too important except if the AI is 45 degrees and in back of the bass. In front, 90 degrees to the side or even directly behind the bass is fine. I was able to move around just as I normally would and didn't feel like a slight side step would set the thing howling, but there is a fine edge to the level, and I have to stay under it. Just a tick beyond that 9:00 o'clock position and all is lost. First it gets that really boomy uncontrollable response and just beyond that, it howls at whatever mid frequency the room supports.

One day we'll have to gather up a bunch of these other mics and test them side by side. I don't know many other players using mics locally. Chris Wood is from here and I see his brother Oliver pretty regularly and we are good friends and I know Chris uses a tiny mic mixed with a Fishman FC. I think it must be the Crown mic that is sometimes supplied with those. He has it mounted in a similar position to what Bob B. describes. On stage he is playing mostly with the Full Circle cranked up. Maybe next time I see those fellows I can egg him into a comparison some way. He's a bit famous you know, but pretty down to earth.

I really do like the fact that the DPA mic as you see it is all there is to it;- no pre-amp or battery box to connect in between. Of course it means you must have a phantom powered system but these days that is almost every house board.
Does it feed back at loud volumes? yes or no? I bet you can't post a single word or sentence, can you?
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:55 PM
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Question Mic alone...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Branstetter View Post
Ken - most of us who are using mics with bass amps (as opposed to using the house PA) use the mic mixed with a pickup. I've used an AMT S25B mic and a Fishman Full Circle for about 2 years now. I've never, ever, had any pickup that I thought truly sounds anything like what the bass sounds like when it is recorded with a mic in the studio. By mixing the mic with the pickup, I am able to get a good "acoustic" sound in most situations Feedback will always be a problem with open mics that are near a speaker. The better mics for bass reject feedback and picking up noise like drums and cymbals, but if the volume is loud enough, they will all feedback. By mixing the mic and pickup, you can vary the relative amounts of mic and pickup according to the job you are on. One relatively quiet trio jobs, I mix in more mic and less or no pickup. When high volume is required the mic gets turned down and the pickup goes up. Even a little mic in the mix adds a great deal to the overall sound at higher volume.
Bob, let's say I am playing with a Trio in a small restaurant and don't need a lot of volume. Would this Mic pictured above work as well as my old AKG160E wrapped in foam in the Bridge? The AKG plugs right into my Amp and sounds great. Used it with the Gilkes on night with only a tiny bit of volume.
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Old 08-17-2007, 12:16 AM
Bob Branstetter Bob Branstetter is offline
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Quote:
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Bob, let's say I am playing with a Trio in a small restaurant and don't need a lot of volume. Would this Mic pictured above work as well as my old AKG160E wrapped in foam in the Bridge? The AKG plugs right into my Amp and sounds great. Used it with the Gilkes on night with only a tiny bit of volume.
That would be a little hard to answer since I have not used that particular microphone. Years ago, I used the AKG's and other mics wrapped in foam stuffed in the bridge. At the time, I thought they sounded good. Howerver, IMO the more modern shock mounted mics have a more natural sound and produce more usable volume.
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Old 08-17-2007, 11:31 AM
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Quote:
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Does it feed back at loud volumes? yes or no? I bet you can't post a single word or sentence, can you?
YES!!!!!
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Old 08-17-2007, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Mazurek View Post
The DPA mics are a very nice 'luxurious' mic to use on an instrument.

Known for very accurate and detailed reproduction.

Usually used for recording fine instruments accurately. To use these in a live setting to amplify is a VERY nice luxury.

Looks like a great set-up.
Luxury? Luxury in one area is afforded by forgoing luxury in general I suppose. I admit that for the most part I favor premium equipment and have really good bass gear. That said, there is just no end to the list of things that I never have owned or ever want to own that many take for granted as necessities. This is business equipment. It is a long term investment. It is a high ACRS deduction. So I can rationalize it.

I used the DPA again live yesterday evening and it did fine, although that space is very cramped and I did have to reduce the channel gain just a touch. It is such a noticeable difference between a mic and a piezo that I will use it whenever I can get away with it. For the gigs I currently have, it will get a lot of use.
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:41 AM
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DPA update: I used the 4021 mic this weekend on a very loud, very live outdoor stage with great success. This is the first time I was able to use it combined with the K&K bassmax piezo through separate channels of the Acoustic Image Coda. The strategy was a little different than I envisioned originally, but I adapted it to the house equipment instead of using my own extension. The problem was impedance matching because there were no 4 ohm speakers available to run as extensions. So instead I ran from the effects send of the DPA channel to the house bass amp, an SWR combo with 15" reflex that was also powering a 4x10 GK cab. The combined output of both channels on the AI went directly to the board post EQ. So the stage sound was mostly mic, the feed to the PA was more piezo. The result was a really clear sound with a lot of punch. I used the notch on both channels to control the most likely feedback frequency. The sound was as loud and feedback free and carried really well considering the audience was spread out over a few acres. With the AI weighing in at 20 lbs., the heaviest thing I had to cart to the stage was my bass.

I did beef up the DPA mount clamp with strips of cork and that worked really well. This whole system has turned out to be extremely versatile and sounds fantastic live either pizzacato or bowed. I got a lot of very positive complements on the sound of the gear from other musicians and even from the sound technicians.

Last edited by David Powell; 09-06-2007 at 12:19 PM.
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