DPA Microphones d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphone for Guitar by Dowsed
DPA d:vote 4099
Microphone: DPA d:vote 4099
Manufacturer: DPA Microphones
Price: $619.95 excl. local VAT
Website: DPA Microphones
The DPA d:vote 4099 is a super-cardioid instrument mic on a gooseneck which can be used with various clips to use on almost any instrument. When I first opened the box I realized how well presented the whole package is. Including the case. The ergonomics has clearly been thought about even when designing every part of the product, such a favourable first impression and evidence of care and attention to detail fills me with excitement to try the mic. The d:vote mic itself is an incredibly small and the super-cardioid polar pattern makes the mic incredibly convenient to reduce bleed in noisy environments. It also comes with a foam pop/windshield covering the mic. Due to its size it is unobtrusive in both live and studio environments, I would even be confident with them in cramped theatre pits!
But how does it sound? The d:vote is a phenomenal sounding mic, on almost any source, it is clean, clear and crisp with a detail seldom heard on any mic I have ever used. One might misconstrue clean as “sterile” or “boring” but these are words I could never associate the d:vote with, and whilst it is transparent I’ve always been able to add any extra colour I require by driving a suitable mic pre, compressor or specialized distortion device. For me though, the most interesting part of the d:vote is the choice of clips you can purchase for it. Where Apple might say “there’s an app for that”, DPA might say that with the d:vote ”there’s a clip for that”. With the clip options you can use the d:vote directly on sources as varied as kick, snare/toms, acoustic guitars, horns, strings, piano and in practice it sounds brilliant on just about anything. During my time with a set of 4 d:votes I’ve used them for all the shells of a drum kit, acoustic guitar, strings and piano and in truth I would happily use it on all these instruments (although for most of the heavy rock music I produce, a more pre EQ’d kick mic would be a preference). Whilst the d:vote would get a serious amount of use on a variety of instruments, it is on a snare drum that it makes me the happiest, in fact, it is my favourite mic on snare, period; top and/or bottom. The super-cardioid polar pattern is a dream for reducing hi-hat (or other parts of the kit) bleeding into the snare capture and better still it complements the traditional SM57 well. The flexibility of the gooseneck means I can easily align the capsule to the SM57 without phase issues.
I have to admit that when I first saw the d:vote I had concerns that it wouldn’t be a suitable choice for work in destructive or unpredictable environments. As a former touring front-of-house engineer I know how equipment can sometimes be treated. My views on this may have been tinged by the fact that I have previously owned a small gooseneck mic from another manufacturer which wasn’t very durable, a miss hit from a drummer, a brief tread in the wrong location, could render one of those mics useless. After putting the d:vote through some environmental tests I am happy to announce that the d:vote can withstand a lot, so much that I wouldn’t have any concerns taking it on the road (although I didn’t have the guts to stand on it).
One criticism that could perhaps be drawn towards the d:vote or DPA mics in general is the expense of them. In a world where large studios are closing down almost daily and home recording is becoming ever more affordable, it is inevitable that pro audio manufacturers would evolve with this seismic shift in our industry. Therefore it seems apt that affordability seems to be the new buzzword in town. It only takes a second look at DPAs pricing structure to see that affordability for hobbyists is not DPAs primary concern. It’s really just a question of how you access value, is a low cost the best measure of value? Does long-term cost considering upgrades outweigh short-term cost? Or does flexibility create the ultimate source of value? After years of buying and selling pro-audio equipment my mantra these days is to “buy right and buy once”. If you are at all serious about your music, a mic as good and flexible as a d:vote doesn’t seem an unreasonable cost.
In summary, what your wallet loses in terms of initial outlay, the d:vote more than makes up for in terms of possible applications. Having a few of these in any larger studios mic locker would become invaluable. Even if you are running a small home studio it will most-likely be a smarter investment to buy one d:vote than three budget microphones. Think about the last time you were recording violins and acoustic guitars simultaneously? My guess is that most home studio owners don’t record an ensemble of musicians together, due to live space constraints, so in these circumstances a d:vote is also a no brainer.
Sound Quality (5/5)
A far superior option to the vast majority of close mics I’ve ever tried and in a number of cases it has turned out to be my favourite mic choice.
Ease of use (5/5)
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to use a microphone and forgetting to put phantom power on is maybe the only way to mess that up!
The number of clip and gooseneck options alone makes this mic special.
Bang for buck (4/5)
The DPA approach is not to offer instant affordability with the price of the mic, the DPA approach is to offer such quality and flexibility that you can use that mic on almost anything, the d:vote seems the epitome of this mantra. The only negative is that if you need/want a few of them the price can get steep.