DPA mics get lyrical and Wordless

Classical music has long been a catch-all term for the works of great composers and orchestral music in general. But it now encompasses modern, often minimalist and more experimental compositions. Both rely on microphones for recording and live concerts, illustrated by traditional lyric tenor Nicholas Phan and the more left-field Wordless Music Orchestra using a variety of DPA models.

US singer Nicholas Phan has been acclaimed as a bright new talent in the classical world. Hailed as an important new interpreter of the works of English composer Benjamin Britten, Phan has also sung opera and appeared on the premiere of neo-classical and atonal music composer Elliott Carter's A Sunbeam's Architecture.

A more recent Phan album is Gods & Monsters, featuring works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler and Schubert. This was recorded at Skywalker Sound in California by sound engineer and producer Marlan Barry. "The mic locker at Skywalker is insane," Barry observes. "The biggest challenge is having to choose between almost any microphone that was ever made, which can be disconcerting and overwhelming."

Sound engineer and production manager Marlan Barry

Sound engineer and production manager Marlan Barry

Barry eventually chose two DPA d:dicate 4003 omni-directional, 130V condenser microphones as his stereo pair to record Phan and pianist Myra Huang, who worked with the singer on his two Britten recordings. The engineer says he first came across DPA mics when they were still branded as Brüel & Kjær. The mics were recommended to him by the late Thomas Knab, formerly head of the recording department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Jack Renner, co-owner and chief recording engineer of record company Telarc.

"Both Tom and Jack remain two of my biggest recording influences to this day," Barry says. "I did a lot of orchestral recording with several different DPA mics. From that point, a colleague introduced me to the d:dicate 4003, which is the high-voltage model of the d:dicate 4006, and I just loved it. Whenever I use this mic, it gives an exceptionally clear picture of whatever source is in front of it, as was the case with Nicholas Phan's newest album."

DPA d:vote 4099 series instrument mic fitted to a cello

DPA d:vote 4099 series instrument mic fitted to a cello

DPA featured in the live environment for recent performances by the Wordless Music Orchestra. These were specified by sound engineer and production manager Richie E Clarke, who has used the brand since the early 1990s. Among the models Clarke favours are the d:dicate 2006C twin-diaphragm omni-directional and d:dicate 4011 cardioid. He also uses the d:screet 4061 miniature omni and d:facto voice mic where the application calls for them.

The Wordless Music Orchestra brings together musicians from the classical, electronic and rock realms to perform a range of material, including works by modernist composers including Gavin Bryars and John Adams, plus composer and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.

The Orchestra also performs film soundtracks and this year played live for screenings of Barry Jenkins' Academy Award winner Moonlight and Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece Barry Lyndon.

Clarke uses a range of other equipment along with the DPA mics, including Avid Venue, Yamaha C Series. Midas and DiGiCo consoles and d&b audiotechnik, Meyer Sound, L'Acoustics and JBL loudspeaker systems. "I continue to choose DPA mics for their excellent audio quality," he says. "They sound natural and clear across the entire frequency spectrum. For string instruments I find there is no substitute. The d:vote 4099 stands out because it sounds great on a variety of instruments."

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