The DPA 4061 came recommended to me by a fellow sound designer, and as such I probably had fairly high expectations for them right from the start. They were recommended to me as a good mic to place at the business end of a firearm and as such were exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a mic capable of extreme SPL capabilities but that was also small and convenient. My planned use was for firearms and to attach to vehicles in hard to get places like inside the engine bay and next to exhaust pipes. I was initially quite wary of how delicate they appeared and also the fact that the cable is integral to the microphone. The last thing I wanted to do was destroy $800 of mic because I slammed the cable in a car door. As such I decided that I really wanted to hire a pair of these and give them a thorough test before I purchased them.
For two days I recorded pretty much everything I could get my hands one, I found the mics to be good for general vocals, which I think is how they were designed, but for me it was the other applications where they really shined. I attached two of them to a colleague’s Honda CBR600 and asked him to go for a ride. One of the mics was directly behind the exhaust outlet and the other mounted on the front indicator. I was using Rycote mini fluffy’s for both mics. The exhaust mic picked up a beautifully clean and clear sample of the exhaust and if I had to mic a bike with only one microphone then this would be my choice. The front mic did get quite a bit of wind noise, but I think that was more from my poor placement than the mic or the fluffy failing. This was the first time I had recorded a bike so it was very trial and error but the 4061 made it feel like a huge success. The small size made these mics so easy to setup. The very thin cables meant I had to be careful, but they also allowed me to position them practically anywhere I wanted. After also successfully recording a friends Nissan 350Z later the same day I decided that these were worth the price so I ordered the special stereo pair kit, the SMK 4061
The SMK 4061 is one of the best designed kits I have ever seen. It includes two DPA 4061 microphones, two boundary mic adapters, two magnetic clips, two violin mounts, five mini windscreens as well as two belt clips for the XLR connectors. The only thing I wish it had had was some alligator clips as I use them regularly. (thankfully the great guy at my audio supplier threw a couple in for me) I also purchased two Rycote mini fluffy wind jammers as I knew I would need these for vehicle mounting. This kit provided me with so many options for recording things in unusual situations that working with the DPA mics would become a pleasure of creativity.
After some weeks of using these mics I feel I have missed out by not owning them sooner. In the past weeks I have placed them strategically to capture the sounds of play on a billiards table, attached the boundary mic versions to the inside of a grand piano lid as well as mounting them in multiple locations on a fast moving car among other things. It is unusual to have a microphone that can cope so well with the high output levels of a cars engine also produce such clean clear recordings of a billiard ball softly hitting a side cushion. I am still thinking of the many ways in which I can make use of these mics, but so far their performance has be excellent. The adaptor kit has been very handy, although the adhesive dots don’t adhere quite as well as they could. The main thing I really need to point out is that the cables, while very well made, are extremely thin, so if you are the sort of person to just throw your gear in a bag to sort out later you will definitely need to break the habit with these mics. They are precision gear and as such need to be treated with care, however assuming you do treat your gear well, then these are a great addition to any sound designers’ kit bag.
In the real world
As I have mentioned, I purchased the DPA 4061 series for a number of purposes, but mostly because of their ability to deal with high SPL. this combined with their size makes them excellent for use on vehicles, and this was going to be an area I would thoroughly test them on. Cape Schanke Victoria, December 2009. having access to a range of military vehicles was something I had been looking forward to for a while and it was certainly going to be a good test of my skills and my gear. I focused on the biggest thing I could find on the day, a Centurion main battle tank, and attached a series of mics to it's turret. The DPA 4061 was attached to the rear of the turret directly above the primary engine. If you have not stood next to a battle tank you might not realise how loud they can be. I am not sure of the exact dB levels where the mics were placed, but it certainly did not seem to bother them.
Excellent sound quality
Extremely versatile especially with the SMK 4061 kit
SPL capable of extreme sound sources
Very delicate cable setup
sticky dots not so sticky
Should include alligator clips in SMK pack