The SPL Review.
By Darth Fader
DPA Microphones — once known as Danish Pro Audio, a company that was created by two former Brüel & Kjær employees — has a long-standing and well-deserved reputation for manufacturing microphones of exceptional accuracy and build quality. Although the company’s flagship mics such as the 4006 TL and 4007 Reference Microphone might be priced out-of-range for mid-level applications, DPA’s Reference Standard 2000 Series of microphones brings that level of quality to a more manageable price point.
The Reference Standard 2000 Series includes a variety of capsules and preamplifiers including the MMC2006 omnidirectional capsule, MMC2011 cardioid capsule, and MMP-C compact preamp. Also available are the MMP-A preamp featuring low-frequency response extending down to 8 Hz, and the MMP-B preamp with switched low-cut and high-boost filters for use in distant-field recording.
These preamps can be used with all DPA 2000 and 4000 Series capsules which simply screw on to the preamp bodies. The model designation of the microphone indicates the component capsule and preamp.
For example, a MMC2006 capsule with MMP-A preamp is referred to as a 2006A. MSRP for a single 2006C or 2011C is $799 including a mic stand clip. Stereo pairs are available, supplied with a Pelican storage case for $1639. We received pairs of 2006Cs (MMC2006/MMP-C) and 2011Cs (MMC2011/MMP-C).
We’re Having Twins!
The 2006 and 2011 capsules employ DPA’s Twin Diaphragm technology in which two small capsules facing opposite directions are combined into one dual-diaphragm transducer. Small diaphragms tend to have better transient response and a wider frequency range at the expense of low output.
Conversely, a large diaphragm may produce higher output (and therefore less noise) at the expense of transient response and frequency bandwidth. DPA’s design combines advantages of both design approaches.
Either capsule mounted on the MMP-C preamplifier makes a very compact microphone: approximately 2.25 inches for the 2006C and 3.5 inches for the 2011C (overall).
The interference tube on the 2011 capsule used to create its cardioid pattern makes it longer than the 2006 but in either case the mics easily fit into tight quarters. All of the preamps in the Reference Series use DPA’s Impedance Balancing technology for a reduced component count in the signal path, increased common mode rejection ratio, and linear phase response out to 50 kHz (less than 5 degrees of shift). The MMP-C may be phantom powered with supplies ranging from 44 to 52 volts.
I used the DPA 2000 Series microphones on stage as well as in the studio.
The first application was using the 2011Cs in a spaced pair to record a live show in a small theater. The mics were placed on a stand near the house mix position at roughly ear height, capturing the PA system while I mixed the show.
Recordings made with these mics gave an excellent representation of what was heard in the room, and a startlingly realistic image of the audience including their applause — which did not sound like rain on a roof as it often can with condenser mics of lesser quality.
Both pairs of mics were very well matched: they sounded identical in terms of timbre and output levels were within a few dB of each other.
Next I used the 2011Cs in the studio for a stereo recording of percussion overdubs.
The mics were set about four feet apart, six feet high and angled slightly toward the center of the percussionist’s setup. The 2011Cs provided a very realistic sense of the room and produced excellent transients from the wood blocks and various bells.
When used as a spaced pair overhead a drum kit, the 2011C produced a clear, pinpoint image with each component of the kit located exactly where it should be in the stereo field. Switching to the 2006Cs in the same position maintained the strengths of the 2011Cs but allowed the recording to breathe by adding the room reflections.
Placed on the front and back of a cajon drum, the 2011Cs produced a full, tight bottom from the rear vent and nice ‘thwack’ from the front that easily cut through a mix of vocals, acoustic guitars and bass.
Like most directional microphones the 2011Cs exhibit proximity effect when placed very close to the sound source.
Initially I had the rear 2011C too close to the back of the drum, making the drum sound woofy in the bottom octave. The solution was to move the rear 2011 about 18 inches away from the back panel of the cajon — which gave me concern that there would be a lot of leakage into this mic from the rest of the stage — but such was not the case. In fact, the 2011C did a great job of rejecting stray sound from the stage.
I then used the 2011Cs on acoustic guitar and vocal for a singer/songwriter.
Typically in such a situation, leakage of guitar into the vocal microphone and vocal into the guitar mic is inevitable, resulting in phase issues — but again the 2011C excelled at rejecting unwanted sound.
One of the 2011Cs was pointing toward the twelfth fret of the guitar, angled slightly downward and toward the body. There was almost no leakage of the vocal into this mic, though there was some leakage of guitar into the vocal mic.
The mics produced a very intimate sound, allowing in less of the room sound than I’ve experienced with other cardioid mics. The 2011C sounded excellent on the guitar, providing a nice balance between the percussiveness of the strings and the body of the instrument. However moving the 2011C too close to the guitar exaggerated the lower-mids, easily corrected with a few dB cut in the area of 180 Hz, or by swapping out the 2011C for a 2006C (which of course allowed more leakage of the vocal into the guitar mic).
I don’t think that I’d consider the 2011C a ‘first call’ vocal microphone; results with this particular voice were not particularly flattering. Use of a pop filter would be wise, as the 2011C can be subject to plosives.
When the same singer songwriter came into my studio I used the pair of 2006Cs to record some rough demos of new material. The 2006Cs were placed a few feet in front of him on a stereo bar about 8 inches apart. The results were strikingly realistic.
Since the 2006C is omnidirectional, it allows more of the room into the recording, and sounded like I was sitting in the live room with the singer.
On a tracking session with the same artist I used solely the pair of 2006Cs to record an entire 4-piece drum kit for a soft ballad where the drummer was playing very lightly using brushes. The mics were plugged into a Grace 201 preamp and the combination was quiet in a “are these things on?” kind of way.
This recording was stunning, the 2006Cs capturing the smack of the brush on the ride cymbal, along with the low end ‘wooooooom’ that built up over time as it was played. The 2006Cs yielded so much detail that you could practically hear each brush wire on the snare head, but never sounded harsh or unnatural.
By introducing the 2000 Reference Standard Series, DPA has brought their level of quality to a price point that was inaccessible in the past.
If you are looking for a pair of small-diaphragm condensers that are more accurate than the pack, you need to hear the 2000 Series. You won’t get euphoric colorations that hide inadequate sources, but you’ll get accurate, versatile microphones that excel in most applications and provide very realistic reproduction.
The Bottom line? These mics would be a great addition to any mic locker.