This compact, modular high-end condenser microphone is crystal clear, present, and notably non-coloured, writes Rich Tozzoli.
DPA’s 2011C is a compact cardioid microphone, part of the DPA Reference Standard series. It features the MMP-C compact preamplifier combined with the new twin-diaphragm capsule – a phantom-powered mic that’s only 3.6in long and a whopping 2.3 ounces.
Although the 2011C is small, it employs Reference Standard preamps instead of FETs, as utilised in the 4060 miniature series. Inside, twin capsules are configured back to back at the top of the ‘interference tube’ – this helps create its cardioid pattern and reduces self-noise. In essence, the capsule itself sits about halfway up the body, where the 2011 number is stencilled on. When recording in X-Y, you should position it from that point, not at the tip of the tube.
The 2011C can be used both live and in the studio; it handles SPLs up to 146dB, features a 20Hz to 20kHz frequency range and is quite flat across the entire spectrum – something I clearly noticed in use.
Wisely, the 2011C’s preamp can be used with any of the newer DPA 2000 and 4000 Series capsules, allowing the use of MMC2006 or MMC4006 series omni capsules.
The first test of these mics was at drummer Ray Levier’s house, where we were recording TV cues. First, we rolled a few takes with the setup we had used for almost a year, centred on a pair of high-end omni overheads, just to tune our ears. Then we swapped in the 2011C pair through the same pre-amplification, via Focusrite ISA 428. The difference was immediate; our mutual reaction was ‘wow’.
The 2011C is crystal clear, present, and notably non-coloured. What you hear is what you get; in other words, with the 2011C pair, the cymbals, toms, snare, and entire kit sounded just like they did in the room naturally, but with a sense of air and clarity both in the headphones and on playback.
Next we used a 2011C as a room mic and even put one inside the kick (literally inside
the drum itself ). Again, ‘wow!’ was the standard reaction. The kick truly surprised us in its punch and ‘thwack’ – normally a 2011C, or anything like it, is not my go-to kick mic. However, there is no denying what came out of the speakers and the room mic had the same type of presence, but with less punch (due to the distance to source). Since DPA had also loaned a set of d:vote 4099D clip mics, we mounted those on the toms. The entire kit had DPAs on it, the results spoke for themselves.
We also recorded Levier on vibes in this session via 2011Cs and again they delivered on clarity and presence. Since I hadn’t used a 4011C in years, I can’t offer readers a direct comparison. But all I can say is that I know what I hear, and it’s good. Levier felt the same as I did. “After recording in my studio for quite some time I’ve gotten to know the room and mics sonically,” he noted. “When we put up the 2011Cs and A/B’d them with what I had, all I could say when I heard them through the monitors was, ‘wow!’ The difference, focus and uncoloured clarity was very apparent.”
Over the course of the next few weeks, I used them on percussion, acoustic guitar, violin, mandolin, and even vocals. I would say the vocals were the weakest of the bunch (with the included windscreen), but that’s not the intention of this mic anyway. On the acoustic instruments, it gave me exactly what I wanted: natural, clear tone. What I did notice, without exception, is that when recording with 2011Cs, I needed far less EQ to make the instruments work in the mix, where it matters. Also, the small size makes miking a breeze, and when recording myself (which I do quite a bit), the mic never got in the way.
The value of any mic comes down to how much you will use it and how it delivers versus what you have to pay for it. In this case, I feel the 2011C delivers across the spectrum. In my view, it’s clearly a high-end mic at a mid- to mid-high level price point. Individually, these mics will cost you about £510 street. A stereo matched pair (selected on sensitivity within +/-1.5dB) of 2011Cs with a foam lined Peli Case with two windscreens and mic holders will run to around £1,095. To get into the renowned quality of DPA at that price is undoubtedly money well spent. Add in the fact that this system is modular and, most importantly, delivers superb sound, it’s a no-brainer to have in your arsenal. That’s exactly why I got out my credit card and purchased a pair for myself. And wow, have they had a lot of use already!
Review: Rich Tozzoli