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32 TVBEurope The Business Case Danish Perfect Audio


DPA Microphones is striving to be the premiere condenser microphone manufacturer in the world. Neal Romanekvisited their headquarters outside Copenhagen and its factory in the Danish countryside to learn why, for DPA, good isn’t good enough


CONVERSATIONS about higher image resolution are so ubiquitous they have become background static. But outside pro audio circles, higher quality recording gets scant attention. Maybe it’s human nature that we value what we can see over what we can’t, but anyone who has seen great footage ruined by inferior audio knows that good sound recording is as important as good image capture. DPA Microphones’ CEO, Christian Poulsen, is not interested in good sound capture, or even great sound capture. For Poulsen, the quest for perfect sound capture is a mission that drives the entire company. Poulsen became CEO of DPA in 2010 after leaving Hasselblad, where he spearheaded the high-end camera company’s transition to digital imaging. Prior to that he pioneered the development of high- end digital scanners at his company Imacon. Throughout his career, employing precision engineering to create the highest quality creative tools has been Poulsen’s passion.


Education DPA’s microphones have been a leading mic choice for live performers, West End shows and music recording. In these


DPA’s 5100 Mobile Surround Microphone is a plug-and-play solution for 5.1 audio capture


finished with it, they did all the shows without any EQ at all.” After each episode, Moesmann would confer with the DPA team and Voice engineers and then tweak the d:facto for the next week’s show — and The Voice made for an unforgiving proving ground. How would a highly responsive, top end mic respond in the hands of inexperienced singers, some of whom had never performed in a studio before? “The engineers on the show


DPA CEO Christian Poulsen: “I think we have a big job in education”


performance venues, the need for high-end mics is self-evident, but selling the picture-obsessed broadcast industry on better recording technology requires sustained effort. Says CEO Poulsen: “I think


we have a big job in education. We are a price leader in all our products, so in that respect it is easy to be perceived as over-expensive. A producer might ask a recording engineer: ‘Why can’t you get away with a Countryman or a Senken microphone?’ He could and it will sound ok. But will he spend more time? Yes. Will he have to reshoot more? Probably.”


DPA’s d:facto microphone was perfected in collaboration with The Voice Of Denmark


DPA sees education as so important to its mission that it has published a ‘Mic University’ on its website, featuring dozens of articles and technical papers on the practice and technology of sound recording. Poulsen believes that you can’t sell quality microphones unless you have quality engineers, and there is little about the technique of sound reproduction the ‘University’ doesn’t cover.


Getting The Voiceright Though the R&D and testing facilities at the DPA factory are impressive, DPA regards real- world trials as an essential part of the design process. The


development of their new vocal condenser microphone, the d:facto, took place in collaboration with The Voice of Denmark, Voice— Danmarks største stemme— on TV2. DPA R&D manager, Ole Moesmann, went to The Voice’s recording engineer who agreed to test the d:facto prototype live on the show. “We discovered that working


on television you need a higher frequency base than you would for a live performance,” says Moesmann, “In the total chain, from the singer to the listener, there are many changes in the signal and there is frequency loss. The first thing I saw when I looked at the sound engineer’s desk was a high frequency boost. So we decided to switch off all the EQ and do it all in the microphone. When we were


were also excited by the microphone’s feedback sensitivity. We talked about it, then would make changes over the next week, sometimes shifting the frequency range, until it was totally perfect. “The first show was 100 or 200 amateurs. They usually use dynamic microphones on these shows, because there’s a very big problem with feedback — they don’t want to do it on the condenser microphone. But with the d:facto, they could do it all the way. They had no feedback at all.”


Killingthe competition Mikkel Nymand, DPA’s product manager and tonmeister, has been at the company since the 2000 and has played a key role in DPA’s development. “The dialogue between the manufacturer and the user is really crucial. I think that is what makes us strong. We see in TV drama and filmmaking it goes more and more towards hidden small microphones instead of boom microphones. And the new generation of actors, in my


www.tvbeurope.com February 2014


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