Gear Talk: Micing Up a Speaker (Best of the Best)

Welcome back to week 4 of our series about micing up speakers for live sound. Sorry for the delay in this post, a side gig that has kept me quite busy and has delayed the writing queue a bit. Don’t worry, I’ll get back on track. Over the course of this series we have looked at several different options for micing up a speaker. From podiums mics, to lapels, and a variety of headsets my hope is that one week of this series has sparked some conversations about ways you can grow your toolbox and be ready for whatever is next. This last week I wanted to spend some time talking about my favorite headsets. Made by DPA they are what I consider to be the Cadillac of headset microphones. Most of the time, you can just turn them on and they sound great. It’s worth noting that I usually buy these with connectors to microdot. It seems counter-intuitive but I’ve found that the connectors break less when the mic goes to microdot and then gets adapted to your needs. I rarely argue for the most expensive options and these headsets are at the top of the price range for sure, however, in this case, I believe that it’s worth the time as these headsets are simply amazing.

My first exposure to DPA headsets was with their bread and butter headset the 4066. It’s the standard run of the mill DPA microphone. It’s reasonably adjustable but does have a tough time getting small enough for women. However, it sounds great. The mic, in my room at least, needs little processing EQ wise and brings an extremely natural sound while remaining vibrant and dynamic. By getting the omnidirectional microphone you get great coverage with minimal adjustment. For almost ten years, the senior pastor at my church has used this microphone without any help without issue. He puts it on, turns his pack on, and we are ready for soundcheck. Lots of headsets need to be fit to the user each time you put it on but with this 4066, with a semi rigid frame, it holds its shape very well and that makes it easier to use. DPA even recently released a new version of this headset called the DPA 4066 Core which basically increases the dynamic range. This is particularly helpful for quieter speakers or those that find themselves nearly yelling a lot of the time. Long story short, it is fair more sensitive at lower volumes and less prone to clipping at higher volumes.

The other offering from DPA is probably deserving of my award, if that matters at all, for the best sounding and most flexible microphone. The DPA 4166/4266 headset mic (single our dual ear options) can fit just about anyone’s head, have a micro adjustment right behind the ear including rotation to help it mold to the user, and a great system for cable management that just really helps the cabling disappear. The other unique feature of this headset is the way it sits on your ear. It looks a little intrusive with the extra little curly q involved but everyone I’ve asked about have said that it feel incredibly solid and after a few minutes you can’t really feel it anymore. If your pastor or speaker are worried about it, most of the DPA reps keeps these on hand for demos or you can usually rent them to try it on. This capsule carries the same improved dynamic range as the rest of the core microphones and of course as an omnidirectional capsule, it is just going to sound great if you can even get it close to being in the right place. Yes, I know they offer these and most headsets in cardioid mode, don’t be afraid of omnidirectional headset. With speakers, everything needs to sound natural all the time so having to be perfectly placed to achieve that makes everything more difficult. Really think about getting the omnidirectional headsets unless you’re outside or at a loud event.

Well that’s it for the series. I hope you’ve found some good ideas here and perhaps even thought about trying out or demoing some or all of these options. If you can amass a collection of items that includes a podium mic, a few different lapels, and a few options for headsets, you’ll be set no matter what you come across or need to support. If you have more questions about the mics I have, email me at daniel@studiostagelive.com or leave a message in the comments below or on Facebook. A great way to make sure you don’t miss what’s coming next is to sign up for my email list, found at this link, letting you know when new content is posted to the page. See you all on the flipside!

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