Jump to content
mikewest

DPA 1500 5.1 Microphone

Recommended Posts

mikewest   

Had a hold of the beast today and an insight into it's design.

Very clever, compact and well thought out in a practical way.

Have not had a listen but hope to evaluate soon.

Not a cheap addition at US$3,800

mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll be very excited to read your field review, Mike. This was one of the coolest things I saw at this year's NAB. Demo was great, but I'd like to hear from a first hand user. I have a couple of documentary projects coming up where this might be perfect.

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greg Simmons from the Australian Institute of Music travels to Nepal & India each year with students. One of the projects on these trips is 5.1 using the DPA 5100. Just last week AIMTV on YouTube posted a video of Greg taking students into the Sydney Botanical Gardens to use the DPA 5100 for a 5.1 recording.

See the video here

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mikewest   

An interesting clip though not adventurous.

A simpler and more exciting application would be to stand in a traffic island

in a main street and record the passing vehicles.

I recorded a short film using a simple 4.0 approach and the results were surprising.

mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is my first post here and I haven’t spent ages trawling through the archives to familiarise myself with the community I’m addressing, so please tell me to shut up if it feels like I am telling you how to suck eggs…

I’m glad you found the clip interesting, Mike. It was never intended for working pros like the members of this forum, of course, but I’m chuffed that it ended up here. It is primarily a promotional 'micro-lecture' video for AIM, the school I work for (as are all of the micro-lectures on AIM’s website). The idea is to give potential students a feel for the diversity of things we do at AIM and how we do them.

Not adventurous? As an educational exercise conducted during class time, I cannot afford to be too adventurous; as a teacher I have a ‘duty of care’ to attend to. Standing on a traffic island in a main street recording passing vehicles would not be considered defensible as a learning experience if one of my students got injured! I might as well have told them to go play on the road… (Also, my own experience with direct-to-5.1 recordings tell me that such a recording is not as exciting in practice as one would imagine it to be, but more about that later...)

It’s a totally different 'adventurous' ball game on my student recording expeditions through Nepal, India and Tibet, however. Those expeditions happen outside of the college semesters and therefore the participants are technically not my students, rather, they are co-travellers with their own travel insurance and so on. So, anything goes; we’ve recorded 5.1 on the roof of a moving bus in Nepal, in rickshaws and tuk-tuks, hanging out the door of a speeding train in India as another train approaches from the other direction and passes, rowing down the Ganges (microphone facing the ghats with boats passing by in the rear), lowering the mic down over a chaotic four lane roadway in Kathmandu from an overhead pedestrian bridge, in caves full of bats, on the borders between hardwood forests and swamps, in jungle clearings (got charged at by an angry rhino recently), and so on.

From my experiences with direct-to-5.1 microphones (Holophone H2 Pro and DPA 5100 only), I’ve learnt that a direct-to-5.1 recording that features predominantly front to rear movement (such as your traffic island example if you’re facing on-coming vehicles) is rarely exciting to listen to unless it satisfies the following criteria:

a) the front to rear movement happens relatively slowly;

B) the front to rear movement is accompanied by some kind of left/right or right/left movement;

c) the image is not cluttered with too many other similar sounds moving around;

d) the front to rear moving sound source contains sufficient midrange and/or high frequency energy for the ear/brain system to localise it from the extreme sides and the rear.

If you are creating a 5.1 mix using discrete sounds and panning, you can make it very exciting because you have complete control of the criteria mentioned above – you can even choose the individual sounds. However, you don’t have anywhere near as much control when making a recording with a direct-to-5.1 microphone in a real location, which is why it is so important to ‘compose’ the sound scene from the beginning by careful microphone placement within the location.

For the lesson on the video I chose lapping and flowing water, based on earlier experiences with the Holophone H2 Pro recording the Kali Gandaki river (http://tinyurl.com/3ywscpb). For the video lesson I placed the DPA 5100 so that the small waves break slightly diagonally across the frontal image (creating left/right and right/left movement) before the water trickles up through channels in the rocks and seaweed past either side of the microphone, then drains back down again. Trickling water is very easy to localize, and it moves slowly enough to track to the rear and back again. That recording satisfies all of the front/rear movement criteria I mentioned above. The subtle sideways movement of a wave breaking across the front of the stereo image grabs the listener’s attention and provides a moving target to ‘track’, which is nicely followed by the water trickling alongside and past the left and/or right sides of the microphone to the rear. In fact, in the part of the video where the students are evaluating the recording in the control room, you can clearly see one of them tracing the path of the water as it moves around him. That wasn’t staged (although the students were aware of the camera and were probably hamming it up a bit). Nonetheless, I was happy to see them commenting on that sense of movement; it meant the lesson (their actual class lesson, not the micro-lecture video lesson) achieved many of its objectives.

The fruit bat recording at the start of the video, on the other hand, was just chaotic. All of the bats were way up above the microphone, so there was no sense of direction, dimension or movement, just lots of screeching cacophony. We really needed a taller stand to get some left/right/front/back detail. On the positive side, it is a reasonably even balance because all the bats were relatively far away, so there is not such a big difference between those immediately above us and those further out. I’m also thankful that we didn’t get a load of guano on ourselves or on the microphone…

- Greg Simmons

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the thoughtful post, Greg, and for contributing to our beloved forum. Welcome. I wish I had such recording experiences when I was your students' age.

What is your personal opinion of the Holophone vs. the DPA? Pros and cons of each, if you have a moment.

Thanks,

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the thoughtful post, Greg, and for contributing to our beloved forum.

Thanks, and please forgive my verbosity. I can type rather fast, and find it faster and easier to send a messy lot than a tidy little; especially in places where internet access is scarce or flaky...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is your personal opinion of the Holophone vs. the DPA? Pros and cons of each, if you have a moment.

I’m putting the following up as user feedback about DPA’s 5100 and Holophone’s H2 Pro , but I must qualify it beforehand by saying that I don’t own either of those microphones. Both microphones have been lent to me on separate occasions by their respective manufacturers (or their local agents) to use on my overseas recording expeditions, in exchange for user feedback, magazine reviews, etc. I am not on the payroll of either manufacturer or their agents, nor am I required to provide endorsements (not that anyone would listen!). I am expected to test the products thoroughly, and to be fair with my appraisals (as any magazine reviewer should be – it is very easy to play it safe and say only good things about a product, and it is very easy to be unnecessarily ‘harsh’ in an attempt to appear unbiased and critical, but it is much harder to be even-handed). With that in mind, here are some thoughts about the 5100 (jokingly referred to as the ‘bike seat’ among DPA staff) versus the Holophone.

Both are self-contained ‘point and shoot’ products, and both use DPA microphone capsules (the H2 Pro that I used was fitted with DPA 4060 series miniature omnis, and I suspect the 5100 uses the same – the manual describes them as 5.4mm diameter pressure capsules, although the 5100 has some very clever stuff to give them directionality without proximity effect or similar).

The Holophone H2 Pro uses an array of omnis flush-mountd around an egg-shaped body. Like Neumann’s M50, they use the shape of the body to alter the directionality of each capsule. It’s a very clever idea. The 5100 uses interference tubes and baffles to achieve directionality; also very clever. Both manufacturers have gone to considerable lengths with research and so on.

The H2 Pro’s frontal image is created by three spaced omnis, the 5100’s by a coincident trio of DiPMics (pressure capsules with directionality, very clever). This is where the major sonic difference between the two exists, in my experience. The frontal image created by the 5100 has all the characteristics of a coincident array, including good imaging and excellent mono compatibility, but a poor sense of spaciousness (it makes this up with the rear microphones, of course). The H2 Pro has all the characteristics of a spaced array, including a good sense of spaciousness and ‘size’, but less precise imaging.

For situations where accurate frontal imaging is required, e.g. detailed documentary work, sports events (used in conjunction with a shotgun mounted above it), or direct-to-5.1 music recording, I’d choose the 5100. For situations requiring a more spatial sound with less precise frontal imaging (i.e. general movie atmos), I’d be inclined towards the H2 Pro (given a choice) because its array of spaced omnidirectional microphones does a very good of creating a spatial sensation with a less defined frontal image.

One of my favourite Holophone recordings was made by some of my students in front of a monastery in Gyantse, Tibet. It was about 4am, absolutely freezing cold. Feral dogs are barking and running around them, their claws clattering on the frigid stone ground – highly effective in 5.1. Meanwhile, a monk repeatedly bangs a deep gong to call all the monks in for breakfast. It’s a very evocative recording, and a perfect example of something the H2 Pro does very well. The 5100 would’ve captured this cleanly, but I doubt it would’ve had quite the sense of ‘space’ – it really appreciates something to focus on.

One of my favourite recordings made with the 5100 is the Gyuto monks of Tibet. There is a good sense of the acoustics and space of the assembly hall in Dharamsala, but there is also sufficient detail in the frontal image to clearly isolate individual voices across the front line. This is something the 5100 does very well, but I would not have got such a good result with the H2 Pro.

If stereo downmixing is a major requirement, the 5100’s coincident frontal array gives it a big advantage. I find it is hard to get a good stereo downmix from the H2 Pro because all the mics are spaced apart and there always seems to be a bit of combing between the frontal mics.

In comparison to Holophone’s H2 Pro, the 5100 is considerably smaller and lighter, and nowhere near as fussy for packing (you can toss it into a backpack or similar with no problems – its housing is also its packaging, rightly or wrongly!). For situations where I need to pack light and move fast, I’d prefer the 5100 to the H2 Pro. In fact, the 5100 is an easy-going pleasure to use, the H2 Pro is somewhat more demanding. The H2 Pro’s fixed cable is a real PITA, the mounting bracket is wonderfully over-engineered (I like over-engineered things) but difficult to pack, and I was always uncomfortable with the capsules being so exposed on the outside of the ‘egg’. You really need a good way to pack and protect it. If you’re in a crew with vehicles and so on, the H2 Pro’s Pelican case does the job nicely. But if you’re footslogging it through mountains or jungles, the H2 Pro is hard work… It’s bigger, heavier and more demanding than the 5100. (That’s the price for being an innovator, I guess! The Holophone pretty much lead the way, and others were then able to learn from the Holophone’s mistakes and avoid them. Mind you, the 5100 is packed full of innovations of its own.)

Both sound quite good, and are both are capable of doing a good job provided the engineer understands the limitations of the 5.1 medium and works within them. I haven’t had a chance to directly AB the two of them, tonally, but I suspect the H2 Pro will sound slightly brighter than the 5100. (I should try that when I return to Sydney; I’ve got enough recordings of each to get the idea…)

In many respects, you can think of them as instamatic cameras; fast and convenient, and capable of great results in the hands of someone who knows how to compose a shot. But they have their limitations… Both use very small diaphragms (5.4mm) and that means they have rather high self-noise figures, equal to or greater than 18dBA. You’re not going to get good results on low level sounds, especially those without much HF content to mask the self-noise (keep the Sennheiser RFs for that stuff). But for city scapes, jungle sounds, general atmos, music and so on, no problem. They do have relatively high sensitivities, however, so they don’t need much gain, which means you’re not going to be adding any more noise if you’ve got a half-decent preamp.

Both are capable of 5.1, but if you need more than that the H2 Pro is the only choice of the two with its rear centre mic and top mic…

But before considering any 5.1 mic purchase, one needs to question the validity of the entire concept. For a start, the LFE microphone is essentially useless if we look at what the LFE channel is intended for (to place manufactured LF sounds to bolster special effects) and if we consider that each of the other mics in both the 5100 and the H2 Pro captures the full audio bandwidth anyway. So it is easier to argue against the LFE mic than for it… In all of the recordings I have made with both the 5100 and the H2 Pro, I have never used the LFE channel. I have fiddled with its level from time to time, bringing it up, putting it back, etc. But ultimately, it always ends up muted because it is not adding anything that isn’t already there, and only serves to make the recording bass heavy. Taking away that unnecessary LFE microphone leaves you with a 5.0 microphone.

Then there is the question of the centre microphone. For decades before 5.1 came along we were creating very stable and solid centre images with a traditional stereo pair; although that would only apply to someone sitting in the sweet spot, which is the advantage of the centre speaker. But if you’re specifically capturing film atmos with a 5.0 microphone, it would not be surprising to see the film mixer turning down the centre channel atmos to avoid conflicting with the dialogue. In other words, it could be argued that the centre microphone is not only unnecessary but is actually a hindrance. Get rid of it and you have a 4.0 microphone. A traditional stereo pair of some kind for the front (ORTF perhaps for its slightly vaguer centre image and increased spaciousness), where the centre atmos exists as a phantom image (between the LF and RF speakers) that is easily subdued by dialogue panned to the centre speaker. And a rear pair chosen to create some kind of envelopment through the rear speakers – possibly baffled omnis as in the 5100.

For capturing supporting atmos for film and television applications, where the entire sound image is constructed from bits and pieces, a four microphone array could produce a very acceptable result, requiring less tracks and therefore a less complex recording device.

For making direct-to-5.1 recordings that have to stand alone without visual support (e.g. music) or that need to accurately portray what is seen on screen (e.g. nature documentary), a 5.1 microphone (such as the 5100 or the H2 Pro) is a very good option, although you can almost certainly get by without the LFE channel.

I hope that is helpful, and makes sense. Some of it has been re-purposed from a 5100 review I'm about to submit to AudioTechnology magazine, so hopefully it fits properly.

- Greg Simmons

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You back from Nepal? Lets do lunch sometime soon.

I'll be back in Australia on Sunday, assuming I can get through Thailand! Shouldn't be a problem, I'm in transit only, not leaving the airport.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could be wrong, but I think only the video microphone is capturing the sound here for the clip.

I do not think the recording from the 'good' microphones is used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I could be wrong, but I think only the video microphone is capturing the sound here for the clip.

That's correct, Jack...

The sound in all of those AIM videos (including my spoken introductions) is directly from the video camera's built in mic; it's a little Sony handheld thing. The guy responsible for making the AIM videos likes to shoot, edit and get it on-line as quickly as possible. I like his approach, but it means I never have the time to prepare the proper audio for him. (Or check his spelling and grammar, which are both a bit flaky!) Essentially, he'll say, "Hey, I'm going to make the [monks] video, are you okay to do an introduction". Then we're into the control room to make the intro video and it seems like moments later, whammy! It's on line...

I initially found it quite frustrating but I've gotten used to it.

The audio on this Tibetan monk recording is the camera's built in mic; however, the 5100 can be seen in the video, and I am very happy with the resulting recording.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's something I should add to the Holophone H2 Pro/DPA 5100 comparison. The H2 Pro's mounting bracket allows it be angled upwards or downwards with relative ease. The 5100 has no such capability, you have to angle it with the stand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mikewest   

Greg et al,

Wonderful information!!

Did not intend to slag your video clip as I quite understand student safety issues.

I'm having a demo of the 5100 next week and will record material for promotion.

I realise the limited appeal of the 0.1 element but hey it's there.

Exciting days for all of us

Kind regards

mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did not intend to slag your video clip as I quite understand student safety issues.

No problem Mike, it provided a convenient excuse to clarify the videos (which I have mixed feelings about)... ;-)

I'll be keen to hear your thoughts on the 5100 after you've used it in the field.

By the way, I've just learnt that the Holophone H2 Pro now uses Sennheiser MKE2 capsules.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wonderful review, Greg, and I particularly like your analysis of the use of any "5.1 microphone" with the conclusion being that a 4.0 mic array, or even a 2.0 setup can provide what may be useful in the mix. I just saw the DPA 5.1 mic in person at Coffey Sound yesterday and it was quite impressive in its construction, size, choice of materials, etc. Reading your review, of course, helped to get a good idea of how it sounds (and in relation to the Holophone which I am already familiar with).

-  Jeff Wexler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris R   

Sorry to bump an older thread but a client of mine contacted me about a 27 day job they are going to be starting soon dealing with steel mills.

I am not on this particular job (yet) as it is almost totally a "visual" shoot

but they are interested in recording 5.1 inside of all the mills capturing ambience.

I've done plenty of stereo stuff through the years but never surround in the field

and wondered if you guys with more experience with this would have an idea

if capturing loud sources inside of buildings is going to work out or not.

Looking above its mentioned about having distracting sounds in the rear, and I'm trying to figure out if this type of recording would just end up being a mess or not.

Would love to hear if anyone has recorded 5.1 in a situation that was similar

and how it worked out.

If this ends up going through I'm leaning towards the DPA 1500

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×