Lavalier microphone development seems to be pretty much evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. No earth-shattering design or capability changes are really predictable, as far as I can tell. The arc of development consists of refinements and improvements: smaller, better sounding, lower-power demand and so on. DPA as a company has been focused on close miking in various applications for some 60 years, since being born out of pioneering measurement microphone developer (among other things) Brüel & Kjær.
Even by current lavalier standards, the d:screet Slim 4060 is small and light. The DPA d:screet Slim 4060 Microphone is small and light, slim and discreet, even by current lavalier standards. The microphone itself weights about 8.5 grams, including cable (a bit less than 6 feet long) and the MicroDot connector it terminates in (and which must be adapted for input to a recording device), and about 1/8 inch wide by less than 3/8 inch long and slightly over 1/16 inch thick. The cable exits the capsule perpendicularly, with built-in strain relief, making it very easy to mount and hide.
DPA uses the MicroDot connector as standard, mentioned above, which requires an adaptor for connection with a wireless transmitter or XLR cable. This proprietary connector, in addition to being small and very stable, and the proprietary adaptor provide a kind of future proofing, ensuring that there will always be a properly-wired, stable connection to whatever piece of hardware comes down the pike.
The microphone capsule itself is an omnidirectional, pressure gradient condenser, with a wide frequency response range (20 Hz to 20 kHz with a 3 dB soft boost between 5–20 kHz), roughly 100 dB of dynamic response, very low self noise, and less than 1 percent total harmonic distortion up to 123 dB peak sound pressure levels. There are actually two varieties of this microphone design: the 4060 is high sensitivity (preferred for film and/or TV applications), and the 4061 is lower sensitivity (best for music or special effects work), both designed to better match downstream equipment. This microphone is adaptable to 48V phantom power through the XLR connector and to 50V through DPA’s MicroDot adaptors for various wireless systems (from AKG and Lectrosonics to Sennheiser and Zaxcom): 3-pin LEMO, TA4F mini XLR, XLR or mini jack termination, for approximately an extra $90. The mic has a stated power range of 5–50V, with published power consumption at 1.5mA for the microphone and 3.5mA with the XLR adaptor, which can power up to 300 meters of cable run.
The d:screet Slim 4060 comes in four colors (black, brown, beige or white), and with one mounting accessory: the button hole mount. This small piece mounts to the microphone head, allows mounting with the added feature of a small pipe in the mount that allows sound to enter the mic when fully concealed. Other mounting and concealment accessories are available as well: the concealer for flat mounting, adhesive tape mounts, and a wide variety of clips and double pin (vampire) mounts and windscreens.
I primarily used the d:screet Slim 4060 on a number of sit-down interview shoots, with the MicroDot to XLR adaptor. Admittedly, these are less demanding situations than a walk-and-talk with a wireless transmitter, or a serious concealment or a crowd situation, but it winds up being the bulk of the work I do. I primarily wanted to hear and use this mic as directly as possible, with no other adaptors or extenuating factors. The model I was provided with for this review was black, with several clips, a buttonhole adaptor and the concealer, a flat mounting plate that I used successfully and easily with some adhesive tape.
Needless to say, this microphone is very easy to mount quickly and to conceal, mainly due to its size, and has absolutely excellent sound, as expected. A nice touch is the included belt clip on the XLR adaptor, which serves to take the weight and strain off the mic capsule cable and mount, greatly reducing handling noise and the possibility for any kind of disconnect. Handling noise is very low, something I am too often aware of in interviews, as it seems many of my subjects are either in motion or nervous and twitchy, and somehow constantly moving their clothes and/or the mic mount and cable. The extreme lightness and small size of this microphone greatly reduces the subject’s awareness of it, and thus their tendency to fiddle. Despite the fact that the capsule is more exposed and would tend to be more prone to clothing rustle, its size and weight make it easy to secure and protect.
The sound is excellent—natural and very even. Since this is an omni pattern mic, I mostly mounted it center chest, about 12 to 18 inches below the subject’s mouth. Even when there was a fair amount of head movement, the sound stayed balanced and equally present, with a very low level of proximity effect “boominess” and a wonderful resistance to the level changes my subjects always seem to make when they get excited. Side noise rejection and focus were also excellent and very welcome, making the d:screet Slim 4060 extremely useful and appropriate for many interview or close mic situations.
This mic was easy and quick to apply, secure and conceal and worked seamlessly in connection with my cameras and mixer, and even in multi-adaptor tests with my Lectrosonics and Sony wireless transmitters. This is no surprise, given DPA’s long history of development, refinement and further miniaturization of these tools. DPA microphones are most definitely not in the bargain or even mid-range category. They are, and have been, superior microphones for the highest quality and most demanding applications, at reasonable and professional prices that will work well and continue doing so for a long time.
Michael Hanish operates Free Lunch, a video/audio/multimedia production house near Guilford, Vt. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
➤ FAST FACTS
Audio for video/film
Small, easy to hide, omnidirectional, good sensitivity and focus