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Annual Jazz Cruise sails with DPA mics

DPA Microphones were used in abundance on the annual Jazz Cruise on the MS Oosterdam, which sailed from San Diego down the Mexican coastline to the accompaniment of some of the greatest contemporary jazz musicians. The Jazz Cruise has been running for more than 25 years, switching to the Holland American Line in 2002. With this move, event organizer Traveline decided to upgrade the sound in terms of both equipment and engineers.

Chief sound engineer for the week-long cruise was Gary Baldassari, working closely with five others, including DPA marketing director Morten Stove, Jim Fay, Gary Faller, Nils Warren and Mark Deadman. DPA mics were used exclusively for all 75 musicians playing on four different stages. Performers included 19-piece swing band the Clayton-Hamilton jazz orchestra with John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton, Barbara Morrison, Monty Alexander, Freddie Cole, Tom Kennedy, Herman Burney, Wycliff Gordon and many more.

Venues included the Vista Lounge, a 900-capacity concert hall with mezzanine, the 500-seat Crow's Nest, and two more intimate lounges. DPA 4023 compact cardioids, mounted on unobtrusive flamingo stands, were used for all frontline duty, while acoustic piano, bass and drum kits were handled by a variety of Danish Pro Audio products in accordance with engineer preferences and acoustic requirements.

Traditionally, acoustic piano sees as many mic techniques as there are engineers. The DPA3521 stereo kit was used on one Yamaha grand, while another employed a 4041 large diaphragm omni on a ROWI clamp. A third grand was miked with a 4003 omni outfitted with UA0777 nose cone, while the fourth venue's piano used a pair of MMB4088 miniature cardioids from DPA's 4088 head-worn placed near the hammers to get direct imaging, with a 4091 at the low end to fill out the sound.

The focus of the cruise was acoustic jazz, which had a profound effect on mix technique. "It's what we don't add into the mix that makes the difference," Baldassari said. "We used bleed to the max because the DPA range has perfect off-axis response. Their omni mics can be equalized for feedback via a parametric EQ in a few minutes. That old wives tales that you can't use omnis in a live situation is just a superstition; many of us use omnis in live situations every day."

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