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DPA 4041 microphones

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by Simmosonic, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Has anyone here used DPA 4041s for recording?

    I'm particularly interested to get opinions from anyone who has used them in AB to record orchestras, choirs, etc. But any user experience will be welcome.
  2. 0VU

    0VU Active Member

    I have one pair of capsules and one pair each of the 4041SP (phantom powered) and 4041T (valve) bodies. They're nothing short of stunning! (I liked them enough to sell all but one of my 4006s to help pay for some 4041s! And I like 4006s)

    As you'd expect, the valve bodies give a little more colour than the solid state bodies but both are just different flavours of neutral and transparent. The high voltage solid state version is probably the most transparent mic I've ever heard - I didn't buy it simply because I wanted to be able to sling the mics and it isn't exactly easy when you have to sling the PSU at the same time! Having bought the phantom powered version (which only lose out very slightly against the high voltage version) it made more sense to me, to get the valve bodies - to have the different tonality rather than the high voltage solid state bodies which aren't different enough from the phantom bodies to give me the best value for money out of just two pairs of bodies. If I didn't need to hang the mics I'd've gone for the high voltage solid state bodies without hesitation.

    Looking at the graphs for the 4041s, I expected them to sound bright compared to my other DPA omnis but they don't. They do sound very, very clean and detailed and sometimes can be a bit too revealing but not really bright.

    I've used these mics both as AB and X-Y pairs, and borrowed a matched set of three from a friend for Decca Tree work and so far, I've been very happy with everything I've used them on. As an X-Y pair on 'small' sources like solo guitar or as a spot pair for a soloist the HF directionality is very gentle and gives a nice 'soft'/subtle stereo, and the clarity is exceptional. The off axis response is very smooth, making it easy to use the mic-source angle creatively without having to worry so much about colouration. The transient response is superb and complex attacks and overtones in things like 12-string guitars, harpsichords and pianos are rendered probably better than any other mic I own/know of. They're extremely quiet and the lack of noise seems to make them sound more 'dynamic' than the other DPA omnis I've got/used. They're also incredibly revealing of the room sound/ambience - much more so than most other mics. They really 'place' things into a real acoustic in a very precise way. This can make them a bit tricky in awkward rooms but the comparative lack of off axis colouration really helps here.

    The valve version is slightly warmer than the solid state versions but it's not an overt, in-your-face 'valve effect', rather a subtle 'silkiness' in the top and a little bit of 2nd harmonic creeping in lower down. I tend to find that I favour the valve bodies for vocal groups/choirs, brass instruments/ensembles, strings and smaller/more early reflection based acoustics, and the phantom powered bodies on larger sources like orchestras or things in very 'big' reverberant acoustics like pipe organs, and for getting a really 'detailed' sound on things like 12-string or percussion/wind instruments - though it's never a cut and dried choice.

    Tonally, either seems to compliment things like Schoeps MK21s, omni caps on M222s, and mics like TLM193s/170s/Beyer MC740s and they combine well with other mics. They do fight somewhat with Sonodore RCM402s though and it can be hard to combine them convincingly - though I find that with most mics and the Sonodores. Until I can afford a couple more 4041s for my Tree (I like to have a spare, just in case) when I can't borrow my friend's set, I've been using an M222 with and MK2/2H/2S and a KA40/50 as the centre mic and they work very nicely together. An M222/2H/KA50 works particularly well with the 4041SPs for very subtly balancing the centre stage/maintaining depth without losing clarity of imaging.

    Like any other mic, they suit some things better than others but if you want to capture detail and resolve a complex source and/or room they take a lot of beating. My experience of them is that even when they aren't the 'best' mic for the job, they still sound better than most. Which, considering how expensive they are, is good news! Anyway, yes, I like them :wink:
  3. lell010

    lell010 Guest

    OVU - I have sent you a PM
  4. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Very interesting... I like the 4006TLs very much. I've used the 4041 a couple of times, mostly on voice, and agree with the opinion that they are 'stunning'.

    The high voltage version is the one I have used before. However, I also need the ability to fly them and use them in other situations (e.g. in the field, operating from batteries) where the HMA isn't a practical option. So, I'm considering the SP versions for now.

    What really appeals to me is the ability to add the high voltage stuff later if I want, as you have done with the tube bodies. I'd start with a pair of 4041SPs, but I'd eventually buy the tube bodies and HMA, and perhaps later the high voltage bodies.

    It also wouldn't surprise me if DPA eventually made a digital body for those capsules...

    This seems to be the consensus with everyone who has used them, myself included. They are not as bright as one would expect them to be.

    This is exactly the kind of information I was hoping to get. I have used them on voice, relatively close, but never at a distance or in a stereo situation...

    Agreed. The low noise is part of the appeal for me.

    I first auditioned the 4041 for a friend of mine who was tossing up which vocal mic to buy. He had access to a number of good vocal mics from Neumann, Sennheiser, AKG, etc., and was skeptical of using an omni for that application. So, we compared the mics in pairs: 4041 vs. U87, 4041 vs. 414, etc. In each case, we put one mic into each channel of the Nagra V and gain matched them as closely as possible. When possible, we also selected the omni polar response for the other microphone and compared them that way, too, to make sure we were comparing apples to apples (within reason, given that the mics with variable polar patterns are using a different capsule design).

    No matter which mic and/or polar response we compared the 4041 against, the subjective impression on replay remained the same - the 4041 always sounded as if the vocal we were hearing was still live, as if the performer was still singing into it. It was so 'alive' that it made the other mics sound like there was a veil (to borrow a phrase from Bob Katz) in front of them. I am not sure what caused that, but the low noise may have been a part of it. It certainly seemed to remove at least one generation from the recording process.

    I found the same thing. The one I auditioned, and which my friend promptly bought, was the vocal kit; the capsule, the HMA, the high voltage solid state and tube bodies, and so on. The tube body is a wonderful thing, in the way that all well-designed tube circuits are. Not fuzzy or anything like that; just ever-so-slightly warm and silky.

    I'd definitely be using the tube bodies for choral work and strings, if I had them...

    Thanks for that vast quantity of information, it is most helpful. I really wanted to find out if they were only suited to vocalists, or if they had wider applications. You've clarified that for me nicely. :D
  5. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    I have used the 4041 and the 4041Ts, and while they may not be AS bright as the graph suggests, they are indeed bright-- too bright for anything but the darkest of acoustics and (of course) studio vocals.

    I can live with my "less bright" 4003 and EQ if needed.

  6. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Conversely then, could you live the brighter 4041s and EQ if needed? It's a lower noise microphone in general, and there'd be even less apparent noise if you were using subtractive EQ to remove highs, rather than boost them...
  7. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    In this category of mic I do not think noise is a problem, however my money is! The 4041 is not cheap, and given its overall sonic character I would rather spend it on mics that I really like rather than the 4041. If I wanted a LDC bright mic, Neumann has a boatload!

  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Here here!!!! Post of the year right here!
  9. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    True, for music applications. However, my interest in the 4041 goes beyond music to nature recording, where 15dBA and thereabouts (as most SDCs offer), is somewhat under-achieving.

    At 8dBA, the 4041 is one of the quietest high quality microphones on the market. But because it is an expensive microphone I want to check its versatility for music recording as well, hence my initial post asking for feedback from those who have used them for recording music. (I don't recall asking for purchasing advice, but thanks anyway!)

    In other words, assuming I *had* a pair of 4041s, would I find uses for them in music recording?
  10. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    They are great studio vocal mics, and a colleague who records all the Linn Records stuff is quite fond of them, and if you look at their catalog you'll see what they feature.

    Short answer is yes. And didn't you use some on the Berlioz Requiem soloist that Ben Maas produced a few years ago?

    A final word on the noise figures: DPA is possibly the most conservative manufacturer in this slippery area of measurement.

  11. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Thanks for that heads-up, I'll check Linn's catalogue. That seems like another good endorsement, by the way.

    Oooh, you might be correct; there possibly was one used on that session, to spot a soloist. That 4041 belongs to a friend of mine who only ever uses it up close for vocals; I've borrowed it a couple of times and have always been impressed - but I've only ever used it up close. I didn't know of anyone who had used 4041s as a spaced pair on an entire ensemble. 0VU put up some encouraging feedback...

    They are damn expensive. They are not mics I would purchase if I was only using them for music; I am not sure I could justify the expense, even as an indulgence! But I am also not sure that I'd lump the 4041 in with Neumann's LDCs - it's in a different league IMO.
  12. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    I am not saying that the 4041s are not very special mics, but a comparison with the M149 would be quite interesting.

  13. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Interesting thought... The 4041 with the tube preamp/body?

    I used the M149 an awful lot around 1999/2000. I'd have to put it in the same league as the 4041 in terms of being 'special', but at different ends of the flavour spectrum within that league.

    (Did that make any sense?!?!)
  14. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Yup.... Used the tube body on the mic at a distance of about 4 feet, roughly at the height of the singer (perhaps a bit below). Probably one of the best vocal sounds I've ever had on a recording.

    I'll also say that bright isn't a word that would have come to mind to describe these mics. I know what the graph says, but they were present and not hyped at all. Completly unlike most modern LD condensers.


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