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Toronto-based Audio Process Adds Significant Horsepower to Location Sound Recording Department's Microphone Inventory
"In comparison to the other microphone brands we tested, the DPA 6060 rose to the top.  Not just overall, but in every category we used to compare microphones by." - Rob Morrice, Head of Location Recording, Audio Process, Toronto
2 November, 2021 by
GerrAudio Distribution Inc., Peter James

TORONTO, ONTARIO:  Audio Process pride themselves on constantly improving their business overall, and the technology they deploy as one of Toronto’s largest location recording firms, which definitely fed into their decision to replace their pre-existing compliment of lavalier microphones. Having purchased over 75 DPA 6060 Series Subminiature Microphones over the course of 2021, Audio Process have deepened their abilities to provide rock-solid location recording services. “It’s all DPA 6060s now,” explains Rob Morrice, head of Audio Process’s Location Recording department.

Since their initial purchase of a handful (or two) 6060s was made back in May, it’s taken some time to get hold of Morrice. As Audio Process’s full-time recordist he’s been extremely busy and has been working the new mics hard on a lengthy film project – the first on which he’s deployed DPA 6060s. “The show I started this summer – which is why our conversation was delayed – began in July. So I first started using the mics then,” Morrice notes. “To clarify,” he continues, “I had no previous experience with DPA. I’d done plenty of research, but never actually touched one myself. It was assumed they were a step up, but truthfully I didn’t know from firsthand experience.” As for the comparison between the DPA mics and their previous products, Morrice adds: “It’s not even close.”

Frankly, part of the delay in getting together to discuss the new mics was Morrice’s desire to put them through their paces in the field ahead of time. “Like many shows (on this one) we had a lot of work to do and not a lot of time. So, you need to know your equipment and how it works and get it right the first time because you don’t often have a lot of options to make changes.”

Over his five years with Audio Process, Morrice has become accustomed to just what it takes to meet those demands. By way of explanation, he says: “Audio Process also works with individual contractors – we rent our gear to them – and also provide in-house service; custom cables, modifications, and repairs. So, it’s a bit of a unique business model in that respect. Now, as you’ve experienced, my schedule is usually full of recording jobs,” he adds, laughing. “Ninety-five percent of what I do is record dialogue from talent on film productions, but I wear a few different hats, including backend studio and kit maintenance and upkeep, so I’m intimately familiar with all our equipment.”

Morrice elaborates on their business model: “Audio Process and Lynx Music operate under the name Lynx Media. We run a multi-room rehearsal and top-of-the-line recording facility. The Lynx Music side of things is recording and state-of-the-art rehearsal facilities, whereas Audio Process is location recording and post-production. So, using the Lynx Music facility we do a variety of (audio/visual) post-production projects; from dialogue editing to full audio post for commercials, features, and everything in between.” As for the scope of their location recording services: “It’s anything from single-day corporate jobs, to commercials, features, all sorts of things. That’s why we own a number of location recording kits and contract to a whole roster of folks to operate them.”

Since their initial DPA purchase in May 2021, Audio Process has steadily added additional 6060s to their inventory. “Most people who do this type of work are contractors and have just one kit,” Morrice says. “The reason we were able to make a purchase of this size is we have multiple kits and are building out more all the time.” In fact, since May they’ve upped the number of their dedicated location recording rigs from five to seven because of the growing demand for their services.

In looking for microphones to replace the lavalier mics that are the backbone of those kits, DPAs were under consideration for quite some time, Morrice notes. “I don’t think you can spend much time in this business and not have DPA on your radar.” Adding a substantial amount of DPA 6060s to their inventory allows them to, Morrice continues: “Have parity throughout all the kits in terms of the basic architecture and the key components. The only variations are the quantities of those components, which depend on the complexity of the needs a kit has to service. Some are tailored to single-day jobs or corporate work, with a lighter equipment compliment, whereas a large-scale production will have more channels of wireless and (require) more infrastructure.”

With the release of the 6060s two years ago, DPA has provided a product ideal for location recording applications; reducing the size of their capsule by 60-percent, miniaturizing and incorporating the proprietary CORE technology which provides more headroom, expanded dynamic range and lower distortion. All of which offer clear benefits for remote recording work.

While Audio Process deploy other microphones with their kits, the 6060s are now their go-to for lavalier mics to capture dialogue. “We’ve been using (other mics) for ages, but had our eyes on DPA for quite a while,” says Jacob Waxman, who (with Morrice) co-ordinates purchases for the Audio Process location recording side of the business and serves as Head of Post-Production and Studio Manager for Audio Process Lynx Music. “With the release of the tiny capsules, the 6060s just worked for what we’re doing and the audio quality is incomparable – just fantastic, so we decided to make the jump. The profile of the mics has significantly improved from past models and that – along with the audio quality – prompted us to make this transition.”

Obviously, being affixed to talent to capture dialogue the mics have to be concealed. “That’s one of our main challenges,” Morrice says; “hiding microphones on people, and working with people (and with clothing) to conceal equipment. Think about it this way; on a shoot, the sound department is the only department whose equipment is constantly in the frame on-camera – lights, you obviously can’t see, but lavalier microphones are basically in the shot at all times.” Consequently, beyond the typical decisions that play into mic selection for music or any other recording application – high-quality sound, reliability, and durability – form factor, the materials used for the microphone’s overall construction, and flexibility are also key considerations.
 

“We go to great lengths to hide microphones on people,” Morrice elaborates, adding that, in comparison to other mics they’ve used and have considered using: “The DPA 6060 beat out every other one. Not just overall, but in every category that we were comparing microphones against each other by. It’s an easier microphone to conceal under lighter fabrics. It also has a more flexible cable, which goes a long way towards being able to hide them. We also look at the composition of the jackets, which on the 6060s I find easier to work with. The tactile feel of the microphones plays a big part in what I do; some microphones have very rigid cables, or tacky or gummy jackets, which can be challenging when it comes to interference and noise. Clothing noise is a huge part of what we have to deal with, so the composition of the microphone cable jacket is very important. Before we even talk about the sonics we need to address A) the aesthetics and B) the actual feel of the microphone, because that plays such an important part in how it’s going to interact with a person’s body and/or wardrobe.”

With any microphone in any application ensuring the signal-to-noise ratio is as low as possible is critical. Doing so in a setting where the required placement of a mic can potentially – owing to handling or clothing rustling, for example – is more complicated. “So, the composition of the microphone itself is as important as the sonics of the capsule.”

However, Morrice concludes: “If you’re asking me specifically about the sound of the DPA 6060 compared with what we were testing against, just the sound, nothing else to do with the mic, I’d say, performance-wise, the DPA 6060 sounded better than every mic we tested against – anywhere from a significant difference to marginally better.”

 

Written by:  Kevin Young