DPA 2011C Twin-Diaphragm Cardioid Microphone

Mar 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Kevin Becka

Slender, Versatile Performer for Stage and Studio


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DPA 2011C mic

DPA Microphones is known for its high-performance, uncolored transducers for studio recording, broadcast and live performance. The 2011C is targeted at Live Sound users, but as we found out, it’s an able performer in the studio, as well. The mic handles an incredible 146dB SPL and has a small footprint due to the short MMP-C body. The mic is part of DPA’s Reference Standard group, meaning the capsule and body unscrew for easy integration with other DPA products, such as the higher-end MMP-A or MMP-B bodies, or the 4000 Series capsules. This is a system you can grow with.

The mic comes with a handy lyre shock-mount, and an optional stereo mount is also available. For this review I had a pair of the 2011Cs plus the stereo mount, which I’d highly recommend. It makes it incredibly easy to place and accurately aim the mics as a pair.

The technology in this capsule is something new and worth mentioning as it allows the mic to deftly reject the side and rear, yet still sound natural off-axis. From the outside, the look is odd—the mic appears to be a stubby shotgun. Inside, there are two separate capsules mounted back to back and integrated into a single front-address unit, instead of two diaphragms that share a single backplate, as seen in other side-address designs. Whatever is happening acoustically with this dual capsule—coupled with the ports on the side—does the trick: These mics sound great.

The front capsule is mounted at a considerable distance from the end of the mic, something my ears told me when I tried to place them end to end in an X/Y configuration: The center image was swimming all over the place. I called Bryce Boynton at DPA, and he gave me the lowdown about the capsules; that resulted in a non-intuitive move, so my X/Y was centered back from the end, which instantly fixed the problem. From then on, I knew not to cross the capsules at the end as you would with any other front-address pencil mic.

Top Performer

I used the mic on a range of sessions—first, around a drum kit. As an overhead stereo pair in X/Y, the 2011Cs rendered the kit beautifully. The stick on cymbals had a sweet woody ping with little hype at the top end, perfectly real and natural. I tried the mics on toms, too, which worked very well. Stick hits and transients were well rendered, and off-axis rejection of cymbals was very good, making the toms sit up in the mix. Next, I tried the 2011C outside a kick drum, which was a winner. Partnered with a Shure Beta 52 inside the kick, it gave me a great combination of tones to mix, giving the bottom end plenty of point and chest thump.

For many of these sessions I used the Moon 3500MP preamp (reviewed in Mix’s February 2013 issue), which offers an incredibly powerful and clean gain stage, even at extreme levels. This later became important when recording some finely detailed Foley work. While the footprint of the 2011C makes it easy to place anywhere, the dues owed for the 146 dB of SPL handling are that the mic has low output. For detail work at low SPL, you have to gas it quite a bit to get it to a decent level in your recorder. Even though the Moon was able to provide the clean gain necessary for this application, I would still use a mic with higher output in situations like these so you don’t have to fight the noise floor introduced with other less pristine preamps.

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