With a diameter of just 3mm (about the same as the tiny Countryman B6, and 25% smaller than the 4mm Sanken COS-11; both highly regarded standards), the DPA d:screet CORE 6060 Subminiature Microphone is about half the size of DPA’s other miniature lav microphones, and often small enough to hide behind a shirt button. It even has an IP58 waterproof rating, approved for use in fresh water in depths up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes.
This mic is available in two sensitivities: the 6060 (high sensitivity) and 6061 (10dB lower sensitivity). The 6060 and 6061 are physically identical. For typical dialog recording of whispers through most loud yelling, the more sensitive 6060 version will normally be the choice, especially considering the unprecedented dynamic range of these tiny mics. For more extreme close micing of louder sources, such as with Broadway musicals, the higher SPL handling of the 6061 will be the best bet.
In addition to being as small or smaller than any other microphone available for hiding on actors, the next thing that will be noticed is the beautiful DPA precision manufacturing, even on a product this small. In fact, with the aid of a jeweler’s magnifier, the same signature pattern that makes the openings on DPA’s studio condenser mics can be seen on this subminiature jewel. As if that’s not impressive enough, this part of the microphone is just a protective cap! While the 6060 could live its entire life without ever having the cap removed (and most probably will), it can be pulled off for cleaning, or possibly replaced with a cap colored to match the clothing that the mic is mounted on. This tiny cap is made of metal, and snaps crisply back into place. The cap is acoustically neutral, so, on or off, it doesn’t change the frequency response of the mic.
Getting priorities straight…
The most important goal of recording dialog to sound natural, as if standing near the actor listening to them speak. However, the best mounting position is usually around the actor’s chest and under their chin, and this position muddies the sound by reducing high frequencies that give clarity and intelligibility. The DPA engineers addressed this by boosting the 6060’s high frequencies, starting at 5kHz, and gradually increasing to 5dB at 14kHz. This not only helps the dialog sound more natural, but also helps the 6060 mix well with standard overhead boom microphones.
And it gets better…
Recording dramatic dialog has two primary challenges. 1) Dialog is often very, very quiet. 2) Dialog is often very, very LOUD. Therefore, it is important for dialog microphones to have very low self noise, with an output level that allows recording whispers at full level, while also being able to handle the high sound pressures of screams without clipping. With DPA’s new CORE technology, these lavaliers deliver that balance in unprecedented fashion.
Wind noise? Some tiny microphones are known for being very sensitive to even the small amount of wind created while walking at a normal pace, so this was a concern to wonder about with the 6060. At a recent URSA Straps lavalier mounting and wiring workshop, whenever the 6060 was used, each mounting position was also tested for wind noise sensitivity. Using an ingenious device for creating wind (a large piece of cardboard fanning air toward the model), the 6060 held up better than expected. Of course, wind noise was eventually achieved when fanning hard enough, but the 6060 seemed to hold up in wind about as well as other standard mics used in the workshop.
Just how helpful is it for a lav mic to be this tiny? The URSA lav wiring workshop was also a good testing ground for comparing the hide-ability of microphones of different shapes and sizes. In some ways this was better than an active set, because, after hiding the mics, there was plenty of time to make visual and listening comparisons, make adjustments, and compare again. Whether it was in the knot of a tie, in the fold of a button-up shirt, behind a button, or “invisible in plain sight” poking through a sweater or in a hair mount, the workshop clearly demonstrated the size advantage of the 6060 when it came to keeping the microphone unnoticeable while still being in an optimal location for natural dialog sound.
The DPA 6060 is available with factory installed MicroDot connector, for which adapters are available for use with any standard transmitter or power supply. The 6060 can also be ordered terminated directly to the connector of your choice, saving the cost of an adapter at the expense of versatility while gaining simplicity. Choose your balance.
Very low self noise, very high SPL handling, a frequency bump of the right amount in the right place, DPA’s history of durability, and as small or smaller than any alternative… The only thing in its way is the price. But that’s usually the case with what becomes the next industry standard.
Shipping is promised in January 2019.
GLEN TREW is a Production Sound Mixer with 40 years of experience in film and video production. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, he is the president of Trew Audio (a US and Canadian leader in sales, rental, and service of film and video sound equipment), the president of Remote Audio (a manufacturer of specialty audio products for film and video), and a member of the Hollywood IATSE Union Local 695 (active, retired).
Images courtesy of DPA Microphones