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DPA Microphones Perform Big Role At 86th Annual Academy Awards

Combination of DPA d:dicate 4011A cardioid mics and d:vote 4099 instrument mics capture piano in demanding application

By PSW Staff March 10, 2014

The DPA microphones in place on the piano for the orchestra serving this year's Academy Awards

At the recent 86th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, DPA Microphones were utilized to meet a demanding application with the piano for the orchestra performing remotely from Capitol Records.

Specifically, since the piano was positioned among the noisy percussion instruments, the show’s orchestra mixer and setup coordinator needed a way to isolate its sound, choosing a combination of DPA d:dicate 4011A cardioid microphones and d:vote 4099 instrument mics. A pair of d:dicate 4011E hanging mics were also applied as overheads for the drums, which allowed them to pick up the full ambiance of the kit.

The unique mic combination allowed closing the lid of the Steinway Grand Piano, giving live and television audience members a full appreciation of the pristine instrument’s sound during the different presenters entrances, transitions and other musical performances throughout the event.

“There’s a large orchestra and rhythm section, with percussion, so we wanted to isolate the piano in order to get a really good sound,” explains orchestra setup coordinator Dan Vicari. “We’ve been using DPA’s microphones during the Oscars for years, so we knew that this setup would give us really great sound. The mics truly help us get the perfect sound without a lot of other noise coming in, which is often hard to do on a piano.”

Orchestra mixer Tommy Vicari echoes his brother’s statement. “Since we wanted to put the mics inside the piano and close the top, we needed broad microphones that provide brightness to the sound,” he says. “Usually when you dampen the piano by closing the top, the sound of the instrument becomes dulled. Since I had brass blowing toward the piano, and the strings coming the other way, I needed to shelter the piano.

“By using the DPA d:dicate and d:vote mics, we were able to get the clarity from the piano that we were looking to achieve, while still protecting the sound from outside noise.”

With the added difficulty of performing from a remote location, outside of the theater, the Vicari brothers also needed microphones with audio quality that could hold up to the transmission of the sound. This was necessary in order to still provide the feeling of hearing live music in the venue.

“We were thinking of using either the d:vote or d:dicate, but we ultimately decided that the combination sounded the best for what we were looking to achieve,” explains Dan Vicari. 

“I always pick my mics based on the instrument, because I want the orchestra to sound as perfect as possible,” adds Tommy Vicari. “I usually use a variety of applications, techniques and mic positions, but choosing the right mic is key to any live event, recording or broadcast. In this situation, using both the d:dicates and d:votes was the ideal solution.”

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