Capturing pre-recorded materials for a fast-paced reality production, like the 20th anniversary season of Dancing With the Stars (DWTS), is never short of challenges.
When production sound mixer/supervisor Daniel McCoy, CAS, owner of California-based audio production company ToneMesa was given the task, he turned to DPA Microphones.
Calling on 28 d:screet 4060 omnidirectional miniature microphones, one of the first applications in the U.S., and his d:dicate 4017B shotgun microphones, McCoy utilized the mics to record the audio amidst the contestants’ frenetic pace during rehearsals, a critical component of the show’s broadcast, which ended its season on May 20.
Based on the British BBC series Strictly Come Dancing, DWTS is a competition-style show that pairs celebrities with professional ballroom dancers. Due to the physicality of the routines, whenever the celebrities and professional dancers were rehearsing off the lot, the audio equipment would frequently be handled by both the cast members and audio crew.
“Throughout the entire season, which began in February, we had zero ‘loss and damage’ for any of the DPA 4060s,” explains McCoy. “Not a single record of any damage at all. ”For previous seasons, McCoy was provided with a competitor microphone for the production and can recall having mic heads pop off and connectors break, which ultimately led to audio cable failure.
Often, the crew was left with up to 40 percent of the mics being destroyed. McCoy also says that during this season period he noticed much better fidelity to his ear while using the mics.
“I thought that DWTS was a really good demonstration of the DPA d:screet 4060’s ability and consistency,” he explains. “There are often things that you can’t control. A lot of the time, I couldn’t personally be present for every contestant rehearsal, so I had producers and talent mic’ing themselves. That’s always a red flag and prediction for disaster. In this case, with the steel housing jacket of the DPA 4060s, the production was flawless.”
Another reason McCoy chose the 4060s was that the output impedance of the mics has a higher sensitivity. “This feature proved beneficial when the producers, who are not trained audio technicians or engineers, were traveling all over the country with the contestants during rehearsals,” he explains. “In those cases, the 4060s provided the producers with maximum audio output so they didn’t have to tinker with the gain stages.”
In addition to the 28 d:screet 4060s, which were supplied direct from DPA’s Denmark HQ through collaboration with Location Sound Corporation, McCoy also used his DPA 4017B shotgun microphones with CMB amplifiers to capture the “behind-the-scenes” action and interviews. All materials were recorded using Sound Devices’ 633 and 688 Production Sound Mixers.
“I primarily used the Sound Devices 633s because it’s usually just a couple of wires and a boom,” he adds. “All of the rehearsals, packages and interviews were captured by lavs and a boom, so the 633s and DPA 4017s covered that amply.”
Overall, McCoy says that due to the performance of the DPA mics, the show’s senior field producers were ecstatic with the quality that they were able to bring to the show’s edit. “They were very happy to receive consistent audio,” he adds. “I felt like I was giving them the best possible sound without having the usually-required six mixers in every rehearsal room all of the time. I’m going to use the DPA d:screet 4060s on every show of this nature that I’m involved with from now on. They are ToneMesa’s new standard for any show that has consideration of possible equipment damage.”