In Review: DPA CORE 4099 Microphone

Evaluating an upgraded instrument microphone throughout the course of a two-day folk festival.
The mic comes in two versions: 4099 CORE Mic, loud SPL (red marking on gooseneck) – used to close-mike most types of instrument; and 4099 CORE Mic, extreme SPL (yellow marking on gooseneck) – used to close-mike very loud instruments, such as drums and some brass.

My first experience with the DPA Microphones CORE 4099 came when I was baited into mixing for the Appalachian Folk Fest in North Georgia for two days of folk, bluegrass and a few styles that still aren’t clearly categorized. Some performers opted for rock-style stage setups with plenty of microphones, while others went old school bluegrass and mixed themselves against only one.

With a virtual onslaught of acoustic instruments and solo performers, the CORE 4099 was provided with the acoustic guitar mount and was put through its paces on everything from cheap music store guitars to mesmerizing vintage pieces that sounded good just sitting on the stand.

As in other reviews for DPA, I’ll just go ahead and hit the punchline. They all sound amazing. This one is no exception. I’ll also say that this particular little festival became the proving grounds for several product reviews.

Note: The CORE version of the 4099 was introduced with a design intended to provide even clearer sound than what was already realized by the legacy 4099 mics. It offers new CORE by DPA amplifier technology designed to minimize distortion and increass dynamic range by up to a stated 14 dB. Additionally, CORE 4099s have also achieved an IP58 waterproof rating, which provides water and moisture resistance through nano coating and hermetic sealing of the sensitive electronics.

For fear of damaging loaner mics, I originally went with the “tried and true” choices for the live stage on day one, with no intention of using these on a live stage. However, after several substandard pickups, noisy DIs, and a variety of artist-provided gear left me “slightly” frustrated, I went for untried on the second day and the crowd noticed.

My opener on day two was the same as the closer on the previous night, so I knew what was going to happen. We’d had some issues with a squirrelly pickup in his acoustic guitar that provided some cracking and a harshly tainted tone. I didn’t even give him a say in the matter on his second appearance. We just locked the 4099 to his guitar and brought the level up.

Before touching EQ or compression, the guitar came to life. I could hear every detail I was looking for from his first chord. At first, I was slightly concerned over the darker tone we were hearing, so I literally moved the mic a half inch farther up the fretboard, away from the sound hole. The final position ended up about two inches above the strings, right where the body meets the neck. Every single person in the audience turned directly to the stage the second I brought it back up.

Now I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in a recording studio and played with pretty much every industry-standard microphone, but this one caught me off guard. There was a clarity and crispness like I’d expect from the high-end studio mics, but this one remained in a constant position and we had zero fluctuations to the tone. (Thanks to the cool mount.)

And I never did have to monkey with the EQ since subtle changes to the position always seemed to find the tone I was searching for. No feedback, pleased artists, happy audience.

I’ve come to expect strong performers from DPA, but this package far exceeded anything I anticipated. For live performances, I’d say the bar has been raised. Add the CORE 4099 to your wish list.

Go here to find out more about the CORE 4099 from DPA.

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