Chancy, France (January 2, 2015)—Although skeptical at first of the range of genre’s DPA’s line of microphones could capture, live sound engineer Verlaine Levis has changed his tune after using a selection of mics on the current Cats on Trees tour.
“When DPA’s French distributor Audio² gave me the opportunity to try the company’s microphones with Cats On Trees, I was happy to accept the challenge,” Levis says. “It didn’t take long to discover that these great microphones have beefy pickups and are perfectly suited to rock and pop acts. We’re now using three d:facto Vocal Microphones, as well as a d:dicate ST2011C Stereo Pair with 2011C Compact Cardioids and a number of d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones for drums and violins.”
Levis, who began his career with French sound company Audio-Lum, started working as a live sound engineer in 2001 and has toured with the likes of Sidilarsen, Claude Sicre, Bombs 2 Bal, Zebda, Magyd Cherfi and Mouss and Hakim. He is also building a strong reputation as a recording engineer, having been asked by a number of artists to assist with studio sessions.
Cats On Trees, a French duo consisting of Nina Goern and Yohan Hennequin, specialize in ambient indie pop and have released one self-titled album along with several singles, including “Sirens Call,” which reached No. 3 in the French charts in 2013. The band is now halfway through a European tour that will see them play nearly 200 dates in various countries, including France, Germany, England and Spain.
“The tour is awesome and they are playing to virtually full houses every time,” Levis says. “Since September, they have been performing with a string quartet, but because we have such a busy touring schedule, there hasn’t been much time for residency work or to prepare the mix. Therefore, the show is being built as we go along.”
The progressive evolution of the show was a key reason Levis decided to switch to DPA microphones. He had previously used DPA’s omnidirectional microphones to record voice ensembles and orchestras in churches, so he knew that the mics could faithfully recreate the acoustics of a venue. After speaking to Audio², he tried out various mic combinations until he found ones that worked for him.
“I had a very clear idea of how each instrument should sound,” he explains. “I wanted to bring several omnidirectional microphones on tour so that I could capture the natural color of the instruments, but because of the on-stage proximity of the drums and piano, this was not possible. As it stands, only the ambient microphones are omnidirectional.”
“For me, the DPA microphones can be summarized in two words: natural and punchy,” Levis concludes. “What’s more, they are very rugged. I've broken three microphones so far on this tour, but not a single one of them has been a DPA.”