DPA 4017 Shotgun Microphone

The 4017’s condenser capsule uses a high voltage pre-polarized back plate that gives the mic a high output as well as low distortion and low noise.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Typically, the words “musical” and “shotgun” were never linked to the same microphone … that is, until last fall, when the DPA 4017 hit the streets. With it, DPA has defined a new microphone sub genre: “the musical shotgun.” The short and lightweight 4017 offers a highly directional pickup pattern, while maintaining DPA’s characteristic musicality and clarity.

Features

The DPA 4017 is a beautiful microphone. There are a lot of great and decent sounding microphones with acceptable packaging coming out of China these days, and I’ve become quite forgiving about their construction quality because of the low prices. But every time I open a DPA case and hold a DPA microphone, I’m reminded about why there really is nothing quite like fine European craftsmanship. The $1,999 mic has the exquisite feel of a fine Swiss watch and a robustness that is clearly made to last an entire career rather than a few years. I’m a long-time fan of all things DPA, so I couldn’t wait to put the mic to task.

Fast FactsApplications
Location recording, studio, broadcast, post

Key Features
Supercardioid; 48-volt Phantom Powered; 117 dB dynamic range; 132 max. SPL; switchable 50 Hz high-pass filter; switchable high-frequency boost (4 dB shelf at 8 kHz); switchable bass roll-off, first order filter, below 300 Hz; 19mm (0.75 inch) pre-polarized condenser cartridge, 8.3-inch long, .75-inch diameter; 2.5 oz; 70 Hz – 20 kHz (±2 dB); high-voltage pre-polarized back plate

Price
$1,999

Contact
DPA Microphones | 303-485-1025 | www.dpamicrophones.com

PRODUCT POINTS

Plus

  • Lightweight
  • Small size
  • Musical sound
  • Solid construction

Minus

  • Lightweight
  • Small size
  • Musical sound
  • Solid construction

Score
Beautifully musical, lightweight, compact and accurate shotgun microphone with a higher-than-average price tag.The heart of the matte black supercardioid DPA 4017 is a 19mm (0.75 inch) pre-polarized condenser cartridge. This short and lightweight aluminum mic is 8.3 inches long with a .75-inch diameter. It weighs only 2.5 oz, is powered via 48-volt phantom power, and has a frequency response of 70Hz – 20kHz (±2dB). The mic has a permanent 50Hz, 3rd order, high-pass filter, a switchable high-frequency boost that adds a 4dB shelf at 8kHz, and a switchable bass roll-off, first order filter, below 300Hz.

The 4017’s condenser capsule uses a high voltage pre-polarized back plate that gives the mic a high output as well as low distortion and low noise. The mic has a supercardioid, lobe-shaped directional characteristic and its sensitivity is 30mV/Pa; -30dB re. 1V/Pa (±2dB). The mic can handle an SPL of 132dB peak before clipping. The mic’s total harmonic distortion is <0.5 percent up to 130dB SPL peak, and <1 percent up to 131dB SPL peak. The maximum output voltage is 2.2V peak and the output impedance is <200 ohm.

The 4017 has a typical dynamic range of 117dB. It uses a standard XLR-3M connector wired Pin 2 hot and has a cable drive capability of up to 100 meters (328 ft.). The mic is packaged in a foam-lined hard plastic case that should do a fine job of protecting the microphone in the field.

In Use

In essence, the 4017 is not a studio mic. However, it was quite at home in the recording studio. Case in point: the 4017 worked well and sounded wonderful on acoustic guitar. When an artist insisted on simultaneously playing guitar and singing, microphone placement on guitar could often be challenging. Using the 4017 on the guitar was an exceptional solution to this problem. I’d tried this with other shotguns in the past, but they typically had such a small sweet spot that if the artist barely moved their instrument the entire sound changed. Additionally, with the exception of the 4017, shotguns just didn’t sound good on acoustic instruments. The 4017 had a wider sweet spot than other shotguns, however, and it sounded wonderful on acoustic instruments.

This mic could also translate well with acoustic instruments in live situations. I’ve been involved in dozens of live concert recordings, and often the artist played acoustic guitar at least during part of the set. The direct sound of an acoustic guitar was never that flattering, so I’d always tried to mic the acoustic as well; typically I’d achieve this with a small diaphragm condenser such as the Neumann KM 84 or the AKG 451. These mics were sometimes usable during an acoustic song intro or during a ballad, but they picked up so much ambient noise that they couldn’t be used for 90-percent of the show. The 4017 was a perfect solution to this situation. It sounded great, had great off-axis rejection and it could be placed further from the sound source than non-shotgun options — and that made the video people happy. The mic could also work admirably when used to record audience ambience.

The 4017’s two switching filters were accessed by DPA’s brilliant new switching ring design. These sturdy switches were instantly altered by the twist of a ring rather than requiring the use of a small screwdriver. The top end response of the 4017 was so good that I never needed the high frequency boost. I wished, however, that DPA had made this both a boost and a cut, as there were several times I ended up reducing the high frequencies by using an outboard equalizer.

I was surprised that a $2,000 mic didn’t include a shock mount. I’m sure the $250 DPA shock mount has some advantages (the review mics didn’t include shock mounts, so I don’t know how they stand up), but for my tests the $55 PSC universal shock mount worked perfectly.

Summary

The DPA 4017 Shotgun Microphone is lightweight, compact and most importantly, accurate. I anticipate the microphone will quickly become a mainstay in the broadcast and location recording field. Although its price tag will undoubtedly keep some people from taking the plunge, it should receive top consideration from radio stations, freelance engineers, small radio stations and high-end consumers in the market for a top-notch shotgun.

Russ Long, a Nashville-based producer/engineer, owns The Carport recording studio. He is a regular contributor to Pro Audio Review.

Review Setup

Apple Macintosh 2 GHz Dual Processor G5 w/2 GB RAM; Digidesign ProTools 7.4; Lynx Aurora Converters; Lucid Gen-X-96 Clock; PMC AML-1 monitors.

DPA 4017: A Location Recordist’s Perspective

For this field test, I used the DPA 4017 on a documentary and a television production. I was recording straight to camera via a Sound Devices 442 mixer, while monitoring with Sony MDR-7506 headphones. While DPA does make a shock mount for this microphone, it was not included. Instead, I used a PSC short shock mount.

I found the 4017 to be ideal for long days of ENG shooting. Its short length made low ceilings easy to navigate. Its light weight cut down on the obligatory arm cramps from long days of booming. The mic’s pickup pattern seemed to be wider and more forgiving of off-axis dialog than the Sennheiser 416. This made it an excellent choice for documentary work and ENG shoots where it is often unpredictable who will be speaking next; usually, just a slight shift in angle was enough to make up for any loss in presence.

The onboard low-cut and high-boost were well implemented and easily accessible. For on-camera mounting, the low cut sounded good and was an excellent quick fix. The high-end boost adds a 4 dB shelving boost at 8 kHz. According to the manufacturer’s literature, it is intended to make up for any high frequency loss caused by a zeppelin and windjammer (or “dead cat”). I did not have an opportunity to try this out, but it is an interesting idea.

Overall, the sound was brighter in the upper mids than the Sennheiser MKH60. With the low-cut disengaged, I found the proximity effect added nice warmth to the dialog without sacrificing presence. The high SPL rating was helpful for one of my projects recording some wild gunshots without the slightest hint of distortion.

Unfortunately, there was a noticeable amount of selfnoise hiss in the upper frequencies that was distracting in the headphones. For the price tag, I would have expected a dead quiet microphone. Considering that the noise floor was similar to that of a Sanken CS-1, which retails for about $800, this was a knock against an otherwise excellent microphone.

— Matt Hamilton