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DPA revolutionises Sting’s strings

A large quantity of DPA mics have been assigned to Sting’s symphonic orchestra for his Symphonicity world tour, writes Paul Watson

Sting’s FOH engineer Howard Page is using a host of DPA 4099 clip mics to revolutionise Sting’s 31-piece symphonic orchestra for his Symphonicity world tour. Symphonicity is Sting’s current world tour promoting his latest album Symphonicities, and sees him performing some of his most celebrated songs including Roxanne, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, and When We Dance, as well as a few unknowns, backed by a full symphonic orchestra. FOH engineer Howard Page, who is also senior director of engineering at Clair Brothers, has worked extensively with orchestras and is well accustomed to using DPA mics. Clair Brothers was also involved in Sting’s cathedral shows last year; and Page is more than satisfied with its recent purchase of an array of 4099s, which are used to mike the entire string section on Symphonicity: sixteen violins; seven violas; five celli; and three basses. “The DPAs are the best mics I’ve ever, ever found; and they give me absolute separation,” says Page. “When I turn on a DPA 4099 on one violin, I get one violin and barely anything else, which gives me incredible signal to noise; I also get more headroom than I’ve ever had on an orchestra before.” Page says that traditionally an engineer is fighting the feedback threshold, and shows are compromised by volume limitations, but because the 4099s are ‘so immediate’, he is able to get more presence for certain songs; and a more natural reverb across them all. The fact also that Sting’s show has evolved into a more rhythmic affair would have hindered him had he not had the 4099s, he insists. “Sting’s getting the percussionist to play more back beat; and If I didn’t have the DPAs I’d frankly be dead in the water by now,” says Page. “We’ve done all sorts of venues on this tour, including 40,000-capacity outdoor stadiums, the notoriously tricky Royal Albert Hall, and the reverberant Metropolitan Opera which is not designed to have microphones. I couldn’t have done them with area miking; it doesn’t work.” Page positions the 4099s on the F hole on the top side of the violin; and says that without any EQing, and at high volume, they sound exactly like the instrument. Convinced that the DPA 4099 instrument mic series will revolutionise orchestral miking, Page concludes: “Word about the DPA 4099 is, believe me, getting around; everyone raves about how the strings sound on this show, and the reviews all mention how rich the orchestra sounds.” Sting’s Symphonicity world tour hits Japan, Australia and New Zealand in January and February 2011.