The DPA 4015A Wide Cardioid Mic is a cardioid microphone with 100% linear off-axis characteristics, a wide pickup area, beautifully natural reproduction, and directional ambience pickup. As I can attest to, the microphone performs exceptionally well when capturing vocals. It’s even better for that purpose than DPA’s d:dicate 4017 and d:dicate 4018 shotguns I reviewed some time ago.
The off-axis characteristics of this mic are totally linear. Any leakage that occurs from off-axis sound sources is a faithful reproduction of these sounds, just softly attenuated. That makes the mic an excellent choice for recording orchestras and vocals. It’s also great for capturing spoken voice as with interviews, due to the precise localisation.
When recording instruments with complex radiation patterns, the 4015A covers a greater sound angle making it an excellent choice as I found when trying two of them set up in stereo (parallel) recording brass bells and a solo violin. In TV-studios, the 4015A Wide Cardioid Mic is ideal for recording grand piano, guitar, marimba and percussion. With the brass bells, I tested the 4015A handling of high sound pressure levels before clipping occurs. With one of these instruments, I held the bell centred between the two microphones that were positioned at a distance of 40cm for this purpose. There was no clipping at all; something I didn’t expect with an advertised SPL of 159dB anyway.
With speech, the 4015A displays rich but subtle bass that adds volume and presence without sacrificing detail or accuracy. For interviews or music recordings in stereo, the 4015A Wide Cardioid Mic is also available as a matched stereo pair.
While my test unit was equipped with the standard 20cm pre-amp version, DPA Microphones also sells these mics with other pre-amps, of which the 4015C is so small, it is the preferred low-profile solution of many a set designer. They are often used on choirs, percussion setups, grand pianos, wind instruments, etc.
The advantage of a cardioid mic made by DPA Microphones
Named for its “heart shaped” polar pattern, a cardioid or directional microphone has the most sensitivity at the front and is least sensitive from the sides and at the back. While the 4015A has a wide cardioid capturing pattern, a shotgun microphone has a supercardioid or hypercardioid pattern.
The latter two pick up less sound from the sides than the former, but although all cardioids pick up sound coming in from the sides, the off-axis sound will usually be coloured to some degree — and be less accurate — and dampened. DPA, however, uses a capsule technique that gets rid of the colorisation issue completely, only reducing the sensitivity to off-axis angles, which results in an accurate soundstage.
A cardioid microphone is, by definition, dampened with -6 dB at the 90 degrees side entry of the microphone. Cardioid mics are therefore the better choice when the soundstage you want to focus on is in front of the mic with the sides mattering less. A disadvantage is that these mics suffer from the proximity effect, which causes an increase in bass response the closer the microphone is moved to the sound source. In some cases, however, that effect may be exactly what you want to give a bit more body to someone’s voice.