Katie Melua’s Stunning Sound Is Perfectly Captured By DPA Microphones
FOH engineer Bryony October used a selection of DPA microphones to amplify vocals and percussion on Melua’s recent European tour.
Georgian songwriter and musician Katie Melua is renowned for her exquisite vocals and when audiences go to see her live they want to hear every nuance of her amazing singing voice.
With this in mind, Front of House engineer Bryony October had no hesitation in working with a DPA d:facto™ Vocal Microphone for Katie when she was asked to handle Front of House duties on her recent run of European dates.
“The d:facto really captures the rich and beautiful tones of her stunning voice with very little effort on my part,” October explains. “Fellow engineers raved about the d:facto and after visiting the DPA factory in Denmark, I too quickly fell in love with it and now use it almost exclusively as my ‘go to’ vocal microphone. Because she doesn’t play guitar in every song we continued to use a wireless version, as she has done in the past, with both Shure and Sennheiser wireless systems, so that she could take it off the stand and move freely around the stage.”
For Katie Melua’s recent tour, October had to contend with a variety of scale of venue – from the 10,000 capacity Black Sea Arena near Batumi in Georgia, where Katie was joined by the Gori Women’s Choir, to the smaller and more intimate Cadogan Hall in London, where they did two headline shows for Amazon Prime.
As well as paying careful attention to the vocal sound, October was also keen to use DPA microphones on the drum kit due to the very dynamic role of the kit in the sound mixes.
“Drums were the first thing Katie spoke to me about when we were discussing her live sound as she was concerned that they should always be as subtle and quiet as possible to allow the very quiet and delicate songs space and presence, yet needed to provide the drive and feel in the heavier numbers,” October says. “For this reason, I needed microphones that could handle high SPL when the drummer played with sticks, but were also sensitive enough to convey the more subtle nuances of playing with brushes and mallets.”
The set up October chose included d:vote™ 4099 Instrument microphones for the toms and d:dicate 2011C Twin Diaphragm Cardioid microphones for the kick and distant snare. She also used a d:dicate™ 2011C for the guitar amps and added eight d:screet™ 4098 Supercardioid microphones to capture the sound of the Gori Women’s Choir.
“This combination of microphones was a real dream as they were able to handle the SPL, yet were incredibly detailed when he source was at low level,” she says. “In terms of the choir, it was a real challenge with a live drum kit next to eight open condenser mics in a hugely reverberant arena, but the directionality and side/rear rejection of the d:screet 4098s made the job less daunting because at low gain I was still able to pick up the four part harmonies of the choir with the most spine tingling clarity, yet without their sound being polluted by the band on the stage or the venue’s 8s decay time.”
October has been a live FOH sound engineer since 1999 and has worked with a huge range of artists across numerous genres including Billy Ocean, Laura Marling, Foxes, Ward Thomas and Keaton Henson. She is no stranger to DPA’s microphone technology and has used the brand many times in the past, particularly for classical concert recording.
“I have worked extensively with DPA microphones in an orchestral setting at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, where I have mixed broadcast audio for RTE Lyric FM,” she says. “I then naturally chose DPA when mixing FOH for singer-songwriter Keaton Henson who uses live cello/string quartet and a full grand piano.”
All the microphones for Katie’s tour were supplied by DPA’s UK distributor, Sound Network, with whom October has had a long and fruitful relationship.
“Sound Network has always been an incredible support to me,” she says. “When I needed an additional d:facto capsule for the Shure radio system we were using in Georgia, they sent one for next day delivery. Nothing is ever too much trouble for them and I am so appreciative because I feel like a very valued customer. I also want to give a big shout out to all the incredible ladies in DPA’s factory in Denmark because I have huge appreciation and respect for their skills and delicacy.”
Bryony October is now working with British country music duo Ward Thomas who are on tour with Miranda Lambert, and once again DPA’s d:facto Vocal microphones are being used.