Strother Bullins on DPA SC4098 D:Screet Podium Microphone

The SC4098’s well-chosen frequency response and alluring flexibility make it a bargain for traditional spoken-word podium applications and beyond.
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The d:screet SC4098 is a $659.95 DPA supercardioid condenser podium microphone, thus primarily marketed for spoken-word applications. Yet beyond its podium form factor, this mic is ready-made to capture just about anything needing high-end quality, clean performance, and a tight pick-up pattern.

For houses of worship, theaters, educational facilities, and commercial environments, the SC4098 would likely be a remarkable improvement in the quality of the most important channel in the mix. An added plus is how it works when paired with other sound sources: non-spoken-word vocals (singing) as well as performances via stringed instruments, wind/brass instruments, various percussion, and more.

The 48V DC phantom-powered d:screet SC4098 podium microphone features a pre-polarized condenser element with a maximum SPL of 136 dB before clipping. Frequency characteristics include a 20Hz to 20kHz response; it is predominantly flat yet with significant LF proximity effect at a 8in. distance: +6dB from flat between 600Hz and 100Hz and, on the HF side, a bump up to +3dB between 5kHz and 18kHz. Lightweight at 3.1 ounces, this particular d:screet podium mic is the longer 18in. model and terminated XLR-M, but a MicroDot S-50 connector model is available.

I swapped the d:screet podium mic with a lower-cost Shure—a fine small podium condenser—at a local church for some initial applications and impressions. Based on price alone—with the DPA being nearly three times the Shure’s cost—these mics were not in the same class. Still, I remained impressed with the Shure while finding the DPA intriguing and far more flexible.

On its primary intended application, spoken word, the SC4098 is on the level of any fine studio condenser microphone with some slight EQ applied. Its proximity effect adds intimate and appropriate low-frequency body to full-voiced speakers and a crisp yet natural-sounding boost up top, emphasizing enunciated details for great intelligibility; it is in the top end “bump” that the SC4098 embodies that signature DPA sound.

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The three-option SC4098 d:screet is available in 5.9,  11.8 and 18-inch  lengths.

At this particular church, the pastor frequently performs as a vocalist/acoustic guitarist from the pulpit, and the SC4098 captured these performances quite well, too. His guitar’s off-axis distance from the SC4098 seemed to blend well with the on-axis close-miked vocal; he ultimately used one Sunday’s board mix to share a song via the church’s preferred social media site as it sounded both detailed and natural.

As I listened to two separate services’ board mixes at my studio, I was struck by its overall quality and soon returned to the church to apply the SC4098 to several other instruments often found in both houses of worship and schools: woodwinds, brass winds, and percussion. Again, the SC4098’s performance was impressive; the instruments were full and detailed where it counts. I was pleased to discover how well the SC4098 handled high-volume transients of drums, cymbals, and other potentially loud percussion accessories as well as louder brass instruments, such as trumpet.

Then it struck me: at nearly $1,000 street, the lauded d:facto handheld super cardioid is far pricier than the SC4098 and you can stick this SC4098 d:screet anywhere, thanks to its very small capsule, low-profile housing, and long reach. For podium—or stand-mounted use, this DPA mic could be a real workhorse for stationary performers or audio pros simply thinking outside of the box. I used it to reach over to the sweet spot on seated instrumentalists, into crowded percussion rigs, and down and around to even high-volume guitar cabinets: just add an accessory connector to its XLR-M end and users can get quite creative.

At $659.95, the DPA d:screet SC4098 isn’t a low-cost podium microphone. Yet considering its well-chosen frequency response and alluring flexibility, it could be one of the best condenser mic bargains for houses of worship, theater, and institutional applications.

Strother Bullins is NewBay Media’s reviews editor, AV/Pro Audio Group, active musician, recordist, and small-venue sound reinforcement wrangler. sbullins@nbmedia.com

PRODUCT SUMMARY

COMPANY: DPA Microphones
www.dpamicrophones.com
PRODUCT: SC4098 d:screet Podium Microphone
PROS: Beautifully sculpted frequency response, world-class build-quality and prestige, flexibility akin to a traditional supercardioid condenser.
CONS: Priced at the higher end of the podium microphone spectrum
APPLICATIONS: Spoken word, vocalists. Also works well on acoustic stringed, brass/woodwind and percussion instruments.
PRICE (STREET): approx. $659

SPECIFICATIONS

DIRECTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS: Supercardioid
CARTRIDGE TYPE: Pre-polarized condenser element
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 100Hz to 15kHz with 3dB soft boost at 8kHz to 15kHz. Permanent 2nd order low-cut filter (-3dB at 80Hz)
SENSITIVITY (NOMINAL +/- 3DB @ 1KHZ): 16 mV/Pa; -36dB re. 1V/Pa
TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION (THD): <1% up to 125dB SPL peak; <1% up to 122dB SPL RMS sine
DYNAMIC RANGE: 102dB
MAXIMUM SPL (PEAK BEFORE CLIPPING): 136dB
CABLE DRIVE CAPABILITY: Up to 984ft.
POWER SUPPLY (FOR FULL PERFORMANCE): 48 VDC phantom power +/-4V
CURRENT CONSUMPTION: 3.5mA
CONNECTOR: XLR-M
WEIGHT: 3.1 ounces
MICROPHONE LENGTH: 18in.
MICROPHONE LENGTH: 0.5in.
POLARITY: +V at pin 2 for positive sound pressure

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