Rick Wheeler returns to DPA for Asian tour
ASIA: A full complement of DPA microphones has been used to support a recent tour of Asia by guitarists Larry Carlton and Steve Lukather. The microphones were selected by Rick Wheeler, Mr Carlton’s FOH engineer, guitar tech and tour manager for the last 10 years, for the concerts which took place at the Blue Note Club in Tokyo and the Hong Kong Baptist University in Kowloon Tong.
‘I first came across DPA when I was working in Hong Kong with American blues, jazz and rock guitarist Robben Ford and was introduced to DPA microphones by Francis Lai, DPA's regional sales manager,’ Mr Wheeler explained. ‘On that occasion I used a DPA d:facto vocal microphone for Robben and I chose it again for this tour because it is such an outstanding microphone for live vocals. Typically, condenser vocal mics can get unwieldy in a hurry, but the d:facto's supercardiod pattern provides a workable separation from nearby sound sources. It is extremely responsive and very natural sounding for the human voice.’
After taking advice from Ken Kimura, head of DPA's Asian office, he specified a variety of models including d:dicate 2011C twin diaphragm cardioid microphones for the guitar, bass amps and kick, snare and hi-hat, d:vote 4099 instrument mics for toms and the kick drum, a matched stereo pair of d:dicate 4011A cardioid microphones for overheads and a d:facto vocal mic for live vocals and speech.
Mr Wheeler reported being initially sceptical about the d:dicate 2011C, but was won over after hearing the result. ‘I was very happy with it,’ he recalled. ‘It has such a high SPL that it was able to handle the vast dynamic range of the kick from our drummer Keith Carlock. Overall it was a great microphone. I was equally impressed with the d:dicate 4011A mics that we used for overheads. They were very pure and accurate and didn't colour the sound at all. I was really impressed with the way the cymbals sounded, but also the way the mics picked up the rest of the drum kit so naturally.’
He also lauded the high SPL handling of the d:vote 4099s. ‘After listening to them, I found them outstanding in frequency response for toms,’ he explained. ‘They were very accurate and perfect in terms of staying out of the way of drum sticks, yet they could still pick up the sound of the drums.
‘The real testament to the accuracy of a microphone is how happy everyone is with their stage sound,’ Mr Wheeler summarised. ‘Artists tend to know what they like to hear and often don't pay much attention to the makes or model numbers. On this tour everyone was delighted with the sound and I received a lot of compliments about it. Particularly notable was the sound we achieved in Hong Kong, where we played a room where the sound can get out of hand in a hurry. On that occasion, I think I went right to the edge of getting the sound at an appropriate volume for the music.
'Overall, it was a great experience for me, both in terms of learning more about DPA microphones and getting a great mix for the audience and performers.’ he added.