DPA microphones are a Danish company that has been making high-quality microphones for studio, stage, and broadcast applications since 1992. A newer product from the company, called the d:vice MMA-A, is a small, high-resolution audio interface, dual-channel microphone preamplifier, and A/D converter for IOS mobile devices and Mac or PC computers. Its primary function is portable "on the go" recording where high-quality sound is essential. The interface is roughly 2-inches in diameter and employs DPA's MicroDot format for microphone connectors. Connections from the MMA-A to your mobile device (or iPad, computer, etc.) are made from Mini-USB to Lighting or standard USB cables. In addition to the interface, I was also sent a pair of DPA's excellent d:screet 4061 Miniature Omnidirectional mics to demo the unit.
My primary interest was in using MMA-A to record interviews for the Tape Op Podcast. We had started the series with interviews that were originally done on everything from microcassette, iPhones, and Zoom recorders. Some of the audio needed quite a bit of restoration work, and it was our collective decision that, although it was far from perfect quality, the great content warranted sharing. But I digress...
In pursuit of a small travel rig that could deliver high-quality audio in sometimes challenging situations, the MMA-A was intriguing. Users download a d:vice app that controls the unit from a mobile device. The app offers Level controls, Mono, Stereo, Dual, and Sum recording modes and also features meters, monitor options, and some simple high-pass filters. Mono mode is selected when only one mic is being used with the interface (its output sent to both channels). Stereo captures both mics and is adjusted with one level control. Dual recording mode allows for two input sources with individual level controls. Sum mode takes both channels (with individual level controls) and sums them to mono. Got all that? Once you have set your levels, simply open your favorite voice recording app and hit record. On both my iPad and iPhone I use Dayana Networks' Voice Record Pro app –I like its feature set, monitoring, and simple upload options. Paired with MMA-A, it's a stable system for me, and it has never crapped out mid-interview.
The audio quality when using the MMA-A interface with DPA's d:screet 4061 mics is fantastic. I was especially surprised by the low end and overall clarity of the recordings captured. I like being able to just clip or tape a mic on to the interviewee's shirt and forget about it! The unobtrusiveness of a lavalier mic really makes for a more conversational interview.
The d:screet 4061s are, in my opinion, an incredible technology. These pre-polarized omnidirectional mics are super-lightweight (about a quarter ounce each), handle 144 dB of SPL before clipping, and have a claimed frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. They are quite small and easily concealed for video work, stage, or otherwise. Cables are about 6 feet long (extension cables are available) and hang nicely/lay flat without twisting or bunching.
Beyond an interview scenario, you could easily connect any DPA MicroDot-compatible mic to the MMA-A for a variety of music recording applications. As an experiment, I used the MMA-A to record a live acoustic band to my iPhone, taping the mics to some headphone ear clips while standing in the center of the sound stage. This made for my own live, binaural-style dummy head (emphasis on dummy), and the results offered a very realistic sound stage with great imaging. I've tried the same idea with other equipment I own but found the sound quality of the DPA d:screet 4061 mic to be superior.
The whole rig – mics, interface, and iPad/iPhone – fits easily into a shoulder bag and has replaced my Zoom H4 [Tape Op #56] as my "go to" setup for interviews, and even simple live music recording applications. To have this level of quality in your pocket is astounding.