DPA helps Joel Compass Perfect His Mic Technique
"DPA microphones are renowned for their audio quality and very low noise floor, so I initially considered the d:facto Vocal Microphone for another artist I am working with who has a particularly quiet voice," Portlock says. "However, once Liam and I demo-ed it we realised it would also work really well for Joel's voice, which has a great dynamic range. We introduced him to the microphone and he absolutely loved it. He is now using d:facto for all his live vocal performances."
Liam Halpin adds that DPA's d:facto Vocal Microphone has made his life as an engineer much easier because he can use it with any professional wireless microphone system.
"DPA's UK distributor Sound Network supplied us with an adapter that gives us seamless integration with all of the professional wireless systems we usually encounter," Halpin says. "I am a big fan of Shure's wireless system but that doesn't preclude me from using other brands of microphone. There is a correct microphone for every situation and in Joel's case, when it comes to live vocals, it's the DPA d:facto. With this microphone all I need is an adapter, a capsule and a grill and I can walk into any venue and use any wireless system – I don’t have to take in my own. That saves us having to rent in a wireless system and allows us to use the right microphone for the artist and the performance space."
Joel Compass has been making waves in the UK after getting an early buzz from media outlets such as MTV and Digital Spy. As well as performing his own material, Compass also writes for other artists and is making a name for himself as a producer – indeed his ballad, Run, was written with Rihanna in mind. His latest single Forgive Me is currently climbing the UK Top 50 and he has been making high profile appearances at the MTV Brand New awards, at London's Red Bull Studios and live support shows with Rudimental and US star J Cole. He is also working on projects with established artists and his own debut album Science. A busy summer including live shows at Glastonbury and Wireless and secret garden festivals awaits.
Mark Portlock and Liam Halpin believe that introducing Compass to the d:facto has had a number of hidden benefits, not least helping him redefine his microphone technique.
"DPA's d:facto Vocal Microphone seems to work best when artists use In Ear Monitors, because that's when they can really hear the difference it makes to their voice," Halpin says. "With Joel, we started out using wedges but this was a real pain because he would sing right off the mic, often with his hands covering parts of the grill. Eventually, when we switched to d:facto, we persuaded him to move to IEMs, which he now has in both ear. The change this made to his mic technique was dramatic. Suddenly he could hear his own voice properly and he got right on the microphone because he was enjoying the improved sound so much. It's made a huge difference to his performance and to the consistency of his sound – in fact I would go so far as to say that this microphone has done more than anything else to get his live performance to where it is now."
DPA's d;facto Vocal Microphone now features on the equipment rider for every gig that Joel Compass does and as a result Portlock and Halpin's favoured rental company, Encore, has invested in its own stock. The microphone is also proving popular with the studio and broadcast engineers the team have encountered during the filming of some of Joel Compass' gigs.
"It's really funny how their faces light up when you tell them your artist is using a DPA microphone," Halpin laughs. "Studio and broadcast engineers are usually pretty disdainful about live mics but with this one they are more than happy. They know all about the audio quality of DPA so the d:facto gives us credibility."
Portlock adds that the d:facto Vocal Microphone also gives Joel Compass credibility, especially among other artists who recognise that it is a significant investment. He gives DPA's UK distributor Sound Network much of the credit for making it possible to move Compass onto a d:facto – and for supporting the team while they made the switch.
"The d:facto is not cheap and there is no way we would have committed a developing artist to such an expensive microphone if we hadn't had fantastic distributor support," he says. "The fact that Sound Network was able to lend us the d:facto Vocal Microphone in various forms so that we could try them all out - with cable bodies, adapters, different coloured grills etc - made a huge amount of difference. It gave us the confidence to go with the microphone and it also inspired our rental company to buy stock of its own so we now have access to mics that we can rent through them."