DPAs d:mension 5100 Mobile Surround Microphone was recently put through its paces by Australian artist, composer and lecturer Daniel Blinkhorn when he visited Mexico and Cuba to capture environmental sounds for his latest eco-acoustic composition.
Having previously used DPA microphones on successful recording projects in Svalbard, Africa, Australia and Alaska, Blinkhorn had no hesitation in choosing DPA again for this latest trip.
I was keen to try the d:mension 5100 Mobile Surround Microphone because I wanted to experiment with multichannel recording, he explains. Its compact and unique design, ease of use and lightweight yet robust nature, coupled with the calibre of its sound quality, meant that it ticked all the boxes and seemed the most suitable microphone for the task.
Blinkhorn, who has won over 25 international awards for his work, undertook his latest expedition in July and August of this year. The trip was planned around a residency at the Centro Mexicano para la Msica y las Artes Sonoras (CMMAS) in Morelia, central Mexico. He also spent time in the Yucatan Peninsula before heading to Cuba and the Canarreos Archipelago, which he circumnavigated by catamaran.
At the heart of this trip was a desire to experiment with the multichannel possibilities offered by the d:mension 5100 microphone - and CMMAS was perfectly situated to assist in this, he explains. After leaving Morelia, I also wanted to record in key sites in the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba. I was particularly keen to capture the sound of the endangered black handed spider monkeys in Punta Laguna, Quintana Roo, as well as Central American howler monkeys and jaguars in the ecologically diverse region of Sian Ka'an (established by UNESCO as a world heritage Biosphere). In Cuba, I was offered an incredibly varied eco-acoustic soundscape, which was enriched by the music that resounds throughout Cuban culture. It was impossible not to approach my time recording the manifold melodic activities associated with everyday Cuban life.
DPAs d:mension 5100 Mobile Surround Microphone, which was supplied by the companys Australian distributor Amber Technology Ltd, proved so effective that Blinkhorn has now made it a permanent addition to his field recording rig.
It has become indispensable, he says. One of the key reasons why I wanted to use the 5100 was because of its uniquely lightweight, stout nature. DPAs innovative design solution for arranging multiple mic capsules in a sleek, surprisingly portable and discrete array made using the unit very simplistic, so it was an absolute pleasure to work with. Once attached to the tripod it was effortless to manage, easily configurable and surprisingly simply to transport. It plugs into a recording unit via a Lemo multi-pin to six XLR cable and has colour-coded cabling, which is a very helpful pneumonic tool for remembering the correctly assigned channels.
The Yucatan region is renowned for its high humidity, especially during the summer months, so Blinkhorn made sure that his d:mension 5100 microphone was safely tucked away in its case when not in use.
Not that the extreme humidity impeded the mics functionality in any way, he says. Its safe to say that it can operate under very extreme conditions and its ability to cope with higher than usual levels of wind was also commendable (thanks to its charismatic-looking hat or WJ5100 Windjammer). I positioned the unit at the front of a catamaran under full sail around Cuba to excellent effect, and the many coastlines encountered offered plenty of need for the windjammer to attenuate wind noise, resulting in some excellent, clean recordings.
As someone who describes his compositional language as 'a cross-pollination of instrumental, electroacoustic and videophonic music, all drawing from environmental sound', Daniel Blinkhorns aim is to get people thinking about the diversity of our planet, the sensitivities of so many of its habitats and the vital need for all of us to better understand our roles as custodians. His latest recordings featuring the d:mension 5100 Mobile Surround Microphone will be released later this year and will be available through the UK label Audiobulb (www.audiobulb.com), and his latest surround sound release, frostbYte - one dog night, features recordings from Svalbard that were captured using DPAs d:dicate 2006A Twin-Diaphragm Microphones.
For more information on Blinkhorn and his work, please visit www.danielblinkhorn.com
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