DPA gave us an exclusive look at the d:vice in January of 2017 at the NAMM convention. This was before it was announced, but it looked promising. The d:vice is unique in the marketplace because of its size, dual preamps and mic choices. The question isn’t if it sounds great, because it does. The question is if its worth its price tag starting at 660 dollars for the interface and up to 2,870 dollars if you go big with the lav and mic capule kit.
Over the last few years, we have been slogging through the live streaming world, making our way towards better, more professional streams that aren’t difficult to set up. We started using just a phone and streaming with an app. Because we are Videomaker, we didn't want to leave it at that. A quality stream will have good content, good lighting and good audio. We moved on to using professional lights, professional support for the phone and professional audio.
When we first started, the number of options to better your audio was much more limited than it is today. Although we have moved past streaming with a phone, moving to a multi-camera solution, we know what to look for. Audio quality of the device is one aspect to keep in mind, but you also want to know how portable or usable the form factor is and lastly, how the audio levels are controlled.
We set up an iPhone 7 Plus with the d:vice. After a quick installation of the d:vice app, you are ready to use it for any phone-produced video. Because the 7 Plus doesn't have a headphone jack, we needed wireless headphones to be able to monitor the input. This is where we found the biggest issue. The monitoring is delayed, and if you are running the stream and performing in the stream, having your audio slightly delayed makes it very hard to think. Monitoring can be turned on and off, but when off, you don't know if you have a good, clear signal; all you have is meters to confirm something is coming through. We would have liked a headphone jack on the d:vice, so we could monitor the audio in real time. Apple phones don’t have their own headphone jacks these days, and the trend may continue across other manufacturers. During our testing, we set up the input gain before going live. Even though there was a delay, we could hear well enough to verify that the audio was at a healthy level and that it wasn’t distorting. We then turned monitoring off and conducted our streams.
We streamed to Facebook Live, YouTube and Instagram Live and also recorded a snap on Snapchat and captured a video with the basic video app. Like we said before, the preamps sound great, and the d:screet 4060 Lavalier mic sounds good, too. The d:vice app allows you to lock the settings, so that whatever app you are using to record or stream can’t change the audio settings on you. Although we haven’t experienced any hijacking of settings before, it is good peace of mind knowing they won't change.
The d:vice app allows you to lock the settings, so that whatever app you are using to record or stream can’t change the audio settings on you.
Getting setup wasn’t difficult and there is enough gain to capture a soft-spoken subject. Depending on placement, plosives can be an issue, so use a filter or relocate the mic to mitigate plosives.
The d:vice is a good size, and it easily fits in to a pocket. DPA doesn’t mess around making poorly built mics — but you pay for the quality the brand promises. The d:vice is rugged; it’s absolutely built to last. DPA’s MicroDot connector with built-in threads keeps connections from being unplugged during use. The output cable has a very strong connection, enough that we were able to hang the d:vice by the cable and it did not disconnect. The option for dual high-quality lav’s makes the d:vice unique. The perfect application is for a multi person shot where two mics are needed. Additionally, if you splurge for the lav combo kit with the d:dicate Supercardioid mic capsule, you’ll have better audio from your phone than most have with a full production camera.
There is no other product exactly like the d:vice, but there a few that are similar. We’re going to look at two other I/O devices from Shure, Apogee and an iOS mic from Sennheiser.
The Shure Motiv MVi is the cheapest of the three products we’re going to look at. At 130 dollars, it costs significantly less than the d:vice. However, it only offers one channel. It has a single class-A preamp with an XLR and ¼-inch combo input. The MVi is targeted at a user who wants something simple. It has 5 DSP presets and offers phantom power.
The most direct competitor for DPA is Apogee Electronics with its Duet USB Audio Interface for 595 dollars. It works with iPad, Mac and Windows 10. It offers two high-gain preamps, four outputs and phantom power, and it has an external multi-function control knob and a full color OLED screen.
Last up is the Sennheiser MKE 2 Digital Microphone. For 400 dollars, you get an omnidirectional lavalier mic for iOS 8.0 or newer. With its MKE2 microphone capsule and Apogee 24-bit/96 kHz converter, it’s a mic that plugs directly into your device.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
The DPA d:vice sounds great and has a rugged build. We found monitoring to be less than ideal with our particular setup, but the mic preamps are top notch. The big thing to get over is the cost. If you have the budget, you won’t be let down by the sound quality.
d:vice only 650
Lavalier Kit 1,015
Lavalier Combo Kit - 2,860
- Good Audio Quality
- Small Size
- Rugged Build Quality
- High Price
The DPA d:vice is a A/D converter with high quality mic preamps. It plugs into a phone for greatly improved audio for live streaming or any other video capture.
- Travel videographers
Input Connector: 2 x MicroDot
Phantom Power: 5 V to 50 V
4060 Omnidirectional Miniature High-Sensitivity Microphone (Black)
Transducer: Pre-polarized condenser
Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
Frequency Response: Soft Boost Grid: 20 Hz - 20 kHz +/- 2 dB, 3 dB soft boost at 8 Hz - 20 kHz
High Boost Grid: 20 Hz - 20 kHz +/- 2 dB, 10 dB boost at 12 kHz
Soft Boost Grid: 20 Hz - 20 kHz +/- 2 dB, 3 dB soft boost at 8 Hz - 20 kHz
High Boost Grid: 20 Hz - 20 kHz +/- 2 dB, 10 dB boost at 12 kHz
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Typ. 35 dB (max. 38 dB)
Maximum Input Sound Level: 134 dB SPL before clipping
Power Requirements: +48 V
Output Connectors: MicroDot
Low Frequency Roll-Off: No
Weight: 0.26 oz (7.5 g) incl. cable and MicroDot
d:dicate MMC4018 Supercardioid Microphone Capsule
Directional Pattern: Supercardioid
Cartridge Type: Pre-polarized condenser
Frequency Range: 20 Hz to 20 kHz, ± 2 dB at 30 cm: 40 Hz to 18 kHz
Sensitivity: Nominal ± 2 dB at 1 kHz: 12 m V/Pa; -38.4 dB re. 1 V/Pa
Signal to Noise Ratio: (A-weighted), re. 1 kHz at 1 Pa 94 dB SPL: Typ. 78 dB (A)
Max SPL Level: 157 db peak before clipping
Temperature Range: -40 to 113° F (-40 to 45° C)
Capsule Size: 0.75" (19 mm)
Dimensions (L x Diam): 0.9 x 0.8" (23 x 19 mm)
Weight: 0.6 oz (18 g)
Chris Monlux loves live streaming. We’re not sure if it’s because he enjoys the technology or rather just wants everyone to listen to him. He is also Videomaker’s Multimedia Editor.