FOH engineer picks DPA mics for Dutch rock opera

“Flawless and amazing” is how FOH engineer Niels Jensen described DPA’s d:facto Vocal Microphone after he deployed 18 of them to amplify the singers in a unique stage show entitled Ayreon Universe, which was performed over three nights at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.

The progressive metal/rock opera known as Ayreon Universe is the invention of Dutch singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Arjen A. Lucassen. The performances in Tilburg marked the first time Lucassen had staged the rock opera live, with over 9,000 people from more than 54 countries in attendance.

“I absolutely love these microphones,” said Jensen. “Even with so many singers in such close proximity to each other I had no issues at all with bleed. The phasing was out of this world and the sound was so clean, I couldn’t have wished for anything else.”

The whole project took over a year to materialise and was masterminded by Lucassen and his musical director Joost van den Broek. At each performance, Lucassen was joined on stage by 17 original Ayreon singers (including backing vocalists) and a hand-picked band of eight instrumentalists.

18 wireless d:facto 4018V Vocal Microphones were used for the singers. Jensen close-miked the snare drum using a d:facto 4018VL Linear capsule with a MMP-ES preamp mounted on a GSM4000 Gooseneck Mount and a d:vote drum clip, to capture the drum sound as naturally as possible. He also used this solution on a high Leslie for the same reasons.

He also specified DPA d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones and a selection of d:dicate 2011 Twin Diaphragm Cardioid and 4015 Wide Cardioid microphones to capture a range of instruments including drums, Leslie, digeridoo, flute and percussion. All the microphones were supplied by Amptec, DPA’s distributor in the Netherlands.

“The d:dicate 2011 microphones were used for kick drum, hi-hat, ride, snare bottom and bottom Leslie because they deliver sound straight from the source and with great clarity,” explained Jensen. “For the rack toms and floor toms we used d:vote 4099 Instrument Microphones because they offer great linear response. They are honest and give you the true tone of the source. We also used d:dicate 4015s as overheads because their wide pick up perfectly captured the overall drum sound. We had 88 inputs in total with all the tracks and ambiances for recording included.”

Jensen added: “We had an incredible drummer in the shape of Ed Warby on stage and I felt that his drums would sound great with DPA’s as well. From the first soundcheck I knew we had made the right choice because Ed’s drums sounded so lively and detailed. Overall it was like taking studio quality sound to a live show and that was really impressive.”