DPA 4099 Microphone Review
Verdict and Review Summary
While the price is restrictive to mostly professional or near-professional scenarios, the recording sound quality from the 4099 is crisp, clear, deep, and does a great job of keeping out white noise and external sounds. For capturing a more natural sounding acoustic tone without having to go through a preamp, this mic is absolutely the way to go.
The challenge with recording acoustic guitar - or any acoustic instrument - is to digitize what is meant to be a completely naturally occurring sound and tone. And even with acoustic guitar preamps being as good as they are, the best way to get a natural-sounding acoustic recording is still with a microphone, coming straight from the sound hole to your DAW or recording interface.
That's what the DPA 4099 Core was design for.
In our DPA 4099 review, we'll cover unboxing the microphone, the setup process, and some sound samples to help you decide whether this particular microphone is right for you.
It's expensive, but the final product sounds great, without a ton of post-production.
If you have questions or you want to share your thoughts, you can easily do so via the comments section below and I'll do my best to help out.
For those wanting a quick assessment, we've made a simple scoring card below that summarizes the review.
Simplified Review Scorecard
In this section we've provided a simple scorecard and summary for the DPA 4099. We graded lower for cost and value just because of the expense, but found the recording quality to be extremely good. Other more nuanced aspects of what we liked/didn't like are in the pros and cons section.
IDEAL FOR: Professional levels of acoustic (guitar or other stringed instrument) recording and performance.
Watch the Review with Simple Bullet Points
Recording Quality and Samples
Since the most pressing concern is how the recording quality sounds, I figured I'd start my review and center it around a couple of sound samples. I used my Taylor 114ce acoustic guitar, Elixir strings (the strings were about four-five months old, so close to needing a change), and a PreSonus audio interface for a fairly simple recording setup.
I didn't do any post-production or manipulation of the final results. This is just what I was able to get straight out of the box with as simple a setup as possible.
The first recording is a fingerpicking pattern:
This one is a strumming pattern using a medium weighted pick, covering two different chord progressions:
Both recordings were naturally crisp and consistent with a minimal amount of white/background noise that can easily be taken out in post-production.
I was also impressed with how the microphone differentiated between the low and high frequencies of the guitar. It seemed to capture the boom and deeper resonance of the root notes while preserving the chime and sheen of the high notes.
Here's how I had it clipped to the acoustic guitar, right before starting the recording:
A professional audio engineer might know of a better or more effective way to position this microphone. It also depends on what instrument you're trying to record as we've seen these used for other stringed instruments like a banjo and violin.
But as for the overall recording quality, I was extremely happy with the results, especially considering I didn't do any kind of editing or post-production adjustments.
Setup and Construction
This microphone is designed to be clipped to the body of your guitar and then positioned with a flexible stand above or near the soundhole. Since my acoustic guitar has a cutaway, I found this to be the most convenient place for positioning the 4099.
Once in place with the included clip, you can adjust the small boom of the microphone to maneuver it in whatever position or direction you want.
After settling on a position, the microphone does a good job of staying in place.
I didn't notice any wobbling and at no point did I have to re-adjust the microphone's position. This was during roughly 20-25 minutes of use and testing.
The clip I'm referring to is in this image, between the small ring and the black case:
The only thing I didn't love was the clip that came with the 4099. It uses two adjustable ends that clamp down on either side of your guitar, which works fine but just felt flimsy and a little difficult to tighten.
But again, the microphone never fell off or lost its position.
Given that the microphone is smaller, the cable to the XLR connection is also really small and feels fragile. I kept worrying about accidently yanking and breaking it, which could be a concern for playing live or for moving the unit around a lot.
The XLR connection is also a lot heavier than the cable and it's not very well supported unless it's plugged in.
I'd recommend keeping the unit boxed up when not in use, and to be careful when moving it or setting it up.
Price and Value
At the time of our review, the DPA 4099 Core retailed for $620 on Sweetwater. Similar microphones have an extremely wide range of price and quality, starting as low as $40 and going up to $1500 or even higher.
Given this spectrum, the 4099 is roughly in the middle of what you can expect to spend.
And we'd argue it's a superior design given the smaller size of the microphone and flexible stand, which makes it ideal for stringed instruments.
In that regard there's still a lot of value here, even at $620.
There are plenty of options that use the term "instrument microphone" or cardioid mics that are just for instruments in general. I've used several of these and none of them get you a recording quality that's even close to what I've gotten out of the 4099.
So while it's not cheap, the $620 price tag is - in my view - reasonable, given the high quality standard being met.
Conclusion and Your Questions
For recording an acoustic instrument, the DPA 4099 Core is an absolutely fantastic option. And while there may be some initial sticker shock, it's important to keep the broad price range of instrument microphones in perspective.
There are certainly cheaper options than the 4099 - which won't sound nearly as good - but there are also options that get significantly more expensive.
DPA gives us a professional grade recording mic for a decent price, so we're happy to recommend it without hesitation.
If you have questions about our DPA 4099 review, feel free to reach out via the comments section below.
I'll jump in there and help out as much as possible.