Fresh From the Bench: The DPA d:vice MMA-A Mobile Recording Interface

November 27 2019, 05:10
Stuart Yaniger reviews the DPA d:vice MMA-A Digital Audio Interface, a two-channel microphone preamp and A/D converter that allows the use of the renowned DPA microphones with any iOS device, a Mac or a PC. Apart from being an audio measurement expert, Yaniger is also an enthusiastic music recordist and this device not only fit in his pocket but he also found it to be "a slick piece of engineering and industrial design."
 
The DPA d:vice MMA-A microphone interface is compact and is equipped with no physical controls. It has only two MicroDot inputs and connects to iOS devices via a microUSB port. The MicroDot system provides the DPA microphones with phantom voltage and receives the analog signal from the mic.

Not so long ago, serious field recording meant much lifting and carrying of heavy objects, lots of searching for power sources (or carrying even more weight), and in the case of video recording or television/radio production, the need for at least two people. Like everything else, field recording has been completely transformed. My current audio recording gear, which comprises a laptop, a stereo microphone, a USB interface, and associated cabling, fits into a medium-sized attaché case and might weight 4 or 5 kg. There’s likely an audio equivalent to Moore’s Law, and as one would expect, the next step involves the little audio and video recorders that everyone carries around with them these days. Like most people’s, mine is an iPhone. The improvements in the camera and optics of smartphones get the most attention, but most readers of audioXpress are also quite aware of the great sound capabilities of the current generation of these devices. But there are limitations, and those include the built-in microphones (generally very cheap electret or MEMS) and form factor of the phone, which determines the microphones’ acoustic environment. So we sometimes (ok, often) see well-shot videos, but they have poor sound.

Some videographers and musicians will use a separate microphone that plugs into the smartphone — in the case of iPhones, this is a Lightning connector. There are a lot of choices here at the inexpensive end of the market, but not nearly as many high-quality professional-grade microphones.

I recently reviewed the DPA d:vote 4099 microphone, which had the virtues of high directionality, low distortion, rugged construction, and ultra-light weight. This would seem to be a perfect sort of device for use with a smartphone, and DPA has a wide range of high-quality mics optimized for different applications. But of course, one still needs a way to plug it into a Lightning or microUSB port (depending on one’s use of Apple or Android) and control the recording.
 
Connecting microphones to an iPhone through the MMA-A is simple and straightforward, creating a very portable and high quality recording system. (Photo: Cynthia Wenslow)

Recognizing this need, DPA has debuted an accessory called the d:vice MMA-A. The MMA-A is meant to allow the d:vote mics to plug into an iOS device, providing both an interface and phantom voltage. There are two input channels and no analog output. According to René Mørch, the product manager for DPA, “The MMA-A Digital Audio Interface was designed with broadcasters and mobile journalists in mind, but can also be used by other content makers for recording music, filming on location, and during both live and recorded broadcasts. With this interface, users can portably record and stream clear and professional audio from the connected microphones.”

Read the complete review here.


This article was originally published in audioXpress, October 2019.
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