I’ve been at Mix for 25 years, and last month I went on my first real junket. I have no moral objection to journalists accepting trips from sources or advertisers. None at all. I know that travel writers stay in Bali for free, that fashion writers are flown to Paris, that tech writers don’t foot their own bill for retreats in Aspen. It’s all part of the dance, at every level of the media, especially the trade press.
So I went on my first real junket and I’m writing about it in the Editor’s Note. It was that good.
DPA Microphones flew eight pro audio journalists—from England, Canada and the U.S.—into Copenhagen in late March for a two-day tour of the company, a few facilities they partner with, and Danish life in general. It was truly eye-opening, but not strictly from a manufacturing point of view. It was more about how Danes approach life, and how quality and care are seemingly built into their DNA.
Yes, DPA has a reputation for making great microphones, and the d: line has proven quite successful for them. Miniature capsules now account for roughly 80 percent of the company’s business. They have dedicated assembly and quality control in-house, in bright, modern, stylish headquarters (just north of Copenhagen) and factory (an hour west). Research and development is emphasized; working with engineers and organizations in the field completes the feedback loop.
But this wasn’t about their products. As far as I could tell, DPA was taking the opportunity to show us what they do, and how they do it. The company wasn’t launching a specific new line, and there was no hype attached to our visit. There was a critical listening demo in their own studios, detailing the differences between miniature omni and cardioid capsules, in terms of rejection and noise. And there were stunning surround DXD demos of recordings an affiliated engineer, Mikkel, had made with the New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall and the Danish National Orchestra in Danish Radio’s stunning concert hall, of course using lots of DPA mics.
I’m not naïve enough to think that hosting doesn’t bring its own rewards, but I do avow that everyone at the company seemed just as excited to show off Denmark as they did the new necklace mic. Our trip began with an early Sunday walk through the Danish Design Museum, just me, Kevin Becka, DPA CEO Christian Poulsen and marketing manager Anne Berggrein. Lunch at a snaps house, then early evening jazz at The Standard, on the canals.
The next day we visited the factory, had lunch at a castle, then came back to Copenhagen to visit the stunning Danish Radio facilities. Dinner, then a DJ spinning classical music back at the hotel. The next day brought a visit to HQ, with listening events showcasing the noise and directional characteristics, followed by the lush, full sound of an orchestra at 24/192, in surround.
Kevin Becka and I stayed a couple more days, to speak at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory, visit the National Gallery of Art, and take advantage of a more personal tour of Danish Radio by the amazing Niels Erik Lund. Everywhere we went, whether the focus was on music, machines or architecture, the Danes emphasize quality. They support quality. And the arts are as much a part of their life as bicycles zipping along the canals.
After just a week in town, it was clearly evident why Denmark is home, at least by one recent rating, to the happiest people on Earth.