In between successful recordings, including the band’s latest, NoOther Way (Skaggs Family Records), Mountain Heart maintains a heavytouring schedule with performances alongside bluegrass legends likeRicky Skaggs and The Del McCoury Band, and country luminaries likeGeorge Jones, Merle Haggard, Brad Paisley and Junior Browne. Onstage,the bandmembers wanted more freedom to move around the stage duringinstrumentals, but were having a tough time finding microphones thatcould capture the tonal essence of their acoustic instruments.
Scott Bolen, Mountain Heart’s engineer, explained, “Acouple of the guys had tried small condensers mounted on theinstruments and we didn’t like the tone they were getting,especially Adam Steffey, the mandolin player, who’s a real puristwhen it comes to acoustic tone. Plus, I couldn’t get the SPL weneeded out front without tremendous sacrifices in terms of signalquality because we had to over-equalize. So we researched what micscould let us leave the stands behind, but not the tone. I eventuallyfound out about DPA Microphones from the fiddle player Jimmy Van Cleve,who’d heard about them from someone in Ricky Skaggs’ band.He loved the sound of it, but I didn’t know if it was going tohelp me solve my problems out front.
“I contacted DPA and we got 4061 miniature condensers to tryat a full rehearsal. The first instrument I put one on was AdamSteffey’s mandolin—and he’s a real purist who hadresisted wireless because of the tonal compromises––and assoon as heard how he sounded, his eyes lit up. And in the rehearsalroom, my EQ was flat and it was so loud, I couldn’t stand it! Itwas really impressive. Everybody was amazed to hear the true sound oftheir instruments at those volumes. Previously, we’d never gottenthe tone we wanted live. DPA mics have made a big difference in ourperformances.”