Last year at Christmas, I had the opportunity to review the original d:facto, and I was most impressed. Shortly after that review, the d:facto II was released. Apparently, this is becoming a Christmas tradition because this year, I got to play with the updated version of one of my favorite vocal mic’s.
The “C” Word
Like the original d:facto, the II is a super-cardioid condenser handheld vocal mic. Now I know what you’re saying; “Mike, I thought you swore off condenser mic's on live stages?!?” Well, yes, I mostly did. This is one of the very few condenser mic's I will use on a live stage, and that’s because the pattern is so well defined, so smooth as it goes off axis and about the only condenser vocal mic that doesn’t double as a drum kit mic.
I’m not sure how those crazy Danes have done it, but they managed to come up with a mic that is wonderfully detailed, well defined, puts the vocal right out there in the mix with hardly any EQ and yet doesn’t pick up the whole stage.
Flat Response for Both Frequency and Phase
As you can see from these two diagrams, the d:facto II is quite flat with just a little bump up at 12 KHz. As you go off axis, the response really drops off quite nicely. Looking at the polar patterns, you see something pretty amazing; the patterns are quite consistent from 250 Hz all the way to 16 KHz.
In use, this translates to a very natural sounding vocal. Like I said, I did almost no EQ on Justin’s voice (our new worship leader), mainly because it didn’t need any. Unlike most cardioid mic’s, the d:facto II doesn’t have a big proximity bump in it, so it doesn’t require nearly as much roll off in the 200-300 Hz range. Justin’s voice sat in the mix quite nicely without me having to work hard to get it there.
Great from the Singer’s Perspective, Too
We talked about it after we wrapped up our five Christmas Eve services and Justin was quite happy with the mic. He felt he was able to just put his voice out there without a lot of strain, and the mic took it and worked it’s magic. If ever a vocalist was going to feel some strain, it would be after five back-to-back services that included a lot of singing. And yet, he didn’t feel strained at all. In fact, he wants me to order one for him to use every week.
This was something that I could tell easily as well, just listening to his voice in the mix. When I solo’d the channel, the stage spill was very minimal. It was just his voice, clear and smooth. I’ve been able to work with a wide variety of vocal mic's over the years, and I can honestly say the d:facto II is my favorite. I love the PR-35, and we’ll continue to use them regularly because the cost/performance ratio is just good (and they really do sound great). But if the budget is there, the d:facto II is a fantastic choice.
It’s not a budget mic to be sure; it will set you back close to $900. But if you can afford it, it will not likely disappoint. I’ve used the KSM9, and the KM105, and I’d take the d:facto II over either of those. Of course, the d:facto II is more expensive than either of those, but when you get to that range, price becomes less of an issue.
The Bottom Line
Is it worth it? It depends on whether you can afford it. Many churches won’t be able to justify spending that much on a single mic. And I totally understand that. On the other hand, really good guitars will cost well into the thousands of dollars, and if the voice is an instrument (which it is), then it doesn’t seem that out of line to spend $900 to reinforce it. You’re probably not going to buy 6 of them, but one could be justified for the worship leader, even if it’s simply to help preserve his or her voice.
It’s a little like spending $1,200 on a Shure PSM900 versus $600 on a less expensive wireless IEM. Sure, the cheaper one will get the job done, and probably not sound too bad. But the 900 will sound a lot better, and with a lower noise floor, be much less fatiguing to listen to for several hours a day. It all depends on what you value.
But at the end of the day, the d:facto II is a great mic and I give it two thumbs up.