Recently I found myself with an opportunity to try out DPA’s 4098, a podium microphone, as a plant mic. The scene: a taxi driver with a passenger in the back seat. The dialogue was in arabic- so I didn’t understand a word, but I definitely heard them as clear as day.

DPA 4098 in black w/foam

The 4098 is a super-cardiod, gooseneck mic and is available in a variety of sizes. Now, for our purposes, the smaller the better- usually. My specific set-up that day was the 4098 directly into Lectro’s SMQV, and transmitting to me in a lead vehicle on Sound Devices 633.

Overall the quality of these mics was solid, the low end could use a little boost, but in a situation where I couldn’t plant a boom mic I would say I was happy with the result. It definitely beats anything you’d pick up on a cleverly hidden lavalier, and a perfect workaround to having that lav directly on talent which comes with its own set of problems- muffled dialogue, clothing movement, seatbelt rubbing, etc.

The best part? It’s quick. The microphone itself is known for being a little fragile, so keeping one set up and ready as opposed to in a carrying case might be a little risky, but considering that it takes roughly 2 seconds to plug in leaves that as a pretty moot point. From there it’s just a matter of finding the best place to hide it. Under the visor? Great. Transmitter pinched in the headrest with the mic sneaking out? Love it.

Seriously, like 2 seconds. 
image courtesy of DPA Microphones

The 4098 typically comes in between six and seven hundred dollars- comparable to your high end lav, and is a solid investment. Pro tip: we’ve all found ourselves asking at some point or another, “Why did I buy that warrantee or insurance plan for ‘x’ piece of equipment??” Well, in this case you may want to consider it. The gooseneck itself is fairly solid, but the end piece is a bit more fragile and can be damaged while making simple adjustments. I found this out the hard way.

At the end of the day this mic, though not designed for this purpose, gets my stamp of approval. The real trick though? Explaining to the producer why it’s a worthwhile investment.

Best of luck out there-