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Choir Recording Sample - Feedback

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by tonyk, Aug 24, 2007.

  1. tonyk

    tonyk Guest


    this is my first post here! Thank you for a lot of useful information from some very fine engineers!!

    If at all possible, I would be interested to get some feedback about the bellow recording. Any kind of input and advice would be great.
    Basically I seem to have the honor of dealing with choirs more and more and would like to here how to improve on what I have got so far!


    Thanking you in advance!

  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member


    Maybe it is the sample but something sounds really weird. How did you record this sample. (mics, console, tape deck or computer, etc.)

    I would like to help but having problems getting though the weirdness of the sample.

    Let me know,
  3. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Ain't nothin' wrong with that piece Tonyk.
    It sounds "live" but overall is good clear and loud.

  4. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    This was recorded with two Shoeps MK21 in a wide ORTF and two DPA 4006 as outriggers. Straight into ProTools (002R) via an Audient ASP008. The 4006 mixed in just under the MK21.

    Thomas, hopefully this helps you a little bit and we can find out together, how the weirdness you perceive comes about!

    Brien, thanks for chiming in. How do you guys think I can improve on this kind of a recording!

    Thank you!

  5. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    Brien <-- is a very fine technician
  6. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    Here is a link to another file from the same concert. This time without piano! Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!


    Thanks for helping out!

  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The second example sounds good. However, to my ears your wide ORTF plus outriggers has pushed the sound field a little too wide, leaving something lacking in the centre. Also, I couldn't place the basses accurately. What were the metrics for the ORTF?

    For the record, it would be nice to know how this choir was arranged (tiered rows, semicircle etc) and the height and distance of the microphones from the choir.
  8. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    This is a good recording, considering the dead room and less-than-pristine singing. I do have to agree with the post above-- the middle does seem to be lacking, and even tho you said the 4006 were mixed under the MK21 it sounds like they are dominant.

    Schoeps suggest 120 degrees with wide cardioids , so depending on capsule spacing I doubt they are the source of your thin middle problem.

    Given the dead room and the chorus sounds like only 20 voices, why use outriggers? I always use an SF12/TRP for the main choral pickup (no crunchy sibilants and excellent choral resonance) and often flank it with TLM193s, but that is for slightly more transient response rather than a need to cover a wide choir.

    If you aren't in a mood to try ribbons, I would use only MK21 and a modified NOS-- 110 degrees and 12 inches. This allows you to back up a little and get more blend and eliminate the individual voices I am hearing.

  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I have listened to both the demos and I am still a bit confused. It seems as though there is some conflicting auditory information coming from the recording. It sounds as if I can hear the room before I hear the singers which does not make a lot of sense. Is it possible you had the outriggers turned up more than the center microphones? I know you were working under less than ideal circumstances and could only do what you can do so this is not a criticism of the recording but a questioning of the sound. Can you tell me a bit more about where the recording took place? It sounds like a room with hard walls and no carpeting. If it were me I would use a pair of microphones in an ORTF or crossed cardioids and forget the outriggers since they seem to be doing more harm than good. Another way would be to use a Decca Tree arangement, which we have used to good advantage in recordings of choirs. The last time I heard a recording like this one done is a great room at a persons house and there were all kinds of hard surfaces that were causing delays and early reflections. Some more information would be most helpful. This is in no way a negative post I am just telling you what I am hearing. Keep the information coming.
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    My perception of the "weirdness" boiled down to this point.

    To me, it sounded as though it were recorded inside a choir room with an immediately fast slap back of some sort. It doesn't sound like a concert hall.

    Tonally, it's fine.

    Perhaps the combination of subcardioid and omni was just too much for the not-so-great room.
  11. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    Thank you very much everybody for lending your professional ears to those recordings!! This is very kind of you!

    The choir consisted of around 50 singers arranged in rows, with a few singers spilling over the sides. Indeed it was recorded in an old house with a very wide wood stage, low ceiling and quite a few windows (even on the stage sides). When working in rooms like this, how would you approach the recording>

    The outriggers were mixed in just under the MK21, which were spaced at about 120 degrees, 35 cm (~14.5 inches). I was hoping for a little space in the middle for the piano with this ORTF set-up, and some added depth with the outriggers.

    Would it be useful to upload another sample with only the MK21 or very low mixed 4006 outriggers. I could find some time on Wednesday to do this.

    This was the first time for me to use those microphones and already, thanks to your help, I am understanding a lot more about how to use them. Thank you for this!

  12. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    Great Forum!! :cool:
  13. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Yes it is and yes to the posting of the new sample. Maybe with only the ORTF microphones and no outriggers.
  14. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I do something that I learned early in my career from a very famous recording engineer. I walk around with one finger in my ear since this would be what you are hearing though a microphone. I have the ensemble sing and walk around until I find the "sweet spot" and it will be readily apparent to you when you can hear a good balance and the ensemble sounds good. That is where I will place my microphone stand and whether I am using ORTF or crossed cardioid or a Decca Tree that is the place I will set up my stand. I then modify the placement after I have gone back to the recording room and listened to the setup.

    In this case I think a pair of crossed cardioids would be my suggestion or spaced omnis but a lot would depend on the room and I think in this situation the crossed cardioids would do the best for the sound of the group. You can always vary the width by keeping the capsules in line and swinging out the connector end.

    Keep on posting.....
  15. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I would certainly like to hear the second sample again but mixed with just the Schoeps main pair and no outriggers.

    Could it be that your concern over the piano has affected the spatial mix of the choir?

    Without knowing your room dimensions and microphone distances, it's hard to advise on the outriggers. If you want to keep some of the DPAs mixed in, you could try delaying the two outrigger channels before mixing with the main pair. The human ear is very sensitive to arrival times and will say a sound is louder if it arrives just before another, even if they are of the same intensity. It could be that the outriggers are receiving the side vocalists before the mains and therefore the ear is giving prominence to them. A 10 ms delay (representing about 3.4m air distance) is probably too much, but would show whether the arrival timing was causing a problem.
  16. RichS

    RichS Active Member

    Your recordings are pretty good. I think part of the problem is something that seems to plague amateur mixed choirs in general. The men's sections tend to be unfocused and a little "woofy." (I don't know why, it just works out that way.)

    In the accompanied piece, the men are more confident with the piano (although singing just a tad late in places), and have more vocal edge and better pitch/rhythm. You can somewhat hear the sections placement.

    In the a cappella sample, the men are more uncertain. Their sound has lost its edge and you can hear some sloppy rhythms by individual voices. The choir has that typical "community chorus" sound. (I don't mean that to be a put-down.)

    I have over 35 years experience singing in professional Men & Boys Cathedral Choirs that consist of approx. 12 men and 16-20 boys (split into balanced half's - left and right sides of the chancel). At this level, a sensitive choir can blend itself and can be mic'd relatively close to retain diction and the many tonal colors it's capable of. You then have more flexibility with mixing in room mic's for ambience.

    I guess my point is... when you have to pull away from a group to produce blend, your main mic's will have too much "room" (a problem, especially in a bad room) and anything you could possibly do with the outriggers really isn't any help. You end up with a homogenized, typical community chorus, non-discript sound. (Again, not meant as a put-down to the group you recorded.)

    I'd recommend mic'ing the choir a little closer (the MK21's are great for that) and use the DPA 4006's as room mic's, not outriggers. If needed, you can add a little reverb to the room mic's during mix.
  17. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Maybe this is exactly what I am hearing.
  18. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    OK, I will post the second sample with only the MK21 again on Wednesday!

    Boswell, my concern with the piano has certainly affected the spatial mix of the choir. Probably too much! Here are a couple of pictures of the room the concert was recorded in.

    View attachment 11001

    View attachment 11002

    Thanks for your continues support! You guys rock!

  19. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Wow...did I misunderstand? This is a house? Or is that what you're meaning to say as "concert house?"

    If this is indeed someone's home, they are quite fortunate!

    In such confines as this though in regards to a 50 person choir with a concert grand piano, I would err on the close side - especially given the flexible nature of the MK21 capsules.

    As for adding depth/bloom with room mics...I would say "no." Sometimes a touch of a quality artificial reverb can do much more for the sound than a pair of outriggers/room mics. In this case, I don't see any way humanly possible to get a broad, open sound from room mics. If a little depth is desired from them in general, I would consider rolling off many of the high frequencies (which will affect your first reflections dramatically) and bring them in low. Beyond that, I would still opt for the artificial reverb most likely.

    Cheers -

  20. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    Hello everybody and sorry for the slight delay in getting back to you!

    As promised, here is the a capella piece as recorded with the MK21 only!
    What do you think?


    Sonarrec, RichS thank you very much for some useful information. It's been very interesting listening to the samples again after reading your comments.

    Thomas, I will certainly remember your trick with putting one finger in the ear and searching for the sweet spot! Thanks for sharing this!

    Cucco, yes I guess it's a "concert house". Noone actually lives there now, but used to a very long time ago!! If I understand your post correctly, you would also suggest to move in closer with the mics under those circumstances, right? How can I avoid hearing single voices if I go even closer and get a good blend?

    It would be very interesting for me to start a threat, or maybe continue this one, talking and discussing the sound of different concert halls, rooms etc. and how to approach a recording accordingly! Would you be up for that?

    Thanks again and I am looking forward to hearing your comments about the MK21 sample.



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