Choral Recording

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by tonyk, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    Hello everybody,

    wondering if I could get a few of the pros around here to comment on the below choral recording. Your professional opinions are always much appreciated! Here is then link.....please be picky!

    Thanks in advance to everybody who joins in!


  2. lell010

    lell010 Guest

    Well I am not really one of the pros here - but I really enjoyed this recording - the choir sounds marvellous.

    Any details pics of the recording?
  3. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Tony, there's a good balance there, but I hear some strange things.

    1. The women seem to be coming from the centre left and the centre right, a bit more from centre right. Did you mix a couple of stereo pairs together that maybe channel reversed, or were the choir parts distributed.

    2. The men seem to be largely from the centre, there doesn't appear to be the spread on the choir that you have (nicely) from the orchestra.

    3. I am sorry to say this but the mics and electronics sound a bit "low end". What gear was used?
  4. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    Thanks for your input!! David your observations are spot on! You can see the Choir set up on the attached picture. Sopranos - left, Altos - right, Bass and Tenor - center.

    The main pair were Shoeps MK21 and a Sennheiser MKH30/40 MS pair right infront of the Choir. In order to get the balance you can hear, the MS pair was mixed in just under the MK21. I tried to match the Choir spread from the MK21 as closely as possible with the MS pair, but found it very difficult...David, I think this is were your observations come in. The MS pair and the MK21 pair might not have the exact same imaging.......maybe the mix needs more S signal after all.

    The seperation the MS pair gives is great, but I found the mixing stage to be tricky to deal with, especially as the M mic (right infront of the mens section) seemed to stand out too much.

    Rest of the chain was a ASP008 into 002R, so not high end, but it should make decent recordings. The hall was a not so great gym/auditorium, so most of the Reverb is Altiverb.

    Thank you for discussing this recording!

  5. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Woops! So much for my "low end" comment. Then it must be the hall, there is this thickness, sluggishness to the sound. Maybe its Alitverb impulse choice and settings. Can you post without the Altiverb? Or choose a cleaner, crisper hall impulse. Choirs can get muddy easily.

    Yes this is the problem with the choir, it needs more width.

    Another clue to giving it some more width.

    Tony, its sounds pretty good, I am being picky.
  6. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    Thanks David!!

    Will try to put up a fresh mix without the Altiverb and more S Signal from the Sennheiser pair as soon as I get a chance.

    From your experience, is an MS pair in front of Choirs a good idea or are individual section microphones more advisable! Generally, what would you consider the important factors for close miking a choir in this kind of a situation?!

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom!


  7. 0VU

    0VU Active Member

    A few thoughts from a quick listen (on headphones) and a look at your pictures.

    It's a nice balance and some good playing and singing. I like the clarity of the orchestra but I think there's something rather 'phasey' going on, particularly at the start with the woodwind (especially the flute) and the female voices; it's ok with the male voices but the women sound odd and vague in the image (at least compared to the precision of some of the other parts). I can't be sure where the phase thing is coming from but there's definitely something unstable there. It might be an odd question (I don't know how much of the MS pair you're using) but is the MS pair L-R reversed? Or is the Side component quite high and the MS pair close in level to the main pair?

    Looking at the setup pics, I'd expect that you've got a fair bit of choir in the main pair which could work against the choir pickup from the MS pair. Given the simplicity of the micing, which perhaps will reveal errors more clearly than a more multi-mic'ed balance, have you tried delaying the choir pair to bring it more into sync with the main pair (or even so it's slightly behind the main pair)?

    With the choir pair so comparatively close to the front row of the choir, it sets you a wide physical soundstage to capture with perhaps more going on in the Side mic and off axis off the M mic than would be ideal. With that width, the presence difference between the men and women is somewhat unavoidable due to the physical distance ratios between men and women and the comparatively greater room component in the sound of the women. You've done the right thing in going high with the MS pair which helps reduce the distance disparity but the body of sound from the women is going to be very much in the off axis part of the M mic which will give some extra colouration, reduced presence compared to the men on axis, and imaging problems. Bringing up the S mic to increase the level of the women and widen the choir image will be walking a very fine line between making the women louder/clearer and making the whole image more unstable. I'm not convinced that more S is the answer - but I'm often wrong :wink:
  8. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    Hey OVU, thanks for your comments. What you say certainly makes a lot of sense and I can also hear and see (on the phase meter) the phase problems you are talking about.
    The MS pair is definitely very high in the mix, just under the main pair, but this was my only chance of getting the impact from the choir I wanted....The main pair alone couldn't cary the choir at all.

    During mixing I relazied, that widening the image thru more of the S signal would create an even phasier sound and that's why I settled with the width you can hear in the clip and that David commented on being to narrow...he is totally right and so are's a very fine line and very though to get it right, but I will try and have another go at it sometime next week.

    Thanks for your input, it has made a lot of things very clear to me!


  9. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Thanks 0VU it is phasiness that I am hearing as well. There's something not quite right, I thought it was low end gear but with the mics stated, things should sound toghter and more coherent. Is there a patching error, perhaps.
  10. tonyk

    tonyk Guest


    Here is a sample of the same section with only the Schopes MK21 main MS, no Altiverb!! Maybe together we can work our way forward and find out where I went wrong. How does this sample sound to you?

    Thanks a lot for your help! :cool:


  11. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I'm only listening on my laptop connection, so it's likely all bets are off;

    OTOH, I don't have much problem with the orchestra as I do with the choir. On my headphones & speakers, I don't hear enough detail from the choir pickup. I can't hear any consonants or details. I hear voices, yes, but it's hard to tell what they're actually singing. (it's a choral setting of the folk song Lovely Jane? but still....)

    I like using M/S but I wouldn't use it on the choir in this case, I'd go with ORTF and perhaps a second pair further out L&R in case I needed more coverage. I might try MS for the orchestra, but I like what you've done already, at least what I hear of it.
  12. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Nothing wrong with this file at all Tony. It must be the MS and then the mastering with Altiverb that is where the problems are coming in. This file is fat and full, what I would expect from a pair of MK21's. At least we know the raw material is fine. It was recorded a bit close to the orch and a bit far from the choir if anything. Perhaps the MK21 pair was too low, you may have got a better balance of orch/choir by raising this pair. That's for next time.
  13. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I've just managed to get round to listening to the two posted samples.

    I agree that the first has all sorts of phase effects in it that are absent from the second. But, as expected, the choir definition is insufficent in the second (rear mains only).

    I've been in this situation of choir-behind-orchestra many times, and it's not easy to know what to do in terms of microphone configuration and placement. Siting an MS pair in front of the choir in my view is not going to lead to a satisfactory mix for two reasons.

    Firstly, MS is a great technique that I frequently use for capturing the width of a small or medium group of players. I have found it not to give such a good result when it is seeing a sound field of near 180 degreees. Under thse conditions, I would prefer ORTF or some other cardioid-based configuration, assisted by outriggers if need be.

    Secondly, there is the problem of timing. Whatever microphones are used for the choir, they must be delayed by at least the time the sound takes to get to the main pair. Don't forget that the ear will perceive the first wavefront to arrive to be louder than a second one of the same amplitude. That's fine where the choir mics only pick up the choir, but here, I am guessing that a fair amount of the orchestra is also coming in on the choir MS pair, including the problematic flute. So it's not possible to arrange a delay that is correct for both the choir and the rear half of the orchestra.

    What to do? Well, I think the overall sound in the second excerpt from the main pair is lovely, especially as it is relying on natural acoustics and has no Altiverb on it, and it comes down to a question of balance and maybe width for the choir. It's a matter of introducing a contribution from the choir pair in a way that does not destroy the integrity of the sound from the main pair, and for this, I think your main weapon has to be delay. Perhaps bring up just enough MS amplitude to give some detail to the choir sound, and then adjust the timing so the phase effects are not obtrusive.

    Whatever you end up with, it has to be a compromise because of the starting material, and I would say that width of choir should be given less weight than adequate orchestra-choir balance without phasing effects. I think I would also try all this without any extra reverb.

    This can sound nice!
  14. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    Hello everybody,

    I am very grateful for all your replies. It has opened my eyes as to aproach a recording situation like this and I have learned many valuable lessons for the next time. ORTF vs. MS for the Choir pick up being one of them!!

    I will try to give this another mix including the MS Pair, in order to bring back a little bit more definition on the choir and post another sample for you to take a listen as soon as possible.

    Thanks for lending your professional ears to this recording! Very Cool!!



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