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Danish radio and distance mics on choir

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by John Stafford, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I remember reading that the venerable Danish Radio records choirs from an unusually large distance, and the results are wonderful. I'm sort of curious about this.

    Anyone know if this is the case, or have any more details about their setup?

  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I know that in order to be able to do this you need a hall with really good acoustics. So much of how a choir sounds is the hall and how it supports or distracts from the sound of the choir. I was at the National Cathedral for a concert and the choir sound (300 massed voices) was amazing. I was recording the concert and bascially used two U-67s in a ORTF pattern about 60 feet back and 12 feet up and the sound was crystal clear. The choir was well balanced and there was no problems with capturing their sound and you could hear every word they sang. I have also done recordings in other places that I had to go in very far to achieve the same resulty because if I went far back all I got was muddy sound. One of the most amazing places to do recordings is at St. John's in NY. I was there for a Paul Winter recording session and was amazed at how the hall was supporting the performance even though I believe it has a 8.5 second reverb time.

    I guess the Danes are lucky that they have good halls to record in.

  3. Ellegaard

    Ellegaard Active Member

    The National Cathedral (you're talking about the one in Copenhagen, right?) is a HUGE hall with a lot of sound and plenty of room for muddy reverb to cause trouble for the musicians - I've recorded numerous CDs there and done a ton of concerts!

    You should also really check out the new Opera House here in Copenhagen (http://www.operahus.dk/default_uk.htm) - I haven't had a chance to see the place yet, but the acoustics should be nothing less than world class.

    I also really like the concert hall (http://www.dr.dk/p2/ny_rso/rso/billetter/salen/) and Studio 2 of the Danish Radio. Especially the concert hall is a wonderful place to play, and in a few years the conservatory will move into the building as the Danish Broadcast Company is building a new multimedia city on the town with another brand new hall, which will undoubtedly be even better.
  4. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I had the pleasure of singing in a concert in St. John's, and it was the most unusual sound I've ever heard (at least from the choir's perspective). From where I was standing, the sound that was coming back at us had a long reverb time, but the result was amazing. It seemed to communicate the vastness of the venue without that horrible tidal wave of reverb one can sometimes get in a lesser venue with a long reverb time. There were about twenty of us in the choir, so we sort of expected that the sound would be lost, and it was a pleasant surprise and an amazing experience. The sound of the organ was wonderful, and it was great to be able to walk around the building when the organist was rehearsing -it sounded amazing from all over the building.

    I'd love to visit the new concert hall. I haven't been in Copenhagen for many years, but at the time I was very impressed with what the city had to offer. Scandinavians seem to have an unusual ability to get these things right :wink:

  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    There's a large church north of Philadelphia in Doylestown, PA; the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowah. I've recorded several concerts and CDs there, the reverberation time is amazing; something like 7.5 seconds, depending on how & where you measure it.

    They usually put the choir in the loft with the organist. (This is one HUGE place; the loft is larger and more spacious than most small churches...) The loft is easily 20-25 feet higher than the floor area of the church itself, and just about everything is highly reflective marble.

    Recording the choir right there in front of the huge pipe organ is no mean feat, and we've tried all kinds of tricks to get the mic'd properly. Between the long revereration time and the huge organ, it's always a challenge. We've started using our booms to put the mics out beyond the front edge of the choir loft, looking BACK at the choir. In other words, the mics are in the same space as they would be on the floor out in front of the choir, but since it's so high up from the floor, it's actually easier to use the mics (& booms) from the height of the choir loft.

    I also put up a pair of ambient omni mics (yes, this sounds almost as ridiculous as you might think) out at almost the opposite end of the church, in this case near the front altar, about 100' or so from the loft. These are on a very high stand as well (about 25' feet in the air) and are on a direct line of sight with the choir. Of course, the sound is swimming in all the reverb, and it's a lot of mush....but wait; there is a solution. In post, we time-align the far-away mics to the main, direct pair, and (Surprise!) the ambient pair becomes a very useful source of "Real" reverb. (Dialed in carefully, of course.) It's still amazingly long and at times almost unusuable, but the time align process really helps a lot, and we even did a surround mix of one of the works, just as a demo.
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Sorry I was referring to the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. I have never been to your part of the world but would really like to get there sometime. Maybe after I retire. Sorry about the confusion.

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