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How to Mic a Choir

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by audiokid, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Travis Cibolski, owner of Clarity Media Group and Technical Director for the Sunset Presbyterian Church in Portland Oregon, talks with Dean k from Audix about the basics of miking a choir.

    This is a 6 part video well worth watching:

    1. Introduction and Microphone Choices,
    2. How to Mic a Choir Part Two - Microphone Placement
    3. How to Mic a Choir Part Three - More About Microphones
    4. How to Mic a Choir Part Four - More Complex Choir Configurations
    5. How to Mic a Choir Part Five - Setting Up Your Choir
    6. How to Mic a Choir Part Six - Audix Microboom and Final Review
    Audix Videos
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Those are quite well done. The one thing he does not address for live sound is monitoring - which can be difficult for choir / band interactions.

    Audix has done a good job with other videos - lots of information and a soft sell on its own products. Has anyone he used the microboom mics?

    [Update:] Yes I should have done a search. Interesting info out there. But I'd be grateful for any updated reactions. (Those microbooms look really great in terms of logistics.)
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    An interesting set of videos, and not overly Audix promoting. However, they do not make it very clear at the outset that most of what they say in the first four episodes is aimed at mono PA and not at recording, with the result that they completely ignore the problems of choir layout, miking and mixing for stereo. Their blend-by-positioning technique is in most cases inappropriate for a listener to a CD or a broadcast.

    I also smelt something a little suspect when the choir engineer guy recommended inverting the polarity of odd-numbered microphones.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I have used them Bob, last year for a big festival. My experience with Choirs is only beginning. They are so perfect for the job, very sleek and they sound great. They aren't a DPA or Royer but they do the job and do it well. I love them. The carbon fibre booms are the coolest. Audix has really nailed this niche.
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    My last church gig was in a new installation with 4 of the MB5050's (cardioids). For aesthetic reasons I could never understand, I was not alowed to move them from their designated positions. The designer had never used those mics before, and so they were not positioned to maximize their effectiveness...one of the reasons I moved on.
    In any case, to address Bob's inquiry, I would say that the Microbooms sounded very good in a choir-only setting with just an electric keyboard to contend with. But in a "praise team" situation, they couldn't compete with a live band-with-drummer. I had to resort to a pair of spaced NT-5's which fared much better. Remember Cucco on this site? He was an Audix dealer and had warned me that these Microbooms would not work in a "sound reinforcement" scenario like that, nor were they intended to. He was right (as he always was!).
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    That is a very big market here in the states. I'm in a small college town and I'll bet churches account for over half the money spent on sound support and half the money paid to musicians.

    I didn't think that belonged in the video. It's more "something that should not have worked, but did."
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ya, I miss Cucco.

    I think they are excellent for amateur choirs, very practical for the quick need to reach into a group settings etc. They are so light and handy. I wouldn't use them for high quality recording and I wouldn't use my DPA or Royers in those settings either. They are ready for my mobile dash.

    Last year I experimented. I added a 50' carbon boom to my Royer SF24/ DPA 4011 test and snuck it over the top and into the choir. It was nearly invisible but looked very impressive (surgical) :) I used the omni but can see where the HC might have been better getting the guy who's voice was buried in the back. Or grabbing some extra edge of a piano on the floor.
    It cut through no problem. I never used it in the mix but it made me think about experimenting with them more.

    On there own and likely used in the 3 to 1 config is where they work best. I'll try that next time I have the school choirs for rehearsal.
  8. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    In what way were the NT5's better? Rejection of the band? Did you try the hypercardioids on the microbooms? (This isn't for something I'd be doing soon. Just questions out of curiosity. Always happy to hear more good things about the NT5's.)
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I think moon couldn't give them a fair shake. Everything has a sweet spot and suitable to ideal application if you take or have the time to find it. Its why I trust mic comparisons less and less. Converters,mic-pre's, gain settings, acoustics, source, cable and so on from one guy to the next all influence the outcome.
    Same here, church is continuously growing and where a big market of fantastic support for musicians is. Such a good thing.
  10. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Quoting the Treeman:"I think moon couldn't give them a fair shake"
    This is certainly a fair assessment, positioning those mics (like any) is paramount before assessing the overall performance.
    And I wasn't given that latitude, BUT, I would still not seriously consider them to be used in a live rock'n'roll setting just because a "choir" is involved. BTW, I used a pair on a couple of occasions for instrumental recitals, (solo violin, string quartet, and classical guitar) and was very impressed with their natural, smooth response. Just don't put them near a drum kit!
    Quoting Bob Rogers: "In what way were the NT5's better? Rejection of the band? Did you try the hypercardioids on the microbooms? (This isn't for something I'd be doing soon. Just questions out of curiosity. Always happy to hear more good things about the NT5's.)"

    The NT-5's SEEM to be a more "throw 'em up and they'll probably stick" kinda mic in that , at least for a group of 10 "handclappers that almost sing", had a clean presence that cut through the mix, and enough rejection to not pick up the drums as well as the 'singers'. I realize that the Rodes are no DPA's or Schoeps, but everytime I try them on what I THINK a pair of SDC's should be used for in a live sound environment, they do great. Wish I had the NT-55's, though, just because...Then there's the SM81's, wish I had even more of those, too. Anyway...
    I believe that the Audix were cardioids, that's what I was told, but I never checked that personally. And to reiterate, I always thought that they were fine in an acoustic music setting where there was nothing competing with the source. A 40-ft oak ceiling didn't actually help that, either.

    Never say "Oy vey" in a United Methodist church in the South ! !
  11. glowlander

    glowlander Active Member

    i agree with audiokid. The more I experiment with mic placement and different pres, the more I realize that the recording space and setup is just as, if not more important. I recently attempted to record a concert for a mezzo and coloratura with piano. It was in a nice church with a very good piano. I was unable to get a decent sound in the time given to set up, and scrapped the recording. The mics and recording system were perfect for the job. but without figuring out the room acoustics and adjusting the mic placement and levels, I was left with all sorts of offensive resonant frequencies that bounced of the ceiling.

    I love tutorials, I'll Check it out and and see what I can Glean from it!
  12. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    This is where experience is key. The only way to know your mic's is to use them in a plethora of situations. Most live recordists do not get a soundcheck unless very very lucky. Even in a new room, if you know your mic's then you can make very good educated guesses. That does not preclude errors in placement but usually not so bad they can't be salvaged.
  13. docscholl

    docscholl Member

    Small Vocal Ensemble Mic Placement Question

    I hope this is the appropriate thread - -

    My question relates to mic placement for eight female singers.

    My plan is to use the following mics and positioning as follows:

    Two Shure KSM44A mics in the cardioid pattern.
    Placing one mic within three feet of four singers (on the left), and the other mic
    within three feet of four singers (on the right).
    Mics will be facing away from each other and about several feet apart from each other.

    Two KSM141 mics in X-Y position using the omnidirectional polar pattern.
    Mics will be about five feet in front of the center of the singers.
    Plan on catching more of the voice & room reverberation blend.

    The room is a chapel with stone floor, wood & dry wall walls and ceiling with glass windows.
    Room dimension appx: 100' deep, 50' wide, 25+' high ceiling.

    I won't have much time to experiment with the sound as there are daily services between the recording sessions, plus I'll have to set up/break down between sessions and services.

    Anyone with background in these types of settings know if the general mic placement idea will work?
    Thank you!
  14. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    "X-Y" involves 2 directional mics, not omni's...
    If you are not going to be able to do much experimenting, I would try to limit the number of mics to a stereo pair. Personally, I use a pair of SDC's (SM81's or Rode NT5's) in the O.R.T.F configuration. In a reverberant field like what you are describing, this will give you better clarity and less "wash" of reverberation. SDC's typically provide better detail with less off-axis coloration. You might want to go to a website called "Innocent Ear" (Google it). Scroll down the left side and you'll find info on the ORTF configuration and pix to see what it it's like. Never steered me wrong, highly recommended.
  15. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    As Moon says, you can't set up a meaningful X-Y pattern using omni capsules. What you can do is set up two pairs of mics: the omnis in a spaced A-B configuration in front of the singers and the cardioids centred in an X-Y or an ORTF configuration.

    The omni spacing is the critical thing. I would not exceed 700 - 900mm for the situation you describe, and it may even work better with less. You can do all this on one stand and one mic spacer bar that's quick to set up and break down if you have the right sort.

    Record both pairs and either use just the better-sounding pair at mixdown or choose one pair (e.g. A-B) and carefully blend in a little of the other pair as infill.
  16. Arqen

    Arqen Active Member

    You know, I've had beautiful results micing a choir with Schoeps in a simple "NOS" stereo pair (near-coincident cardioid).
    The imaging was lovely.

    A quick, easy solution if you're ever pressed for time.


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