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How to record choirs at concerts

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Jonhedin, Oct 30, 2001.

  1. Jonhedin

    Jonhedin Active Member

    How do you guys record large choirs?
  2. sign

    sign Guest

    I very much like to help, but I/we need more information like: what kind of choir, how many persons, in what kind of room/hall/church?

    A-capella or with piano or organ, maybe a whole band/orchestra?

    Which microphones do you have?
  3. Jonhedin

    Jonhedin Active Member

    I have done this several times, but I want to know, how you guys are doing it.
    Personally I prefer do use 3 or 5 mics. I have been using Rode NT3 for the set and Shure sm58 for the solo singers. The band is a standard set up with two keyboard players, bass, drums and a guitar. In my case the choir counts 230 singers. See the problem?
    I recorded the consert last week end, and I have to say that it sounds awsome.
    It is a gospel choir.
    How do you guys do a similare recording?
  4. sign

    sign Guest

    I did a job like that a while ago, 250 singers and a band directly to 2 tracks.

    I got the signals from the FOH and mixed them in the cellar of the building.

    Problem was that the FOH engineer had put 10 mics for the singers and two solo mics plus a number of mics for the band.

    Never put 10 mics on a huge stage with 250 singers for it will sound like there are only 30 singers.

    Two weeks ago I did a choir festival with 18 choirs and also directly to two tracks.

    I did it with an ORTF pair on the 'sweet spot' and it sounds awsome.

    I have regrets though, because I didn't record to another 2 track with a MS pair also.

    If I have to do a 250 persons again I think I'll do it with a stereo pair ORTF or/and MS and put the ORTF pair high, some 20 feet I guess.

    Anybody with more opinions there??
  5. Perikoresis

    Perikoresis Guest

    Would having both the ORTF and MS pairs (sic) twenty feet apart take care of phasing enough that you can mix both pairs (sic) together? Is it a good idea to have a pair directly over the choir (as in the center from the top, not in front)?

    Thanks for any replies. Merry Christmas.
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    We typically use the Decca Tree for recording large choirs with spot mics for soloist and instruments. We normally go direct to two track unless we are not sure of the performers/performance and then we may go to DA-88 and mix it all down later.

    Most of our recording is classical in nature but I have done the occasional gospel choir with good results. One problem that I seem to run into with gospel recording is levels. When the spirit moves the choir can get very loud very quickly so I usually leave about 16 db of head room for the occasional peak.

    The biggest factor in good choir recordings is to get a good venue. Most of our recordings are done in an older chapel with seating for about 1200 people and the acoustics are excellent. I have also recorded a gospel choir in a school gymnatorium (combo gym and auditorium) and had a lot of problems getting a good recording in what proved to be a very bad echo chamber.

    Hope this helps.
  7. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    I have tried many combinations but I always get the best results using 2 Earthworks SD omni's in a spaced pair, with some type of cardiod spot mic for solos.

    So far I have never used anything from the spot mics in the final mix.

    I generally try to get the mics somewhere close to the conductor and about 10 feet apart. Especially for amateur groups where you don't get a sound check or much choice in where to place your mics.

    If I can record during a dedicated recording session (i.e. no audience) I try to get the choir into a room that is a little less ambient than most theatres etc. There I will use more mics as needed, but the primary audio is still the spaced pair of SD omni's. I move instrumentalists around and baffle as necessary in order to get the desired mix

    I do not like cardiods because of proximaty effect. If you get them close enough to get anything resembling bass the choir loses its ensemble sound. If they get too far away they just have no body or warmth.

    Omni's for me all the way. What better way to record a group in a room? And with just 2 mics you get an amazing stereo image.

  8. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    one thing to remember:
    If you are doing ORTF you should use cardiod.
    ORTF was developed with cardiod in mind to minimize the room in relationship to the music. So it is a good way to go in a very ambient room. Another plus is you only need one mic stand, if you have a stereo bar to hold the two mics.
  9. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    Some excellent points. ORTF with cardiods can be handy in an overly ambient room.

    BTW, SD Omni's work great in ORTF as well. They are more directional than you would guess.


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