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I'd like to record the church choir

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by Colin, Mar 24, 2014.

  1. Colin

    Colin Active Member

    Hi, Colin here! I have a church choir of about 15 to record. I'd like to add that these guys are good. They've got it down.
    I've been home studio recording for a little under ten years. Now, I'd like to record the church choir. This is how I'm going about thus far...(this is where I need good advice) two dynamics and one condenser. Do you think that would be enough? Also FYI I'm most likely going to have a solid laptop and audio interface.
    What do you think
    Thank You
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    What "2 dynamics" and "one condenser" were you going to use? Usually a strereo pair of cardioids in an ORTF will work well with minimum fuss....you can add a 3rd mic as a "spot mic" for soloists if necessary...
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Welcome to RO!

    To give any meaningful advice we need to know a little more than you have told us.

    In what sort of acoustic environment will you be recording? How do the group of 15 singers arrange themselves spatially? What type of material are they singing? Can they sing without having to hold (and look at) printed music?

    What are the makes and model numbers of the microphones? How tall are your microphone stands? What is the make and model of the audio interface?
  4. Colin

    Colin Active Member

    Hi, thanks for the replies. I was thinking about a couple of Shure SM58s (i Haven't boughten those yet) And a Neumann Condenser. The Choir does read and sing. I'm not too technical when it comes to choirs but I think they are arranged by saprano alto tennor and base. I will be most likely using the Apogee quintet. In that case I will only have four inputs anyway.
    I'm guessing I will need some long microphone stands. Also is wireless a good idea?
  5. Colin

    Colin Active Member

    Sorry, but what is an ORTF?
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    ORTF is just a variation of XY. Instead of the capsules pointing at each other. Instead, they are pointed away from each other, left & right. I prefer a different center microphone technique known as MS, which stands for Middle & Side. It's actually a pair of microphones that are virtually identical but not identical in their polar patterns. The Middle is Mono and faces straight down the middle. The Side left/right is actually a single bidirectional microphone that is not positioned front to back but rather side to side à la left & right. It's multiplexed with the Center Mono microphone. When decoded into stereo, it gives you the option of adjusting the width of the stereo image. And then your flanking left and right SM58's hanging straight down over them toward the floor. Or on microphone stands pointing at them. But how tall are your microphone stands?

    When I can't fly or hang my microphones, I'm forced to use stands. And you don't want your microphones aiming up their noses at ya or them? So ya have to use 7-12 foot tall, light weight, collapsible, aluminum tripod stands to get some elevation. And with the Center placed MS pair, you stick them on a single stand. So it's sort of like plug-in one microphone get the other microphone plugged in, free. So then ya get to use all four of your inputs on your Apogee.

    So instead of getting that one center Neumann? They sound real nice and you might want to opt for a pair of Beyer M-160, hyper cardioid and the M-130, figure of 8, velocity/ribbon microphones? They will be more impervious to ambient noise which the Neumann will pick up all too well. The rumble and moving air from HVAC systems becomes all too audibly apparent. Sure condenser microphones give you that extra condenser sounding edge. But those SM58's ain't going to do that. They'll sound more like those mellower, large diaphragm condenser microphones like the Neumann, U87/TLM102/103's. But the way you considered doing it is certainly doable. It'll sound just fine. But those ribbons will give you a lovely lusciousness that you can't otherwise get from any dynamic or condenser microphone. Ribbon microphones are fabulous for this kind of work.

    It's also possible you might have some solos to contend with? So you could do 3 hanging and one close up for solo highlight? You can use anything but I generally prefer ribbons on vocals of this genre. I find with liturgical music, and condenser microphones, you can end up with far too much sibilance on choirs. All that hissing can get obnoxious sounding. It's that or everyone sounds gay? Which is likely true but? We shan't go there.

    Research MS stereo microphone technique. It's almost like two channels gets you three. But it must be decoded separate from those left and right flanking SM58's. All software has a preset for this. It can also easily be done with XLR, Y, patch cords, a phase flip switch and a mixer. And voilà! It's a microphone technique I've been using since the early 1980s. And especially in these kinds of recordings you're doing. I've gotten a couple of major music award nominations doing that, that way. But that's just me. A lot of this also depends upon the genre of what you're trying to record? Pop gospel? Straightahead liturgical Giuseppe Verdi? Is it all amplified through a PA system? Will this be separate from the PA? Will there be a need for PA? Are you up-to-date on your health insurance premiums? Did you remember to walk the dog? Spank the monkey? Plug middle mono into left and side stereo into the right? No? Then ya haven't lived kid. Check it out. Of course, you'll have to have four microphones. It's okay, you'll thank me later. Two pairs of closely matched microphones. Those are the only microphones you'll ever need. Then ya might even be able to afford some of those less costly Austrian mics? Save money and get yourself one 214 and one, 414 and you'll be good to go.

    So many decisions... what to do? One or the other wasn't good enough for me. I had to have both types of three. Or something like that? If I know what the solos are going to be? I'll put out extra highlight microphones. So if you've got four inputs? Use all four. Don't be lazy. Be a real audio guy. It's always better to bring too much equipment with ya than too little. On the network TV side, we set up everything redundant. That means your main and your backup of the entire system. At least God comes around every Sunday.

    I generally don't like to shan't where I mix.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. Any mic stands and shock mounts or pop filters? I agree with Boswell, what other information can you tell us about the choir? Because the type of equipment recommended will fit better if we know more about your choir.
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You haven't answered the crucial question as to where this recording is to take place. There's a world of difference (acoustically speaking) between the nave of the church and the vicar's front room. What would be suitable in terms of performer layout, microphone type and microphone positioning in one environment may be completely wrong for the other.

    Don't be tempted to use wireless mics for this application.
  9. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    An old UK church can sound excellent to the ear when you are there, while a modern warehouse style church can sound, well, like a warehouse. ORTF and X/Y (which is still my favourite) can be quite simple - you move around and where your ears tell you the balance is good, you fix the mic pair. With both techniques you have a little adjustment to widen or narrow the pickup angle to suit the layout, but the critical thing is that you need to hear these mics - so sound isolating headphones or even better, a pair of speakers in a nearby room can let you make these subtle adjustments. You'll find that if the acoustics are lively then you may need to reduce the distance to the talent, and if not lively enough more distance can help - BUT - more distance can rob you of clarity and detail.

    So two mics is perhaps simpler. One thing to note is that sometimes amateur choirs have another problem. The singers with strong, powerful voices, but ones that are not nice. Equally they may have weaker but excellent voices. Sometimes, you need to manage these people. As in moving the powerful ones away and bring the weaker ones forwards. An of the annoying voices that are directly on the mic axis will be loudest, so try to get these people to the very edges.

    Mic choice is tricky. Unless you need to buy the SM58s for rock and roll gigs where people will yell into them, I'd avoid them. They're not bad, but they sound thin at a distance, and have lower output that will expose any noise in your pre-amps. They're well known mics, but a little out of place for this. Same with the Neumann. Expensive microphones bought as singles often offer poor value because two identical mics is a very common requirement. I'd suggest if not too late, spending your mic budget a bit differently, so you get a pair of good condensers, and not one excellent one. Tons of opinions will be given now, but if you want a name rather than an unbranded Chinese mic, look at Rode for a pair of good mics.

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