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Kid's choir and band recording

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by took-the-red-pill, Feb 11, 2006.

  1. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    So I am helping some people at a local church to record their band/choir. I wish I had more experience to offer, but instead I'm just running off instinct.

    They have a nice sounding 350 seat building, designed with acoustics in mind. They have a drummer, bassist, piano/guitar band and a 60 person children's choir. They have a 30 channel Allen and Heath board, a red hot computer with Cubase SL3, and one Delta 1010. They have a bucketload of SM58's, and two AT 4033a's. I would lend them my 4 channel tube pre and my pair of KEL HM'1's.(I'm not exactly 'gear heavy')

    The plan as I see it is:

    -move the bass and drums away from the choir to minimize bleed, then

    -have the drums and bass play the songs (with a click track coming through the drummer's cans) so the kids and choir director have something to go by for the vocals.

    -do three or four decent takes on each song

    -then after the choir is done, do instrument overdubs later, so the band can mess around til 3 o-clock every morning for the next 3 months without testing the kids' attention spans :)

    Assuming I had to do this live(in case they get it right!), and only had 8 tracks (the Delta 1010 being the bottle neck). I would do as follows:

    Delta input 1-a 58 on the Kick, using the board's pre
    Delta input 2-a 58 on the snare, using the board's pre
    Delta input 3, a 58 on each tom-pre mixed, using the board's pre
    Delta input 4, HM1 overhead left, through the tube pre
    Delta input 5, HM1 overhead right, through the tube pre
    Delta input 6, Bass, DI and a 58 pre mixed, through the board pre
    Delta input 7, 4033a, left, on choir, through the tube pre
    Delta input 8, 4033a, right, on choir, through the tube pre

    Please shred any aspects of this plan that don't make sense. I have no ego in this, I just want to help them do the best they can with the available gear and limited expertice.

    I'm thinking of placing the 4033's about 10-12 feet apart, and 12-15 feet away from the choir, about 6-8 feet off the floor. Does that makes sense? Also I have 2 Audix OM2's. Are they better than the 58's for any of the above mentioned roles?

    Many thanks in advance for your time, folks, and any advice is greatly appreciated.

  2. McCheese

    McCheese Well-Known Member

    It looks like you've got the right idea. The only thing that sticks out to me is the pre-mixing of the bass DI and Mic. Dump the mic and just record the DI signal. That way you won't be worrying about any phase issues, and as long as the bass isn't absolute garbage, you'll get a good sound with just the DI.

    I also think that you'll end up getting the best performance results recording it live as one take. Especially since you're dealing with kids. You may try recording the whole setup live, with the drums, gtr and bass submixed to a stereo track, and micing the choir with 6 mics, then going back and overdubbing the instruments again. Keep the choir mics relatively close and try to put the drums/gtr/bass in their rejection areas and you can minimize bleed.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I have made some fairly expensive live gospel recordings. One recording I did, was with the Omega Recording School instructors at a live gospel recording. The band was in close proximity to the choir. There was no option in moving people, or doing overdubs. During our rehearsals, the instructors wanted to put out the best studio condenser microphones on the choir. I recommended against that. For over an hour, they doodled around and tried to get the sound right but had too much bleed into the choir Mike's from the band, especially from the drums. I had suggested that we use SM57s on the choir, which they rejected initially. Since they couldn't get it right with the studio condenser microphones, they succumbed to my suggestion. It made all the difference in the world! The choir sounded great and was not plagued by excessive bleed and needless extended bandwidth on the choir. Bandwidth limitations can certainly benefit recording techniques if you know what you're doing and character of your equipment. So again, LESS IS MORE!

    I love making quality recordings with SM57s!

    LESS IS MORE (okay so I do need to lose some weight)
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    My first question is - what is the intent of the recording?? Is it supposed to be a top-notch pro recording, is it supposed to mimic one or is it supposed to simply be a fun recording used to help generate a little more interest in the ensemble, maybe make a buck or two by selling it and to give to the kids???

    I'm guessing it's in that latter category.

    First - I would lose half the drum mics. Is the choir the focus or is the band the focus?? Usually in recordings like this, the choir is the focus and the band is mostly there for rhythm. I would go overhead pair and kick on the drums, DI the bass (is there piano???) What's the make-up of the band???

    Then I would also go with an overhead pair on the chorus - perhaps ORTF (or if you need a really tight, albeit, IMO a boring sound, you can go XY).

    I wouldn't seperate the drums and the choir too much, perhaps just place them down front and center with a space of 8 to 10 feet between the back of the drummer and the front of the chorus.

    As for the bassist - take him straight DI and if he needs it (which he probably will) feed him a send of his signal (no latency....that will freak him out - take it straight out of the board).

    I wouldn't go click track on this - the conductor needs to have the power over the tempo. You give that power to the bassist or the drummer and you'll have an all out war on your hands.

    Most importantly - have fun!

    Oh, IMO, the Audix OM2 is scads better than the SM58. I find it to be more open, less hyped and quite clean.

  5. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Thank you all. It appears as though the tack I've taken is at least not a total abomination, so that's encouraging.

    A few comments and ?'s:

    -yes, the recording is for yuks, otherwise they'd have a real budget and they wouldn't have called me!
    -Yeah, I know you like the OM2's Jeremy, in fact it was after our conversation that I bought them.
    -I'll kill the bass mic and go DI. Thanks on that.
    -I don't want to have to pre-mix any more than absolutely necessary. I don't trust myself for that, so I'll stick with 1 input per channel on the 1010.
    -I want to use as few choir mics as possible to minimise problems, and stay within my level of experience, so I'll stick with two.(The Shure paper on mic techniques mentions to use as few mics as possible on a choir)

    -Don't I need omnis to do ORTF, which I don't have? I think I'll go with them spaced far enough apart to catch the whole choir and try to stay as close to the 3:1 rule as possible.

    -Doesn't the bottom end drop out of a 57, or 58, or OM2 at the distances required for a choir? aren't they basically for close micing? and therefore if I am able to move the band away a bit, wouldn't I get better vocal results with the 4033's?

    So after your input, and further thought, this is where I sit. Remember, I have 8 inputs on the 1010.

    3-OH left-HM1 (1/2" condensers) through tube pre
    4-OH right-HM1-through tube pre
    5-Bass DI
    6-Choir left-AT4033 through tube pre
    7-Choir right-AT4033 through tube pre
    8-OM2 on piano or guitar, depending on song

    If I end up with tons of bleed on those 4033's in spite of my isolation efforts, maybe I'll kill the piano/guitar and try 3 58's on the choir. Thanks for at least presenting me with that option. I hadn't considered that.

    Many thanks, and please feel free to call bull$#!+ on any of my methods or ideas.

    Once I've got it nailed, I'll try to post some examples of the finished product.

  6. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Keith, I think you will be alright with that setup. Work on getting good sound on the choir, and if necessary take mics away from the drums. Kick and snare are not top priority here, well placed OH-s get good enough to catch the rythm, after all this is not a disco record. I like to DI the bass and keep the stage volume down as it can bounce around a room a bit.

    Two notes though:

    ORTF - is a setup using cardioids. The two mics are placed with the diapragms 17cm apart, 110 degrees. This makes a stereo setup of two mics. This particular setup is in my ears often a very best first start in setup, gives a good stereo picture. It is NOT as simple to setup as you might believe as things get in each others way, do test at home first.

    Your reference to the 3-1 rule is not the way I would put it. The rule is not very relevant here. All it says is that if you are close micing two different sources, keep them and the mics apart. And you are not really close micing the choir, so it is mostly irrelevant. Instead listen to the bleed and use it to your advantage.

    Happy recordings.

  7. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    I'm probably gonna take a "bit-o-heat", for this, but it might be a time and energy saver.

    Can you take/get a 12 foot ladder to the venue?

    If so, measure out from the choir .375 x length of the room and climb the ladder there. Listen to the sound as you go up the ladder. There SHOULD be a point somewhere in there that sounds good. Maybe not exactly at that point, but somewhere around that point there's going to be a really prime sweet-spot to put the 4033's or the OM2's in an XY.

    Do a live to 2 track.

    It's not exactly THE best thing to do, but it's darn sure much more economical for all parties involved.

    You'll get room ambiance, the kids (in a nice full blend) and all the instruments. If it's a bit bass heavy, just get the bass player to cut back a bit until it's balanced... press record.

    Just be sure to take a measuring tape up the ladder with you. (VOE) That way you will know how high to take the mic stand, or where to drop the mic's to from the ceiling.

    Good luck!!!

  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I'm not sure how much heat you'll take on this one, the overall premise is fine. The approach is a tad wonky, but the concept - good.

    The principle is that, if the conductor does a good job of blending the group for a performance, then a stereo pair should be all that is needed for accurate pickup. And while this is a truly awesome approach, I'm afraid it's WAY far from realistic in many aspects. I work with a lot of professional conductors who can't get the balance *quite* right between a chorus and instruments. I'd shudder to imagine the balance from a childrens choir and band at a church.

    However, I will again reiterate that the approach is fine. What you're referring to is finding the spot in the auditorium or performance space in which there is an ideal blend of direct to reflected sound. However, this technique is best with omnis, especially those with some kind of presence peak (a la Schoeps CMC 6 MK 2s). With carioid coincident or near coincident, that kind of distance will cause a complete loss of low frequency and a collapse of the image. I would say, if the original poster had access to CMC62s's, I would throw those up as a main pair similar to how you described and then spot first with the 4033s and then everything else (if necessary). They (the schoeps) would have the "reach" into the ensemble which would help delineate instruments as well as the solid bass response even at this distance.

    Otherwise, a stereo pair (XY/ORTF) would be fine, but a bit closer.

    One of my favorite techniques for getting rejection between two ensembles is Mid/Side. Get the side mic pretty close to the back ensemble (choir in this case) and the mid mic (you guessed it) right on top of the side. You'll get great stereo representation and excellent rejection from the front ensemble.

    Do you have access to a fig-8 mic at all?

  9. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I did a combined children's/young adult (teens) quite awhile back with my NT2's in omni and evidently got lucky. It wasn't great by ANY stretch. But, it was for giggles and the parents were happy to cough up a few sheckles to help defer costs for new robes, and I got to do something cool and learned a LOT.

    I was suprised at how well the voices blended up that high. The bass was a tad over powering, and just asked him to ratchet it back a notch. Then too, it was like +40 voices and drums, bass and piano/kb. Drums were on power rods to soften it up and not over powering the kids.

    I've forgotten who actually gave me the .375 figure, but it was on usenet RAP like 6 or 7 years ago? I thought it kinda' odd with that quotient, but that was before I really started to understand the physics of an environment... not that I understand that much more now, mind you.

    Wonky Max
  10. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    vewy intewesting...

    Thanks for all the input, and putting me straight on my erroneous assumptions. I'll try some of this stuff. I'm still going with 8 inputs though, to give myself more freedom at the mixing end.


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