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Recording a Choir

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by EvilOverlord, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. EvilOverlord

    EvilOverlord Guest


    Sorry if this has been asked before.

    I am the sound tech for a charity choir, and yes you've guessed it, we want to record stuff and not spend any money.

    We've been muddling along, but now we're recording for CD for sale and I'm keen to get a better sound that what we've had so far from a cheap mono mic.

    I've already sorted the recording unit, I just need to choose a stereo mic setup. I've only got about £500 to spend at the absolute most.

    It's been suggested I get one of these:
    Rode NT4 which is at a good price, but a fixed distance & angle.

    I prefer the look of these:
    AKG C451B Matched Pair however it's really at the outer limit of my budget and I need some kind of mic stand too.

    From what I've read though, it seems an MS microphone would be a better choice, but the only one I've found it about 2.5 grand!

    The other problem is that the recordings are going to be done in a variety of locations around the UK, some in large halls and others in dead rooms.

    The choir is SATB, sometimes with a soloist (not always with mic) and sometimes with a mixture of acoustic instruments (piano, guitar, saxophone).

    Yes I'm asking alot and it will all be a big compromise, but which way should I jump?

    Thanks. :D
  2. GentleG

    GentleG Guest


    I'm not a pro
    But the Oktava MK012 (with all capsules) work for me
    and are within your budget
    I personally prefer them to Rode nt4 or nt5
    Haven't tried the c541b.

    I'm sure someone more knowlegdeable will chime in pretty soon :)

  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    We use the Rode NT 4 and find it to be a very good one point microphone.

    What ever microphones you decide on try and record the group using the microphones and find out how they sound. Hopefully you can do this BEFORE you purchase them. The reason most stores don't want to return microphones is because someone will buy them and spray them with spit durning the recording and try and return them which is against the health laws in most states or they will use a very expensive microphone for a recording session and then return it afterwards. If you expain to the shop what you are going to be using the microphones for (distant miking of a choir) they maybe a tad more willing to take them back after you have tried them out especially if you are on good terms with the store.

    As to MS microphones any cardioid and figure eight microphone can be used as an MS microphone setup. The mounting has to be so that the capsules are in close proximity and the micrphones should be matched so a pair of C414s would work well. Set one on Cardioid and one on figure 8.

    Best of luck!
  4. EvilOverlord

    EvilOverlord Guest

    There's no chance of try before buy as I'm on a small island where I'd just get ripped off even if I could find the mics here in the first place.

    Is the incidence angle on the NT4 adjustable or is it fixed at 90°?

    The NT4 seemed like a great idea, basically getting 2 into 1, but having read the Stereophonic Zoom article I'm rather more inclined to go for a seperate pair which I can adjust.

    There seems to be a couple of submodels of C414 all of which are well outside my budget, which did you mean?

    I've become rather keen on the Oktava MK-012 mentioned above, coming with cardioid, hypercardioid & omnidirectional capsules makes them a bit more versatile.

    One version comes with a large diaphragm cap, what's the difference?
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    Shure Makes a lovely and affordable MS stereo condenser/capacitor microphone. It is also small and unobtrusive. It's always a "Shure" bet to go with that one.

    I also enjoy using the Beyer M160 cardioid and M130 figure 8 ribbon microphones in an MS configurations, with applicable mounting hardware, especially for recording choir voices! They run approximately $700 US for the pair so its probably with in your budget?
  6. EvilOverlord

    EvilOverlord Guest

    Hrm, do you mean the VP88? As the best price I can find on that is a couple of hundred out of my reach.

    Is MS that much better? It certainly seems to cost alot more. I've checked the prices on those mics and the best I can do is about $600 bucks each, unless you can point me in a better direction.

    So far I'm thinking of getting the Oktava MK-012-10 black MSP8 since they are a matched pair and come with 4 different heads so I can try stereo omni too, and use them for other stuff. The price should also allow me to have enough left for the stereo bar, shock mounts and a decently high stand.
  7. liuto

    liuto Guest

    I have a pair of Oktava MC012 and I must say, that for the price they are really very nice. I also own pairs of Neumann KM84s and Schoeps CMC54s. These are of course better (not at all six times better if you compare prices) but you can get really professional sounding recordings with the Oktavas. I used them for a series of choir recordings "on the road" during this sommer and the results were fine. In the last years I made these recordings in the same rooms on tour with the Neumanns and the difference is only obvious when you listen at the recordings directly one after the other. These are professional tools!
  8. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    The only problem I have with the Octavas is their quality control. You can take a half dozen Octavas out the box plug them in and they will all sound slightly different when you check them out. So if you are going to buy the Octavas I would arrange to demo them in the show room and check to make sure that the ones you get sound similar. This topic has been covered elsewhere on this forum a couple of times. They also sell "matched pairs" which may mean that they do the checking for you.

    The other problem with Octavas is that you cannot ever use them up close without them popping badly. I believe it is poor design on Octavas part and has to do the design and spacing of the diaphram.

    We use a pair of Octavas on a bell choir and they worked very well.
  9. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    just to comfort EvilOverlord:

    msp stands for matched stereo pair so they are well, uhm

    the msp-8 comes with 2 large diaphragm capsules as well
    for recording choir alone I would go for msp-6
    you can allways buy another set of msp-2

    and yes,
    the mk012 does pop badly
    don't have them infront of a stream of air,
    so no: close up vocal, or anywhere near the end of a woodwind (which isn't a good position anyway)

  10. EvilOverlord

    EvilOverlord Guest

    Yeah that's why I was looking at the MSP ones :)

    Will a pop shield not alleviate the problem?

    What's the difference between the large & small diaphragm? Is the large one just more sensitive?

    Thanks you for all your contributions :D
  11. EvilOverlord

    EvilOverlord Guest

    Well I bought the Oktava MK-012-10 black MSP8 and I'm pleased with them, they sound fab! The stereo bar isn't the best quality item, but another one of those isn't expensive.

    The only trouble seems to be the output from them is very quiet, which I can fix post, but I'd like to get it up a bit. Do I need a mic preamp? If so is it possible to get ones that run off phantom power as I really can't do with having loads of things to plug in for the situations I have to record in. Something that is tube shaped and could be plugged into the back of the mic would be great.

    p.s. I still can't work out what the large diaphram cap can do that the small one can't.
  12. GentleG

    GentleG Guest

    silly question maybe, but

    does the recording unit have 48V phantom?
  13. achille

    achille Active Member

    Jun 22, 2003
    recording choir

    I have great results with Avenson mikes direct on Sebatron pre, very natural sound, in december I record a choir and I used a Jeklin disc suppose to give a better sound
  14. EvilOverlord

    EvilOverlord Guest

    Yes to phantom power, though I assume it's a standard 48V since the manual doesn't state anywhere what the PhPw voltage is and that it's suitable for condsenser microphones.
  15. Arrowfan

    Arrowfan Guest

    I highly recommend using the Audio-Technica AT825

    stereo condenser mic. It might be out of price range but you can always re-sell or rent it.

    Its a professional mic, good price, and has excellent stereo depth with virtually no phase problems (which you might get if using 2 seperate mics in stereo setup). I've used this mic before, very nice for voice. Once you hear the stereo imaging you'll be very happy you went with it. - especially for choir (large ensemble, in ambient room). Well worth the $350 or so.

    (Oh - it also has a small battery pack so you don't need to use phantom powering)

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