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recording a full choir

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by alphaex, Oct 24, 2004.

  1. alphaex

    alphaex Guest

    what do i need?

    i have a MD recorder which has 2 XLR outputs and a pair of AKG C1000s
     
  2. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    Hmm. Not quite easy to answer, seems to lack a bit of information.

    Anyway, let us step through it.

    1) The room
    Recording choirs takes its toll on rooms. A good sounding room will make a lot of difference.
    2) The choir
    Well, a good recording gives a faithful reproduction of the sound of the choir. Generally, recordings are not flattering.
    3) Experience
    You as recorder will have to learn by doing, so start early. Bring things along to rehearsals and do a lot of testing. Try every conceivable mic placement and learn what works best.
    4) Mics.
    You have two mics that can be used. They may not be the favourite choice for some people on the net, but they can certainly be used. Get them fresh batteries unless you have phantom feed.
    5) Stand
    Personally, I belive that the mics should go up in the air quite a bit. So get good a good stand, preferrably allowing you to get them something like 10 feet or higher up.
    6) Second stand or stereo bar
    You should try different mic placements. Some of these has been given names, such as AB or spaced pair, XY, ORTF and so on. You will get most flexibility if you have two similar high stands. If you want to try ORTF you might use one stand and a stereo bar instead.
    7) Cables from mic to preamp
    The cable should be a standard balanced mic cable. XLR contacts in both end. Try to get cables a little bit on the longer side, this will help when placing mics. I would say, around 30 feet is a good length. Balanced cables in general can be several hundred feet long without degrading the sound. Get decent quality from the beginning, but no need to get the really fancy stuff.
    8 ) Preamp
    The mic signal has to be amplified. You did not describe your MD recorder, but I am not sure there is a mic preamp inside it. If there is, then you could start out trying that. If you get an external mic preamp, get one with phantom power (no need for batteries in the mics). Avoid the budget priced mic pres with tubes in them, they are not targeted at this kind of usage. My recommendation (yes, I have tried it) is the M-Audio AudioBuddy, but there are probably quite a few more to choose from.
    9) Cable from preamp to MD
    You have to check the kind of contacts. Any decent music store will have cables with Tele TRS on one side and XLR on the other and so on. I think a good thing would be to bring along the MD manual to the store and show what you want.
    10 ) MD and lots of empty disc
    You already have that
    11) A long net cable
    I have been there, 30 feet away from the power outlet in the wall.
    12) Headset
    Get a good headset to listen to the recording in order to know when the mics are placed in a good place.


    Now for a starter do this.
    Connect up everything.
    Set the mics 6 feet in front of the choir, 6 feet or more up and 6 feet apart.
    Start the singing and record.
    Now move the mics and record again. Keep good notes of where the mic where. A good measurement tape is not bad to have along, together with a notebook and pencil. Take lots of notes.
    You should try moving the mics as high as they go, and perhaps all the way down to floor level. Move them further apart and real close together. Look up the XY and ORTF techniques on the net and try them out as well. Move the mics closer to the choir and further back. To really get the sound you want, it might be necessary to move the members of the mic around a bit. Perhaps the tenors are to weak, why not test placing them in first row.

    There really is no substitute to experience when it comes to mic placement, so do all the mistakes early on. Learn to listen to the results with analytical ears.

    Bring the MD-s home and run them in your home stereo and scrutinize which of the recordings sounds best. Remember checking the notes of placement.

    Now, all of this might sound complicated. But for first try, simply put the mics up and see what happens.

    If you get bitten by the recording bug you will then start recording just about anything. You will also start the never-ending search for the perfect equipment. After a while you will neither think that the mics or the MD are good enough, and then starts the search and testing phase. But to my experience, what you learn on the way will always stay useful.

    Happy recordings

    Gunnar
     

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