Recording soloist and chorus.

Discussion in 'Live Sound' started by Thomas W. Bethel, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    As many of you know I do a live radio show four times per year. It is a lot of fun to work on and the production values are very high. Everything it working well EXCEPT for the soloist and chorus recording. They are in the middle of the stage with an organ console behind them and two announcers flanking them. The stage is about 20 feet wide. Currently I am using a crossed pair of cardioid condenser microphones for the chorus and a dynamic cardioid microphone for the soloist. (before someone suggests omni microphones - these singers are also amplified into the room) I tried a Peter Paul and Mary setup before this (3 cardioid microphones in a semi circle on their own booms) but I did not get the results I wanted. The soloist comes though fine the chorus, which can range from 3 to 8, does not come though as well. Most of the singers are pros and they all are use to working with microphones. I can hear individual voices in the chorus but am not getting a good blend of voices.

    I am looking for some other solutions. Any help would be appreciated.

    OOOO -Chorus and Soloist
    O O O
    O /׀\ O - Crossed Cardioids and soloist in center cardioid
    Front of stage


    You can see the set up here which also includes a story about the program in case you want to see the setup for yourself. This is NOT the was we are currently doing the show.
  2. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Tom, just a HIGH can you go over the chorus? (i'm assuming the PA is more out in front, not nec. over top of them...)

    Although I really dislike "hanging" mics (like so many churches do for their choirs) I've found that sometimes you can get a better blend - while still being a bit too close - by looking down a bit on the chorus from above, or almost above, as ceiling space may allow. Many times, as we all know, we're backed up right behind the winds, trying to put a stand in front of the first line of singers, and it gets one has enough space, and the singers who are stuck in front of the mic are starting to feel like they're under a magnifying glass. If I can get the center pair up higher, and look more "down" on the group, it's less intrusive. It might help you here as well, in your case.

    Another odd trick that a conductor once asked me to try with two side-outrigger cardioids (in addition to a main ORTF pair in the center) was to tilt the cardioids up a bit from the horizontal plane, almost looking towards the wall behind the singers, who were performing in front of a big Wenger-style shell. In other words, your cardioids are still in too tight, but they're not looking directly at the source; more above, helping to avoid the dreaded lone-singer-popping-out situation. (I didn't think it would help much at all, but surprisingly, it did, at least in this case.)

    I guess I'm describing using an off-axis approach for either case, in terms of the horizontal plane. You're still in tight, but the direct sound is lessened a bit. Just something else you can try, perhaps.
  3. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Jan 13, 2005
    Just some suggestions, no doubt you've thought of these before...

    If you can hear the individual voices but they're not blending, it implies that the XY pair are too close to get a sense of ensemble. So the most obvious thing would be to move them back a bit, if there's enough space. If there IS space but moving back gives you too much room or PA sound, switch to a tighter polar response, perhaps hypercardioid...

    Also, rather than coincident, have you tried near-coincident, like ORTF or some other variation? It tends to give a better sense of 'size' than coincident, in my experience, and a slightly softened centre image that can help to blend things a bit better. With the close mic giving the soloist clarity, it might be just what you need.

    If you can't move back any further, perhaps try staying where you are or moving in closer and higher, but switching to a wider response, like subcardioid?

    And finally, don't discount PZMs. Not a SASS-P, I mean just a couple of PZMs on clear perspex (plexiglass in the US?) plates, spaced apart and facing the choir. For voice frequencies the panels won't need to be very big at all, perhaps about 25cm x 25cm maximum. Their hemispherical response will block out rear sounds beautifully (you could even angle them around so that the rear is facing the PA), and a spaced pair will give a nice sense of ensemble and 'size'. Think of them as a pair of spaced omnis, but with the rear of the response literally cut off.

    But the most important thing, IMO, is to make only one change at a time, listen, assess, and move on from there!

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