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Suggestions for recording choir in church?

Member for

21 years
Hi all

Next week I'll be recording a male amateur choir (48 guys) in my local church.
There''ll be no audience and we can probably track it a couple of times.
Mostly a mix between somewhat popular and religious songs

The choir will be on the altar of a (about) 800 seats church
standing in a semicircle / upside down U

My mic locker:
2 matched pairs MK012 with all capsules (so 4 mics: card, omni or hypercard))
2 NT1A
and a load of dynamics

I have three main variations in my head:
1. sort of decca-tree like (all MK012 in omni)
2. XY behind conductor and omni flanks/room (all MK012)
3 ORTF behind conductor and omni flanks/room (all MK012)

The goal of all this is for them to have a showcase demo
and to put some tracks on their website
So nothing major happening here (phew)

For me it's about the joy and the learning experience
Any money I do get is for expanding the mic locker (M130/M160 please )

If anyone has any suggestions for me I would be very gratefull

Thank you & Cheers


Member for

16 years 9 months

mdemeyer Wed, 11/22/2006 - 14:32
I'd be between options 2 and 3, with the decision made based on the geometry of the layout.

2 - An XY setup (90 degrees) will image the front 180 degree arc of the recorded space between the loudspeakers. While it is very coherent (being time-coincident), if the arc spanned by your chorus is not a substantial part of that 180-degree arc, your chorus will be imaged very small in the resulting recording. This is a good sized choir and that result might not have the impact or sense of scale you would like. Of course, your omni outriggers can be mixed in to spread this out a bit, but that's a compromise in my opinion.

3 - The ORTF setup will be less coherent, but sound more spacious by design. It maps a narrower arc to the space between the speakers. (Sorry, I can't remember the exact value, but someone else will chime in with it.) So, for the same setup (distance to choir), the choir will be more 'spread' across the stereo field. Of course, too much of this can be a bad thing, because you can (if the choir is setup in too wide an arc) end up with most of the voices bunched at the speaker positions.

These are common recordings for me, and I use MS a lot for them. But I don't think the MK012 capsule set includes a Fig 8 so that's not an option for you. Here is a sample of an MS recording of a similar size group that I had posted in another thread...

(Dead Link Removed)

Both of the techniques you suggested can work well in this scenario. Do you have time to try both and listen?


Member for

21 years

Member Wed, 11/22/2006 - 15:05
Thank you for your reply.

I am aware of the differences between the two setups you'd prefer.

What I find difficult is how to translate knowledge and options (from f.e. 'The Stereophonic Zoom.pdf)
to a decision on what to use.

So maybe I'm not looking for a type of advice of 'do this',
but I'm more looking for an advise like: 'I would ... BECAUSE....'

I want to know the reasoning behind the choices people make.

For my last recording I used spaced omnis for the choir because there was also a father preaching (card dead centre), so a slight hole in the middle actually enhanced the intelligibility of the father. (and the reverb of the church was beautifull)

This time, it will be only choir, good church, but without audience, so probably a bit to 'live'
And I know I, personally, like the time-cues of ortf and AB, but I worry about the possibility of a too big hole in the middle.

Again, all reactions are appreciated


Member for

21 years

Member Tue, 11/28/2006 - 13:19
Hi all

Just finished recording
The choir stood on the altar.
The conductor where normally the priest would stand.
The choir in a semi-circle around them.

I had 4 mics (all mk012 card) in front of them at 1.5m (5 ft):
somewhat ortf in the middel (see photo)
and at the edge of the choir both one (just outside the photo), slightly angled inwards
All almost 3m (9ft) up

There's another ortf pair just behind where I took the picture,
so that's about 5m (17ft) back from the front row of mics
There I used the NT1A's
These are exactly in the centre of the cross this church forms.
about at choir-shoulder-height (I still haven't got any taller stands...)

Their goal was to record 1 song for demo purposes: on their website and such.

about this 'mix':
the front row of mics (mk012) has 12 dB less peakvolume than the back mics (NT1A)
lowcut at 30Hz
everything panned full
that's it

So overall:
a short but nice recording session:)

all comments are very welcome

Now I'm off for a drink :wink:


Member for

16 years 9 months

mdemeyer Wed, 11/22/2006 - 15:54
The difficulty of trying to say 'this is the setup I would use' is that I'm not in the church to adequately understand the setup or sound. You have described three solutions, of which I think two are things I might use depending on many, many situational variables.

So, I tried to relate the trade-offs of those two approaches. If you already know the tradeoffs, then it is a matter of picking the best when you are in the locale and can hear the sound.

I hope you don't think I'm trying to be difficult. Maybe others are willing to give more specific advice on limited info.

Can you provide more specifics on the layout? A sketch of the floorplan showing the performer positioning might let you get more specific answers.


Member for

21 years

Member Wed, 11/22/2006 - 16:38
Thank you again for your reply,

I hope I didn't sound too cocky on my last post, my apologies if I did.

I'm allowed to visit the church this friday.

This will surely help me getting a better overall picture, and hopefullu I'll be able to sketch a better one for this thread :)

Thank you again

Member for

21 years

Member Wed, 11/22/2006 - 19:20
My reaction to "hole in the middle" and "beautiful reverb" is that you must have REALLY had the mics separated alot.

You have not mentioned the word BLEND. That does not happen close to a chorus. And if you back off 10-15ft you may simply have mud.

First you must find the "spot" where you hear cohesion and detail, then try different pairs until you find "it."

No one can tell you what mics, where, etc. You must use your experience and ears to arrive at the right thing on that day, at that humdity, with that chorus, and the mics you have available.