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Has anyone here ever recorded opera singers and can recommend:
a good mic $1500-2500 range and a pre at same range

Harmonics in the opera voice is a fundamental characteristic to the sound and I wouldn`t want these overtones to be compressed. Any specific mic used as a preference. Any ideas?

Thanks in advance,


What are good Microphone choices for opera singers?

  • AEA R84 ribbon
  • AKG D77
  • Sennheiser MKH 40
  • AKG 426 stereo mic
  • Royer SF 24V
  • Microtech M930
  • Scheops MK4


Steve Jones Sat, 04/10/2004 - 00:51

Because of the extreme ranges of opera performers you might need to specify whether you record male or female performers most, as some mics will handle one better of than the other. If you are recording digitally your compressor or limiter will be critical too as you need really transparent control over level.

Thomas W. Bethel Sat, 04/10/2004 - 04:41

How are you planning to record the "opera singers"

In a live performance or in a studio?

What will be the accompaniment? Orchestra or piano.

Lots of questions but to recommend a good microphone we need to know a bit more about what you are trying to do. Also what auxiliary equipment will you be using? The choice of a microphone preamp is especially important.

Let us know more about your needs and what you are planning to do.


Davedog Sat, 04/10/2004 - 11:06

All great questions and finding a solution will include answers to them.One thing for sure, in selecting a micpre it will have to be full range,flat in response and quick.Your budget for this will more than likely make this a mono unit.I dont think something in the 'color' range of pres is what your going to want, but then theres been many many opera singers recorded on Neve consoles throughout the world.So this tends to say that the environment and the engineer are most likely the most important parts of this equation.

anonymous Sat, 04/10/2004 - 11:55

Thanks for the response! I wil try various configs but here is some info to start.

Voice type:
I will record an opera male lyric-tenor to start. Will later record sopranos, baritones and basses.

I will be recoring in a small room but will also try churches for the natural reverb.

Voice and guitar - live in a church & in studio too
Voice and piano- live in a church & in studio too

Gear: I am trying to get the best sound I can get. I have $6000 (CAD :( ) to spend on mics, pre amps, and an AD converter,

Needing a good mic and pre that works well together. Recording mainly classical singers in the above configurations along with some solo intrumentalists eg: classical guiar and ensembles such as string qtets.

Thanks again!

Thomas W. Bethel Sat, 04/10/2004 - 18:38

Having recorded the Cleveland Opera for a number of years I think the microphone used should be as flat in frequency response as possible and the preamps should also be very flat and free from any distortion if pushed hard..(Every other piece of equipment in the chain should also be the best you can afford.) When a soprano goes high and puts a lot of chest voice behind her singing you can peg every meter in the place. You want the very best microphones in order to faithfully capture the human voice.

The microphones mentioned so far would be good choices. I would only add that to record an opera singer in a small room would be difficult to say the least from the recording as well as the singers standpoint. Opera is meant to be performed in large rooms. The voice is trained to fill up large spaces. Using a smaller space will restrict the sound and may cause other problems for the singer. A concert hall would be great as would a theater. A reverberant church may not be as good since their are lots of reflective surfaces and the sound may get lost in the reverb. I have found that if the talent, in this case a singer, feels comfortable in the space they will be able to perform much better which will guarantee you a better recording.

Be careful of miking a singer with a stereo pair (ORTF) since, with the amount of sound that the average opera singer puts out, they can seem to be bouncing between the two channels and with a simple turn of their head can swing their voice from one channel to the other. This may not be a good thing to do and may add to other problems with the recording. We use to use coincident microphones for the center pickup of the opera so we did not run into this problem.

Best of luck in your endeavors.


maintiger Mon, 04/12/2004 - 08:25

Yeah, those RCA clones ribbons and their real life counterparts (RCA D77, DX77) get the job done on those operatic voices- I record a soprano friend of mine all the time with it (D77) and it works well. I usually do it in a live room, piano and voice, and mic the pianp separately with the singer and the RCA about 4-5 feet in front of the piano

maintiger Mon, 04/12/2004 - 08:36

Oh yeah, the RCA or the clone will run you about a grand, then get a transparent mic preamp, Grace, sytek, Avalon, which will run you between $600 (Grace 101) to $2500 (Avalon) and you can get Apogees converters as low as $700 for an used 2 ch Rossetta to about $3000 for a new Rosetta 800 (8ch) You can get a new rosetta 2 ch for about $1100

FifthCircle Mon, 04/12/2004 - 11:03

A lot of what you are mentioning will sound best with a stereo pair in front of the group and perhaps a spot on the quieter sound...

A trained opera singer should have no problem filling a room and in fact will probably sound better when there is some space between the voice and the mic.

I like schoeps in a good room. If the room isn't as good, other mics may sound better- Sennheiser MKH 40's come to mind as does my AKG 426 stereo mic. I've also had good luck with my Microtech M930s.

Pres- Good clean pres work well... I'm not always for absolute transparency here. I like Grace and Millennia, but I'm also a big fan of Hardy (the twin servo pres) and even Vac Rac (which are tube pres).

A-D- So many to choose from here... Heck, most of the time when I do minimalist work, I'm using the A-D in my Lynx 2 sound card and it sounds quite excellent.