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Profile picture for user MadMax

Those of you who know me, know I prefer to do it right... and probably know my axiom of; "Good shit ain't cheap and cheap shit ain't always good."

Now, I find myself in a bit of a quandry.

I have a HUGE 64 voice choir to record next month and my main/primary issue is mic-ing the large choir to achieve tracks that will be usable for adjusting balance with minimal phase problems and bleed from other instrumentation and vocals.

Track count is limited to 48 channels... so given the other track counts that are in place, I only have up to 16 channels available for the mass choir. The consensus is to use 4-8 spaced SDC's... 2 on each - SATB sections.

My existing mic locker is short on SDC's of high enough quality to do the job that I will be satisfied with, but am willing/needing to purchase good quality mics as warranted. Although, given my budget, rental is also an option.

So, the the question becomes; What is the "best" mic choice for this choir given the limited physical space for mic placement?

No one has Schoeps for rent locally... and at most, right now, I can barely afford ONE, much less a pair, or even 4... much less renting 8!!!

C451's are an acceptable choice but snaggin' 4 will definitely draw the wrath of TheBoss©, and there aren't any for rent locally, but I might be able to get them out of Nashburg for a weekend.

The local rentals that are available are KSM137's and a VERY few SM81's. Neither one is a horrible mic, but putting 4 in the locker is gonna hurt the wallet pretty hard.

I can get a steal of a deal on e614's, but I have not heard any real feedback on how good/bad they are. Again, none are available for rental.

Rode NT5's are in the same situation as the others... reasonably affordable, but none available for rental.

As a pseudo caveat, the choir is not the primary focus of the recording, but it plays a reasonably prominent roll in several of the songs.

So, in theory, I could snag 4 of the e614's, rent 4 KSM317's, then sell the e614's after the gig and recoup my costs. But, I'd rather get 4 decent SDC's that I can just go ahead and put in the mic locker.

What's a mutha' to do?!?

Oh yeah... as an aside, I normally record choirs with Blumline, XY or M/S.


bigtree Fri, 09/21/2012 - 19:06

Well, my answer is the Royer SF 12 , 24 or 24v with out a doubt, they are awesome for this. And if you need to reach in for some special area's, do it with what ya got and call it a day. Time align if you use additional spot mics other than the SF. If we were close, I would lend you mine.

DPA's are incredible ( 4011 or 4006). Mojave MA 100's, love em.


I also use those Audix micro's They are pretty cool.

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MadMax Fri, 09/21/2012 - 21:49

The SF12, is already tagged for drum OH's because this space is just too wide, for how much front to back space I have to work with. Narrow Diaz with 4 rows for the choir ->knee wall ->landing, and then the steps... I won't get good enough coverage to handle parts of the choir that will likely be needing some balance.

And this is gonna be loud.

Just to give you an idea how loud... There's 32 tracks w/o the choir mics.

What makes the most sense is spot/area micing, and then hoping I can get enough signal (sans drums, bass, two keyboards and a big brown swirly box) to distinguish the choir from. So, directionality of pattern warrants a cardioid or hyper cardioid.

I'm used to choirs in the 24-36 voice range. The SF12 or R84/2247 in a M/S does a fine job and then augment with M101's or C3000's in a worst case.

The SF12 just won't give me the security of knowing I have the ability to balance the SATB separately.

Real challenges are what make this fun.

MA100's would be nice, but I just don't see being able to afford 4 right now.

Profile picture for user TheJackAttack

TheJackAttack Sat, 09/22/2012 - 21:04

If I were closer you could use my R101 pair as well as my SF12. Is Cucco close enough to you to borrow/rent from him? What is your target date?

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TheJackAttack Sat, 09/22/2012 - 21:05

The NT5's are really quite decent and reasonably universally useful. If you are going to have that much else going on and can't get top end gear they will do you right IMO.

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MadMax Sun, 09/23/2012 - 01:07


Thanx for the input!

Cucco's not too far up the road... maybe 3 hours?

Date of the sessions is 10/19-10/20.

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Davedog Mon, 09/24/2012 - 02:26

Hey Max. Do I understand you want to buy if you can because the rentals are slim to none? I dont know what the @Boss's budget will allow but you can get pairs of At4041's for a bit under $500. They are a flat and very directional mic. Good for your purpose here as they only give you back what you put in.

If not, give Jeremy a call.

Also dont overlook the ability of the "olde standard" SM57 for the alto and tenor sections. As spot mics anyways.........Good preamps make em work real well....surprisingly.

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MadMax Mon, 09/24/2012 - 05:52

For this particular remote, I'm needing about 8 SDC's.

It's not quite the situation that rentals are slim to none as much as local rental choices are very narrow... primarily KSM137's and just a couple of SM81's.

I'm willing to buy 2-4 SDC's, depending on price, as I could use em' in the arsenal. (My 2 existing C1000's are nominal quality at best.)

I could possibly purchase 4 of the e614's (if they're decent enough) or 4 of the KSM137's, AT4041's NT5's, etc., and then rent 4 more KSM137's. (The local production company that I would rent from, also has a separate sales company with Rode, Senn, Shure, AKG dealerships. So getting product isn't the real issue.)

Because of the deal I can get on them, I wonner if the e614's are worth a damn, and if they'll possibly work and play well with others... If they suck, then why bother, right?

Also, I've been contacted off list by some GREAT members here, with offers to rent/borrow a few of their SDC's to help out. Which just shows the GREAT community that this place is!

Again, I've usually been able to handle my choirs with great results w/o using SDC's and rarely find that a need for one in the studio... But, I'm still real familiar with them in live audio, but have never needed to explore using them in a mixed manufacturer environment.

Common sense says that in some cases, it's gonna be a huge difference.

Profile picture for user Davedog

Davedog Mon, 09/24/2012 - 12:13

I really think you would LOVE the AT4041's. Every time I shoot mine out against others of this ilk I get more impressed. The only pair that has a bit more mojo for my ear has been the KM184's and that comes from that "Neumann sheen" that has no logical explanation other than "Its there". The AT's have a real good output, and are fairly sensitive as well a being accurate in what they reproduce. So no noise in a distant micing situation like a spot mic on choirs. Hmmmmm? !

Profile picture for user sdelsolray

sdelsolray Thu, 09/27/2012 - 17:40

I'm sure you could get a good deal on a quantity of 3 Zigma CHI SD mics. They are quite nice. Call Greg at Pro Audio Toys or Warren at Zen Pro Audio.

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MadMax Sat, 10/20/2012 - 08:48

OK, update time...

I asked the client to PLEASE contact me at least 2 weeks before the session to confirm, so I could deal with mic rental/procurement.

I finally got the confirmation call 5 days ago... Monday.... far too late to take advantage of the generosity of any of the guys who kindly offered to let me borrow any mic's... and way too late to get any rentals mic's.

I ended up buying 4 of the Sennheiser e614 SDC's. It's all I could do... and actually, they're good enough for this session's application.

As a side note, this is one of those situations that I really should have paid attention to my "spidey senses"... that this was going to literally be a pain in the back.

The band is top notch, the choir is really good, and the "12 voice" praise team is excellent... however... nothing as far as infrastructure in the sanctuary is worth using, and really should all be ripped out and redone. (hum, buzz and dead connections)

Thankfully, I had the foresight to take my 24x8 Medusa with me, in addition to "Big Red", my small 56 channel 3 way splitter. This session ended up using close to 70 mic cables and 8 turnaround's to make it all work.... yeeesh.

I would have taken "The Blue Beast", the W4 (48x8) w/2x300', 1x50' trunks and 3x25' tails, but they didn't have the budget for me to hire one assistant, much less two for the load-in/out. The Blue Beast box weighs in at well over 500 pounds, and probably closer to 600 or more... and I don't take it unless I'm paid to have assistants or they have hands.

I thought we were tight on inputs, but managed to get it down to 36 planned channels. But the music director added 4 more unplanned lines, taking the session to 40 channels... then last night at the end of the session, they decided to add ONE MORE track! (grrrrrrrrrrr)

So, when I get there this afternoon, I get to add the extra channel, delete all the 2nd HD24 song lists and make them 24 track songs instead of 16 track songs... plus deal with a KB player who uses a line mixer for all of his KB modules, but doesn't have them balanced out as far as gain structure... requiring me to do the gain level dance on the kb/synth sends... in addition to the other 29 mic's I've gotta keep an eye on.

Yup... remotes are easy work...

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Davedog Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:38

Ahhh, the old "Since you're here already, could we get.......etc......etc....etc...." Uh-huh. I feel yer pain my friend.

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dvdhawk Sat, 10/20/2012 - 19:06

You know what happens when you pull a rabbit out of your hat to satisfy those last minute whims for your client, right? (that they expect you to do as if by magic)

They hire you again.

And the next time, they will just assume you can produce 3 rabbits.

and a mountain goat.

and a tin of Dapper Dan pomade.

and one pearl onion.

and a mating pair of wolverines.

and a 9v battery.

and some sort of ice sculpture.

How much longer until you're ready for us to soundcheck?

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MadMax Sun, 10/21/2012 - 14:57

DD, that's TOO funny!!

The end result was that we got the session tracked and everything went well.

An excellent performance is always the key to a good recording. Next step is to recuperate from the physical abuse I put the ol' body through, then to transfer the tracks off the HD24's and into a coupla' SloStools sessions.

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MadMax Tue, 10/30/2012 - 07:34

Another update, and probably the last one.

Listening to the e614's after a LOOOOONG day of transfers (OVER 88Gb of wav's, btw), they don't sound all that bad... pretty darn decent, actually.

The directionality is pretty good with a very respectable amount of noise, and the gain from them is surprisingly good for such an inexpensive mic. The frequency response is quite good, albeit obviously a bit thin in the low end... which actually made this a fine choice for the application as a choir mic.

The e614 is not a Schoeps, DPA or anything close to a high end SDC or super cardioid, but in comparison to the average $300-$500 SDC, it certainly holds it own and certainly exceeded my expectations.

I wish I had the time to take photo's during the session to show their placement, but alas, when you're solo humpin' a big session like this, you're happy just to get everything set up and working. Maybe someone took photo's and I can post them up to show how they were placed.

All in all, I would definitely recommend the Sennheiser e614 for anyone looking for a modestly priced SDC for a similar application. I have a couple of other sessions coming up where I will give them a try on things like ride cymbal, horns and mandolin... but I'll definitely keep these in the mic locker for choirs, hihat and the like!

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Davedog Wed, 10/31/2012 - 10:36

I got a chance to play around with a pair of these recently. They are actually a pretty darn good mic. As a mic in that budget it works as well as the AT4041's which to me are the epitome of budget SDC's. I've had a pair of those for a while now and do get the opportunity to try others (its nice knowing and recording guys from the stores.....!) The 4041's have never failed to give a lasting impression and even beating out mics twice their price. The 614's are also in the realm of reality.

Its good to see you survived your session.

RemyRAD Thu, 11/01/2012 - 19:04

For the past 20 years I've tried to make my living having that same kind of fun. I would've just hung up a couple of SM57's. They sound great on choirs. Especially when you want to get the choir. I don't know why people think they are not professional enough? Aren't you already using good preamps? So noise can't be that big a factor. No bigger than the extra wash of junk from the rumble and the hiss of the HVAC you get to pick up in great detail with condenser microphones and especially the small ones. So like you said those cheap SDC didn't sound all that bad. And of course they didn't sound all that good either did they? 57's do.

Try it you'll like it. Really, honest.
Mx. Remy Ann David