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Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

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Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:30 pm

Must be getting close to Christmas - it's Messiah season.

I recorded a local choir with orchestra the other day. The hall has a good acoustic and good rigging points. The orchestra was chamber size, but the choir were quite large, around 80 members, and on risers.

I used an ORTF centre pair of TLM193s and two outrigger KM183s. All pretty standard, but I had the outriggers reasonably high and pointing at the choir using SBK 130 sound diffraction spheres to obtain a little more reach. Also had a TLM193 as a spot on soloists.

It was never going to be a great recording (there were lots of fan cooled LED lights around) but I was reasonably pleased with the outcome.

I had considered using a couple of mics on the choir, but in rehearsal I felt they were reasonably well balanced. In retrospect, I would have preferred a little more 'definition' from the choir. Even though they were, for the most part, reasonably balanced, they sounded more distant, which is what you'd expect I suppose.

So I'd like to throw it around to find out what others would do.

Would you use a coincident pair on the choir or a spaced pair? And if it's just definition required from the choir would you EQ the choir mics to provide just a little high frequency information, which is what I thought was missing.

Many thanks

Bob
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Re: Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby LRS » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:27 am

Hey Bob, did something similar myself about a year ago. In my instance the choir (similar number to yours) were stationed on risers behind the orchestra and I wanted more definition from them as well.

I ended up micing the orchestra using a Decca Tree configuration and a spaced cardioid pair of SDC's on the choir. It was a bit suck it and see as I didn't get an opportunity to attend a rehearsal but the end result was absolutely superb. Luckily the hall didn't have any worrisome reflections and I even had to add a little reverb to the finished article.

I ran quite a severe HPF over the choir tracks and was really pleased with the final product.

Good luck and merry Christmas.

Cheers
Graham
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Re: Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:46 pm

Thanks Graham

Sounds like the spaced cardioids would be the way to go. Would have been interesting to get other views on this.

Cheers

Bob
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Re: Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby The Elf » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:57 pm

I'm now pretty much sold on KM184s in ORTF with a wide pair of NT55 omnis in support for width and ambience - I prefer them facing away from the choir in this context. Sounds great to me, and has certainly earned me a good reputation for stereo/surround choir recordings over the past couple of years, but there may be better ways!
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Re: Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:48 pm

hmmmmm.

1 pair and outriggers is not the only way...


this week contained a 32 channel Orchestra + Piano, + Organ, + Choir, (+ audience that wants to join in,... it's a seasonal thing)


in the weirdest acoustic i've ever heard (as a venue)

with a parabolic domed roof.

Tx on Xmas eve.

nuff said.
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Re: Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby The Elf » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:59 pm

Off duty BBQ lighter AKA Idris wrote:this week contained a 32 channel Orchestra + Piano, + Organ, + Choir, (+ audience that wants to join in,... it's a seasonal thing)

Fantastic! Care to share your techniques with us?

There are so many options for this type of recording I still feel like I'm learning - and am certain of nothing - every time out!
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Re: Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:45 pm

the mic'ing was VERY venue and stage set specific, and went through several iterations before we settled on something that we could use.....


not to give too much away, 4 fig 8 beyers across the main body of the 160 strong choir, 2 more on the soprano boys , also picking up a brass dectet.

REALLY close spot mics on each grouping in the orchestra , all schoeps/neumann , mostly cardioid, the odd fig 8,

pair spaced omnis higher up , between choir and orchestra for the organ.

stereo AEA ribbon above string section.

spots on Perc and Piano,

+ feed from radio mic and lectern mic for readings and presenter.

ALL positioning carefully attended to to try and optimise the ratio of source Vs venue acoustic....


at the sharp end of this job, it's more about getting a usable sound before the doors open, than it is getting the perfect sound, this particular gig is recording this lot for later broadcast..... not a purist CD recording.... and you don't get to ask the audience to go away and come back in an hour when you've carefully set up the decca tree over the string section.... nor can you simply stick stands anywhere you like..... with over 200 performers on stage.... and an audience of a few thousand....
(and the choir being made up of people with expensive lawyers.... and titles before and after their names... )

and in an acoustic as weird as this one..... traditional techniques like a pair over and behind the conductor's head, just do not work..... at all........

i believe you can find out what it sounded like at about 6 pm on Xmas eve on Classic FM.
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Re: Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby The Elf » Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:54 pm

That's quite a gig Fiery One! I've not had to work on that scale - it would be an incredible challenge. I'll be sure to set the recorder to hear your efforts!

Thanks for the info.
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Re: Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Sun Dec 11, 2011 2:03 pm

not my efforts mixing it thank god.. i was merely an assistant... glorified stage hand and god knows how the deity involved is going to make a silk purse out of it... there were some "interesting" performance issues.... to add to the acoustic nightmare.

if it sounds remotely presentable , it's entirely due to the efforts of the lead engineer, who is frankly one of the best i have ever worked with,.
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Re: Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:10 am

Off duty BBQ lighter AKA Idris wrote:
1 pair and outriggers is not the only way...


this week contained a 32 channel Orchestra + Piano, + Organ, + Choir, (+ audience that wants to join in,... it's a seasonal thing)

True, but my resources are limited and so was the client's budget!

So IF you had to use a pair of mics to add definition to a choir in the scenario I described, would you use a near co-incident pair or tend to opt for spaced pair and is it Kosha to EQ the choir mics to just provide some HF definition? (Well it wouldn't be kosha with the Messiah, but you know what I mean............. )

And yes, I know it 'depends', but I'm curious.

Cheers

Bob
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Re: Orchestra/Choir Recording Question

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:04 am

my perspective...

personally, as a primary set, i like a jecklin disk, or spaced omnis

eq, if absolutely necessary, provided it is subtle, and clean, and not loaded with too much " character " or phase shift...

(a phase linear jobbie , used delicately is probably the best answer)

but usually, needing eq on the pair means it was in the wrong place, or the wrong mic choice,

choosing a brighter mic , or different polar pattern or position / or another technique altogether, is more often going to be a better solution....

fixing the thing afterwards is always hard to do invisibly, without some unwanted side effects.... you add eq , you don;t just brighten the choir , but also the space itself.... which will then tend to sound less natural.


large choirs, usually require spaced mics.... often more than just a pair... you miss too much otherwise.

and eq'ing to try and bring back things from outside the natural reach of the mic, usually has negative effects on the stuff that IS closer to the mic...


smaller vocal groups, (say 15 or so) are easy enough to do with just a coincident pair , at a sensible distance, but by the time you're talking over 50, one coincident pair isn't enough , unless you're SO far back that the room acoustic is the primary source, not the choir. so spaced sets make more sense....

but ultimately, the choice of mic and placement is always going to be based on the size of ensemble, and the balance with the acoustic the ensemble is in....

even if the acoustic ambience is desirable, there is always the need to balance that against intelligibility of the source, so finding that sweet spot is the primary goal.... then working out what is missing.... and adding coverage for that....
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