You are here

Recording a Choir

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Recording a Choir

Postby jtcoops » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:32 pm

Hi guys

A first for me, on Saturday I'm recording an 18 piece vocal choir. Any tips on mic techniques and placement?

Its not at my studio to add to the pressure but the performance room is fairly decent, 5 metre ceiling height, 10 metre long and 7 metre wide. I have theatre curtains which can be drawn all around the room or partially.

I have at my disposal: Neumann U89, Matched pair Rode NT5s, Matched pair Sennheisser 914s, a pair of AKG Perception 420s, Rode NTK, and a Rode 1000 to play with. Pre-amps will be DAV BG1s.

The choir are 4 part - so potentially up to 4 stereo pairs but open to ideas. Apart from a 30 piece brass band a few years ago I only usually work with indie bands.

Thanks
JC
jtcoops
Regular
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:00 pm

Re: Recording a Choir

Postby John Willett » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:26 am

My first thoughts are to do it with just a simple ORTF pair - from the list you have, that would be the Røde NT5s.

This method uses the choir in the room, letting them balance themselves.

If the room is OK you should get a really good sound like this.

If you use lots of mics you would muddy the sound with multi-path distortion and you will likely lose the magic.
User avatar
John Willett
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4105
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2000 12:00 am
Location: Oxfordshire UK

John
Sound-Link ProAudio
Circle Sound Services
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:47 am

And I'd do exactly the same. ORTF with the NT5s. let the choir balance themselves.

If the room acoustic is okay then go with that. If not, use the curtains to deaden it down as much as you can and add some artificial space afterwards.

hugh
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 17069
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby alfredo » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:34 pm

+1 for an ORTF pair - I did this with our local choir (30-piece; 4-part) in our church a couple of months ago. I moved them about so the ensemble voices were more or less balanced (very basically, basses at the back/sopranos front/altos left and tenors right seemed to work nicely for us).

Incidentally, i got some great mixing advice in this thread. If you'd like to hear a sample of the finished thing, drop me a line.
alfredo
Regular
Posts: 127
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2002 12:00 am

Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Jonesd90 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:35 pm

I'd add to the ORTF technique. It's what I usually use and it's definitely the option for a choir 9 out of 10 times.

An option you might like to explore would be to use the U89 as a spot mic on the Bass section. Put it on a boom stand and place over and just infront of the bass section (stand base behind and then arm over the singers and pointing down towards them..) and use it for capturing the bass frequencies a bit more.

I find this is useful for recording as (fairly often) the bass section is towards the back a typical choir arrangement and its useful to have the option of adding some extra bass definition is the piece calls for it.

If it doesn't simply discard the track when it comes to mix down...

Dave
Jonesd90
Regular
Posts: 89
Joined: Sat May 22, 2010 11:00 pm

Re: Recording a Choir

Postby jtcoops » Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:09 pm

Thanks guys

On the day I decided to cover bases so used ORTF pair with the NT5s and the 914s as a spaced pair a little further back. I also put the U89 on the bass section but ended up moving it to the lead section as they were the quietest of the lot.

Results wise the ORTF pair definitely sound the more pleasing in terms of imaging, and having the U89 spot will definitely help in the final mix. Choir are pleased so far with the early results!
jtcoops
Regular
Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:00 pm

Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Kev Adams » Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:36 pm

I have a similar project coming up (with a childrens' choir) so have found this very useful.

One question: my own mic collection is very limited. Luckily I am able to borrow suitable mics and big stands, so that isn't a problem. However, if I were forced to use my own mics the only pair I have are AKG C1000s. Would I stand any chance with these? They are listed on one retail site as being 'ideal for recording choirs', very encouraging. True?
User avatar
Kev Adams
Regular
Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:00 am
Location: MK UK

Retired, hurt Bandcamp


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby The Elf » Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:44 pm

I really, honestly wouldn't. Go borrow/hire a pair of decent mic's if you possibly can.

I used a pair of C1000s for many years - horrible mic's all round IMO.

A pair of secondhand NT5s don't cost much more, if you shop around, but are far superior in every way.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9975
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Feb 03, 2012 5:46 pm

The C1000 is an 'interesting' mic with a pretty odd high end response and a surprisingly high self noise. I'd say they were ideal for recording choirs in the same way that they're ideal for recording anything else... which is as a wedge to keep the doors open while you're loading and unloading!

But if you have nothing else available then they will capture sound in a fashion, which is better than nothing!

I'm not a big fan of the C1000, in case you hadn't guessed

Hugh
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 17069
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Kev Adams » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:35 am

The Elf wrote:I really, honestly wouldn't. Go borrow/hire a pair of decent mic's if you possibly can.

I used a pair of C1000s for many years - horrible mic's all round IMO.

A pair of secondhand NT5s don't cost much more, if you shop around, but are far superior in every way.

Sounds like good advice. I'm just setting up a clearance sale (violin repair stuff and some gigging gear; health reasons) so I think I'll add the C1000s and go looking for NT5s!

And if Hugh doesn't like them then that's final. Thanks chaps.
User avatar
Kev Adams
Regular
Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:00 am
Location: MK UK

Retired, hurt Bandcamp


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:20 pm

C1000's have many uses.


unfortunately, none of them intersect on a venn diagram with the subset that involves being a recording microphone.




Hammer, yes,


Muggers Cosh, yes,


door wedge , yes,



place to find a 9V battery when in extremis. check....




recording anything?? no..... not even nearly.......





i did once meet a sax player who felt it was the best damn thing on earth for Mic'ing up his Tenor Sax for the PA in a Live gig.... but after extended treatment, he's better now.....
. . . Delete This User . . .
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2368
Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2008 11:00 pm

Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Feb 04, 2012 2:31 pm

Ah, the C1000. The Microphone We Love To Hate! There must be other bad microphones around, some even by reputable manufacturers like AKG, but any mention of the C1000 and the knives come straight out!

But Elf "used a pair for many years". They weren't the only mic available in that price range. Why did he go on using them?

And here's the conclusion of Paul White's 1998 SOS review. (But that was a long time ago, when some people still liked tape and vinyl too :-)


"The AKG C1000S represents exceptionally good value, not least because sharp competition in the home recording microphone market has forced prices down to the point where the mic is cheaper to buy now than its predecessor was ten years ago. Not only is this a good-sounding and versatile back-electret mic, it's also very solidly built and performs well on battery power if required to do so. It's perhaps true to say that because the number of low-cost quality microphones has increased so much in recent years, the C1000S is no longer the clear leader that it once was, but it still has enough going for it to merit a place on anyone's sub-£200 microphone short list."

Maybe the C1000 deserves the lynch-mob it seems to attract. Maybe not. Perhaps we should just class it as "vintage"?
Exalted Wombat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5652
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:00 am
Location: London UK

You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Feb 04, 2012 2:37 pm

The important points to note in that review was that (a) it was 1998 and (b) that PW was comparing the C1000 to typical back-electrets of the day and (c) it was good value for money given that most mics broadly similar quality mics were substantially more expensive.

The world has moved on considerably. The inherent limitations of the technology employed in the C1000 have long since been overcome and the cost of decent sounding microphones has continued to drop at an almost alrming rate.

In short, it was quite good for the money back then.... it ain't anymore.

Hugh
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 17069
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Kev Adams » Sat Feb 04, 2012 3:35 pm

I bought mine about 10 years ago because I wanted a matched pair to record a friend of mine playing a melodeon- left hand and right hand. We'd recently been in a studio with our band and the engineer had used them there on the squeezebox, sounded OK to my uneducated ear. I liked the price and was influenced by the 'swiss army knife' tag with which they were advertsied e.g. in the Studiospares catalogue.

I'm still waiting for my friend to come round to record his stuff!
User avatar
Kev Adams
Regular
Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:00 am
Location: MK UK

Retired, hurt Bandcamp


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:30 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The important points to note in that review was that (a) it was 1998 and (b) that PW was comparing the C1000 to typical back-electrets of the day and (c) it was good value for money given that most mics broadly similar quality mics were substantially more expensive.

How standards change! From the same review:

"Whereas dynamic mics always left my acoustic instruments sounding choked at the high-frequency end, the C1000 produced a far more open, articulate result -- but at the same time, the sound remained warm and musical."
Exalted Wombat
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5652
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:00 am
Location: London UK

You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:46 pm

even back then i vehemently disagreed with the concept of it being a good mic.... and at the time, being more of an absolute objectivity kind of guy, rather than relative subjectivity, was unimpressed by the review.... to be fair, i've since learned to take budget and market sector more in to account,....

i could find argument for the C3000, it's slightly harsh mid being actually quite useful on some sources..... (electric guitar for example) but the C1000 was always a bit of a dog....

but granted, it DID have it's uses, the ability to battery power it was handy, and my PA mic box had a pair in for those moments when acoustic sources were a struggle with a dynamic mic , (although , for example, the C5900 was a much better sounding tool , but it did require phantom power, and this wasn't always available, and it was more primarily a vocal mic.. ) and back in the 90's there were really very few alternatives at under £350 or so....

in the studio, even back then, nothing would have persuaded me to use the C1000 ....
. . . Delete This User . . .
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2368
Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2008 11:00 pm

Re: Recording a Choir

Postby The Elf » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:19 am

Exalted Wombat wrote:But Elf "used a pair for many years". They weren't the only mic available in that price range. Why did he go on using them?

a) They weren't mine - they belonged to the studio I worked at. All I owned was a single MD421!
b) When you know no better you think the reason everything sounds like it's rubbing your ears with sandpaper is the speakers/headphones/your own ability to make a decent recording... a hundred other reasons.

When I finally got to compare better mic's I finally realised how bad the C1000 was, but for me it was a long time in coming.

I'm wary when a bandwaggon begins, but with the C1000 I made my own mind up long ago and owe my opinion to nobody else! I could mention a few other sacred cows of which I have my own critical opinion, but I'm tired of being flamed by NS10 fanboys!
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9975
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Kev Adams » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:00 pm

Moving the goalposts somewhat-
I realise when I spoke of my C1000s as a 'matched pair' above, I was technically incorrect. I simply have two mics the same model, but not a true matched pair.
I'm trying to ascertain how important it would be to have a properly matched pair for stereo recording, or are modern microphones built and tested to tight enough tolerances to allow one to buy two similar mics separately?(eg on ebay)
User avatar
Kev Adams
Regular
Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:00 am
Location: MK UK

Retired, hurt Bandcamp


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby The Elf » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:26 pm

If you're looking at the price of a pair of mic's like the Rode NT5/NT55 then I think it doesn't make sense to pinch pennies for a pair of unmatched mic's.

When you go up-market the smarts say that the tolerances are so tight it doesn't really matter so much - and the price of a matched pair may be at a higher premium. Here it may be economically prudent to buy singletons.

So, at a pinch, my approach is to say that the less you pay the more you should seek out a matched pair.

Not a definitive statement - just my opinion.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9975
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


Re: Recording a Choir

Postby Kev Adams » Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:17 pm

The Elf wrote:If you're looking at the price of a pair of mic's like the Rode NT5/NT55 then I think it doesn't make sense to pinch pennies for a pair of unmatched mic's.

When you go up-market the smarts say that the tolerances are so tight it doesn't really matter so much - and the price of a matched pair may be at a higher premium. Here it may be economically prudent to buy singletons.

So, at a pinch, my approach is to say that the less you pay the more you should seek out a matched pair.

Not a definitive statement - just my opinion.


opinion maybe, but valued none the less. Thanks.
User avatar
Kev Adams
Regular
Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:00 am
Location: MK UK

Retired, hurt Bandcamp



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests