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Mic Positions

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Mic Positions

Postby Arondite » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:03 am

I am kinda confused over the micing of choir and guzheng, as I have seen some variations of how other people mic them, so I figured I might as well ask which was the "better method".
As for the choir, rather than the positions, I am more concerned with which mic to use - small diaphragm condensers, large diaphragm condensers, or instrumental mics. I normally use condensers, and I never really bother to care about whether it is large or small - often times I use both. However, I was told that the condensers have a narrower but longer range, whilst the instrumentals have a broader range and shorter range. Thus, since in my case, the singers are lined up in 3 columns of 5 rows, would a instrumental be better?
As for the guzheng, I am concerned as to whether the mic is placed below or above the guzheng. I have been told by the guzheng players that the sound comes out from a hole below the guzheng, but I have seen people mic the guzheng from above. Also, just to check, but again, which mic to use and why?
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:28 am

Arondite wrote:I am kinda confused over the micing of choir and guzheng, as I have seen some variations of how other people mic them, so I figured I might as well ask which was the "better method".

There is no 'right way'. It comes down to a blend of technical, artistic, and aesthetic preferences.

I am more concerned with which mic to use - small diaphragm condensers, large diaphragm condensers, or instrumental mics.

I'm not sure what an 'instrumental mic' is -- unless you mean something you attach to an instrument... but I can't see the choir members being happy about having mics attached!

SDCs and LDCs have different characteristics and you need to know what they are and then decide which would work best in the given situation. SDCs tend to have more consistent off-axis tonality than LDCs, and so if you are using a stereo technique that involves a lot of pickup from off-axis (such as any XY or ORTF technique) it may well be that SDCs will work best.

Some LDCs also have strong presence peaks aimed at making vocals cut through, which might or might not be an advantage here...

I've used both types before now -- and dynamic mics (ribbons and moving coils) as well, come to that. So it's about what characteristics the mics have and how they will work in your own situation. If in doubt, though, I'd generally opt for SDCs.

However, I was told that the condensers have a narrower but longer range, whilst the instrumentals have a broader range and shorter range.

Perhaps by 'instrumentals' you actually mean dynamic, moving-coil mics. The polar pattern and sensitivity of a mic is completely unrelated to the acoustic-electrical mechanisms employed. However, in general dynamic mics intended for stage use do tend to be less sensitive than studio capacitor mics, and often also have tighter polar patterns to help minimise on-stage spill. But that generality is by no means always the case.

You need to choose a mic (or mics) and position them in a way that they can 'hear' everything you want to capture, and not pick up those things that you don't want to capture. I'd cover a choir of 15 arranged five across and three deep with a couple of mics in an XY or ORTF arrangement, positioned to get the right blend of voices and acoustics.

As for the instrument -- I've never recorded one, but as a general rule, avoid miking the sound hole too closely -- that tends to give a boomy sound. All instruments have been developed to project the wanted sound towards the intended audience... so figure out where that is, go and listen to check, and then stick a mic there!

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Re: Mic Positions

Postby Exalted Wombat » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:49 pm

A very general rule is to mic things close up with a LD, particularly if you want a bit of "character". If you're recording from further back and want to hear the instrument/choir/whatever in the room, a SD mic will be more accurate. "Reach" is not a particularly useful concept.

Don't fall into the trap of obsessing on seperation. If you can put the performance in a good-sounding room, a stereo pair in the audience position may well be 90% of your recording. If you've got some more mics and more channels, sure - get closer (but maybe not TOO close) to individual elements with spot mics. Mixing in a bit from these, maybe with a suitable delay, can be useful.
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:37 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:If you can put the performance in a good-sounding room, a stereo pair in the audience position may well be 90% of your recording.

True; but this is about a live performance where this would probably cause significant feedback problems.

(... and Hugh also referred to 'recording' so maybe he made the same mistake... unless, of course, Arondite has posted in the wrong forum. )
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby Arondite » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:00 pm

Firstly, please, pardon my mistake. I did a little bit of a research, and I realized that the "instrumental mic" I was talking about was actually the SD. I have with me condensers of 3 lengths, and I mistook the medium sized one for the SD, and thus the mistake.

With regard to the way the mic is placed, I am not using the stereo technique, just a simple mic in the middle of the choir members. Thus, I think that the mic is generally on-axis. I am not sure whether the SD or the LD will be better, as my main problem is the lack of evenness in the volume. When using a LD, I generally have the few singers in the middle being very much louder than the ones at the edge, and thus sometimes the soprano or alto(whichever section is at the edge) cannot be heard. Thus, would a SD help to reduce the volume difference between the two?

As for the Guzheng instrument, just to clarify to see if I understand you, Hugh. You mean to say that the instrument projects the sound in a certain direction (upwards or downwards), so I should be confirming where it directs the sound to, then stick the mic there, no?

Thanks.
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby MarkPAman » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:19 pm

Arondite wrote: When using a LD, I generally have the few singers in the middle being very much louder than the ones at the edge, and thus sometimes the soprano or alto(whichever section is at the edge) cannot be heard. Thus, would a SD help to reduce the volume difference between the two?


No. What may help, but probably not a lot, would be a mic with a wider pick up pattern if the one you currently use is quite narrow. But, if your choir all sing at the same volume, then the ones nearest the mic are going to sound louder.

Any way you can use more than one mic to even things up?
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:21 pm

Arondite wrote:With regard to the way the mic is placed ... just a simple mic in the middle of the choir members. Thus, I think that the mic is generally on-axis.

Only the source directly in front of the mic can be 'on-axis'. Everything else is inherently 'off-axis'. If you lok at the published polar pattern for the mic, you'll see that the pattern changes with frequency -- which is true of most mics.

In practice, what this usually means is that sound sources positioned towards the side of the mic generally ssound slightly duller or bassier than those directly in front. This may not be significant or even matter in many situations, and the extent of 'dullness' depends on the specific mic in use.

I am not sure whether the SD or the LD will be better

Without out knowing the specific microphone models and the room acoustics its impossible for anyone to say. However, I repeat what I said above -- if you have a lot of sources coming in off-axis, a small diaphragm capacitor mic is usaully a safer bet.

...my main problem is the lack of evenness in the volume. When using a LD, I generally have the few singers in the middle being very much louder than the ones at the edge

This is a combination of the (narrow) polar pattern of the mic and its proximity to the centre singers as compared to the distance to the edge singers -- and nothing at all to do with whether it has a large or small diaphragm, per se.

If you can't get the mic back far enough (or up high enough) to ensure an even balance of singers -- probably because of excessive room acoustic pickup or feedback -- then the only other option is to use more than one mic, all placed closer to the choir, and positioned so that each mic captures a subset of the whole choir. You then genreate a balanced choir sound by mixing the contributions of all the mics as necessary.

would a SD help to reduce the volume difference between the two?

Unlikely. If it had a much broader polar pattern it might give a slightly getter balance, but I suspect the relative proximity of the centre singers is the dominant factor.

I should be confirming where it directs the sound to, then stick the mic there, no?

Yes.

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Re: Mic Positions

Postby Arondite » Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:01 am

I do have more mics to spare, but I believe that more mics = less gain before feedback, so I am not sure if using more mics is a good idea, since the choir is just one step away from feedback. But, if I were to use more mics, what would be a good gauge? 9 people to one mic?

Also, when each section is standing in a row, is it possible to mic up each section so that the volume of each section can be controlled from the board?
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Feb 09, 2013 9:59 am

OK; we've finally established that this is definitely a live situation we're discussing...

For the sake of the audience, your miking needs to be as inconspicuous as possible, but at the same time ensure you can get reasonable gain before feedback. In this situation I would normally put three or four mics across the front of the choir on stands about 2-2.5 metres high, pointing down into the middle rows of the choir. NB. each mic is pointing directly forward and there is no angle-in or out. If you want to suggest some form of 'stereo' - but I never do - then use your pan controls. Don't spread the image too wide.

Mics should be as unobtrusive as possible. That normally means small and black with a cardioid pattern. Similarly stands should be as slim as possible - ideally with no clunky boom mechanisms helping obscure the view for the audience. Careful placement in relation to the FoH speakers is essential to ensure you've got some gain to play with.

Hopefully you're working with a choir that knows how to project, with the sound-system being a 'lift' to the sound rather than full-on amplification.
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby TSH-Tim » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:06 pm

Don't you just hate it when someone asks you to move the sound system BEHIND the microphones...(schools) and then asks why cant we gain the mics up
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby ef37a » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:39 pm

When I have needed to record/reinforce singers on stage I used several mics hanging from a lighting barrel,the mics being about 1mtr above their heads.

This has the incidental advantage that they can't touch them!

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Re: Mic Positions

Postby Guy Johnson » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:06 pm

TSH-Tim wrote:Don't you just hate it when someone asks you to move the sound system BEHIND the microphones...(schools) and then asks why cant we gain the mics up
Those Pesky Laws of Physics...
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby TSH-Tim » Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:35 pm

Guy Johnson wrote:
TSH-Tim wrote:Don't you just hate it when someone asks you to move the sound system BEHIND the microphones...(schools) and then asks why cant we gain the mics up
Those Pesky Laws of Physics...

Yer i keep trying to working around them but no luck as of yet
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby Guy Johnson » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:13 pm

... and those pesky Rules of Interior Decoration and the 5 minute set-up time that all PA systems fail, by ...

* not being beige
* not being white
* being black
* too big (ie bigger than tiny hifi speakers)
* no it cant go there!!!
* what do you mean it will take one and a half hours?
* must you have all those wires?
* do you really need all that ... stuff?!?!?
* can you turn down the drummer?

etc
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby ef37a » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:26 pm

Hi Guy,
Heh! I helped out the rigger in the first days of satellite.

Naturally only the "posh" could afford it to begin with and Lady of The House would take us round the back and point to where she would like to have the dish discretely fitted. Depending upon the house's 10-20, the rigger would take great delight in trundling her back round the front and point and say "Gotta go THERE missus!"

(why did no one ever come up with a brick or slate or tile patterned range of dishes?)

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Re: Mic Positions

Postby PSR » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:25 pm

TSH-Tim wrote:Don't you just hate it when someone asks you to move the sound system BEHIND the microphones...(schools) and then asks why cant we gain the mics up

I just refuse to move the speakers. Lesson learned. (its my PA system and I don't need the money so I would just as rather foxtrot oscar as get a bad sound.
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Re: Mic Positions

Postby zenguitar » Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:29 am

Or if you are feeling especially mischievous... Invite the head of Physics to explain why it is a poor request to make of you

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