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Choir reinforcing

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Choir reinforcing

Postby Andrew Hague » Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:27 pm

I need to design a PA layout for a complex situation. The work is an oratorio that contains both classical and rock elements. There will be an orchestra that includes a rock rhythm section. Instruments in the orchestra will need to be spot miked to balance with the rock instruments and the choir, though fairly large will also need a bit of sonic support. There will be a 16 voice semi-chorus at the front of the choir and I did think of putting decent condenser mikes between each pair of singers. Alternatively I could hang appropriate microphones above the choir and was looking at CM-502's for this purpose. Does anyone have experience of this situation? Thanks in advance.
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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:29 am

Sounds like a challenging wee gig. Perhaps you could describe where the various elements will be, the acoustics of the space and if you can get some sort of separation between the rock band and everyone else, either through distance or screens.

I'm not familiar with those JTS mics, but I'd be thinking high quality hypercardioid mics such as MKH range on the choir and work right now on having the band play down. If what the conductor hears is balanced you'll stand a chance! Also the band needs to be working with minimal monitors and key would be a drummer who can play down. It's a 50/50 physics/psychology paradigm.

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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby tacitus » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:03 am

I don't have experience of that exact situation, but I have done a fair bit of outdoor work with wind bands and orchestras. To be brutal, I'd place far more emphasis on control of feedback and spill than on the exact tone quality of individual mikes. While you will always get spill and it will help glue the sound together, within reason, you need enough separation so that when you turn one instrument of section up you don't just get more of everything. So I usually find that mikes are much closer than you would have them for recording and that they don't necessarily get the instrument(s) or singer(s) with 100% natural timbre. Some gentle EQ to even out the worst of that will help, but I've learnt over the years to accept some deviation from aesthetic perfection in the cause of better control and no feedback.

Indoors, you won't be needing as much gain, but the same conditions will apply with the added factor of sound reflections. Make sure your speakers are as far away from the mikes as possible and well forward if at all possible. The thing you have to balance is keeping the mikes close, which calls for more of them, and keeping the number of open mikes down to improve gain before feedback.

MIke-wise, I usually run fairly modest condensers for quieter sources - NT5s or NT55s, say, and Oktava 012s, even down to Samson C02s when the locker's getting empty. Brass and loud percussion I use Beyer M201s and SM57s quite a lot - nothing esoteric and all up close. Although you want as few mikes in use as possible, I'm perfectly happy to run extra mikes 'just in case', as it's easier to turn a mike down than to put another one up in the middle of a concert. Typically, for a full wind band, I'll have around 30 mikes set up, and probably 25 or so live for the gig. If you're miking to achieve balance rather than making the whole thing louder, you'll need fewer of them, but you still need to keep them well out of the way of the louder rock elements.

Good luck, then, and don't hesitate to ask if you need more help, from me or anybody else. There's only one gig, so ...

Oh, I don't think I'd hang mikes if there's rock stuff going on in the same parish. It'll depend on the layout, but sounds like trouble to me.
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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby dmills » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:35 am

Remember also that feedback always involves at least TWO transducers, speaker choice and placement are at least as important as mic placement when you have that number of mics open.

Boxes with good pattern control placed to avoid reflections, and possibly some delay hangs would be my thinking here, and as has already been said finding a drummer that can play down is important (Failing that, a drum screen).

See if you can get the guitar cabs off stage in another room and mic them, the monitors will be better behaved then the guitar cabs will be.

Good luck, these gigs always separate the men from the boys.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby Andrew Hague » Sun Nov 03, 2013 2:02 pm

Thanks Bob - fortunately the drummer is a pro (insists I send him a notated part - so he'll be fine) And I intend to surround him with perspex drum shields. I'm hoping that the guitarist and keyboard can be DI and then use foldback speakers which will give the guy on the desk more chance. The choir mics should be a fair distance from the speakers, because the choir is behind the orchestra. I'm really grateful for your reply.
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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby Andrew Hague » Sun Nov 03, 2013 2:05 pm

Thanks tacitus - some really useful advice there. More mics and closer was my thinking too.
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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby tacitus » Sun Nov 03, 2013 2:32 pm

Yes, and as I say, you can turn mikes down if you don't want them. Just as an example, I might be miking a band and have flutes at the front somewhere with trumpets behind. One day I might need to mike the trumpets; another I might be struggling to keep them out of the flute mikes; a small change in layout or slightly different instrumental line-up can change the whole picture quite drastically. And that's without considering the huge difference in volume between a quiet flute in low register and a louder one in high register.

If you're lucky you'll be able to move players about a little - not a lot, for sure - and that can help lots. It sounds as if you've got a handle on the loud boys, so fingers crossed and let's hope it goes well.
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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:47 pm

tacitus wrote:And that's without considering the huge difference in volume between a quiet flute in low register and a louder one in high register.

If it's a style of music where micing is part of the flute sound - e.g. big band jazz - the reed players know how to use a mic in the same way as a vocalist does. As long as you're giving them useful foldback in which they can HEAR the balance, there shouldn't be much need to double-guess them on the faders.

If you want the electric instruments to lose their amps to a remote room for your convenience, they'll have to trust you completely to feed their sound back to them. But their amps (often incorporating a range of effects which are far from "set and forget") are often an integral part of the instrument, and removing them just isn't going to happen. You could work on persuading them to angle the speakers at THEIR ears rather than beaming out to the audience though.
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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:36 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
tacitus wrote:And that's without considering the huge difference in volume between a quiet flute in low register and a louder one in high register.


If it's a style of music where micing is part of the flute sound - e.g. big band jazz - the reed players know how to use a mic in the same way as a vocalist does. As long as you're giving them useful foldback in which they can HEAR the balance, there shouldn't be much need to double-guess them on the faders.

If you want the electric instruments to lose their amps to a remote room for your convenience, they'll have to trust you completely to feed their sound back to them. But their amps (often incorporating a range of effects which are far from "set and forget") are often an integral part of the instrument, and removing them just isn't going to happen. You could work on persuading them to angle the speakers at THEIR ears rather than beaming out to the audience though.


+1 about guitar amps, they are an integral part of the instrument we call"electric guitar" however, if you can get the guitar player to use a small amp (even as small as 5 watts can be pretty loud when overdriven) and point it at his ears he can have a satisfying sound without it overpowering the orchestra too much. Of course if he's a pro too he should be able to oblige and may even have a modelling system (Line 6 Pod, Roland VG88 etc) for just such eventualities. You have a tough job here so good luck.
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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby dmills » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:56 am

While the AMP needs to be on stage, it is fairly common practice even among the stadium rock crowd to remote the SPEAKER to an iso cab off stage and to rely on the monitoring for the stage sound. Given a good monitor guy and an adequate monitor rig it makes for a much more pleasant stage environment for everyone who is NOT a guitarist.

This is also VERY common among the better end of the 'pit' players used to working in musical theater.

But whatever you do you need to keep the axe from being so loud where the choir is that they cannot hear themselves to pitch (And they will NOT in all probability be used to needing monitors).

Sounds like an interesting one.

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:50 pm

Is this an ongoing gig, or a one-off?
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Re: Choir reinforcing

Postby p.dakin » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:11 am

Andrew Hague wrote:I need to design a PA layout for a complex situation. The work is an oratorio that contains both classical and rock elements. There will be an orchestra that includes a rock rhythm section. Instruments in the orchestra will need to be spot miked to balance with the rock instruments and the choir, though fairly large will also need a bit of sonic support. There will be a 16 voice semi-chorus at the front of the choir and I did think of putting decent condenser mikes between each pair of singers. Alternatively I could hang appropriate microphones above the choir and was looking at CM-502's for this purpose. Does anyone have experience of this situation? Thanks in advance.
I've done several of these type of shows and the key is the same as with most loud gigs, get mics as close as you can.

Don't hang mics, get LDC's in amongst the choir, I usually try to get 1 x 414 to 4 choir members, talk to conductor to find out who the strong singers are. Try to get you mics in front of them.
I try to use 2 x SDC's on each section of orchestra, usually 3-4 for string section. Close mic lead cello, violin, double bass.
For wind, I use mixture of condensers and dynamics where i can, one 58 per flute, 58's for horns, SDC for Oboe/clarinet.
Two b57's for grand piano (sounds odd, but really works)

I keep the 'rock' element minimal, kick, hats and Overheads. DI where I can.

remember to try and keep some solo mic's up your sleeve for important 'stand-out' pieces.
You can quickly fill up a desk, but this average setup is about 24 channels.

Group troublesome instruments into groups and pop a graphic over each group. I tend to group choir, strings and headset mics (if theatrical/musicals)

In terms of PA, as mentioned you want a balanced system, with tight dispersion pattern and efficient forward projection (non of this cheap rubbish that spits massive of energy out of the back).
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