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What mics do you use on choirs?
Rick Sutton
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19th April 2009
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Talking What mics do you use on choirs?

I know we have a wide spread of experience here and I am very interested what mics YOU use on choirs.
I don't record more than 5 or 6 choir concerts a year so it really isn't a big part of my business but I have been doing this for many years so I have tried many combos. Some pretty successfully others not so much.
I've used u87, SM81, Km84, Schoeps with various capsules, assorted dynamics and probably others I have forgotten.
Most of the recordings take place in churches and the acoustics are rarely ideal. Once in a while I get to record in one of the California missions and I do enjoy that.

OK, what mics have you used and which have given you the best results?
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Worst results: Shure Sm58's at 10'. Eeeew, how bad this sounded.

Mediocre: Shure 87's at four feet- (30 of them for a choir of 600 people in Giants Stadium for Popestock in 1995). It worked...it was not elegant by any means.

Runnerup: Coles 4038s & AEA R84s. I'm sure a stereo, active ribbon would be even sweeter! This was a great choice when I needed a warm tone.

Best: Schoeps, anywhere from 3' and out. MK2, MK2s, MK21 capsules with CMC 6 bodies.

Honorable mentions: KM184s, TLM170s, M50s (because the four I got did not sound the same!), DPA 4007s, DPA 4041s, Gefell M296s.
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I use SDCs. Usually SM81 or AKG C451.
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I do a fair amount of gospel recordings which include choir, P&W, solo vocals, church organ and a full (electric) band all performing at the same time.

This means I need to capture each section of the choir with anywhere from 2 to 3 mics.
Sometimes even more.

The P&W ensemble are usually mic'd individually or one mic per pair of singers.
The band is individually mic'd so I can blend the instruments and vocals correctly.
In my situation there is no way I can do this with a pair of mics.

My "go to" mics for choir are Milab VIP50s and DC96Bs. (rectangular capsules)
I'm very pleased with the sound I get from these mics.
I don't think I've used another type of mics (unless the client or guest engineer spec'd it differently) in decades.
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Coles 4040s and Gefell Mk221 with Josephson C617 bodies.pure magick also, gefell 296 and have gotten good results with TLM 193.
Rick Sutton
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Thanks everybody.
Steve, What is P&W?
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Praise & Worship group vocals.
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Smile

I have normally used a single pair of MKH 30/40 in MS - but I would also consider an ORTF pair (maybe with omni outriggers).
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My first choice is a spaced pair of AT4049s. I've pointed other, lesser sdc mikes at a choir but wasn't particularly pleased.
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Stereo ribbon mic has definitely been the best. My first try with SDCs turned out poorly.
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As choir spot mics, I usually reach for two (sometimes three) old Beyer MC 713 cardioid SDCs, spaced, sometimes on individual stands. Very pleasing sound, clear, but never harsh or shrill.

I've also used the MC 803, predecessor of the MC 930. Occasionally I'll use a pair of AKG C 414 B-TL (not TL II, i.e. the flat variety). MKH 40 is another option in my collection.
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Small choirs get Schoeps # 4 at distance and Neumann U89's up close. (real transfomer sound with a flat capsule helps soprano sound to not get peaky.)

Orchestral chorus gets 4 or 5 Pearl CC22 cardioids up close. (rectangular capsule)
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I currently am doing a chorale with A-B DPA 4006 TL omnis. The director likes the sound of my omnis better than the Schoeps Mk4's She is also more pleased withe the omnis when I have the grids that roll off the high end at ~12KHz. I plan to run the Williams card triplet, rolled off in post, and ORTF and Jecklin for her to listen to. I am, of course, also interested in the various sound signatures and will keep copies for future reference.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness View Post
Praise & Worship .
gag! Oh man, you havent had to do any of that stuff have you?

Carmen! DC Talk! stike
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A few questions first:

1) Is this for choral or vocal ensemble (more pop sound)?

2) Is it choral only or choral with instruments?

3) Is it in a studio or real acoustic?

4) What is the age of the singers-- young (8-15) medium (16-25) mature (26-60) over the hill (60ish and up)?

5) sacred or secular?

I approach each of these slightly differently.

Rich
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Rich

If I can add one more question.

What size 15, 30, 100 or larger?

And a comment - if the music director cant get the voices balanced within each section, you cant get a good recording.

Larry
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Absolutely!

Rich
Rick Sutton
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare View Post
A few questions first:

1) Is this for choral or vocal ensemble (more pop sound)?

2) Is it choral only or choral with instruments?

3) Is it in a studio or real acoustic?

4) What is the age of the singers-- young (8-15) medium (16-25) mature (26-60) over the hill (60ish and up)?

5) sacred or secular?

I approach each of these slightly differently.

Rich
OK.
1. Choral
2. Generally choral with piano and sometimes an extra inst on a song or two. Sometimes choral only.
3. Real acoustic. This will also vary from semi damped & carpeted/soft seating to full on hard surfaced spanish mission style. Almost always a church setting.
4. All ages. One children's choir. One High School choir . One Community choir with mostly mature voices.
5. Secular choirs but with some sacred music at the Christmas season.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Elliott View Post
Rich

If I can add one more question.

What size 15, 30, 100 or larger?

And a comment - if the music director cant get the voices balanced within each section, you cant get a good recording.

Larry
Mostly in the 30-60 range. Some choir concerts have smaller group performances within the main performance.

The mics that I have available currently for remote work are 4 KM84, 2 R121, 2 Schoeps MK4, 5 Shure SM81, 2 U87 (1970s), 2 C412/414 1970's era with brass cap. I have an AKG C24 but really don't want to haul it out on a remote
I look forward to your thoughts.
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As I mentioned in your other thread, try the R-121 and either KM84 or Mk4 (which ever is darkest). Since you do not have any true omnis, why not consider selling the Mk4's and get Mk2? VERY smooth, and because it is so neutral you can EQ them brighter if desired, plus there is no proximity effect with them. And you already have 4 KM84s!

Rich
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B&K 4006

or

DPA4060
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
I know we have a wide spread of experience here and I am very interested what mics YOU use on choirs.
I don't record more than 5 or 6 choir concerts a year so it really isn't a big part of my business but I have been doing this for many years so I have tried many combos. Some pretty successfully others not so much.
I've used u87, SM81, Km84, Schoeps with various capsules, assorted dynamics and probably others I have forgotten.
Most of the recordings take place in churches and the acoustics are rarely ideal. Once in a while I get to record in one of the California missions and I do enjoy that.

OK, what mics have you used and which have given you the best results?
Hi, I don't record many choirs yearly either but I've found that good to very good mics work excellently as long as the room is up to snuff. If the room sucks or has strange resonances no mic in the world will make it sound good, just more or less realistic. I like omni mics as they tend to pick up the basses properly.

I mostly record concerts and have used Rode NT1000, Studio Projects C4, Neumann KM184, Neumann KM140, Schoeps MSTC64, Royer SF24, DPA 4060, DPA 4003, Microtech Gefell M296 with various degrees of results. Some of my favourite recordings have been recorded with NT1000s, DPA 4003 and Neumann KM184. It all depends on how you can place the mics and how they interact with the room.

Here's one recording from yesterday with my youth choir. Two pairs of Microtech Gefell M296 through a DIY preamp. Main A-B pair through DIY pre -> Lake People F44 converter, the outrig pair went through the DIY pre -> Fireface 800. The room isn't ideal, with high vaulted ceilings and a resonance peak at about the place for the mics, but there was no other place to put them. These are good mics.

http://www.livingsound.se/sleep.mp3
Attached Thumbnails
What mics do you use on choirs?-img_2821.jpg   What mics do you use on choirs?-k-ren.jpg  

Last edited by Mats H; 20th April 2009 at 11:28 AM.. Reason: (update with pics)
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i think the worse the room sound the closer you need the mics to source

make sure each group/choir leader is in agreement that shit in shit out

lots of talk of the mics..best - Schoeps and for the money KM184

also note (lots of notes that you will be running long cables. DO NOT use cheap cables..get the best you can afford and look after them
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Mats, nice recording when the resonances aren't killing you. Why can't we all have the Concertgebauw?
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Light ribbons like AEA R88 and Royer SF-1
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Question for folks suggesting ribbons - do you typically use another mic or two along with the ribbons to capture more of the highs?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy-boy View Post
Question for folks suggesting ribbons - do you typically use another mic or two along with the ribbons to capture more of the highs?
No. A light ribbon, i.e. 1.8 micron, is very fast so all the HF information is there. EQ may be needed depending on the mix, but usually little if any at all. Ribbons are, to my ear, less fatiguing than condensers. Now that's a generalization, but it's generally true.
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b&k 4003, or schoeps work as well. I also like neuman tlm 170's. It really only matters what sounds good on that choir in that room on that day.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videoteque View Post
Sounds "heavenly"!!!thumbsupthumbsup
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
Mats, nice recording when the resonances aren't killing you. Why can't we all have the Concertgebauw?
Yeah, it'd be awesome with a mobile Concertgebouw.. now that's a mobile thread if any!!!

Now this is a very beautiful church but not at all friendly for recording unless you get really close to the choir and there is no audience. There is also a hanging lamp that's in the way of mic placement.
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