The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Orchestra with Choir vs Choir with Orchestra Multi-Channel Preamps
Old 5th December 2017
  #1
Lives for gear
 

Orchestra with Choir vs Choir with Orchestra

Hey, all. I've been recording the local orchestra for NPR broadcasts, and now the best local choir want in on the act. I've recorded orchestra with choir a couple of times with decent results, capturing everything in my main front pair plus a pair of spots on the choir that were barely needed. But I'm wondering if I should change my approach a bit for what is essentially a choir performance with orchestra accompaniment. Do most people treat them the same, or is it common to use a more choir-centric mic setup when it's the choir's turn to shine?
Old 5th December 2017
  #2
Think of it this way: It's still a band in a room with a conductor/director. The latter being responsible for the balance between voices and orchestra. You just have to make sure you don't get in the way.

I'd make sure I have enough coverage of both, but I'd still get out from under my cans and listen to hear what it sounds like in the hall. If it's blended well there, then it better be blended well in my cans. I'd mic the chorus with 2-4 mics depending on how they're physically laid out (especially since they sound like they're the paying client), but your main array should ideally be capturing the whole of the ensemble.
Old 6th December 2017
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
Hey, all. I've been recording the local orchestra for NPR broadcasts, and now the best local choir want in on the act. I've recorded orchestra with choir a couple of times with decent results, capturing everything in my main front pair plus a pair of spots on the choir that were barely needed. But I'm wondering if I should change my approach a bit for what is essentially a choir performance with orchestra accompaniment. Do most people treat them the same, or is it common to use a more choir-centric mic setup when it's the choir's turn to shine?
Sounds like you're doing well down there!

I'm about to record an annual concert featuring a few hundred in the choir with full orchestra. Four mics over the choir, corresponding roughly to its four sections, get mixed in (~10-15%) with a main pair. (Space considerations put the main pair a little far from stage, so the pair alone is a touch heavy on orchestra.) I'm not sure that I'd mic "choir-centric" material differently, except positioning of the main pair, as I leave it to the director to manage balance of voice and instrument no matter the material.
Old 6th December 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by avillalta View Post
Think of it this way: It's still a band in a room with a conductor/director. The latter being responsible for the balance between voices and orchestra. You just have to make sure you don't get in the way.

I'd make sure I have enough coverage of both, but I'd still get out from under my cans and listen to hear what it sounds like in the hall. If it's blended well there, then it better be blended well in my cans. I'd mic the chorus with 2-4 mics depending on how they're physically laid out (especially since they sound like they're the paying client), but your main array should ideally be capturing the whole of the ensemble.
Agreed. (and I use flankers also) When I recorded this full orchestra with choir, the voices bordered on overwhelming the orchestra at times, so with this smaller orchestra it shouldn't be much of a problem to 'feature' the choir.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DrReid View Post
Sounds like you're doing well down there!

I'm about to record an annual concert featuring a few hundred in the choir with full orchestra. Four mics over the choir, corresponding roughly to its four sections, get mixed in (~10-15%) with a main pair. (Space considerations put the main pair a little far from stage, so the pair alone is a touch heavy on orchestra.) I'm not sure that I'd mic "choir-centric" material differently, except positioning of the main pair, as I leave it to the director to manage balance of voice and instrument no matter the material.
Sounds like a plan. I haven't seen this group in performance, but in their online videos it looks like they're all mixed together. So since I won't be able to set up actual 'section' spots, I'm thinking a three-mic array for the 66-voice choir. Thoughts?
Old 6th December 2017
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by avillalta View Post
Think of it this way: It's still a band in a room with a conductor/director. The latter being responsible for the balance between voices and orchestra. You just have to make sure you don't get in the way.
I agree in theory. But I rarely find that to work in practice.

There have been many times that I have had to cover the choir specifically with directional microphones and leave the orchestra in the rear (attenuated) pattern.

The conductor is "adjusting" the balance for what s/he is hearing and/or what the mix sounds like out in the house. And IME, that is rarely the same balance that I get from the microphones.
Old 6th December 2017
  #6
Lives for gear
I always consider the conductor as the pivot for choir recording
Cover his position and then add to taste
Choirs can be difficult, the very best simple , the lesser variety does not bear close inspection
A smaller band makes the task easier
With fig 8 arrays it is possible to steer the microphones by panning up or down to produce a finessed balance
66 vox and a small band should be manageable on a good main pair
Some relocation of principles might have to be considered if the balance of Vox is uneven or lumpy.
As Richard says sometimes the main array might be moved to the choir area with the band in the rear
With fig 8s they are still on mic in the rear lobes, this is a useful quick fix, band geography is of course reversed field
Best of luck, choirs can be demanding, especially at Christmas.
Roger
Old 7th December 2017
  #7
I have never seen the orchestra in the rear, maybe a band a half dozen times, but I haven't seen everything I suppose. The "Choir with Orchestra" arrangement to me usually means a small pick-up group accompanying the choir in a supportive role. The balance usually takes care of itself because of the orchestra size, though I usually use two to four spot mics on the choir either way depending on their position and size. With choir alone or with piano, I have been favoring a blumlein ribbon main pair. With orchestra, spaced omnis.
Old 7th December 2017
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
I have never seen the orchestra in the rear,
I haven't, either. By "rear' I meant the back-side of the directional microphone(s).

And with the traditional placement of the orchestra in front of the choir, it doesn't help when the loudest sections of the orchestra (brass, percussion) are the closest to the choir.
Old 7th December 2017
  #9
Lives for gear
 

I always enjoy reading Richard Crowley's posts in these threads: his observations through the years mirror mine in many ways. When recording a choir with stellar performance skills in an appropriate space with tasteful selective supportive accompaniment a couple of high quality omnis will usually do the job. This however is not a real world scenario: a spiking soprano or a "more me" dude playing a huge pipe organ can/will wreck an otherwise good performance. There is a clear and unmistakable difference between a professional VxS volunteer ensemble that is assembled to perform seasonal music. A professional production will have a conductor that has the responsibility and standing to demand a precise execution of a given score: unlike the worship director/church choir director that has to be careful not to tread on the sensitive feelings of the volunteers.
As FOH mixers or recording technicians we might be able to discuss obvious problems with a director however in most cases we will have to do the best we can to highlight the good and electronically muzzle the noise.
Hugh
Old 13th December 2017
  #10
Lives for gear
 

So it turns out this choir concert will feature all new music, and nearly every piece uses a different choir configuration. Sometimes they'll be in traditional SATB layout, sometimes quartets interspersed throughout the choir, sometimes three separate choirs stage left, center and right. I don't think there's any universal choir spot mic config I can get away with, so the audience will be seeing a lot of me on stage. Could be a long night.
Old 13th December 2017
  #11
Lives for gear
Go with the flow is my mantra
Sometimes modern contemporary choral can have 30 part singing, no time to re mic
Just get coverage and sprinkle fairy dust in your secret lair!
Roger
Old 13th December 2017
  #12
Best not to readjust during the concert imo. It is disruptive. I get away with it during chamber music performances since the chairs are being adjusted at the same time and I contribute the quick transitions, but large stage configurations need to be left alone unless there is an intermission. I would either find a spot configuration that works for the widest coverage, or forgo it completely. Omnis or fig-8 mains to get the broadest hall sound possible.
Old 13th December 2017
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
So it turns out this choir concert will feature all new music, and nearly every piece uses a different choir configuration. Sometimes they'll be in traditional SATB layout, sometimes quartets interspersed throughout the choir, sometimes three separate choirs stage left, center and right. I don't think there's any universal choir spot mic config I can get away with, so the audience will be seeing a lot of me on stage. Could be a long night.
Did I miss something: this is live, right? Would the conductor, choir, musicians, and audience countenance the stopping of the concert multiple times to patiently bide their time while you fiddle with microphones, stands, and cabling, then trot back to your recording rig to give a thumbs up for re-starting the concert? If the answer is "no," then you'll never reach the question of how to re-position mics: pick a single least worst configuration. Maybe an intermission would give you a chance to reconfigure once.

EDIT: I didn't mean to pile on the same advice. Rumley's post arrived at the same time as mine.
Old 13th December 2017
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
Best not to readjust during the concert imo. It is disruptive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrReid View Post
Did I miss something: this is live, right? Would the conductor, choir, musicians, and audience countenance the stopping of the concert multiple times to patiently bide their time while you fiddle with microphones, stands, and cabling, then trot back to your recording rig to give a thumbs up for re-starting the concert?
No, I wouldn't make mic adjustments while the musicians are on stage, only during intermission or other major stage adjustments that involve crew adjusting chairs, podiums, risers, etc. Once I have all the details of the musicians' configurations, stage entrances and exits and the order of performance, I'll devise a strategy. Most likely I will have to compromise with a more universal coverage setup. But if the situation allows for it and it would be advantageous to move things around, I'll do that. And a dose of fairy dust.
Old 14th December 2017
  #15
Lives for gear
A simple 4 mics on one bar array (eg boojum/norman/Faulkner) would give you adequate coverage for depth of field and to some degree width, by adjusting the proportion of each pair in post after the concert...or live to 2 track on site, if you have good monitoring facilities.

I wish more concert halls opted for this...Servoreelers

......it would remove most of the videographers (and musical directors'/conductors) quibbles about stands getting in the way...although they require additional anchoring via monofilament fishing line to steer them fore and aft, and to stop any sway due to airconditioning.

YouTube
YouTube

Additionally, they don't lend themselves at all to height adjustments between movements or items during a concert...perhaps during the mid-concert interval it would be ok to raise/lower, if the program were so arranged to allow this tweaking (usually it's highly unlikely !)

They're especially useful if you want to suspend the main pair (or Tree) directly above the conductor's head (or slightly into the orchestra), and a pivoting boom arm on a regular tripod stand won't allow this done with safety

I'm only familiar with the main pair being on such a remote reeling mechanism, but well heeled venues could add additional reelers for spot mics too...at corresponding increases in install costs !

Or simply go for the permanent overhead "cloud of overhead spot mics" like the Musikverein in Vienna ....

Last edited by studer58; 14th December 2017 at 09:12 AM..
Old 14th December 2017
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Something like a SoundField mic can be very useful in a situation where the on-stage configuration changes a lot, because you can steer it after the fact to address the balance of any given arrangement.
Old 22nd February 2018
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Okay, this is coming up next weekend and I've finally gotten more detailed program information. Eight pieces, and the only common factor is the main, 66-voice choir. Accompaniment variations include a 30 piece orchestra, pipe organ, piano, harp, pennywhistle, one to four vocal soloists and two extra choirs on the sides spilling down the stairs into the audience. Obviously a bit of a logistical nightmare, but fortunately I'm contracted to record both performances and will have the chance to set up and experiment during the dress rehearsal.

My initial inclination is to go with an ORTF front pair, and my normal omni wide flanks (which should be sufficient to pull in the two extra choirs), three across the main choir, a pair of XY spots for the vocal soloists, a pair of omni piano spots, a harp spot and possibly a spot for the pennywhistle. I'm sure the organ will take care of itself (if it doesn't blow everything else away).

With this many mics, and depending on where they place the vocal soloists, I'm hoping to stay off the stage and get away with a static setup.
Old 23rd February 2018
  #18
Lives for gear
 

i'd go with (wide) cardioids for the main choir (to get some rear rejection) and unless the vocal soloists are very close together, i'm a bit sceptical for the pair of XY spots...
Old 23rd February 2018
  #19
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i'd go with (wide) cardioids for the main choir (to get some rear rejection) and unless the vocal soloists are very close together, i'm a bit sceptical for the pair of XY spots...
My thoughts exactly on the choir. I have a pair of CM-3's that will get choir duty, but those are my only wide cardioids so the center mic will be cardioid. Four individual solo mics for the singers will be impractical here, so I'm thinking XY would be the safest and most flexible to cover their stage area. I generally go with parallel 'dual mono' mics for soloists, but I'm not sure that will work well with a group of three or four. Other options?
Old 23rd February 2018
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
those are my only wide cardioids so the center mic will be cardioid...
Four individual solo mics for the singers will be impractical here... other options?
choir: should be okay/good - kind of 'similar' l/c/r in the back as in the front (with the wider mics on the side and the more narrow mic/s in the center) should give you a solid center!

soloists: hard to tell without knowing the place/setup/orchestra/music/soloists, so pure guess - how about 3 mics on soloists on axis/between them? i've been putting mics on the floor and/or been using blm's for similar tasks...

maybe one spare for the organ? not for level, but for some definition/articulation (rather than all ambient sound)?
Old 23rd February 2018
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
choir: should be okay/good - kind of 'similar' l/c/r in the back as in the front (with the wider mics on the side and the more narrow mic/s in the center) should give you a solid center!

soloists: hard to tell without knowing the place/setup/orchestra/music/soloists, so pure guess - how about 3 mics on soloists on axis/between them? i've been putting mics on the floor and/or been using blm's for similar tasks...

maybe one spare for the organ? not for level, but for some definition/articulation (rather than all ambient sound)?
Hmm, interesting idea on the soloists. A kind of mini Decca Tree, huh? I don't know how they'll be placed, but I'll keep that in mind. (It is a live concert so staying unobtrusive is also a consideration.) The organ pipes will be pretty much touching the heads of the choir's back row, so I'm just not gonna worry about that!

What's a blm?
Old 23rd February 2018
  #22
Lives for gear
 

not really decca, just 3 mics on stands - or on the floor = blm = boundary layer mic

p.s. essentially the whole setup becomes a multi mic array for the organ :-)

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 23rd February 2018 at 07:13 PM.. Reason: p.s. added
Old 23rd February 2018
  #23
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
not really decca, just 3 mics on stands - or on the floor = blm = boundary layer mic

p.s. essentially the whole setup becomes a multi mic array for the organ :-)
I know it's not Decca, but it's cooler to think of it that way.
Boundary mics for singers, really? That wouldn't have even occurred to me. I haven't pulled out my old Crown PZM in decades. I think I used to have a Radio Shack version, too. Didn't get much use.
Old 23rd February 2018
  #24
Lives for gear
 

any mic that you put on the floor becomes (sort of) a boundary layer mic - when i'm running out of regular blm's, i'm using cardioids (mk4) on the floor.

very usefull, especially on very quiet vocals such as i'm currently recording...
Old 23rd February 2018
  #25
Lives for gear
 

If I could afford Schoeps mics I'd be afraid to lay them on the floor. But it would be nice to have that option. Maybe some day...
Old 23rd February 2018
  #26
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
If I could afford Schoeps mics I'd be afraid to lay them on the floor. But it would be nice to have that option. Maybe some day...
not quite on the floor...

any towel or a low table stand/clip can do: the most important thing is to have the capsule as close to the floor as possible (to avoid reflections and to get additional level)
Old 10th March 2018
  #28
Just to give another option for choir positioning (and because I'm proud of this project, but not one that I recorded myself!).
This is my version of Beethoven's 9th Symphony with one of the leading period-instrument orchestras and one of the leading choirs. I was very fortunate to replace maestro Jos van Immerseel for this project as conductor. The recording I am sharing is the video from the livestream of the second concert in Bruges, recorded by the people of Motormusic in Belgium. This is as live as can be: no edits, no cuts, no tricks involved.

YouTube

The reason I share this: in the old days (witnesses/testimonies from Beethoven's premiere and e.g. also for Mozart's version of Messiah, performed in 1789) there would have been at least two conductors for these settings: one for the orchestra (the main conductor), and the choir (soloists were mostly part of the choir) would stand BEFORE the orchestra, directly facing the audience and thus not seeing the conductor, with an assistant beating time in front of them. Choir balance would never have been a problem back then.
In modern concert halls, this does not work very well in my/our opinion, so we decided to have the choir at the extreme left and right of the stage -- in this case 13 singers at either side, making a total of 26 choir singers for Beethoven's 9th :-) More than enough if you ask me, and never a balance problem. True, the sound sometimes blends with the orchestra, but we heard the text more than enough on beforehand, didn't we...

I very much liked this position as a conductor -- although the soloists were a bit too much to the front and I did not get the usual direct sound from the choir, I was able to balance everything quite exactly from my position much easier than when the choir would have been behind the orchestra, which makes for delays and intonation problems in my experience.

Happy to share, curious about your thoughts!
Cheers
Korneel
Old 11th March 2018
  #29
Lives for gear
 
jimjazzdad's Avatar
Another tour-de-force for you Korneel - congratulations! A great performance and a nice recording (although I guess Anima Eterna Bruges didn't have Tony F there, as they did in Sydney in 2016...). I can see the advantages of this set-up for both conductor and recording engineer. When I have recorded a chorus on risers behind the orchestra, there was an issue with bleed from the percussion, bassoons, etc. getting into the choral mics. In your performance, the two parts of the choir extend as 'wings' downstage past the orchestra. This keeps them well away from the loud musicians I mention. I am guessing that all those AKG C414 mics were set in wide cardioid too. But having the soloists downstage like that gives you a sore neck, no? I guess for whatever reason, they decided not to place them immediately to your right and left, or, perhaps that would have necessitated moving the podium too far from the orchestra?

What was the main pair? (it is hard to see but they would appear to be flown very high overhead with maybe some flankers). And for spots, other than the vocal mics, I only saw an SDC on celli and a some kind of ribbon for the trombones...any others?

Thanks. (and sorry for all the questions)

Jim

Last edited by jimjazzdad; 11th March 2018 at 12:44 PM..
Old 11th March 2018
  #30
Thanks so much Jim, I did enjoy every second of it
I needed to be 'inside' the orchestra for contact reasons with the strings -- very delicate to be too distant for an entire symphony. The compromise for soloist position was not difficult as they sing only 10 minutes, whereas the strings play the full hour.
I did not check all mics, but this I know: mains and flanks 4006 (not very high, they extend further down than the knots you clearly see in the video / mics pointing down by the way, no stereo bar), soloists the usual Schoeps, and the principal string desks (and probably woodwinds as well?) got a 4060 or 4061 miniature mic taped to their music stand. 414s on choir, 4011 on cello and percussion, ribbon on trumpets.
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump