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Help for Choir Recording
Old 27th March 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Help for Choir Recording

Hey guys, I know this has been discussed a lot, but can’t find any real good or modern data.

I’m going to be recording a small-ish (8 people) male and female vocal ensemble. The singers are all well trained and the space will be a very nice church with good/decent acoustics.

I’m trying to keep this relatively simple, and looking for a solid stereo pair or mics to use.

I’ve looked at things from a varying degree of cost.

Rode M5
Rode Nt5
sE sE7
sE sE8
sE 4400a (pricey)
AkG 414 (really pricey)
Neumann KM184 (super pricey)

I’d like to stay around 300-500 but if the mics were really worth it and super versatile I wouldn’t mind going up to $1000 reluctantly haha. My only mic is a TLM 102 as I really only do solo vocals on tracks at the moment, but looking to expand.

Any help pointed in the right direction, or suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks.
Old 27th March 2019
  #2
Gear Nut
Spend some time in the older threads that apply, there is a lot of good information.

Particularly check out the Line Audio CM3 info, it is much discussed here.

Otherwise one might suggest,

Beyerdynamic MC910 (Buy used)
DPA 4060 or 4090
Rode NT5 *with NT45 omni capsules*

You should be looking at omnidirectional microphones in a good acoustic such as you describe.
Old 27th March 2019
  #3
I'd go with the NT5s in a matched pair and add the omni capsules. Then add OM1s if budget permits.

You could then use just one pair, or mix the NT5s in Cardioid/NOS and the OM1s in Omni as a four mic array if you like.

If you're in the US, I'd be comfortable loaning you my pair of OM1s if you decide to buy a pair of cardioids.
Old 28th March 2019
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesG602 View Post
Hey guys, I know this has been discussed a lot, but can’t find any real good or modern data.

I’m going to be recording a small-ish (8 people) male and female vocal ensemble. The singers are all well trained and the space will be a very nice church with good/decent acoustics.

I’m trying to keep this relatively simple, and looking for a solid stereo pair or mics to use.

I’ve looked at things from a varying degree of cost.

Rode M5
Rode Nt5
sE sE7
sE sE8
sE 4400a (pricey)
AkG 414 (really pricey)
Neumann KM184 (super pricey)

I’d like to stay around 300-500 but if the mics were really worth it and super versatile I wouldn’t mind going up to $1000 reluctantly haha. My only mic is a TLM 102 as I really only do solo vocals on tracks at the moment, but looking to expand.

Any help pointed in the right direction, or suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks.
Hi, I regularly use the NT55 with omni capsule for choral recording. They sound great when you stand on the edge of the diffuse field. If you get too close you should either go EQs around 9 kHz if you do not want to accentuate all throat noises or tilt them slightly upwards. How much is very difficult to determine I think. If you can stand a bit closer, the Lineaudio om1 can be used in live situations. You do need a silent microphone amplifier with sufficient gain. They sound pretty good and are very sensitive all around, even in the frequencies above 10 kHz. The sE8 Cardioid gets good reviews but according to a French review on the Thomann site did not have the SN that is specified. You have to be further away than with an omni.
I think the help from TMetzinger can help you make a good choice if you live nearby.
I add two examples here. OM1, not very close and the NT55 omni further away.
Both on a Babyface pro.
Attached Files
Old 28th March 2019
  #5
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
....If you're in the US, I'd be comfortable loaning you my pair of OM1s if you decide to buy a pair of cardioids.
The Remotester's forum is a mighty friendly place with some very nice people.
Old 28th March 2019
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for all the input!
Old 29th March 2019
  #7
Lives for gear
I'd add Beyerdynamic MC930 to the list.

Chris
Old 3rd April 2019
  #8
Lives for gear
 

I'd suggest renting a really good pair of omni mics such as DPA or Schoeps.
Old 5th April 2019
  #9
Anyone have more samples they'd like to share?

James -- where are you located, and what is the purpose of the recording?

Last edited by NorseHorse; 5th April 2019 at 04:57 PM..
Old 5th April 2019
  #10
Omni pair on a ball, plus 2 pairs of figure-8. B9audio microphone

Last edited by 9sbean; 15th April 2019 at 03:41 AM..
Old 8th April 2019
  #11
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
Anyone have more samples they'd like to share?

James -- where are you located, and what is the purpose of the recording?
This one? Last Saterday evening. Johannes Passion JS Bach.

Babyface pro, Rode NT55 omni. 3,5m high,0,6 m wide. 1,8m behind the conductor.
Attached Thumbnails
Help for Choir Recording-opstelling.jpg   Help for Choir Recording-opstelling-nt55.jpg  
Attached Files

Mein teurer Heiland.mp3 (8.56 MB, 1592 views)

Old 14th April 2019
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Thanks for those examples!

The recording is for some better quality tracks to help the singers go over. I’ll be recording the dress rehearsals and they’ll use them to practice off of on their own.

The group is planning on their first full length album in the future.


As of now I have of at my disposal
Rode M5 stereo pair
Warm Audio 87 stereo pair (with zen pro audio mod)
1 TLM 102

Apollo 8 as the interface.

Using those mics any input on positioning and patterns? Thanks!
Old 14th April 2019
  #13
Gear Head
 

ORTF or NOS with the M5s (or the 87s in cardioid).

If the acoustic is pleasant, as you suggested, then the 87s set to fig8 in Blumlein would also be worth trying.

If you haven't done this before, and given the non-critical purpose of the recording, I'd try to make the experience as educational as possible. With 4 pres in the Apollo, you can try out two stereo pairs at the same time.

Perhaps start out 8ft up, behind the conductor if there is one, or where they would be if there isn't, then listen and move. Consider the angle/width of the ensemble from the mics' viewpoint. Play with this: Visualisierung XY Stereo-Mikrofonsystem and read Michael Williams' 'The Stereophonic Zoom'.

Put the pairs on separate stands; the optimal ORTF position isn't going to be the same as that for Blumlein.
Old 15th April 2019
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
DaveyJones's Avatar
 

Why not add another TLM 102 to your collection and use that in ORTF.

I love the balanced sound one can achieve from a small choral ensemble using that very setup.


Dave
Old 15th April 2019
  #15
Here for the gear
 

I’m highly considering using the stereo pair WA87 like that in ORTF
Old 18th April 2019
  #16
OAE
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by dingenus View Post
This one? Last Saterday evening. Johannes Passion JS Bach.

Babyface pro, Rode NT55 omni. 3,5m high,0,6 m wide. 1,8m behind the conductor.
Thank you for the clip. Sounds nice. I was wondering if you could share a small clip from for example opening movement of the piece or part 2 or last movements? Would be nice to hear how tutti orchestra and choir sounds.
Old 18th April 2019
  #17
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OAE View Post
Thank you for the clip. Sounds nice. I was wondering if you could share a small clip from for example opening movement of the piece or part 2 or last movements? Would be nice to hear how tutti orchestra and choir sounds.
I have a lot of problems with the recording because the 'power management' of the usb remained on which led to many clicks and distortion. I was able to filter out the most. These attachments are fairly clean.
I try to find a balance between the louder harmonics of the orchestra that is closer and comes in on the side of the microphone and the choir that is further away on axis, farder away in the diffuse field. For the soloists I try to set 2 mics left and right but in this place there was not enough room for a good position.

Here you can find a few videos of this concert: YouTube , YouTube , YouTube

Last edited by dingenus; 18th April 2019 at 07:00 PM.. Reason: supplement
Old 20th April 2019
  #18
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boojum's Avatar
On a tight budget I'd go Line Audio all the way: CM3 NOS and OM1 flankers. I do not believe you can do better for the money. Check out some of the work done with these mics which have been posted to this board. They are remarkable. JPGerard has always been a real good guy to do business with. Line Audio can sell mics but it seems they prefer buiilding them and avoiding the retail market.

JPGerard's NoHype Audio has a five star rating here.

Line Audio - Swedish Made High Quality Audio Products - Available at NoHype Audio

This link has links to a bunch of reviews and discussions of the Line Audio OM1's and CM3's. Check it out.
Old 22nd April 2019
  #19
Lives for gear
YouTube
Session Notes: Winchester College Quiristers |

If the OP is still cogitating upon options, then the above links might open a few doors, using multiple pairs (and single mics) to give ambience choice at mix down
Old 22nd April 2019
  #20
Here for the gear
 

I agree with DaveyJones and get another TLM102. But I would recommend using them in a "spaced" setup with 8 vocalists. I've done some recordings exactly like what your planning to do. I'll use one mic if it's 4 or 5 vocalists and two mics in a spaced arrangement for 6 -12 vocalists. I typically end up using cardioid, but will also experiment with Omni. Just my one cent...
Old 22nd April 2019
  #21
Here for the gear
 

Also, I bet those Warm 87s would also do the job. If you're using the preamps in the Apollo (as opposed to external hardware pres) I think the 610 and VoxBox are my two favorite for recording a choir.
Old 26th April 2019
  #22
Here for the gear
 

So we had the dress rehearsal last night. Overall I’m pretty pleased with the way the recording came out. I ended up using the WA87s in a spaced pair. I also set up the Rode M5s about 3x the distance back from the WA87s in an XY just to experiment. The Rodes gave me a nice room sound and the WA87s picked up some great stuff up closer!

The singers really liked how it came out. Said they were the best recordings they have gotten!
Old 9th August 2019
  #23
Lives for gear
I am going to be recording a choir of 16 singers shortly in a medium size church (wooden about 100 feet long by 42 feet wide with a high ceiling). They want to lay down the acoustic guitar parts first. Then they want to layer stems of vocals on top, starting with the soprano singers (4 of them), then the altos (4 of them), then the tenors (4 of them) and bass (4 of them). The choir master wants to do it this way so he can adjust their levels later.

Would 2 U87ais be useful for recording the various parts (close mics)? Would you recommend having a stereo microphone placed further back capturing the room. I have a AMS ST250 ambisonic mic (similar to a Soundflied) that I was intending to use. Or would you recommend some other microphones?

In terms of clean preamps, I would be using a Buzz Audio MA.2.2 (2 channels) or a Grace m108 preamps (which I have). For compression, would you recommend 2 ADL 1700s limiters? I will be grateful for any suggestions.
Old 9th August 2019
  #24
Lives for gear
So, ignoring all the hardware for a moment...you're going to approach this like a studio overdub recording...but in a church setting ? Sounds like an awfully drawn out way to record it. I mean, can't they just...you know, sing it all together, like a normal choir would ?

Seems to me that either they are a very inexperienced or uneven/shaky choir in terms of relative balances of the sections...or else the choir master has big reservations about their ability to sing as a collaborative unit..or else is a closet fader-pusher and controller/mixer at heart ? Maybe he feels he has no control over their ability to sing in a balanced fashion ? They sound as if they're under-rehearsed, or haven't come to grips with the material ?

It seems that you're aiming to hybridize between 2 really good approaches: 1) recording vocals in a studio, using headphones and acoustic guitar bed tracks and layering them 2) recording live in a church to get a good choral blend of voices surrounded by a pleasing, supportive ambience ... and then making one really bad composite of the two....

How are the singers going to hear themselves (and the acoustic guitars...and the previous layers of singers) as each vocal layer goes down on the recording ? Playback speakers (in which case you'll get massive leakage into the recording mics) or headphones (which really cuts down on the responsiveness they can deliver as an ensemble) ?

Why not approach this in a relatively conventional fashion...with a main pair of stereo mics to capture the total ensemble, as well as spot mics (cardioids) on each of the SATB sections...for later re-balancing of the sections as needed. Each section might only need pushing up or pulling back 10% in volume, and the spots can probably accomplish that.

If the ensemble stood in more of a wide semicircle, the spot mics would be more 'isolationist', in terms of giving tighter control than if the choir was in a straight line or ranked in rows.

You could even array each group of 4 singers at the 4 'corners' of a square arrangement, for maximum section/spot mic isolation. You could give more emphasis perhaps to the spot mics than the overall stereo pair, but the net result will likely be more 'disjointed' and separated than is desired.

A better overall result might be obtained by using your stated approach in an actual studio...and then add a churchy reverb later ?

Or you could record in the studio and mix it there, then take the stereo master and some good playback speakers into the church and re-record the stereo master playback in the church itself...if you're really wedded to that particular ambience ? Remote choral re-amping...what a groovy concept !

At heart though, something's quite wrong with the internal dynamics of the choir, to want to take this approach, versus singing and recording as an integrated unit...and that should therefore be sorted out first

Returning to the hardware, the in-church method I'm suggesting requires 6 mics : 4 cardioid spots (and no fewer !) for the SATB sections... plus a main pair of either omnis (AB) or cardioids (ORTF)..or your Soundfield/AMS would be suitable in place of the main pair. Leave the limiters at home....the choirmaster will (should) be able to contain the singing dynamics better than any hardware box.

Last edited by studer58; 9th August 2019 at 06:59 PM..
Old 9th August 2019
  #25
Lives for gear
 

how you're gonna play back the pre-recorded guitar tracks and how do you stop the playback from getting picked up by the mics?! - to me, overdubbing different sections of a choir doesn't seem like a good idea, certainly not in a church...
Old 9th August 2019
  #26
Well this sounds more like a studio production with the "studio" being a church. Done this sort of thing in the old days lots of times - you just do it the way you'd do any other session - with headphones and cuemixes. The idea is to capture some of the sound of the room when you record your individual tracks.
Old 10th August 2019
  #27
Lives for gear
It has been proposed that the singers are going to be wearing headphones (like in a studio but in the church setting). They are actually a really good choir. The conductor wants it recorded this particular way because he wants to be able to isolate and record the various parts (and then mix them all together). The hymns (are very traditional and in the native language and have never been recorded) are also going to be archived so that the various parts (soprano, alto etc) can be passed on to future generations so they can learn and reproduce the various parts (as they have historically been sung). So that is the challenge. In terms of the studio production in the church, where would the best placement be for capturing the room sound? It may well be that the whole choir should sing as a whole and 6 microphones used (in addition to a microphone capturing the guitar).
Old 10th August 2019
  #28
Lives for gear
Aha, I can now see the archival imperative behind the wish to isolate the parts ! I'd suggest then to record the entire ensemble either in a studio or the church, and use this as the bed track for the SATB sections to record their parts, using headphones. These are important to prevent mic bleed if your goal is strict separation of the sections for later academic study use.

Put your main mic pair a metre or two behind the conductor, at around 2.5 to 3 metres height, angle the mics to point down towards the middle or rear-row heads. Ideally monitor in a nearby room, or with closed ear-Cup headphones, and adjust the main pair distance/height/angle until you get a pleasing balance of direct sound to space-ambience.

The U87's in ORTF will do the job, although small diaphragm condensers tend to work better for this purpose. The 4 spot mics would go about 1 to 2 metres in front of each SATB section, 1.8 to 2 metres high....so that each section sounds blended, without any single voice predominating.
Old 10th August 2019
  #29
Lives for gear
That approach makes a lot more sense (compared with what I was thinking which was the reverse). Record the whole choir first (as the bed track) then the individual sections later. Sounds like a good plan.

I have a pair of KM184s that I can use too. I also have an opportunity to use two Coles 4038. Is it necessary for the 4 spot microphones to be the same (brand and model)? If so, what do you recommend (2 more KM 184s?)?

Last edited by waldie wave; 10th August 2019 at 05:00 AM..
Old 10th August 2019
  #30
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldie wave View Post
That approach makes a lot more sense (compared with what I was thinking which was the reverse). Record the whole choir first (as the bed track) then the individual sections later. Sounds like a good plan.

I have a pair of KM184s that I can use too. I also have an opportunity to use two Coles 4038. Is it necessary for the 4 spot microphones to be the same (brand and model)? If so, what do you recommend (2 more KM 184s?)?
2 more Coles 4038 would be just perfect Maybe use the Coles on the soprano and alto voices and the 2x U87's for tenors and basses, then make the 184's your main ORTF pair. Your Soundfield/AMS might also be a great alternative as the main pair....give yourself some experimentation time with various mic combinations, if you can, before the session (avoid tiring their voices)

If they rehearse in the same church you'll be recording in, that would ideal for such trial processes....but these mic implementations should work fine. Remember....no phantom power for the Coles !
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