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Topic: Best way to record a real choir?

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  1. #1

    Best way to record a real choir?

    Condensor or dynamic? Near or far? Both?

    I was asked by my local church to record their choir in the church for them to put on a CD and sell as a fund-raising item for an addition they\'d like to do.

    With the acoustics of a big church like this, how would you guys go about mic\'ing the whole ordeal?

    They will be accompanied by a piano only, in the same room next to them. The walls are wood, not brick or stone, there is carpet on the ground, but still a pretty wicked reverb. Should I use this to my advantage and set the mics further, or capture them close and add reverb with a plug-in. Or should I mic both? Condensors or dynamics?

    I have two matched large diaphram condensors, so stereo mic\'ing would be nice with those, but I\'m afraid of pickiing up too much room noise...

    Thanks in advance,
    AL

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Best way to record a real choir?

    I think height will be your best friend in this scenario.

    If you do a single stereo recording, compute a height and distance that puts you just about equal distance from every component of the sound (but as close to the sources as you can get and remain equidistant).

    I\'m an options freak, so what I usually do is record enough positions to produce the project several different ways, and decide what works best when I get back to the studio. If I were covering this ensemble, I\'d spot mic the choir about 10 feet away and high enough to get equidistant coverage of the risers. I\'d spot the piano a little closer to the instrument than the choir mics ended up, just one mic maybe 3-4 feet over the player\'s head and angled straight towards the hammers. I\'d put an XY pair up in the \"stereo only\" position I described above, and put some ambient mics out in the house, pointed towards the room (probably spread omnis).

    In mixdown, I\'d zoom in on the tracks, and time/phase align the spot mics with the XY, and then back them down, listen to the XY only, and bring up the spots until they\'re giving you the presence you want. Then I\'d bring in the ambient pair and get the level of reverb you want.

    Best way to get the time alignment right is to stand in each coverage position, speak the name of the mic position, and use a handclap or slapstick to slate the position. That way, it\'s a simple matter to align the tracks, note the number of samples, and easily repeat the alignment even when the signal is less spiky.

    Hope that helps...it\'s several options, at any rate.

  3. #3

    Re: Best way to record a real choir?

    Originally posted by Alan Lastufka:
    Condensor or dynamic? Near or far? Both?

    Thanks in advance,
    AL
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Use large diafragm condenser (try to use only condenser mics). If the choir is big and experimented, use long distance stereo (this way you´ll obtain a balanced sound). If you need to control balance of voices, put one mic for every voice register to mix later (soprano,alto....) As Bruce, I generally record many mic positions and use ambient mics to obtain natural reverb. There are many tehniques, use your ears [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
    Good luck
    Elith

  4. #4

    Re: Best way to record a real choir?

    Regarding mike positions, I\'ve found that having one above each part (total of four), AND having two more several feet away in front gives good results and allows you to bring up individual parts without losing the natural harmonics. It helps having some control over individual parts, but the mix you hear out front is the foundation you want to start with...at least in my experience. In my case, we used a CD so the accomop was isolated...in your case I would suggest getting the piano as isolated as physically possible.

    This type of work is a lot of fun, but requires a lot of setting up. Be sure and allow enough time. It is likely most people in the group do not have experience in a recording environment and you have to constantly remind folks about shuffling around, coughing and the like.

    Good luck..I\'d lovve to hear some samples if it\'s not a problem. Nothing quite like a good chior.

  5. #5

    Re: Best way to record a real choir?

    Originally posted by sporter:
    Good luck..I\'d lovve to hear some samples if it\'s not a problem. Nothing quite like a good chior.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Thanks everyone for the great advice... I\'ll post some samples as soon as we wrap up, should be in two-three weeks.

    I\'ve recorded a lot of local bands before (mostly punk rock) so I am very familiar with the time it takes to set up and all that jazz, it\'s just with punk rock, everything is close mic\'ed and then compressed flatter than a pancake...

    These suggestions sound like they\'ll work though, I have 8-ins on my sound card so multi\'mics and that should not be a problem, however, I only have two mic-pre\'s for the matched condensors that I have... the rest will have to be dynamic. I\'m assuming I should put the dynamics close and above the sections and use the condensors as the further front stereo mic\'s, correct?

    Thanks again guys,
    AL

  6. #6

    Re: Best way to record a real choir?

    Originally posted by Bruce A. Richardson:
    I think height will be your best friend in this scenario.

    Best way to get the time alignment right is to stand in each coverage position, speak the name of the mic position, and use a handclap or slapstick to slate the position. That way, it\'s a simple matter to align the tracks, note the number of samples, and easily repeat the alignment even when the signal is less spiky.

    Hope that helps...it\'s several options, at any rate.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Interesting! Welcome back Bruce.

    Rick

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Best way to record a real choir?

    Originally posted by Alan Lastufka:
    [QB]I\'m assuming I should put the dynamics close and above the sections and use the condensors as the further front stereo mic\'s, correct?
    [QB]
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">That\'s what I\'d do. Don\'t get too far away with the stereo mics. Use your ears to locate the ideal spot (I have been known to pack a ladder along so I can find the absolute sweet spot. You need to close your eyes and REALLY pay attention to the direct/ambient combo, because once you\'ve gotten it you\'re stuck with it for better or worse).

    Also, if you\'re going to use spots and time align them (which you should--you\'ll get a lot less imaging smear), the stereo pair has to be coincident, either XY, Mid-Side, Stereosonic, or some variant. If the stereo pair is AB, you don\'t have a timing reference, and the time alignment is much less likely to work as well.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Best way to record a real choir?

    Another hint: If you have a good rental house in your area, you might want to rent a snake for the day so you can locate a \"control room\" somewhere out of the space. It really helps take the guesswork out of the setup.

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