Gear / Technical Help > Microphones & Setup

Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space

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Hi all,

First off, not sure I'm trying to play on the right playground... But seems like folks here would know what to do possibly... Anyways, here goes :)

I am trying to get a decent stereo image of our church's choir loft, the area being about ~50ft wide by ~15ft deep. The organ console is just to the right of center (facing the balcony) and the mic stand would be located right behind it. The entire "back wall" of the choir area is the organ pipes. Here's a pic of the area:

and a front view, from one of our webcasts:

As you may tell if you look close at the pic above, I have a temp pair of mics, each on a stand (Beyerdynamic M201's I bought back in the late 80's for field taping) and didn't know about stereo miking techniques (until I found this site and the good resources here!) so they are just in a random wide "V" setup as so:

Now I asked a local professional studio owner (who records choirs at different locations) as to what I could replace these mics with that would do a better job (never was that impressed with the M201's for this sort of thing, total n00b when I bought them back when...) and he suggested a pair of Studio Projects C4's, and his sales guy at Sweetwater said either that, or sE Electronics E7's (church is buying, and we are on a ~$500 budget for the solution.) In doing some homework and finding this site, I learned about Line Audio CM4's, which sound like possibly the best choice for my budget. So I have a quote request into J-P GĂ©rard from NoHype for a pair. I'm now thinking about stands and mounts and all that sort of thing...

I think I'm restricted as to being slightly off-center (i.e. right behind the organ console as I am now) since center balcony is the choir conductor's space. My big question is, what type of a mic arrangement in this location for this space would produce the best result?  I see these stereo mic mounts suggested by user "voltronic"; thinking maybe the "WIDE ORTF" mount, but would like shock mounts (the wooden floor on the balcony with lots of folks up there makes for the thumps....) Anyone got a suggestion as to how I can make this work the best way?

Normal use will be for online broadcast audio, but since I'm going into a digital soundboard with recording capability (Allen & Heath Qu-Series) I'm going to be recording as well (48kHz 24-bit WAV).

Thanks for your kind suggestions, and like I said, hopefully I'm in the right place (if not, feel free to suggest a better venue, thanks!)

I am admittedly sloppy with mic positioning, although I do make a best effort each run. #ThrowAndGo
I think distance to the source (ratio of direct:reflected sound) is more important than where you "point them," but when mixing SBD and audience I much prefer any fixed position over trying to sync a board feed with mics which move around.

One time before I had my own mics, I made a 1996 DAT of Los Lobos with borrowed M201's from about .. I dunno 40-50' back from the stage, behind the SBD by about 10' I bet... I didn't have a fancy mount, so I think I used two boom stands and approximated X/Y 90 degrees, if I recall. Sounds good to me, given my expectations of some random old Lobos tape!?

Los Lobos November 6, 1996 St Louis, MO, USA - Mississippi Nights
Beyer M201 cardioid dynamic/ XY 90 > Sony TCD-D10 Pro II > DAT @48Khz

To your question about the choir? What about some spaced omni mics, or spaced wide cardioids?
Omni might pick up a lot of room sound? But if you get too close, you may pick up one singer more than the rest. Hope it's a good one!?
My recording bag contains a pair of cardioids and a pair of wide cardioids, and you know that they say about "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?"
So y'know, personal opinion here, to be taken with a grain of NaCl.

First off, welcome to the forum.  What you are doing certainly fits here, although different from the type of recording most folks at Taperssection are doing recording PA amplified concerts.  A few members here focus primarily on choir and/organ recording. They may see this thread and comment.

Cool undertaking and interesting situation you have. 

As I see it, the super-wide yet relatively close-to-sources arrangement presents two challenges regarding microphone technique and positioning of a single stereo microphone pair- Exaggerated proximity to some sources in comparison to others, and the image distribution across the playback image.

I'd preferably approach this using four microphones and recording channels, placing an additional mic over/in-front-of each side choir section in addition to the center pair, with the center pair configured for a wide 180 degree pickup angle. But if constrained to two channels my first instinct would be to try a pair of spaced omnis (not overly wide) in place of the directional pair you are using.  My reasoning is as follows:
1) I expect omnis will provide a nice lush sound that will be complementary to the material and not "overly close sounding".  I don't foresee a problem of too much room reverberation in the recording from the use of omnis as the acoustics are presumably good and appropriate to the musical style and the recording position relatively close.
2) I expect the more-diffuse imaging provided by of a pair of spaced omnis in contrast to a directional microphone pair to prove advantageous in helping to blend the sources nicely, while providing a good sense of stereo and spatial immersion.
3) Should be an easier setup in that you'd need to optimize the spacing between omnis, but that should be less fidgety than spacing and angling a directional pair given the constraints.
4) Organs love omnis. Choir music tends to responds well to omnis too.

Just searched and found this comparison between Line Audio CM1 (omnis AB_30cm) and CM3 (directional DIN_20cm /90deg) from what looks to be a greater distance from the sources, which may be of help although the material is different (I'm unable to listen to it here currently to assess)-

If you wish to use a single directional-microphone stereo pair, consider either a tall stand from the floor below, or possibly clamping an extension bar to the railing that extends the microphone position out into the hall beyond the railing.  You can probably gain another 4' or so with a clamp and extension (look for threads here at TS on how to do this), or as much as you need with a tall stand from below.  A tall light stand can be had relatively inexpensively will be easier to setup, adjust, less fidgety and not prone to drooping.  I bought a cheap '14 tall one a few years ago for something like $70 or so.  For something like this were there is no audience around that could present a topple issue, I'd have no problem using an extension to get another 4' up or so if necessary.

Another good place for opinions on this is:

Lots of pro classical recordists in attendance. 


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