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Author Topic: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space  (Read 1606 times)

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Offline willdawg

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Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« on: October 19, 2021, 11:53:35 PM »
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!)

Offline morst

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2021, 06:48:31 AM »
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
Source:
Beyer M201 cardioid dynamic/ XY 90 > Sony TCD-D10 Pro II > DAT @48Khz
https://archive.org/details/LosLobos1996-11-06/LosLobos1996-11-06d2t06.flac


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.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2021, 10:48:19 AM »
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)- https://youtu.be/p-8DvnR9a_w
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2021, 11:05:43 AM »
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.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline EmRR

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2021, 02:47:39 PM »
Another good place for opinions on this is:

https://gearspace.com/board/remote-possibilities-in-location-recording-amp-production/

Lots of pro classical recordists in attendance. 
Mics: DPA 4060 w/MPS 6030 PSU/DAD6001/DAD4099, Neumann KM 131, KMR 81i, Oktava MK 012, Sennheiser MKH 105, MKH 20, MKH 30, MKH 40, MKH 800 TWIN, lots of other studio appropriate choices
Recorders: Zoom F8n, Sony MZ-R50, portable MOTU based multitrack DAW for client work

Offline DSatz

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2021, 02:56:28 PM »
Beyer M 201s are nicely balanced microphones--I had a pair of them in the 1970s and found them quite useful. But they're highly directional. So their main strength is in giving you clarity and a stable stereo image.

HOWEVER, those virtues are easily overrated when it comes to organ recording. Listeners don't need or want to know exactly where each organ pipe is located on a left-to-right spectrum. Instead, a general sense of left and right is enough--and what's wanted most of all is beauty of tone (if available from the source) and a sense of the overall space in the room. In other words, spaced omni or spaced "omni-ish" (e.g. "wide cardioid") microphones are usually preferable. They also, as a rule, have better low bass response, which is not one of the strong points of the M 201 (or indeed of most super- or hypercardioid microphones, since pressure-gradient transducers have a natural 6 dB/octave low-frequency rolloff, so if you damp them to make them flat down to low frequencies, you give up some sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio) (well, also because the main market for highly directional microphones is in speech and communications, where the demand is for high sensitivity and limited pickup of room noise and/or handling noise and solid-borne sound, so even if the various manufacturers knew how to give them good s/n AND good low-frequency response, many don't even choose to try).
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline opsopcopolis

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2021, 03:41:24 PM »
Definitely agree with Gutbucket about use of omnis. If you're limited to two channels, I think well spaced omnis will give you a better representation than just the close card pair. My personal preference if you have four channels would be to add a pair of super wide cards back to those omnis to help provide a bit more direction. That said, if you're limited to that one stand position, it's more difficult.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2021, 06:54:36 PM »
I generally like a bit more spacing than some recordists between an A-B pair of omnis (multiple feet rather than inches), particularly when recording from a distance, but in this case with the wide setup and split chorus I'd be somewhat wary of going overly wide with a single pair of omnis alone. I'd try spacings of between 12-24" there, and the narrower side of that might work best.  With a third omni or stereo pair in the center you can go much wider and get the benefits of a wider spacing without problems, but don't worry about that if recording two channels.

As DSatz mentions, omnis tend to portray tone and an overall sense of space well, which in this case should make getting a good recording without somewhat easier.  As he also mentions, much of the good stuff omnis do is also inherent in subcardioids or wide-cardioid patterns, which sort of strike something of an optimal balance between cardioid and omni.  If you will be using whatever microphones you may be buying for general recording or other applications as well, a subcardioid pair can be somewhat more universally applicable. 

If you have access to a pair of omnis, even miniature lavalier vocal mics typically pinned onto a person speaking, give those a try to get a feel for what they can do in a stereo pair.

musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2021, 09:29:25 PM »
As an owner of a pair of M201's I guess I must chime in here.
What DSatz says. (and gutbucket as well)

$500 budget?: Buy a cheap pair of omnis from the yard sale. Buy a 4 channel deck: an R44 or DR 680 (actually 6/8 channels)
(may be $600 -700 for both items-shop around)

Run the M201's as "spot mics" near each wing of the choir, very close to them and not center. then run the omnis split on a small 24" spreader bar in your current m201 position
 BUT, run the omnis low, about your rail height.

WHY omnis low?
We recorded a pipe organ many times at Syracuse University's Crouse College. The organ students needed recordings, and occasionally some service needed to be recorded. Our Newhouse mentor, Mark Fitzgerald was a microphone usage guru. He settled on a pair of Beyer m160's about 3 feet apart at approximately the level I am suggesting relative to the organ's wall of pipes. The theory was that being at the height of the top organ pipes and closer to the ceiling wasn't catching all of the depth or warmth of the recording. He didn't use omnis much, but I think he would favor the ideas DSatz and Gutbucket have laid out.
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Offline willdawg

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2021, 11:19:55 PM »
Thanks SO MUCH folks -- awesome suggestions here. I appreciate you all sharing your experience with me!

The original mics spec'd (Studio Projects C4's) come with omni caps as well -- can't find much on C4/omni's vs Line Audio OM1's; anyone have an opinion here? (emailed JPG for an OM1 quote)

I think I can only do one stand in the present location; remote I/O stage box in balcony is by the organ, and don't want cables where the two sets of choir singers are or will walk (older members, trip hazards & all that...) Clamping on the "rail" (more like a decorative fence!) would offend the "taste police" I'm afraid  :lol:

If I decide to add in the M201's, would they be on separate stands pointing down at the choir lobes?


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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2021, 12:32:16 AM »

If I decide to add in the M201's, would they be on separate stands pointing down at the choir lobes?
Oh, and welcome to TapersSection.
Yes, think of it as overhead stands. or at least 7-8 footers aimed at the choir. If they are videoing a bit higher keeps the mics out of the way.
However, if/when using four channels this brings about phase alignment issues. Ideally (as in never) one would have the center omnis and the two vocal mics aligned in one axis at least, say along the horizontal plane of the rail just in front of it facing the choir/organ. you won't have vertical alognment as they will be low in the center and higher at the vocal lobes.

I don't think I explained the reason for the "spot micing". This is to pick up the choir in the midst of the overwhelming pipe organ sound pressure. For practical purposes, you would be making three "zones". One center, omni organ; and one on each side highlighting the vocalists.
music IS love

When you get confused, listen to the music play!

Mics:         AKG460|CK61|CK1|CK3|CK8|Beyer M 201E|DPA 4060 SK
Recorders:Marantz PMD661 OADE Concert mod; Tascam DR680 MKI

Offline hipporu

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2021, 04:07:22 AM »
If you are limited to two microphones, you can try a flying pair, in the center of the hall at a distance of 5-9 meters behind the conductor's back at the level of the fence.
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Offline jefflester

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2021, 04:29:02 AM »
If you are limited to two microphones, you can try a flying pair, in the center of the hall at a distance of 5-9 meters behind the conductor's back at the level of the fence.

Seems like that might be too intrusive.

This looks like the hall:
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Offline hipporu

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2021, 05:40:39 AM »
Seems like that might be too intrusive.
White rope, white stereo bar, gray cable, and you don't have a close ceiling, close organ pipes, pedals and legs of the organist and choir.
A little experiment with the placement of microphones and you will have the sound as the parishioner hears it.

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Offline willdawg

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2021, 09:30:07 AM »
Yup, that's the place...

Unfortunately, I think "flying" the mics to be in an optimal recording location wouldn't be acceptable either... Folks know that we have to have mics for the livecast, but the powers that be are also "worried about altering the historical nature of the Meetinghouse" (we tried to float an idea of dual 80" monitors up front for video support, that went down in flames fast!) And then I have to work with/around the music director (the fellow in the grey shirt in the one pic of the choir I posted) with where I put stands in the balcony choir area. So, we'll see how it all goes. Thanks for the ideas, tho!

Just ordered a pair of Line Audio Omni1's from nohype, so thinking about the mount now; what about this AB mount:


And to shockmount this, would this work?


All together with a 8' stand, this prices out to be just a bit above $500  :)

 

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