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Author Topic: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space  (Read 1575 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 Gérard 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
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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
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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).
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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

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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  :)

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2021, 10:57:16 AM »
Those should work.  But I highly recommend using a method where you can adjust the spacing between omnis, at least until you are able to dial in whatever spacing works best before going with a mounting system where the spacing is fixed.  You will likely find that even small changes in spacing between the microphones will rather dramatically alter the sound. Once the optimal spacing is determined you can then use a simple 3d printed non-adjustable mounting bar that provides that specific spacing, similar to the one above if you like.  Such a non-adjustable bar can make for a more compact, minimally-intrusive arrangement in comparison to a fully adjustable mounting bar, which may be an attractive option there, and will serve to keep the spacing from being inadvertently altered each time it is setup.

Here's what I would recommend as a way of determining the optimal microphone spacing, and you won't need any bar at all to get started with the process.  You can get a general idea of the impact of spacing adjustment by monitoring with closed headphones or in ear monitors with sufficient isolation during a rehearsal while altering the spacing between the two microphones.  Fix one microphone in place and manually hold the other microphone various distances from the first while the music is preformed, moving it at 30 second intervals or something like that.  While doing this, announce quietly into one microphone what the spacing is so that when listening back later you will know which portions of the test recording were made at which spacing.  You can then listen back properly after the rehearsal to make a determination of what spacing works best.. and fine tune from there as needed.   A note of warning- It will sound swishy with obvious comb filtering while your are actually moving the held microphone.  Try not to let that influence too much what you are listening for when that microphone is held steady at various distances from the first.  Make your movements in a determined way and hold the microphone steady for long enough at each spacing so that you have sufficient material to compare.

Once you home in on an appropriate spacing using that method, I'd make a longer test recording using that spacing, as well as one slightly wider and one slightly narrower, to confirm.  You can use whatever temporary means you have available to do this such as taping the mics to a bar or wooden rod, using a second stand, or whatever. 

In addition to dialing in the best sound for that specific scenario, this is a fantastic way to really wrap one's head around what's going on with a spaced omni pair in general.  Most Taperssection concert tapers don't get the opportunity to dial things in like this for singular event, but it can make the difference between a decent recording and an outstanding one.  If you are able to do this I suspect you will find it worthwhile.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2021, 10:59:41 AM by Gutbucket »
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 DSatz

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2021, 03:55:08 PM »
Notice that hipporu's suggestions for miking distance, 5-9 meters behind the conductor's position, encompass a considerable range. Depending on the room and the microphones (and your tastes and preferences) I would suggest the "more forward" end of this range. The room doesn't look exactly huge, and it's basically shoebox-shaped, so the character of the reverberation that you would get at the greater distances may not be all that pleasant, all told. You want the direct sound to be in balance with the room sound, not to be dominated by it. Heck, if you accidentally record too close in, you can always add a touch of reverb later, but you can't subtract room sound if your mikes were too far back.
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Offline hipporu

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2021, 04:34:38 PM »
Notice that hipporu's suggestions for miking distance, 5-9 meters behind the conductor's position, encompass a considerable range.
The room doesn't look exactly huge,
You're right, 9m. it will be more than necessary. At that time, I had not yet seen a photo of jefflester when I wrote. Therefore, the correction is 3-5m. :)
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2021, 05:43:10 PM »
Obviously everything be easiest for you if you can get satisfactory results from the recording position in the balcony which you show in your initial post, and it sounds like you may not have a choice in working to that constraint.  If you determine that you need to shift the microphones further back into the hall as suggested by hipporu, a tall stand in the pews should work without being too invasive (avoiding clamping or suspending anything) as long as there is no congregation present. 

Note that if you shift the recording position further away, the optimal spacing between microphones is likely to change as well - a general trend is increased spacing with increased distance in my experience, but its situation dependent.

If the procedure for determining the optimal spacing between microphones that I outlined in my previous post is not a viable option for whatever reason, such as no opportunity to record rehearsals, I'd start at a 12" (30cm) microphone spacing in the original balcony position and go up from there to say 15" (~38cm), then 20" (~50cm) on subsequent performance/recording dates, fine-tuning it that way.  If recording using a tall stand from somewhat further away, you won't be able to do the manual "holding one microphone various distances" thing anyway, so I'd start with a bit wider spacing and fine tune from there.
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 jefflester

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2021, 07:38:43 PM »
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.


Stick figure guy looks like he's about to go tightrope walking.  :D
DPA4061 HEB/AT943 -> CA-UGLY -> R-09
Samson C02/Superlux S502/iSK Little Gem -> DR-680MKII
AKG CK63 -> AKG C460B -> DR-680MKII
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Offline willdawg

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2021, 08:04:06 AM »
Those should work.  But I highly recommend using a method where you can adjust the spacing between omnis, at least until you are able to dial in whatever spacing works best before going with a mounting system where the spacing is fixed.  You will likely find that even small changes in spacing between the microphones will rather dramatically alter the sound. Once the optimal spacing is determined you can then use a simple 3d printed non-adjustable mounting bar that provides that specific spacing, similar to the one above if you like.  Such a non-adjustable bar can make for a more compact, minimally-intrusive arrangement in comparison to a fully adjustable mounting bar, which may be an attractive option there, and will serve to keep the spacing from being inadvertently altered each time it is setup.

Makes sense... thanks. So, thinking about going with two 8' stands as such: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1442721-REG/impact_8_air_cushioned_light_stand.html along with light->mic adapters & these shockmounts: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1643262-REG/gator_gfw_mic_sm1525_universal_shockmount_for_pencil.html

That way I can play with spacing, and positioning. The only adjustable AB bar I could find was this: https://shop.mikrofonschiene.de/mikrofonschiene/Basis_AB - kinda spendy, and only available from Germany...

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2021, 09:47:34 AM »
Those are solid stands. The adjustable spreader bar is spendy, there are probably other options out there.

But be aware that is not specifically what gutbucket is saying. He is saying use two stands to change positions over 2 to 3 practices/performances noting on the recording which is which. THEN, once you have the "ideal" distance decided between mics, you could have a shapeways 3D printed one made for exact;y THAT distance.

Further hint- devolve the microphone configuration thinking a bit. There is no one answer when it comes to microphone placement. All of these ideas, XY, NORTF, MS, AB, all branched out of audio engineers from various national radio companies (BBC, Germany, France) using mics to record orchestra's and later big bands merely trying to "quantify" the configurations. Some of the "best" live recordings come about due to mics placed with zero regard to "technique". As the Pirates of Caribbean movie points out, "the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules".  >:D
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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2021, 01:01:54 PM »
The only adjustable AB bar I could find was this: https://shop.mikrofonschiene.de/mikrofonschiene/Basis_AB - kinda spendy, and only available from Germany...

It is a bit pricey, but well made and dependable. The system they have also makes it easy to add pieces for other configurations (or additional mics). You might want to contact Robert and ask about pricing; the listed price probably includes value-added tax, which you won’t need to pay outside of the EU.

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2021, 04:00:42 PM »
Two stands can certainly work, and is generally the easiest way to achieve significantly wide spacings that are impractical for a mounting bar.   They can be trickier to arrange for closer spacings but can still work.. see below.

Backing up a bit.. Will this be a reoccurring recording scenario or more of a one time recording type thing?  If more of a one time thing then two stands may be the simplest and most attractive option.  If its a more regular reoccurring recording event, a single stand with a bar will be quicker and easier to setup each time with repeatable consistency and will take up less floor space.

To achieve the closer range of microphone spacings using two stands, you are likely to need to play around with nesting the legs of the stands together in order to get them close enough.  In taper sections at concerts and music festivals we frequently do this to group the stands of multiple tapers together in a compact area, so I think you'll be able to set them up so as to achieve the narrower spacing ranges discussed above.  Doing that often requires putting a leg of one stand through the crook of the other.  If that's the case, arrange the two stands first to achieve the spacing you want between microphones, then sort of lift and rotate the pair of stands together as a unit to orient the axis of the microphone pair correctly.  For spacings of a couple feet or more (maybe a bit less) you won't need to do that.
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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #24 on: October 22, 2021, 10:02:32 PM »
Backing up a bit.. Will this be a reoccurring recording scenario or more of a one time recording type thing?  If more of a one time thing then two stands may be the simplest and most attractive option.  If its a more regular reoccurring recording event, a single stand with a bar will be quicker and easier to setup each time with repeatable consistency and will take up less floor space.

It's going to be an every Sunday thing, at least for the livecast of the service... Have to get a large-capacity A&H-approved USB drive to record on, and then we can try to make some nice recordings - should be at least instructive to me and the musicians...

Thanks again everyone for all your help in this!! Can't wait to get started.

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #25 on: October 23, 2021, 08:43:22 AM »
Hi willdawg,

Choir director here. I would heed the advice of others here, particularly Gutbucket and DSatz. Line Audio OM1s are great mics, but I would cancel the order for that AB bar from SRS. 45 cm is close to a width I use for some things, but it requires you move your stand foreward and backward to balance it. That narrow spacing also can give a WIDE stereo image, which is great when I am recording a local 250-voice choir that fills a huge stage, but may not be the best in your small church.

DSatz's advice on using wide cardioids in your situation is very good - I have often used my CM3s in small churches to record chamber choirs with good results.

In any case, if you are using omnis I would start with a width of around 50 cm but try to go several feet back from the communion rail if possible, particularly with the group this separated. (I know this is a typical setup in Espiscopal churches and a few others.)

For mounting, you need a pair of these (NOT the standard INV-6):
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1544186-REG/rycote_41110_inv_6_soft_soft_microphone.html

One of these options will work for versatile stereo bars:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/503258-REG/Manfrotto_154B_154_Triple_Microphone_Holder.html
https://www.thomannmusic.com/the_t.bone_stereobar_1_pro.htm
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1522258-REG/gravity_stands_gmsstb01pro_stereo_array_microphone_bar.html
https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=162285.0 - the 24" model, made by one of our members. This is what I own.
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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #26 on: October 23, 2021, 04:12:26 PM »
Personally, I wouldn’t go for a Manfrotto 154B. I used one for many recordings and it is solidly constructed and works well. It is also bulky, heavy, and not exactly inconspicuous. Additionally, it lacks any sort of markings, which help for reproducible set-up. I would also avoid Thomann’s t.bone line. It’s budget gear from China. In my experience, it is usually decent, but tends to have some rough edges or quirks. I guess anything less than a SpaceBar won’t be perfect, but don’t underestimate the value of quality accessories.

With respect to a two stand (or two clamp) system, it works really well for spaced omnis, but it is also more stuff to trundle around and requires extra effort to get height/distance/angle matched up.

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #27 on: October 23, 2021, 05:26:41 PM »
Personally, I wouldn’t go for a Manfrotto 154B. I used one for many recordings and it is solidly constructed and works well. It is also bulky, heavy, and not exactly inconspicuous. Additionally, it lacks any sort of markings, which help for reproducible set-up. I would also avoid Thomann’s t.bone line. It’s budget gear from China. In my experience, it is usually decent, but tends to have some rough edges or quirks. I guess anything less than a SpaceBar won’t be perfect, but don’t underestimate the value of quality accessories.

The OP is using a pair of ultra-lightweight mics. The cheap Chinese stuff will more than suffice. Another option there is the Superlux MA-90.

Outside of the 154B, there really isn't much on the market that will do 60 cm width. I agree that the bar from mikrofonschiene looks great, and you have previously shared how much you like it. It would cost 133 EUR with shipping to USA (no VAT). Still quite a bit to spend, but if followinbob's wide bar wasn't available, that is what I would probably buy.

I just looked up the 66 cm SpaceBar. I am sure it is beautifully engineered, but for that price, it should be made out of titanium.
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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #28 on: October 23, 2021, 06:00:16 PM »
Hi willdawg,

Choir director here.

Cool, was hoping you'd chime in here, based on your previous posts I've read...

Line Audio OM1s are great mics, but I would cancel the order for that AB bar from SRS.

...never bought that. was going to go w/ 2 stands, each with shockmount (at least for now.)

In any case, if you are using omnis I would start with a width of around 50 cm but try to go several feet back from the communion rail if possible, particularly with the group this separated. (I know this is a typical setup in Espiscopal churches and a few others.)

So, the "communion rail" in our case is the edge of the balcony... You can see in the pics above in this thread. So I can put stands behind the organ (again see pics) or maybe in other places in the balcony (with choir director permission) but "in front of" the choir/organ pipes would be super hard to do/disallowed (i.e., flying the mics, or super tall stands from main floor, which is our pews.) This is mainly for broadcast support, but was also thinking about recording from our digital console (A&H Qu-SB, see this article.) Would perhaps something like "Healy Method" work for this scenario, where I'm in the middle of the sound source?

For mounting, you need a pair of these (NOT the standard INV-6):
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1544186-REG/rycote_41110_inv_6_soft_soft_microphone.html

One of these options will work for versatile stereo bars:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/503258-REG/Manfrotto_154B_154_Triple_Microphone_Holder.html
https://www.thomannmusic.com/the_t.bone_stereobar_1_pro.htm
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1522258-REG/gravity_stands_gmsstb01pro_stereo_array_microphone_bar.html
https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=162285.0 - the 24" model, made by one of our members. This is what I own.

Nice! Liking that t.bone... Plus, trying to keep the mics/stands/bar/etc within a $500 budget (a losing battle, but I can fund a bit of the overage if not too bad...) so premium-priced anything will be hard to do for this (kills me, I'm usually a "gimme top-shelf" guy...)

Thanks again for commenting here!

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #29 on: October 23, 2021, 09:43:37 PM »
Whoops; I looked at those pictures far too quickly!

OK, so from the balcony rail, I wonder if you might be permitted to clamp an extension arm so it extends a few feet back over the congregation with the mics looking back towards the choir and organ? That would get you close to the more optimal "flown" setup already suggested. If not, I would go with two stands / clamped poles as Gut mentions. Either way, I would be careful not to be too close to that low ceiling.

I would not go for the "Healy" method here, as the OM1 (like most omnis) becomes more directional as you rise through the upper frequencies. Pointing the capsules directly to the sides will get a lot of early reflections from the side walls, but may also make the choir's articulation sound fuzzy, because the high frequencies in their consonants will now be arriving (mostly) off-axis and reflected. It is also too narrow a spacing for what you are doing.

You will need to experiment on spacing (again Gut has great advice on a procedure) to get a good stereo image. Once you get that, you can play with angles. So if you are using a single stand with a wide mic bar and your mics around 50-60 cm wide, try an opening angle of around 110-120 deg. If you are going to a wider setup with two stands, you can start angling the mics narrower to a 90 deg opening angle. Don't point them straight ahead when you are this close, or the organ will really overbalance the choir in the highs.
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Offline aaronji

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #30 on: October 24, 2021, 04:33:31 PM »
The OP is using a pair of ultra-lightweight mics. The cheap Chinese stuff will more than suffice. Another option there is the Superlux MA-90.

I generally subscribe to the "buy once, cry once" principal. I would rather pay a little extra for a high grade item that will be dependable and long-lived. I thought about the Superlux, but I saw quite a few negative comments about its quality. With respect to t.bone, I have owned several of the products in the line and they aren't terrible, but they aren't great either. Plus, Thomann is a German company and shipping to the US would be about $50.

I guess this strays a bit into PZ territory, but I also prefer to purchase US or EU made items.

Outside of the 154B, there really isn't much on the market that will do 60 cm width. I agree that the bar from mikrofonschiene looks great, and you have previously shared how much you like it. It would cost 133 EUR with shipping to USA (no VAT). Still quite a bit to spend, but if followinbob's wide bar wasn't available, that is what I would probably buy.

I just looked up the 66 cm SpaceBar. I am sure it is beautifully engineered, but for that price, it should be made out of titanium.

Yes, the SpaceBar is spendy. I would like one, but I haven't been able to justify the cost (yet; maybe someday). Compared to the 154B, though, I would much rather have a bar from Robert (especially with it's easily expandable configuration) or a followinbob bar*. The Manfrotto is just so cumbersome and unwieldy. As the OP is concerned about visual impact, there are just other, better, options, including some of the DIY bars people here have posted about previously.

*When I bought the mikrofonshiene.de bar, I was actually planning to buy one from followinbob. When I calculated shipping, VAT, duties and fees, though, it just made more sense for me to buy from Robert.

[EDIT:] A couple of the do-it-yourself options are described in this thread.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2021, 04:48:45 PM by aaronji »

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #31 on: October 25, 2021, 11:44:17 AM »
Thanks for outlining how this will be used.  I think this should be the primary influence on what mounting gear you purchase.  Since it's a regular Sunday service with congregation present, I'd start out as described with two stands and experiment with slightly different setups each week for a couple months.  Once you tire of experimenting, purchase a dedicated 3D printed bar that fits the configuration that worked best, which will help make setting up weekly from that point on as quick, easy, and repeatable as possible - by yourself or whomever you might hand the job off to.  The value of a simple setup with repeatability will become increasingly evident as time goes on and this becomes a routine task rather than an opportunity to experiment.

The Healy Method is just a particular variant on near-spaced omnis.  It's a pseudo-binaural technique originally designed to feed highly isolating in ear monitors with some on-stage sound.  It originally used larger diaphragm omnidirecitonal microphones which become somewhat directional at high frequencies, placed back to back and oriented 180 degrees apart so as to to compensate somewhat for the close spacing and lack of a baffle or dummy head between the microphones. It might work for this. A dummy head or simple flat baffle (Jecklin disk) work somewhat similarly.  Those techniques can sound quite natural.  But all of them make for a recording that sort of emulates the experience of a listener with his head placed where the microphones are.  I suspect the acoustic crosstalk inherent from not using a baffle of dummy head will be advantageous here to help blend the sources together somewhat amorphously rather than seeking to place them specifically around the listener.

In your process of homing in on an optimal configuration, adjustment of the spacing between the microphones will have an effect on the perceived width, spatial distribution, and revererant openness of the playback image.  You might also notice a somewhat more subtle tonal EQ effect in the mid and lower frequencies (this will likely be more evident if making small spacing adjustments by hand).

Using omnis, adjustment of the angle between the microphones will sort of as a high frequency tonal focus control.  So once you get the spacing about where you want it, play around with angle to balance the brightness and clarity of the organ in the middle against that of the choir out to either side.

The more directional the microphones used, the more angle will interact with spacing in terms of the combined effect over image distribution, in addition to having an effect on focus and tonal balance. 

That's how things behave in general.  I hesitate to speculate too much further on what might work best in this specific situation.  Once you get rolling, make notes of your setups so you can associate what you did differently each recording.  Once you do it enough you'll get to a point where you'll get a good feel for how spacing and angle interact in this particular situation.

If you are able to post some samples or point us to the webcasts along with letting us know how the microphones were set up each time, we can listen and provide more detailed feedback on the arrangements.
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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #32 on: October 25, 2021, 07:21:52 PM »
I generally subscribe to the "buy once, cry once" principal. I would rather pay a little extra for a high grade item that will be dependable and long-lived. I thought about the Superlux, but I saw quite a few negative comments about its quality. With respect to t.bone, I have owned several of the products in the line and they aren't terrible, but they aren't great either. Plus, Thomann is a German company and shipping to the US would be about $50.

That's fair, and I also don't mind paying a bit more for something well-made and reliable. The mikrofonschiene products appear to be exactly that.

I plugged in my address on Thomann, and ouch you are correct. Never recommending that one to US residents again.


Yes, the SpaceBar is spendy. I would like one, but I haven't been able to justify the cost (yet; maybe someday). Compared to the 154B, though, I would much rather have a bar from Robert (especially with it's easily expandable configuration) or a followinbob bar*. The Manfrotto is just so cumbersome and unwieldy. As the OP is concerned about visual impact, there are just other, better, options, including some of the DIY bars people here have posted about previously.

Point taken. The SpaceBar is just massively overpriced IMHO, unless they make it out of titanium as I said before. Even worse are the mic bars sold by Schoeps, DPA and Gefell.

[EDIT:] A couple of the do-it-yourself options are described in this thread.

Yes, I was revisiting that thread the other day and was compiling my own list of 15mm-based hardware. Looks like you can put together some great setups for really cheap, but I'll continue that discussion over there.
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Offline aaronji

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #33 on: October 26, 2021, 01:22:51 PM »
^ Thomann's US shipping is indeed expensive, but your caveat is a good one. The company has a huge range of products, fast shipping, and responsive customer service. I have bought a lot of stuff from them. Their site is also available in a wide range of languages and their e-mails (and responses to customer inquiries) are in the country specific language.

I would love to own a SpaceBar or the DPA bar (I think it is the UA0836), but $500 (+) is a LOT of cash for an amateur hobbyist to spend on something like that. Not that the expense particularly slowed down my mic (or other gear) purchases, however...   

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #34 on: October 28, 2021, 05:11:25 PM »
So, went with this microphone support setup --


I feel that's a good setup for ~$280... (good enough for me, anyhow)

Thomann was indeed easy to work with -- billing in USD for a DE-based company, and I think I got it in less than a week! (No complaints about NoHype, either... Very happy with JPG's service!)

Anyways, the opening setup:
  • stand ~7.5ft high
  • omni's spread at 64cm (32cm from center each way, widest setting on the bar)
  • mics angled at 30deg outward (so as to not point straight at organ pipes)

Side view:


Front view:


View from floor area looking up (you can see the offset from center in this photo, don't believe I can do much about that):


Am I way off base here, or it's just a game of "use your ears, change, repeat?" at this point?

Thanks again you guys for pitching in and guiding me! Love this community...

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #35 on: October 28, 2021, 08:47:22 PM »
This looks like a good starting place to me, other than being very far off center. Why do you say you can't do anything about that? Your setup should definitely be centered on the choir. I would have a conversation with the conductor about having the stand directly behind him. Otherwise, you will never get a decent balance. This is standard practice for any pro choral or orchestra recording for a main array (albeit usually not nearly so close).
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Offline DSatz

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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #36 on: October 29, 2021, 10:52:43 AM »
I have the same question. You can't "correct" a stereo recording (e.g. by adjusting the relative levels of the left and right recorded channels) to make up for an off-center main mike setup.

--best regards
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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #37 on: October 29, 2021, 11:14:08 AM »
DSatz and volt are eminent voices regarding this type of recording. They are making THE point. Explain to the conductor that NO recording will sound "Complete" unless you start in the center.
Then you'll be sliding the omnis from full extension, to about 30 cm apart. (if it were me, I'd do 2 recordings at each omni separation. full extension [54cm?], 40 cm, 30 cm)
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Re: Record choir/organ in wide width/narrow depth balcony space
« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2021, 07:20:23 AM »
I would also make the point that having a mic array way off-center is far more visually obtrusive than one positioned far to one side. People will look up and see the symmetry of the organ and the church in general, and the off-centered mics will appear discordant even to people who don't know what they are looking at.
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