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  • Best Mics for Choir?

    Hello Forum,
    I'm interested in some ideas of what would be the best mics (reasonably priced) that you pro use to mic a choir. I'm envisioning four mics for the 20 to 40 person multi-staged choir, and one near field mic (SM58?) for solos and a SM58 for the director and vocal instructor who plays piano (and does all the funerals and wedding ceremonies solo).
    I threw an Alesis NanoCompressor in the insert on her mic in order to help with her dynamic range in a 1500 person cathedral, which seems to work well to smooth things out in a challenging environment. We have a Mackie 1402 mixer that runs into the church system.

    Any thoughts and experiences are greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    This one gets complicated fast and can be quite location based. The first question is whether this is for recording or sound reinforcement? Its sounds like it

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    • #3
      Audio Technica's U853RW choir mics work very well either hanging or on tall boom stands. As noted, proximity to the target is important. The offer a 110 degree polar pick up pattern.
      Thanks,
      Bill Cronheim
      Enterainment Systems Corporation
      Back stage since 1973

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      • #4
        I've had good luck using AT choir mics in similar application. I know Audix and Shure make similar products.
        I wonder if boundary mics would work here?
        JP

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        • #5
          Thanks for the input!
          Yes, it's a live application. The church is huge with a massive ceiling, but sometimes they have mass downstairs, which obviously is smaller and shorter ceiling.
          I'm not sure what kind of mics they have now, other than they are condenser, have built in goose necks, and use the smaller mic clips.
          They sound like someone is singing thru a telephone and you have to get real close just to pick anything up, and they distort real easy.
          I have the Notre Dame Folk Choir out performing this weekend. I'm going with 4 SM58s on the 20 singers. I know they're not ideal because you should be real close but they sound much nicer. I also have the soloists using a 58, inserted Nanocompressor. Again, I realize it's not pro quality, but it makes a difference.
          After this weekend I might be able to convince the priest, choir director, and the principal we should invest in better mics, as we have 2 school-wide singing concerts every year and the choir sings at least once a weekend.
          I looked into the A.T.'s.
          Are there any others?
          What are the industry standards?
          I really appreciate all your help on this.
          Also, other than compressing a soloist, are there any other outboard gear you can use in a cathedral setting?
          Thanks,
          Mike

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          • #6
            There are lots of firms that make good quality small condensor mics that can be hung. However you first want to be sure you know how many you need and exactly where you want them. Moving them after the fact is usually difficult.

            If you go with hanging mics, you can initially test using a clothes line approach. Its ugly, but allows for testing different positions with ease. Run a clothes line like wire across teh stage over the choir. Then run the hanging mics down the line and drop where needed. That way you can easily adjust position with ease. Once you find the number and position, you will know where to hang them more permanently.

            Ed

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            • #7
              Hi,
              The mics they have are CAD MG115s. I googled them and they go for over $100 each, so I guess they're not complete trash. Unfortunately, there's no way I can hang any mics.....the ceiling is way to high and ornate and the purchase will have to be able to be moved to the lower church as well as the school auditorium.
              The mics just don't pick anything up unless you sing right into them, and then it distorts quick and sounds like someone's singing thru a cell phone.
              The SM58 worked great for the soloists (with a tad of compression inserted on that one channel and an eq after the mixer before the amp). Just wondering if there was any great goose neck mics that can pick up a 40 person choir without cranking the trims and channels that can cause feedback too inadvertently or easily.
              Thanks,
              Mike

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              • #8
                Your best choice then may be good quality condensor mics on boom stands. Then you can get them a bit closer and also move them from hall to hall.

                Unless you have an unusual configuration, I dont see how you will avoid have to have multiple mics to get any volume before feedback.

                How many rows in the main choir? One option is 2-3 mics per row.

                Ed

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                • #9
                  The MG-115 is not a terribly uniform response versus position polar pattern. The small diaphram requires directionality compromises. It's a good mic though, but without the windscreen the pressure from your breath will move the diaphram all over the place.

                  There should be sufficient gain before feedback, I hope you are not trying to use stage monitors with far field condenser mics are you?

                  One trick we use to improve choir mic performance is to get the choir to arrange themselves deeper than they are wide. This means we can use fewer mics to coverthe same size choir and fewer mics means better coherency of the sound and better gain before feedback. It also hel;ps the choir hear themselves a little better. Also, I like to remind them to project, sing out to the back row of the audience. This makes a huge difference and costs absolutely nothing. It's usally the single best thing you can do.

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                  • #10
                    If the choir members are looking down at their music in a folder of some sort, it somewhat defeats the purpose of hanging mics from the ceiling. If the choir knows the material and all eyes are on the director, hanging mics work because your projecting to the mic. Andy's point of having them "sing to the back row" works wonders too.
                    <div class="signaturecontainer">Engineering Axiom 21: Whomever has the key should be qualified.</div>

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                    • #11
                      Hanging mics are usually angled appropriately. Choir members need to learn to look forward and project their voice. Singing to their shoes is not an effective approach...

                      Ed

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                      • #12
                        Thank you to everyone for all your help and wisdom. No, we are not using any monitors. I ripped everything apart and went thru the entire gain staging process (I inherited this job/equipment). If you say the CAD mics are decent, I believe you. It could be the way it was set up before. I was able to get a decent sound with the SM58s (a much fuller sound, but the gain was cranked). The CADs are definitely better at picking up the entire choir. There's no way I can hang them though.
                        Is there any "tricks" (with signal processing possibly)? Would using a compressor on them do anything useful? I inserted an EQ after the Mackie which helped clean things up, but that was with the SM58s.
                        Thanks again for everyone's help and wisdom!
                        Mike

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                        • #13
                          I've wound up volunteering my services for quite a number of school productions over the years - choirs, musicals, and so on.

                          One of my best tricks (for myself anyway) is to use decent mics and as few as possible. I usually can't hang any mics, so I wind up placing a couple on studio booms, or if possible using the X/Y configuration on one boom.

                          I've had success with the Audio Technica AT4041's, the Rode NT5's, and the Rode NT4 (stereo X/Y). I also like the AKG C1000 for choir (maybe too much top end for some).

                          Watch the "3 to 1" rule to avoid comb filtering (google if desired). As a matter of fact, there's a small chance that some of the problems with your hanging mics could be frequency cancellation due to comb filtering.

                          Good luck.

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                          • #14
                            I've wound up volunteering my services for quite a number of school productions over the years - choirs, musicals, and so on.

                            One of my best tricks (for myself anyway) is to use decent mics and as few as possible. I usually can't hang any mics, so I wind up placing a couple on studio booms, or if possible using the X/Y configuration on one boom.

                            I've had success with the Audio Technica AT4041's, the Rode NT5's, and the Rode NT4 (stereo X/Y). I also like the AKG C1000 for choir (maybe too much top end for some).

                            Watch the "3 to 1" rule to avoid comb filtering (google if desired). As a matter of fact, there's a small chance that some of the problems with your hanging mics could be frequency cancellation due to comb filtering.

                            Good luck.


                            Yes, I find that generally a simple XY pair will get me the best (or most uniform) results with the least chances for unexpected problems.

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                            • #15
                              I haven't tried the X Y technique yet, so thanks so much for that idea! Would you use just one pair, or would you do more than one?
                              I'm also kind of fascinated with these C1000s. How much better are they that the CADs I have to work with now?
                              Plus I have to convince the priest to belly up the $400 for one pair (I'd like 2 pair I think since we do productions downstairs as well as in the gym-atorium) who doesn't like any mic-ing, even though the main church seats over a thousand people and the ceiling is something like 40' high at certain points. Acoustically, it's pretty nice......but it reverbs mostly just the low end of the spectrum making the singers text very hard to hear. I'm not a real religious guy, but I'd think that the this type choral music is "lyric driven".

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