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Old December 12th, 2007, 06:17 AM   #1
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Best Mic for Choir Concerts?

Hey everybody,

I've been using my XH-A1 these past several months and I absolutely LOVE IT!

A friend asked me to film a choir concert, and I was at the back of the auditorium. The sound quality from the A1's built-in mic was good, but I want the sound to be GREAT.

I'm going to be filming more of these choir concerts and I'm wondering what's a good mic to use.

I'll usually be at the back of the auditorium, where I can get the most flexible shots for a "one camera shoot". The concert is vocal/instrumental, NOT loud rock music. I would assume a shotgun mic would be best in this situation.

Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated!
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Old December 12th, 2007, 06:37 AM   #2
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The best would be a AB stereo pair of omnis or Decca tree hung from the ceiling some 4 feet above the conductor (assuming the venue is acoustically good). Impossible to say without seeing and hearing the place.

As for mics the sky is the limit, best mics for this run for several thousands a piece...

A 3x2 capsule set of Oktava 012 mics (omni, cardioid, hypercardioids) would give a great flexibility in choosing the best approach at a reasonable price of around $700 US.

For really good sound you have to get the mics close, within a few meters, out of the diffuse field. Shotgun from anywhere is far from ideal, for many reasons. They are never used for classical recording.

Read the "microphone university" at http://www.dpamicrophones.com/
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Old December 12th, 2007, 07:43 AM   #3
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How to mic depends on how much control you have over the performance environment, and what kind of budget you have to mic it. Visit the Shure web site and check some of the papers on use of mics for different.
http://www.shure.com/ProAudio/TechLi...cles/index.htm

In any case, the worst possible place from which to mic a live chorus is at the back of the auditorium, with the audience between the mics and the performers - you get too much audience noise.

For a moderate size ensemble and price, using of a single point stereo mic; e.g., an AT-825, placed between the audience and performers (e.g., behind the conductor in a shock mount on a tall light stand aimed at the ensemble), will give much better sound than the camcorder mic at the back of the room. And the cardioid pattern for each channel helps reduce audience noise pickup.

Shotgun mic can introduce unwanted sound artifacts due to the polar patterns being somewhat frequency sensitive. Using audio AGC is generally bad, yo loose the dynamic range of the performance.

I you still need to shoot video from the back of the room, use a separate recorder for audio, perhaps something like am M-Audio Micro Track controlled by an associate sitting in the front row.
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Old December 12th, 2007, 08:04 AM   #4
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The advice above is on the mark. It's more about mic placement than the kind of mic.

A very good thing to do is to talk to people who have had a lot of experience listening to various kinds of music events in the hall. My wife is a professor of music and her department recently began using a new recital hall. It very quickly became obvious that the hall has live and dead spots that vary greatly depending on the kind of music being presented and mic placement has to be changed to match. This kind of local knowledge is invaluable in solving the kind of problem you are trying to solve.

If you could say more about the size, shape, and construction of the venue, and the size of the choir and the instrumentation of the accompanying music, it would help people assess your needs more precisely.
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Old December 12th, 2007, 08:29 AM   #5
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It is perfectly possible to run balanced mic cables for several hundred meters without problems; recording audio form a "hi-fi" mic setup to camera (audio on manual, of course) is viable alternative. The XH-A1 audio quality is fine, in SD, that is. If you want to use the audio for something else like CD:s and shoot HDV*, then you should get a decent digital recorder for the audio.

*) HDV uses MP2 1:5 comperession for audio. SD has 16/48 PCM "better than CD".
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Old December 12th, 2007, 12:47 PM   #6
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Second vote for the AT825

I use the 822 (same mic but no phantom power) and I love it. I am a former band director and I use this mic run with a wireless Sennheisser G2 setup to my XH-A1. I just picked an extra one up on ebay for $75.00. You can't go wrong. I have used this for 4 years and have not had any complaints. I record mostly bands and choirs.

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Old December 12th, 2007, 01:50 PM   #7
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I've used the RODE NT4 with great success on live shoots.
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Old December 12th, 2007, 01:54 PM   #8
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For the situation you described, you might consider getting something like a Zoom H2. Since you are going to be so far away, it might be useful to have a stand alone device. I just picked up the Zoom H4 and really love it.
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Old December 12th, 2007, 05:40 PM   #9
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For price and performance, I agree with the AT mic choice.

You say you are in an auditorium. Is there a sound board in the back? If there is, there are probably audio lines already running for the stage to the back you can plug into.

Just add mics to the front. You can hang mics or you can put a couple of mic stands in front on the floor.

If you are going to be doing this regularly you can probably work something out with the people that take care of the auditorium so you can get a way to place mics and get cable to the back.

You could also fix up a mic with a wireless transmitter if you can't run cable.

I have a microtrack mentioned above. They are now $300 (version 2) and are great. With an 8GB card you can record PCM audio for several hours, and the thing is the size of a deck of cards, has phantom power and accepts balanced inputs. You could tape this to a mic stand and run two mics into it at the front of the auditorium.

The sound recorded by the camera (with a fraction of a second delay) can be used to match the second audio to the picture.

There also might be cables already hanging or ready to lower that you can plug mics into.

There is always a solution that is better than recording on the camera for these things.
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Old December 14th, 2007, 10:28 AM   #10
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Auditorium Setup

Ok, so here's a slightly wide shot of the auditorium I was shooting in. I'd figure I was about 40-50 yards away from the stage. The House Sound Board was about 30 feet behind and to the left of me.

Again, the A1's audio turned out to be decent, but I'm no audiophile, and I know it could be better.

I'm wondering, what are some options for getting the best audio in the following situations:

1. Hooking into the House Sound Board. Should I hook up to the sound board via a wireless transmitter, or a hard line?

2. Setting up an additional mic or recorder (like a Zoom H2) up on the stage and perhaps sending it to the camera via wireless transmitter. What are your suggestions here?

3. Any other ideas you may have.

FYI - I'm just a student doing this as a hobby. I still plan to invest around $500 in some decent audio equipment, so your advice for that price range would be most appreciated.

Thanks for all your comments! I love this forum!
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Old December 14th, 2007, 03:00 PM   #11
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Wired is better than wireless in virtually all circumstances - except when you can't run wire or need more mobility than wired gives you.

The sound board should be a good source, if they know how to do a good sound mix. But getting a good mix is by no means assured. It depends on the talent of the folks doing the audio.

Read the stuff on the Shure web site!

The AT-825 is a good balanced output single point stereo mic for recording acoustic ensembles at a reasonable price, and it will leave some money left in your pocket for cables, stands, etc.
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Old December 15th, 2007, 11:57 PM   #12
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I dont know how the audio is set up, but if all the mics are plugged into one mixer, can you just take the output of that into the camera? or some other recording device?
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Old December 16th, 2007, 12:41 AM   #13
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Besides everything else, run one channel into your camera from the house mixer. For channel 1, I use an AKG blue line 391 series mic with a cardiod pattern capsule. For channel 2, I bought a line level pad and use channel 2 XLR on my A1 to get a feed from the board. It's very dry but u can enhance it in post. If your camera is not too far away, the delay between the speaker feed and the board feed is not bad. You can use the dry feed and mix the on board mic feed into it to create the illusion of the hall. There are liabilities involved with taking a sound feed from the board however. You need to know what to ask for regarding the mix and whether u want pre or post fader signals. Finally and fortunately for me, I work with a mixer who is a pro and knows what he's doing. Otherwise the dry track is worthless.
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Old December 16th, 2007, 12:57 AM   #14
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One other point for discussion guys:
This whole business of using stereo mics.

Most auditorium choral mixes are monoral. You have the same material going to all speakers. Using a stereo mic buys you nothing. In fact, using stereo mic never succeeds in focusing your attention to the center image as they pick up with a null in the center and left and right spread which varies in the degree dependent on the pattern spread. What is the point in picking up two identical sounds from the left and right speaker? It's not stereo imaging. If your going to do that, then just pan your mono image instead. You cannot benefit from a stereo image unless your sitting in the middle of the auditorium, in the "sweet spot".
I see very little value in using stereo mic's. I think the stereo mic's that come with virtually every camera these days are totally useless. I'd much rather the manufacturers supply a mono short shotgun mic.
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Old December 16th, 2007, 01:33 AM   #15
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I think maybe all of the suggestions regarding stereo mics in this thread are assuming that there's no mono mains mix. A matched pair right up next to the stage should work out pretty well, I'd think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Morgan View Post
I think the stereo mic's that come with virtually every camera these days are totally useless.
Just as an aside, I like to use the stock XL2 mic for ambient background sounds, and it would seem that many others use it that way too. That's probably about the only thing I'd use it for though.

At any rate, it's not at all totally without its uses.
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