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Old December 12th, 2017, 04:22 PM   #16
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Since you're in Tuscon, perhaps you could rent a couple decent mics in an ORTF rig?

Won't be free, but might be $80/day or so... Maybe less if you come across a pair of Rodes or something...

ORTF isn't that hard to set up, sounds good in lots of situations, and is totally doable. At least, in many conditions:


If I'm flying into a location kinda blind and can have a stand in people's sight lines (if I can't fly the mics, that is), ORTF is a great go-to solution.

If not ORTF, I agree about probably leaning on the Tascam's mics and focus on placement (probably behind and above the conductor, if possible).

Lots of good suggestions below. Keep it simple, get good placement, and things will be dandy.

Let us know what you end up doing. Good luck!
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Old December 13th, 2017, 08:50 AM   #17
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

That's a very nice sound!
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Old December 13th, 2017, 05:03 PM   #18
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Jim - thanks for the post and the link. Because of this project I'm learning a lot more about numerous mic placement techniques and this ORTF method is another one that looks like a good repertoire candidate. Never knew there were so many techniques.

Today is Wednesday and the gig is this Friday so I'm really running out of time. Communication with the conductor has been very slow as he is really busy.

Right now my plan is to go with the field recorder which I really hate to do because I really wanted to use the C414s as the main mic(s). The M/S and ORTF techniques look like really good ones to add to my audio capabilities. They are both very interesting.

Okay, so it's the el-cheapo field recorder mics for the main audio capture. (Ugh!).

BREAKING NEWS:
(well, kinda) First, a new information release: The conductor said he placed the field recorder in front of him and estimated that was about 10 feet in front of the choir. I couldn't see it in the screen shot so it must have been down low. If that is the case I will take one of the Avenger tripods with a boom and see if I can talk him into having it behind him and the boom w/ mic over his head. That will be like the RÝde video above.

QUESTIONS:
How he recorded the soloist(s) I don't know, unless they were singing into his field recorder, and that could be the case. I don't know if the choir accompanied the soloists or not but I think they could have.

How can I handle the soloist(s) and the harp?
Have a separate mic stand and one of the C414 XLII for the soloist(s) and the C414 XLS or the Sennheiser ME66 for the harp, both running via XLR cables into the Tascam or the H4n?

One thing I'm concerned about is what to do with spillover. Not worry about it? Point the Harp mic away from or toward the choir?
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Old December 14th, 2017, 07:54 AM   #19
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

This link is to the first of a 6-part series on How To Mic a Choir. It is sponsored by Audix, so they plug their product, but the concepts are worthwhile reviewing.

http://audixusa.com/docs_12/about/vi..._a_choir.shtml

You can reduce spillover by having the spillover source in a null of the mic pickup pattern; e.g., to the rear of a cardioid, and having the mic close to the harp.

The soloist to choir loudness ratio in a given mic can be altered by positioning. The closer soloists are to the mic the louder they will be relative to the choir.
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Last edited by Don Palomaki; December 14th, 2017 at 11:57 AM. Reason: add missing link
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Old December 14th, 2017, 10:46 AM   #20
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Hey John,

It sounds like this is an audio record only gig? But you have more available mics than record inputs. If I remember correctly don't you have at least one camera with XLR inputs? What about setting up a cover shot and feeding a camera two of your mic sources even if you do not need the video. Sorry if I'm being elementary, you probably have a reason for not doing it but it has not been mentioned.

Kind Regards,

Steve
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Old December 14th, 2017, 11:47 AM   #21
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

I need some clarification from the guys here that are far more nologible than I (thats a lot of you).

I have never been able to wrap my head around ORTF mic placement. The 110 degree spread does not make sense to me. I know the purpose of it is to create a "blended stereo image". But in a case like the Rode video (which sounds great) the entire center of the sound is being picked up off axis of the cardioid pattern. I am told this is where the nice blending comes from. I don't get it because all of my training has always been about using the proper pattern for the job at hand and to generally avoid too much off axis input. Too much off axis sound can lead to coloration or even distortion in extreme cases. The ORTF set up means you are intentionally recording a large portion of the sound off axis.

I suspect to make this work well you must use the proper mics and know their off axis characteristics very well. I suspect that not just any matched pair of cardioids will get a great result? Or am I dead wrong about that? Is good off axis sound one of their strengths?

Kind Regards,

Steve
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Old December 14th, 2017, 12:23 PM   #22
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORTF_stereo_technique
provides some additional information. The off axis issue will depend on specific mics.

The ORTF puts the center 55 degrees off axis. My impression is that with many cardioids (not hypers) the coloration may not become problematic until more like 75 degrees off axis. In any case it is a technique that works in many situations, not necessarily the "gold standard for micing." As noted in the above write-up let your ears be the judge.

A major benefit of ORTF was reasonable mono playback compatibility, which was a big issue for broadcast and VHS.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 12:45 PM   #23
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Most questions here people want the best audio with their existing equipment and with little to no ability to alter the venue. Thatís where best practices diverge. At minimum it would best to mic each stem allowing them to be mixed properly live or in post. You donít want the harp or the group to over power the soloists. Here the the challenge is micing a large group.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 01:47 PM   #24
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Don - Saw the link wasn't there (I do that a lot, fast "Post" finger), and did a search which instantly got me the link. Very interesting by the way.
)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
This link is to the first of a 6-part series on How To Mic a Choir. It is sponsored by Audix, so they plug their product, but the concepts are worthwhile reviewing.
Plug for the MicroBoom? I like it! Actually just got off the phone with Audix. Very helpful people.
Really good video presentation: liked the 6-part breakdown, the summary after the end of each section, etc. The ending of Part 6 was really nice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
You can reduce spillover by having the spillover source in a null of the mic pickup pattern; e.g., to the rear of a cardioid, and having the mic close to the harp.

The soloist to choir loudness ratio in a given mic can be altered by positioning. The closer soloists are to the mic the louder they will be relative to the choir.
This project has been a really good learning exercise for audio. I can see there is a lot to know about nulls and how they can be used to one's advantage. So much to learn, so little time.

Steven -
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Digges View Post
It sounds like this is an audio record only gig?
I can see how it might seem that way .... it's just that it's the audio part I'm having the biggest challenge with. We'll have four cams available. Just discovered I can't find one of my little tripods I planned to use for the harp mic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Digges View Post
If I remember correctly don't you have at least one camera with XLR inputs? What about setting up a cover shot and feeding a camera two of your mic sources even if you do not need the video. Sorry if I'm being elementary, you probably have a reason for not doing it but it has not been mentioned.
I've got a handy JuicedLink Pre that I use with a cam. Had it since the JVC HD7 so that's been a few years. I'm trying to use the recorder more because it can be controlled by iPhone via Wi-Fi and that's been really handy for the fixed cam with mic cables. When I get to the venue tomorrow I'll meet with the conductor and we'll figure out how to split things up, but yes, the JuicedLink + cam can be used as a two channel recorder.

Last edited by John Nantz; December 14th, 2017 at 02:18 PM.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 04:21 PM   #25
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Pete -
This is a tough gig for me not only because of the lack of ideal kit but also because of the part that's not visible ... the interpersonal relationships. I'm a total guest in this, doing what I can pro bono to help out as a tradeoff, all in order to capture a good video of a relative who will be a soloist. For her this is an important life event.

It appears to me that the choir organization feels the video and good audio is less important compared to everything else. With the short notice it's been a scramble to gather information about the venue, how it was done in the past, and find out what is permissible in the way of changes. I'm trying to be very careful to not become a pain.

Doing a choir was never in my plan, but who knows, that could change. I've got a lot of money tied up in kit as it is, probably too much, and, taking up a lot of space, but if this works out I could see additional kit (promise you won't share this with my wife!). Maybe an Audix 84" carbon fiber pole stored in some corner?

Doing this is not unlike football where the quarterback gets rushed, scampers out of the pocket looking for a pass but nobody is clear, starts running toward the scrimmage line but the defense is after him, does a lateral pass to a teammate .... It wasn't in the playbook so sometimes you have to improvise.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 04:54 PM   #26
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Content rules. Most people forgive the video if the content is compelling. Video of family is almost always compelling content.

Poor video is forgiven more than poor audio, but the definition of poor audio for home video starts with what Joe or Jane Sixpack shoot with their hand held cell phone in the third row. So the bar is not very high ( unless you have an established track record). IMHO key factors are to minimize audience and venue background noise, preserving the dynamic range, and avoiding excessive room acoustics such as reverberation. Some reverb is good, but too much will cloud solos and spoken parts.

Paid and invited shoots generally do call for professional levels of effort, or nearly so within the established budget. Walk-on shoots are what ever the walk-on can bring with him and negotiate.

At this point is is a matter of what you have time to do and falls in you comfort zone. Modest quality audio successfully recorded is better than a high quality setup that is botched in execution.

If you have four camcorders, feel free to feed audio to all of them if you have extra mics. The more the merrier, and they can provide fall-back capability. And do not be afraid to use wireless mics if you have reasonable ones available, to feed a camcorder - a potential way to get the harp. (Heck, most live Broadway vocals use wireless mics.)

Good luck and above all enjoy the performance. And let us all know how it went!

And don't do anything too radical with respect to irritating the spouse - that is more important than any pro bono video shoot.
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Old December 14th, 2017, 06:21 PM   #27
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Nantz View Post
Pete -
This is a tough gig for me not only because of the lack of ideal kit but also because of the part that's not visible ... the interpersonal relationships. I'm a total guest in this, doing what I can pro bono to help out as a tradeoff, all in order to capture a good video of a relative who will be a soloist. For her this is an important life event.

It appears to me that the choir organization feels the video and good audio is less important compared to everything else. With the short notice it's been a scramble to gather information about the venue, how it was done in the past, and find out what is permissible in the way of changes. I'm trying to be very careful to not become a pain.

Doing a choir was never in my plan, but who knows, that could change. I've got a lot of money tied up in kit as it is, probably too much, and, taking up a lot of space, but if this works out I could see additional kit (promise you won't share this with my wife!). Maybe an Audix 84" carbon fiber pole stored in some corner?

Doing this is not unlike football where the quarterback gets rushed, scampers out of the pocket looking for a pass but nobody is clear, starts running toward the scrimmage line but the defense is after him, does a lateral pass to a teammate .... It wasn't in the playbook so sometimes you have to improvise.
keep it simple and youíll do fine. the bar is lower for pro bono work easier to exceed expectations. let us know how it turns out
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Old December 15th, 2017, 01:30 AM   #28
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Hi John - Good luck!!!!!

I use M/S for about almost all my orchestral recordings - usually Omni and Figure 8 although depending on circumstances I'll use a cardioid or even a wide cardioid. Heck, I even got good results (in a noisy environment) with a Hyper. But I wouldn't try something new in this situation if you hadn't had some practice with it before the big day...
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Old December 15th, 2017, 03:51 PM   #29
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

John,

The recital is tonight, right? You may not get to read this until after the gig, but just a couple points:

1) Get there early, if possible, and record some of the rehearsal in a couple positions and techniques.
Just get a minute or so at each position. Then walk off to somewhere quiet and give a quick listen on good headphones. That won't provide perfect confidence monitoring (and if you have speakers or something, listen on those), but you'll get some sense of if a particular location is much better or worse than others. Choose the location with the best combination of audio quality, ease of placement, and unobtrusiveness.

2) Don't worry a bunch about separate micing for the harp and soloist.
Let the conductor act as your mixer; he'll guide them on where to play and stand and when to be quieter or louder. Remember, the audience will be hearing the choir, harp, soloist, et al with just two ears in one place; with reasonably neutral placement, it'll work.

3) Have fun!

4) Let us know how it goes!

5) Good luck!
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Old December 16th, 2017, 07:28 AM   #30
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

In all the years (and it's quite a few) that I've been involved with recording stereo, the one thing that firmly sticks in my mind is that the differences between the various forms of single location technique - so I'm including X/Y, M/S, ORTF, Decca Tree and Blumlein and the small variants - is important, but very much related to the space and the mic positions. A compromise in placement, orchestral layout, acoustics, venue size, and mic types completely overshadows the differences moving a pair of mics just a few inches apart makes.

I'm NOT in any way saying these techniques are unimportant - but 90 degrees out to 110 degrees in a compromised venue setup makes no real difference.

We need a bit of practical perspective here. In a non-professional choir or orchestra, you will have prominent sources and totally lost ones. You will also have good performers and less good ones. In most cases, the loud sources are also the ones you really do not want. Much faffing around finding nice ways of moving a problem performer to a position less annoying is more important than the number of degrees, and often ORTF type wider spacing allows the dip in the middle to be populated by less vital people!
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