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Old December 17th, 2017, 01:01 PM   #31
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Paul -
All I can say is I really appreciate what an effort it can be to record good audio. These past few days as been a massive learning experience learning about all the various ways to mic a choir, but also, at the same time, finding out about techniques one can mic other situations where I have interest. The leap from monaural to stereo, or multichannel, is a big one and using the techniques you mentioned will take some time to become proficient at. Not to mention acquiring a bit more kit.

That was interesting about how to deal with a problem performer by using the dip!
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Old December 17th, 2017, 02:38 PM   #32
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Okay, for all you guys wanting to know “how it goes” … so let’s see how I can summarize it. In case someone didn’t read the posts from the beginning, this was a volunteer pro-bono shoot because I wanted to have a video of a relative who would be singing a solo.

First off, didn’t get back in until midnight, unloaded all the kit out of the car and discovered … well, more on that later.

It was a very hectic past few days in preparing for the choir gig. A combination of trying to find out about the church, the schedule (starting with when they will start and when I could get in), finding out about the gear the conductor has been using, what he wants me to help with, and how I could use my mics to acquire better audio.

As it turned out, communication was, for me, was one of the most difficult parts because all there was were three comparatively short emails. In return, I had lots of questions but received only a few answers so at the end of the day I took along lots of gear to be prepared to wing-it.

After researching everything I could find about miking (or is this spelled micing?) a choir in the limited time available and limited feedback I finally came to the resolution that just using the mics on the field recorder would be the way to go. This wasn’t what I wanted but that’s what happened.

Showed up at the church located in an older built-up neighborhood area where everyone had two or three cars per person and as luck happened (you guys did wish me luck, right?) When we arrived it was raining even though rain was not in the forecast. I found a newly vacated parking spot and grabbed it. Next thing was to find out how to get in and the building across the street was open so I asked someone there. More luck, the person who was the contact person for the church was there and she opened the church side door that was no more than about 15 steps from my car! Wow, this luck thing is working!

The conductor was inside doing a last minute rehearsal with the choir members and was obviously preoccupied. He had his cam set up in the same place as two years ago and the H4n recorder was mounted on a thin boom mic support behind him (See picture) so that was a relief. I always wondered how he did his H4n recording. When he had a moment he said to set my cam up anywhere I thought would look good and said a wide shot from the rear would nice. Finally got a (printed) copy of the program to help plan things.

My wife and daughter wanted to find a place to grab something to eat and I gave them the keys to the car because I had a second set. When I went to bring some more gear in I found the car locked and they were gone. Turned out the “second set” was in the car and with my cell phone! Stuff happens!

Reconnoitered the organ area at the rear of the church and thought that would work well so set the cam up there. When the girls came back I got some more of my gear and set up the AX100 next to the organ (that wouldn’t be used). A handy (as luck would have it) electrical outlet provided power for the cam and I wired up a Sennheiser ME-64 omni to use as a sync mic, ran through the JuicedLink pre to the cam’s audio.

Used the AX53 to take some pre-concert rehearsal shots as a few more people showed up.

Went to set up the AX53 with the Røde Stereo Video Mic near the harp using the small tripod with a plan to use the remote (to avoid walking down the aisle during the concert. There is an aisle on each side of the church that would make it not quite so obvious, but still, it would be obvious. Luck finally ran out. The quick release plate didn’t fit the tripod!!! Couldn’t believe it because I had checked to make sure everything was working okay, including the plate! Switched the AX53 over to the monopod and during the harp solo I setup in the “outside aisle” and got a clip of her playing. Hid behind one of the columns and used it to help steady the monopod.

In the end I did get one long concert shot from the back and some assorted shots with the AX53. That evening at our daughters house I discovered the missing quick release plate - it was on the Tascam recorder!

Oh, and what happened when I unloaded the car? The AX53 was … MISSING! Disaster struck. Looked through everything and it just wasn’t there. It was now midnight and I called our daughter to see if I left it in their house somewhere but said that, perhaps, it might be somewhere around where the car was. It was in a black camera bag that was very padded. As it turned out, she found it outside on the porch. Well, that’s the bad part about black kit items and doing any work when it is dark.

The good part:
Learned a heck of a lot about multichannel audio! A real crash course. Got some good video, didn’t enjoy the concert nearly as much as everyone else because I was totally fixating on the shoot.
For me, the new expanded knowledge about various audio techniques was the biggest thing that came out of this. How to make audio things disappear is right up there with Noa Put’s how to make video things disappear!
For next time: Improve on how to keep better track of my gear. And who knows, choir shooting might even become addictive.

The mic can be seen better in this picture but in the original picture (post #1) it wasn't as apparent.

Second picture: view toward rear of church during practice, AX100 set up next to organ
Attached Thumbnails
Audio Micing Church Choir-screen-shot-2017-12-17-12.35.00-pm.png   Audio Micing Church Choir-screen-shot-2017-12-17-6.28.48-pm.png  


Last edited by John Nantz; December 17th, 2017 at 07:33 PM. Reason: sp: bit > but; add picture
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Old December 18th, 2017, 05:35 AM   #33
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Are you satisfied with the sound you got? Did the solos come out well? The harp?

Quote:
"...(to avoid walking down the aisle during the concert. There is an aisle on each side of the church that would make it not quite so obvious, but still, it would be obvious...
Just a thought. The reason a wedding photographer gets the best shots is in part because he/she is obvious, running up and down the isles to the extent the venue allows. So if movement is needed to get the best sound, and within venue rules, don't hesitate
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Old December 18th, 2017, 05:43 AM   #34
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Thanks for the update John - it's always nice to hear the story - and I feel for you on the lost items. I got a call once from the Police at 3am, asking if I had lost anything? No I said. Are you sure? Still no idea. The Policeman said how about YELLOW. I sat bolt upright in bed. Back then I had a matched pair of AKG 451 condensers, with the cathedral extension tubes, and they lived in a bright yellow peli type case! I'd left them on the roof of my car, and I drove off with them still on top! Somebody handed them in and the police called the phone number on the case. To rub it in, they made me get out of bed and drive 5 miles to the Police Station to collect them. One of the Policemen knew how much they cost and I got ribbed mercilessly. Bounced down the road, and still worked perfectly.


On the spelling front, many years ago I decided to not go with the flow, and I always use miked for past tense, shorten microphone to mic, and spend too long miking up. I don't object to any other spellings with the exception of mic'ing - which for some odd reason just works like fingernails on a blackboard.

When Music Technology burst into education here in the UK in the 90s, I was one of the people who organised the first UK qualifications, and we instigated one paper that required students to record what we called the 'natural acoustic' recording. Direct to stereo recording, as opposed to multitrack studio stuff.

It was the most horrible thing we ever did. Far, far to hard a task for newcomers to recording. Not for technical reasons but simply because they needed very good ears. In the studio, there are so many books and now internet sources saying exactly where a mic goes on a snare, or violin, or practically any instrument. Manufacturers like Shure publish stuff showing how their mics should be chosen and used. Nothing like this works for a choir in a church - especially the more traditional buildings like in the pictures above. In the exams, we'd have some students in a small school with a pair of AKG C1000s (probably the most detested mics in the world, if you read the forums!) compared to students at a public school with a mic cupboard full of Neumanns) Very often, the C1000s would sound better, and get better grades, because putting two U87s in front of a choir needs ears to set them up, and that's where the students suffer. The C1000s, often by luck, end up in the special place where they just work! I wasn't sad when this section of the exam was removed, because a gorgeous sounding building with two cheap condensers could get better grades than a terrible sounding room with some clever techniques and excellent mics.

The DPA university (Google it) has really good explanations of how the techniques differ.

By the way, in the UK Public schools are the posh ones where parents pay for the children to attend, and State schools are where everyone else goes (confusing because we don't have US type States, we have counties - and the word State is used to mean the whole of the United Kingdom. That's confused everyone now!
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Old December 18th, 2017, 10:24 PM   #35
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Don - been all day doing catch-up on stuff …. then trying to figure out the best way to transfer the video files to the Conductor who will be editing everything. He uses Vega (don’t know which version) and a PC while I use FCPX and a Macintosh. Files are saved on SD cards formatted in their cameras for use with a Mac. Still haven’t found out how to do this.

Did some shopping for a 32GB SD card, one that I could still use if it got returned but one that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg if it doesn’t. Debating how much I wouldn’t mind loosing if it wasn’t returned. Big price difference between the U3 C10 and the U1 C10, not to mention UHS-I vs UHS-II. Hate to get something that will be obsolete.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
Are you satisfied with the sound you got? Did the solos come out well? The harp?
Anyway, getting back to your question (Just trying to avoid answering it ‘cuz I’m a bit bummed!):

For the want of a horseshoe nail a city was lost, and paraphrasing, For the want of a tripod quick release plate a second video angle was lost. There were two tripods specifically for the B-roll cam and the recorder but the quick-release plate wouldn’t fit one of the tripods so that angle went away. Kinda.

Later, toward the end of the concert I used the AX53 cam and the Røde mic on a monopod and got some nice angle shots with the harp that will be useable. The audio will be, well, um, okay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
Just a thought. The reason a wedding photographer gets the best shots is in part because he/she is obvious, running up and down the isles to the extent the venue allows. So if movement is needed to get the best sound, and within venue rules, don't hesitate
From the wedding shoot last August (my first), several posters commented that I needed to be less hesitant about being obvious; unfortunately, I’m not quite there yet. Still feel like a guest in someone else’s house. Gotta work on it some more, though.

Paul -
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I got a call once from the Police at 3am, asking if I had lost anything?.
Good story! The car roof is a handy place to put things, don’t ask me how I know. Lost several pair of good sunglasses that way myself, but a pair of mics? Gotta hand it to ya, that’s a one up on me! Thank goodness you live in a place where there are civilized kind people that would turn in something like that. A little bit of luck didn’t hurt, either. And it’s good that the police lost-and-found department didn’t re-loose them. When I was a kid we came across a skeleton in the woods, reported it to the police, and turned in a bunch of late 1800 coins (in nice condition), well, most of them anyway. Never saw them again.

YELLOW! That's a nice color. For me, Yellow-glow-in-the-dark would be even better!

Blackboard? You remember blackboards? Okay, so that wasn’t all that long ago, right? Wonder where they all went? Pool tables?

As for spelling, going to the Shure and Audix web sites I see they were spelling the various mic forms using a “k”; however, inasmuch spelling was never my strong suit I like to go my own way. Since everybody uses “mic” as short form for microphone I feel it only fair to spell it using a “c”. Maybe it makes me feel better ‘cuz now the English teacher can’t grade me!!! There ain't nut'in (or is that nuttin'?) they can do to me now. Texting is going to create a new generation, or new wave, of spellers in the workplace. How to murder a language, eh? (I live near the Canadian border)

With regard to micing … er, make that miking (an old dog can learn new tricks), things, my hearing isn’t what it used to be. Unfortunately, the days of ear-abuse, not to mention time, have taken their toll so I’m relying a lot more on what the computer, VU meters, wave forms, more volume, and what others tell me. Bummer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
When Music Technology burst into education here in the UK in the 90s, I was one of the people who organised the first UK qualifications, and we instigated one paper that required students to record what we called the 'natural acoustic' recording. Direct to stereo recording, as opposed to multitrack studio stuff.
Mikng/micing the acoustic accordion will be another challenge I'm looking forward to.

As for the bad reviews on mics, one thing to consider is there are a lot of counterfeit copies out there. And of course, I don't have one of them. Counterfeit imports have been going on since the days of Shure M91ED and V15 Type III and IV phono cartridges and nothing has changed so I take bad reviews of some items, especially mics, with a grain of salt. In the case of the C414s, I opted to buy them new through an AKG dealer and hang on to the paper trail.

DPA university: that's an interesting site and I'll check it out some more later.
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Old December 19th, 2017, 12:09 PM   #36
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

You might now have a better appreciation for keeping it simple . Sounds like you caught a good deal of luck the camera not being stolen, equipment locked in car, etc. I’d recommend building a kit you can transport in one trip and don’t mix tripod systems. Mistakes are more likely when you’re rushing and you don’t have well planned kit that can be deployed quickly.
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Old December 19th, 2017, 11:04 PM   #37
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Well, John, I dispensed advice on page 1, you asked some questions, and I dropped out of sight. Poor form, right? I wasn't getting e-mail updates to this thread. Haven't a clue why.

Congrats on surviving the experience. Live and non-repeatable performances always ratchet up the tension and stress, and I think you've discovered several times over that something unexpected always drops into your lap. Would you consider sharing an excerpt of at least your audio recording (if you're allowed to)?

Many years ago I started out recording video of choir performances with a single pair of mics, and it wasn't long before I came to grips with the fact that performances of choral, chamber, and orchestral music are really audio events with a video component. Now I regularly record concerts with 16+ channels of audio supported by boatloads of audio gear.

As was mentioned in a previous post, I think, viewers will forgive sub-par video, but not audio. So, if you're serious about upping your game, even on (the very generous!) volunteer basis supporting your recent effort, slowly build up your audio kit. You got a tremendous wealth of advice and resources in this thread. Just a pair of small diaphragm cardioid mics in ORTF configuration (because it's very forgiving of placement) is the simplest setup I can think of, assuming you'd have a good recorder and monitoring (headphones), and you'd be delighted to hear the results.

On the matter of mic stand placement, because it's absolutely critical, there is no way around this: either the video looks good, or the audio sounds good. An audience and videographer must accept the slight intrusion of a mic stand (or several mic stands), if decent audio is to be had. Truly, they accept the presence of someone standing in the middle of it all through an entire concert, dressed in black, and waving their hands around during each piece, right? I work with one conductor who refuses to let me put up stands where they belong, and the audio suffers. Another conductor I work with probably wouldn't flinch at a forest of stands, but they are really pleased with my recordings.
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Old December 20th, 2017, 07:14 PM   #38
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Quote:
For the want of a horseshoe nail a city was lost,...
Always carry a roll of gaffers tape (or if in a bind, duct tape) and some coat hanger wire.
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Old December 20th, 2017, 10:42 PM   #39
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Another quick reply here - things are really busy, getting organized for Christmas. However, here goes.

First off, after hitting the “Send” button and re-reading my post #36 where I wrote abut counterfeit mics and said “And of course, I don't have one of them,” please be aware that this was intended as being a facetious comment because we all feel we bought the real thing and not a counterfeit, right? Many of my mics were bought used but were examined closely and the whole transaction (seller, documentation, etc.) weighed, figuratively speaking, to decide if it was counterfeit or not. Sometimes it’s a tough decision, so I really hope that everything is legit. Anyhow, moving on….

Pete - A lot of good statements there, totally agree. I do have a Pelican case with those Velcro dividers that has worked really well for a few years and just by looking at it one can see if one of the big items is missing. In one spot, though, are all the little pieces so it is more of.a challenge. I've been thinking of how to organize things better when going out and that's a work (or plan?) in progress.

Steven -
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Congrats on surviving the experience.
Hey, it's actually not over yet! I'm in "post mode" now and trying to figure out how to share my stuff to someone with a PC and running Vegas (version unknown) while I'm on a Mac. And I hope to get his audio and video for my editing.

"Would you consider sharing an excerpt of at least your audio recording (if you're allowed to)?" While I'm allowed to share, realize that it's only sync track material. The Røde mic on the cam for the harp, briefly, and the ME-64 with the cam near the organ. Never got to use the 414s.

Looking back, all I ever wanted to record with video was two or three items: instrument (piano, accordion, vocal, cello, guitar) but not all of those together. More like a couple items, maybe three, and this not intended for any big time thing, just more personal and for sharing. Until getting the AKG mics my kit was really just for video. Recording a choir is a whole different ballgame!

Quote:
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Just a pair of small diaphragm cardioid mics in ORTF configuration (because it's very forgiving of placement) is the simplest setup I can think of,....
Could the C414s be used for something like that? I know they're slightly different models but I've also read where the II's bump really wouldn't be noticed that much. The one girl I'm trying to capture this for only has maybe two years left before she's graduated out of it

I would really like to help the choir out with better audio although I do think the conductor has a fairly good handle on the concept. The stage was a lot wider than I thought it would be based on the picture and it may be, and I’ll bet it is. It's possible that the H4n’s cardioid diagram isn’t wide enough to cover the vocalists on each end but I'd like to research this. Also, the H4n may be placed almost too far back from the front row. This is where the ORTF technique might be helpful but the H4n does have a small visual footprint from the audience.

I’ve got a 100-ft cloth surveyors tape and had the plan to take some measurements (for next time) and forgot to bring it. While camped out next to the organ I thought about just pacing it off … and forgot to do that too, but the dimensions are much larger than I thought they would be.

With regard to conductor concerns on mic placement, I don't know where this conductor is. He is obviously okay with his small recorder setup. Hope to find out more if the working relationship improves.

Don - did have a roll of 2” blue 3M tape along, but coat hanger??? Couldn’t I just throw my jacket on the back of a chair? Ya got me on that one!
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Old December 21st, 2017, 11:57 AM   #40
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

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Could the C414s be used for something like that? I know they're slightly different models but I've also read where the II's bump really wouldn't be noticed that much. The one girl I'm trying to capture this for only has maybe two years left before she's graduated out of it
Yes, C414s (and other large diaphragm cardioid (LDC) mics) can be used to record choirs, but they are usually not pressed into service for this purpose because LDC's typically have off-axis coloration. (And in your case, the un-matched 414's would militate against their use!)

Even so, at one time I did experiment with my pair of matched 414's on a few recordings. Here is one example featuring one of our state's top high school choirs. The only processing was some RX to eliminate ventilation noise.
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Old December 21st, 2017, 12:22 PM   #41
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

"I'm in "post mode" now and trying to figure out how to share my stuff to someone with a PC and running Vegas (version unknown) while I'm on a Mac. And I hope to get his audio and video for my editing."
- Vegas Pro 9 and above can export/import AAF files. I've exported to Avid MC and SlowTools successfully but not the other way around (importing AFF into Vegas). I've also gotten OMF (audio) files into Vegas Pro using AATranslate, a third-party converter, as VP does not support that format (despite requests by myself and others since Vegas 1.0). For video, you 'could' just ask for a video with a single frame A/V blip (bars & tone) for sync /line-up and/or a reference audio track to manually sync it to,
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Old December 21st, 2017, 04:05 PM   #42
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

That video is a good example of how a decent sound source can make up for the technical things that are often talked about as 'rules' - the miking with the angles and spaced capsules, plus the colouration that as mentioned is present on larger diaphragms is totally outweighed by the choir sounding good in a fairly dead space. Can we hear the colouration? No - I don't think I can. How about the well known hole in the middle from the separation of the mics? No - can't hear that either. The physics says they happen, and we all sprout the physics, but this is a fine recording and the small issues are not the recordist's fault - any mic, any technique would have captured them.

The detail is present - the stereo image is quite wide, but I'm pretty sure I could hear one fella second row near the middle when he clearly sung one little phrase, and he is where you'd expect capture to be weaker?

This sums up so much what I firmly believe - the differences between mics, mic technique and subtle changes of angle is VERY small, once you get close to the right place. Very often two mics, of average quality and similar polar patterns - as in the same model, but not matched, actually work fine - the mismatching producing tiny left right shifts that very few people would notice. All the physics is solid, but the consequences often exaggerated in practice. The baby crying at the end made me smile - captured nicely!
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Old December 21st, 2017, 04:59 PM   #43
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

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That video is a good example of how a decent sound source can make up for the technical things that are often talked about as 'rules' - the miking with the angles and spaced capsules, plus the colouration that as mentioned is present on larger diaphragms is totally outweighed by the choir sounding good in a fairly dead space. Can we hear the colouration? No - I don't think I can. How about the well known hole in the middle from the separation of the mics? No - can't hear that either. The physics says they happen, and we all sprout the physics, but this is a fine recording and the small issues are not the recordist's fault - any mic, any technique would have captured them.

The detail is present - the stereo image is quite wide, but I'm pretty sure I could hear one fella second row near the middle when he clearly sung one little phrase, and he is where you'd expect capture to be weaker?

This sums up so much what I firmly believe - the differences between mics, mic technique and subtle changes of angle is VERY small, once you get close to the right place. Very often two mics, of average quality and similar polar patterns - as in the same model, but not matched, actually work fine - the mismatching producing tiny left right shifts that very few people would notice. All the physics is solid, but the consequences often exaggerated in practice. The baby crying at the end made me smile - captured nicely!
Thanks. I put up this example to show (to John) that a serviceable recording can be had with just a pair of 414s. Yes, there be warts in this live recording, the abominable concert hall not being the least of them. I'm also quite certain that I didn't optimize the microphone spacing and angle (set up time was short). Finally, the 414s are a sizable chunk of visual clutter. I've long since abandoned these as a main pair in favor of far more discrete SDCs or, if the hall is nice, a spaced pair of omnis.
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Old December 24th, 2017, 12:01 PM   #44
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

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...but coat hanger??? Couldn’t I just throw my jacket on the back of a chair? Ya got me on that one!
Wire hangers can be cut, bent, and shaped to hold things taped to them - even to the point of being an improvised mic or camcorder mount in an emergency. Or maybe substitute for a broken tail pipe hanger on a car. The uses are endless.

On factor in the recent photo is the choir is arranged in an arc (near semicircle) with the mic at the center. This helps equalize the volume of each singer. With a linear chorus arrangement the singers at the edge are further away, and thus weaker. Not an issue for the audience, but it is for a single point mic.

As long as the listening is in stereo the comb effect of spaced mics is not an issue. A wide stereo image if widely spaced mics (according to the 1:3 rule, is not all bad, and helps with the issue of a long linear chorus.

I agree that the coloration and any mismatch of the AKGs would not be significant in the grand scheme of things. It would take a golden ear in a studio recording environment to notice. Try them some time when you have a chance in a practice shoot. You have what, 11 months, to sort it out before the next December concert.

I exchange files (both video and audio) with a Mac person using thumb drives (I do Windows PC). Low cost, large capacity, and easy to snail mail. The only issue may be if he can read the files you export depending on his software tools and OS version.
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Old December 24th, 2017, 06:15 PM   #45
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

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Yes, C414s (and other large diaphragm cardioid (LDC) mics) can be used to record choirs, but they are usually not pressed into service for this purpose because LDC's typically have off-axis coloration. (And in your case, the un-matched 414's would militate against their use!)
That's a bummer because that's the closest I've got to a pair of mics that could produce a stereo track. The Røde Stereo Video Mic could do stereo but it's not near the quality of the AKGs. Will have to explore options and tradeoffs. Would like to avoid buying more mics, at least for the time being.

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Even so, at one time I did experiment with my pair of matched 414's on a few recordings. Here is one example featuring one of our state's top high school choirs. The only processing was some RX to eliminate ventilation noise. https://youtu.be/_IbmRg7JCbc
One option might be to pick up another 414 - wouldn't officially be a 'matched pair' in audio parlance but since their quality control is pretty good it might be close enough for Government work. Or should this option have been put in the form of a question?

I liked the curved layout of choir and the acoustic panels.

After watching the video I wound up watching well over an hour of various other choral groups. It was interesting to see how their mic(k)ing setups were and their layouts. In the end I wound up watching one titled (I think) "Vienna Christmas 2008" which was absolutely awesome!!! Everything about it - the singing, the orchestra, the setting, videography, ... was really nice. What a difference between the old buildings then and the new ones today. Sure, the new ones have acoustics aided by computer input but the beauty of the old buildings is really nice.

Talk about mics, they had a lot of them. Tried to read the name on one but my screen resolution wasn't quite there.
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DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Adorama
(800) 223-2500
New York, NY

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Texas Media Systems
(512) 440-1400
Austin, TX

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

VideoGuys
(800) 323-2325
Mineola, NY

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
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