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Micing the Choir

Q&A - by - November 16, 2010 - 18:51 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

How can I mic our choir so we can hear them? We are hearing the orchastra / band through the choir mics and if we turn up the choir any more we get feedback. We currently have six AKG CK47 mics suspended above the choirloft. Do we need new mics?

… I wanted to talk through a couple of the issues and my thoughts on the solution of your choir mic problem. Your setup and arrangement is very similar to what we had at High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin where I was on staff and we battled with some of the same issues.

1) The AKG CK-31 capsules would be better than the current CK-47 capsules, but I am not convinced they would really solve your problem. They don’t have the “reach” or sensitivity I think you need. There are a couple other issues also.

2) You are only using the center 4 mics, correct? For the size of choir indicated by your stage arrangement this should be enough. Having too many mics causes several issues – LOWER gain before feedback (the system feeds back sooner), MORE stage noise amplified (going to hear more of the orchestra), and LOWER quality choir as more voices are in the “overlap” spacing between mics, resulting in more phasing peaks and valleys in the overall sound (swishing sounds).

3) The choir looks to be too spread out to effectively mic and amplify. This is causing the gains to be cranked up to pick up the spread out people, which is then picking up more orchestra. The closer together the choir members can be, the better they can hear themselves as a whole, and the better the mics can pick up the choir, making a better choir sound. I have attached an advertisement for an Audix choir mic ( http://mediaartsdad.com/docs/notes022.pdf )- Notice how tightly packed the choir is – this is the way to get great sounding choir over a fairly loud stage. (and the mics don’t have to be Audix and don’t have to be on stands). If you will notice on almost any video / TV captured service where they have a large choir and have good sound, the choir is quite packed in together. Take a look at the videos of Hillsong, their choir isn’t just shoulder to shoulder, but actually people are turned 45 degrees and they are stacked on top of each other – one of the reasons is so they can get a good strong choir sound over their rather loud stage and without a lot of extra room noise. This is just the physical limits of what acoustics, microphones and sound waves can do.

4) Mic Placement: the Audix ad attached has what most people consider good placement for choir mics. I personally like them a little closer to the front row and a little lower (about even with the back row) for three rows of people on a loud stage. This allows the mic to be aimed between the second and third row, putting the orchestra more in the dead spot of the mic.

5) You might consider using the mics on sticks rather than suspended above. There are good reasons for both methods – The floor stands are much more flexible for adjusting with a changing setup and number of people. Suspended mics don’t get accidentally moved or mis-aimed. Floor mics don’t have a cable making a shadow in your video projection (even more important with front projection), Suspended mics don’t have the stand in front of people (although with the micro-boom stands, there isn’t much there.)

6) As far as which mic to use – There are several options: At High Pointe in Austin I use an Earthworks mic that is a full sized mic and has given me wonderful results. In other installs I have used the Earthworks hanging choir mics, the Audix micro-boom mic and several other mic options with almost as good results. Having a high sensitivity, high quality (low handling noise, low self noise, flat response, good off axis response) directional microphone helps a lot.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this, would love to help you get the best out of your choir.


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