So, I think I had the most amount of people in the studio at once (aside from the occasional party).
A choir came in (15 people) for an album I am working on. I have previously recorded choirs before here, but they were smaller groups so I had to do things differently. Previously I used a regular floor monitor and positioned a M/S rig to catch a horse-shoe pickup pattern. At that time, I had cupped the choir into a single line “U”. Had a damper behind the null of the M/S setup so cut some of the floor monitor, boxed the monitor in with gobos so sound radiation would be one direction and positioned the cloud and other absorbers behind the choir to catch the monitor spill so I could use 2 spaced cardioid pencils for room sound. That was the another time…it worked great with the exception that the conductor of that time wanted to crank the monitor and I had to keep cutting it due to spill. fast forward to this week…
The choir this week was bigger… I thought it would be too big to M/S record (stability issues due to singer placement) and uncomfortable to make a “U” formation with that many people… hind sight, maybe not. I wanted to try something different anyway… for a different sound and ability… so I bought another cue system to start. I got a Rolls RA62c and 4 more pairs of headphones (sennheiser HD201s). The Rolls piece is pretty cool having a “More Me” blend ability, but it wasn’t needed for this session. I disassembled all the new cans to have single cups and my 202s’ cups just pop off anyway from the headband. I went for a single-ear-cup approach per singer. I told the conductor and lead what I was doing and they were actually excited to have ear-pieces. Other sets of headphones that couldn’t easily be disassembled were used too. Doing the single-cup saved me some bucks and another cue station. I find singers are better with one cup singing anyway, so for me, it was win-win.
Single Cup Cans
Now, off to the mic placement and choices:
I chose spaced pair with an overhead omni. I figured the room would be so full of sound the omni would be great and the cardioids would get the direct. For the cardioids, I chose Rode K2s. I have them loaded with NOS telefunkens and knew the spl level would add great harmonics to the sound when the choir really started belting it out. I elevated these at head level (about 5’) spaced about 6’ apart and 6’ in front of the choir.
Here is the cool thing about these mics: The K2 is a multi pattern mic with an adjustable dial. You can adjust from fig 8 to cardioid to omni. I used this in order to get uniform level when the mics were panned hard left and hard right. What I did was face the mic holding a tone generator in my phone and moved from left to right, recorded it and kept adjusting the dial position from cardioid to omni till the level remained the same as I moved across the the area where the choir would be. This was to insure the center of the choir’s level would be the same when the panning was done. The omni I used was a 4049 up at 9’ for the room placed between the cardioids to avoid image shift when it is added in the mix.
In front of the choir, behind the mics was a 4’ tall by 9’ wide gobo to catch the sound so it wouldn’t reflect off the bricks. The K2s can be weird with early reflections and I didn’t want a stone reflection point behind them. It may not have even mattered but I did it anyway. It looked cool too!
Wall of Gobo
For preamps, I chose TMP8s for everything due to the transformers and the exceptionally low noise floor. Again, with these, they add harmonics too when driven and are clean when padded and not pushed. The harmonics add more-so to the low/low mids whereas the rodes with the tele tubes hit the mid to highs with silk.
It sounded stellar. When I have a chance, I will post a sample if I am allowed to. It isn’t my music but I wanted to share the experience with y’all. It was a fun, exceptional time.
That all. Have a great weekend.
NOTE ON THIS RECORDING TECHNIQUE:
This recording is not a song that is solely choir. The choir sits in a mix with a band. You would usually go with a more transparent signal chain if you were recording solely a choir song.