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How to mic a church performance? (Read 3395 times)

Offline Bob

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How to mic a church performance?
« on: September 22, 2012, 10:18:48 PM »
Piano up front.  Congregation/audience in the pews.  Large space.  Maybe a choir up front, maybe not.

And one mic, nothing fancy.  Good enough to get an honest perspective from one place, but not requiring any editing afterward.

Where do you put that mic?  The only place I'm thinking of is the front, across from the piano.

Agree/disagree?  Other thoughts? 
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline iansinclair

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 12:19:21 AM »
Oh boy... VERY tricky.  Is the congregation/audience singing?  Or is this a performance.  Makes a difference.

Your problem is going to be balance and ambience.  If it is just piano alone, I'd treat it as I would any piano recording -- the mike perhaps 5 to 7 feet from the piano, on the right (it is a grand?) and about mid length.  For starters.  However, if you have choir and piano, you are going to have to experiment to get the balance right both between piano and choir (and among the voices of the choir) and with relationship to hall ambience.  You may find life is easier if the mike is raised about half way to the roof. 

If you have the congregation singing as well... I'd go high, and pretty close to the choir and piano. 
Ian

Offline Bob

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #2 on: September 23, 2012, 12:35:09 AM »
Usual service.  Yes, audience sings.

Yes, higher up might be good.  Or just possible.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #3 on: September 25, 2012, 01:43:09 AM »
I have recording experience.

How resonant is the room?  If very resonant: mic closer.  If dry, mic farther.
The easiest way to figure where to place the mic is to listen to someone else play the piano and move around for the sweet spot.  Then set the mic there.  Unfortunately, once there are lots of audience members, it's no longer the sweet spot.  You'll probably have to move it a bit closer.


Offline Bob

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #4 on: September 25, 2012, 03:23:23 AM »
Resonance I didn't notice.  I was on the piano.  It must not be too echoey. 

You add recordings over several services with the audience probably changing positions each time.  Just to make it easier.

Souds like it's more work than it's worth unless an unbalanced recording is ok.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #5 on: September 25, 2012, 04:02:58 AM »
Is the lid up or down when you play?  This is a huge factor in recording in large cavernous spaces.  If it's down, it won't echo.  But when it's up, you'll know immediately.  You should be able to tell just walking into the room if your steps reverberate.

Offline quantum

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #6 on: September 25, 2012, 06:40:38 AM »
Do you know specifically what mic you will be using?  Model number?  The answer to this can give more specific answers to the best placement.  Not all mics can be used in the same manner.  


To give a more detailed description of the rooms reverb properties: Play a loud chord on the piano of short duration.  Count the number of seconds you hear reverberation from the time you letoff the keys to the time the ambient sound has reached its noise floor. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline Bob

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #7 on: September 25, 2012, 11:22:02 PM »
Lid up or down would be my choice.  I'm thinking lid up, at least halfway.

It's a professional mic.  I think it picks up generally in one direction, a V shape.  Something else to consider.


I'm just thinking now... The set up I consider "honest."  It records how a listener would hear things.  There's a difference here of expecting a standard recording or something where the performers are on stage.  But that's not the case here.  You can get the audio experience of someone standing in a certain place though.  If there was a way to take a more circular group of people and a piano and transform it into them sounding like they're on a stage, that wouldn't be what the situation really was, ie dishonest/false.  And if they do want that, then they'll have to move and adjust for the purpose of making a better recording.  ... As in have everyone face the same way and move the piano to the side or middle of the audience.  Then the sound is all moving in the same direction.  My mind keeps trying to change a service set up into a stage set up.  There are other recording environments that just don't create a great recording.  Marching bands sound pretty crappy on the recordings I've heard.  Far different from actually being there.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline quantum

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #8 on: September 26, 2012, 12:06:30 AM »
It's a professional mic.  I think it picks up generally in one direction, a V shape.  Something else to consider.

Can you be even more specific?  "Professional mic" is a very wide reaching term.  There are many types of professional mics.  Easiest thing for you to do is to obtain the brand and model number.  We can grab the specs of that mic from there.  


With a one mic setup for such a large sound source, a listener perspective is a good possibility.  However, as I understand it, you have a congregation that is also participating.  That means from the perspective of a person in the "audience," that person is also in the middle of a sound source.  I've done many church recordings, and from my experience placing the mic in or too near the congregation can yield emphasis on sounds you may not want emphasized.  

Watch this video and listen carefully to the voices and sounds that are prominent.  This mic is in the congregation.  



Now that organ was using some of its loudest stops, especially for the introduction.  But notice what else you hear.  


I've found that you can get good results from a mic in the middle of a congregation, if you place it high up.  8 feet or higher from the floor seems to be a good starting point. 

Regarding lid up vs. lid down.  Unless you were recording for the sole purpose of making a recording, adjust the lid to suit the musicians and not the recording.  If the choir needs full lid, then that is what you do, regardless if it is optimal or not for the recording - musicians and the live sound have priority. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline iansinclair

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #9 on: September 26, 2012, 08:13:00 PM »
If the mic really is a "V" shape (better known as a "cardioid" response) you have many more options.  These things pick up much better directly ahead, but they also pick up symmetrically from the sides, and much less -- if at all -- from the back.  This allows you, if the mic is set fairly high over the congregation, a few pews back in the church, to aim the mic more or less off vertical, aimed more or less at the choir and the piano.  The more vertical (and higher) you have it set, the more congregation you will get).  The more horizontal, the more choir and piano.  Perhaps more to the point, the congregation you get with it set aiming at the choir will tend to be the folks in front -- who are much more likely to be at least approximately with the choir and the piano, instead of half a beat behind...
Ian

Offline Bob

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #10 on: September 26, 2012, 11:15:24 PM »
X/Y Stereo field mic.   I think it's two mics in one.  Made that way so the spacing doesn't have to be a factor.  You just set the mic up.  Simple.

Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline quantum

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #11 on: September 27, 2012, 10:19:21 AM »
So you have something like an X/Y stereo cardioid fixed at 90 degrees. 

Is it this?
http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wired_mics/5bbed15003fe56a2/index.html

Such things are really two mics in one body.  You will have stereo, and thus will be recording to two channels. 

Try what Ian has suggested.  Do experiment, don't leave it to a single position.  Let your ears tell you what is the best position, and adjust.  You could work out a balance between choir/piano and congregation by manipulating the angle of the mic. 

If it is cardioid, it will tend to pick up sounds in front of it, while rejecting sounds behind it.  In that case, pointing it in the general direction of the choir/piano will give you direct sound from those sources.
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline Bob

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Re: How to mic a church performance?
«Reply #12 on: September 28, 2012, 01:18:52 AM »
It might be.  I can't say specifically in case someone sees it and realizes my secrete identity here.

I think I've got enough ideas from here.  Thanks.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."