- Choir Microphone Reviews
- How to Mic A Choir
In the world of recording, some instruments and vocals are easier to record than others. Sometimes a real challenge crops up such as micing up a choir. Whether you are a professional audio engineer or just want to record your church choir (or hook them up to a PA system) there are some products better than others for doing so. In this article, we look at the best microphones for choirs and what styles of mic make for good choir recordings and live performances.
Mic selection is nothing short of vital in order to get the best sound. The challenge comes from the fact that there are many different sources of audio from all of the different voices making up a choir. On top of this, they are all standing in different places. If you just put a microphone at the front of a choir, you are unlikely to hear anything from the people in the back, and a beautiful church or children’s choir will suddenly sound uneven. The right microphones and the right positioning will make this process much easier.
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Choir Microphone Reviews
Shure CVO-B/C Overhead Condenser Microphone
Name pretty much any type of microphone from choir mic to podcast mic, there will likely be an offering from Shure. Their range of microphones is nothing short of iconic, and sure enough, they have a brilliant product for micing up a choir.
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These are often defined as centraverse microphones. They are normally hanged from high above, there are specific stands which can do this or alternatively they can be attached to the ceiling or used on an ordinary mic stand.
Why does the CVO-B/C work so well for choirs?
- The frequency response of the mic is designed to pick up sounds from ensembles, groups and of course choirs in a school, church or similar situation.
- It has a rugged design and is very hard wearing, this is something we’ve come to expect from Shure as they continually offer quality.
- CommShield Technology prevents radio frequency interference, something that has become increasingly likely with the growth of smartphones. This is the annoying ‘beeping’ noise you sometimes hear that will totally ruin a recording. This is something that this mic does a wonderful job of stopping.
- Comes in black and white to suit the decor of the room in which you’re recording (or just whichever you prefer).
- Comes with a 25 foot long cable, suitable for most applications.
It is very hard to argue with these features, and the even better news is that this microphone isn’t even particularly expensive when it comes to choir mics. This is great if you need multiple mics. One microphone is probably suitable for a small children’s choir or similar, but a large church or religious choir will probably require multiples. This model does require phantom power and therefore should be run into a mixing desk or audio interface. Comes with our top recommendation, especially at this sort of price range.
Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Microphone
The idea behind using a matched pair is slightly different to a hanging microphone, matched pairs are often used for recording from above, and from two different angles so that they can get a fuller recording and stereo array – this makes them popular for drum overheads and choirs too!
The Rode M5 matched pair is one of the more affordable on the market. The thinking behind a matched pair is that both have come off the production line one after the other and are designed to be identical for sound reproduction. This often drives up the price, and they can run into the thousands but Rode, a great mic manufacturer, have managed to create something great without a huge price tag.
These mics are small half inch cardioid pickup designs, they offer next to no noise and a wide range of frequencies perfect for both instruments and voices. The Australian manufacturers have won awards for the NT5 design that is something of a more elite version of this mic. As it is a matched pair, it ships with a certificate which verifies the fact that they have been manufactured together and have less than 1dB sensitivity between the mics.
If you are looking for stereo recordings and mics you can set up on a standard mic stand then the M5s are a great choice. If budget is no issue, the NT5s are even more commendable and offer immense audio clarity. Rode have made their own videos showing you how crisp and clear recordings are simple to achieve here:
Audio-Technica PRO 45 ProPoint Cardioid Condenser Hanging Microphone
An alternative hanging microphone, this time from Audio-Technica. It is what is called a high SPL microphone, meaning it is one of the best mics at handling a lot of volume coming at it without distorting. This is something that is great for choirs as you often have a lot of voices at once. It has also made the AT Pro 45 popular for orchestral uses too.
A permanently attached 25 foot cable is also included, along with the gooseneck style adapter meaning you can point this at the exact section you wish. Available in black and white, this microphone has inbuilt electronics which means it doesn’t require a power source from elsewhere. This is a really impressive competitor for the Shure microphone already mentioned and is well worth a look if a hanging microphone is something you are in the market for.
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Audio-Technica is a brand that we tend to be very impressed with as they continue to grow as a manufacturer of audio products.
Mic Features We’ve Judged Our Recommendations On
There are certain microphones on offer from some of the top manufacturers which are designed specifically for choirs and ensembles. These often have the following features.
- “Hanging” design. Not all, but many of the choir mics on the market are designed to be hung from above. This is a great way to ensure a well-rounded sound and make the most of the choir.
- Long cables. Of course if your microphone is going to be hanging, or even if it isn’t, you are likely to need a long cable to run from your microphone to your mixer, recording setup or PA system.
- Cardioid pickup patterns (or similar). These mics will do a better job of rejecting the audio coming from behind the microphone. Often, there will be an audience, and this can mean unwanted noise.
- Special features. As technology improves we are beginning to see more and more features. Some that we have seen included in microphones for choirs are feedback rejection and RF filtering to counter interference from cellular devices and mobile phones.
How to Mic A Choir
Why Mic from Above?
The ‘from above’ technique is nothing short of vital. It is a simple concept. if you place the microphone in front of the first row of your choir, they are going to be much louder than the others. This method of micing up will also mean that the rows behind have their audio ‘blocked’ and become much quieter. This means all those hours of practice and alchemy to get the perfect choir sound are useless. Using a microphone from above (but still pointed at the choir) will help to eliminate this blocking effect and get an even sound from the whole choir.
Think of it like watering a bed of plants. Spray them from the front and the front plants get all the water, directly above in the middle and only the back, but above the first row of plants, tilted towards the whole flowerbed is your best bet. The same principal applies.
Using Multiple Mics for Choirs
I am personally from the school of thought that there is no such thing as too many microphones. However, you don’t always need a huge amount of mics to get the job done. Two microphones at least is best for ensuring a thorough recording, and the more members your choir has, the more microphones you need. Up to 10 people can probably recorded or broadcasted with one mic, and maybe more, but the more mics you can set up the more choice you have, and the more you can do with the recording (or live audio) you end up with.
Getting multiple choir mics on stands sometimes requires a bit of thinking about the room and the space you have. Whether you can hang the microphones from the ceiling or require extra tall mic stands to do the job.
A choir is one of the more difficult things to get right for recording or hooking up to a speaker or live PA. It is nowhere near as simple as a single singer or audio source.
Following the rules we’ve set out above, and using a microphone which is recommended for choirs will mean that you have a big advantage. Even if you are a member of the choir and not a professional audio engineer then good recordings are still achievable.