Recording Clarion University Chamber Singers

We are excited to say that we will be recording the Clarion University Chamber Singers again this year on Thursday 10/22/2015. We talked with the chamber music director and he informed us that we will only be recording the voices this year so we won’t have to record any accompaniment piano. They have added many male singers to the group this year and they now have 21 total singers. Last year they only had 4 men and this year they have 9 so the sound recording should end up fuller in the low end range. We are going through our mobile recording studio checklist today to make sure we have all the gear needed to record them at their University.

Chamber Recording Room

I must admit that the Clarion University Chamber Singers practice room is an awesome room to record in. The ceilings are extremely high and the room is very spacious so we don’t have to worry about sound reflections and phase cancellation due to the reflections.  They have steps in the practice room but they like to practice in a semi circle and feel they sound best when they are in a ARC, side by side with their harmony counterparts.

Chamber Singers Recording Techniques

The recording turned out great last year and I suppose that is why they called us to record them again this year, but after tons of research over the past 6 months, we plan on using a slightly different recording technique to capture them this year. They were in a “perfect circle” last year and we used 2 very good condenser microphones in an X/Y position high above the signers. This was OK but some of the singers that were not in the line of fire of the X/Y polar position were not in the mix as well as the rest of the singers. So, what will we do to make it better this year?

We are going to record them in a Semi-Circle (slight Circular Arc) position this year. When you study the polar patterns of uni directional X/Y microphones you realize there is a small radius that gets missed in the polar patter. I will be sure to put a picture up so that you can see exactly what I am talking about. Anyway, using the semi-cirle (Circular Arc) and placing the singers distance within the appropriate polar pattern that our main Omni microphone can capture will allow us to capture all the singers equally this year. See below, but we will also use M+S uni directional side mic’ing or X/Y and set them up appropriately to capture the sides and stereo field as well. A general rule to remember is using a great condenser mic in omni mode then 2 mid side mics to capture the stereo field, at least 5 feet away from the omni mic in the middle.

Microphone Setup

Sometimes Less is More: If you have the correct Mic or Mic’s for the job having less microphones can help prevent issues such as phase cancellation. It is suggested by professionals in the music recording industry that you only need 1 microphone for up to 21 singers. This is providing you have the exact right mic for the job, you stage them on steps correctly, and you adjust the height and angle of the mic exact. Keep in mind that you would want to use a great condensor mic that is Omni for this task.

Our Microphone Setup for this year: We were just informed the Chamber Singers have been practicing in a Semi-Circle this year so we will change our recording method to accommodate them. The singers will be flat on the floor in a Semi-Circle and not on staging steps. We used our best condenser mic in Omni position in the back of the chamber room and had it facing directly at the middle of the singers semi-circle. We used 2 uni directional condenser mics in the X/Y position, at 90 degree angles, facing the mid-side of the singers on each side respectively. We positioned the X/Y mics as close as we could get while keeping the semi-circle singers within our microphones X/Y radius that we could capture.

We used plugins to “align vocal tracks” and prevent phase cancellation if there is any due to using 3 microphones for this project.

We will be sure to post audio samples of the final product once we complete the project!