Microphone Techniques for Choirs

Using microphones for sound reinforcement of choirs in Houses of Worship is a challenging & often misunderstood task. There are a few basic rules that will help you get the most out of your sound reinforcement system &your choir.

Microphone Type

When using microphones to reinforce a choir, the best choice is a good quality cardioid or super cardioid, condenser microphone. Condenser microphones use a membrane placed between two capacitor plates to transfer sound waves into electrical energy. The diaphragm has less mass than a dynamic microphone. This makes them more sensitive & more responsive to higher frequencies than dynamic microphones.

There are many quality stand mounted, overhead or integrated microphone/stand combination condenser microphones to choose from. Make sure you use the best quality units your budget will allow.

Cardioid and super cardioid (think of a rounded, heart shape around the capsule of the mic) pickup patterns help reduce sound pickup from the backside of the microphone. Super cardioid pickup patterns are even tighter than cardioid and are an excellent choice when using multiple microphones.

How Many Microphones?

The simple answer is as few as possible. The more microphones the greater the chance for feedback (that havoc wreaking squeal we have all heard, generally at the most inopportune time). A large number of microphones also increases the chance of comb-filters & makes it harder for the sound engineer to blend the sound.

A single, high quality condenser microphone should be able to cover a 15–20 person choir arranged 10 feet wide & 3 rows deep. Two or three microphones should be able handle a 30–45 person choir. Room characteristics & sound system type will affect any type of microphone use, choir micing especially.

Always remember to turn down any microphones that are not in use.

Microphone Placement

The general rule for microphone placement on a choir is 2–3 feet in front of the choir with the microphone element aimed at the back row. The height should be no more than 2–3 feet above the highest row of the choir.

For multiple microphones, always remember the 3 to 1 rule. The distance between microphones should be approximately three times the distance between individual mics and the sound source. This helps with the blending of overall sound as well as helping to eliminate comb filtering (the hollow sound that results from phase cancellation). When two or more microphones pick up the same sound at different times, some frequencies will cancel out& some will be amplified greater, creating a frequency response that looks something like an inverted comb. By adhering to the 3 to 1 rule, you can reduce the chance of comb filters.

In Conclusion

These basic rules for micing a choir will help you get the best sound when reinforcing a choir.

If you:

1) Use quality microphones

2) Use the minimum number of microphones possible

3) Turn off unused microphones

4) Use proper microphone placement

5) Don’t over amplify the choir

6) Mix the choir by placement of choir members, not the mixing console

You will be on your way to quality sound reinforcement of your choir. There are a myriad of other factors that can affect the way your choir sounds: Acoustics of the room, shape of the choir area, quality of sound equipment are but a few.

If you have issues with the acoustics, sound, video or control at your House of Worship, Diversified Design Group, Inc. would love to help. Contact Us