Crown Audio by Harman

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Miking a classical music ensemble

I am interested in purchasing some of your microphones for recording the following:
Pipe organ, orchestra, choir, grand piano, singer. I'd be recording some or all of these sources at the same time. Which microphones I should use and how should I set them up?
Richard Christie Jr,

Reply: I'd recommend a matched pair of CM-700MP cardioid condenser microphones for the organ, orchestra, and choir (three pairs total). Use a single CM-700 spot mic on the grand piano and another on the singer. Here are some suggested starting mic positions:

Stereo mic technique: Two CM-700MP mics angled 90 degrees apart, with the grilles spaced 10 to 11 inches horizontally. Put the mics on a stereo bar, and mount the bar on a telescoping tripod mic stand.

Orchestra: 14 feet up and 12 feet from the front row.
Pipe organ: 14 feet up and 20 to 30 feet away.
Choir: 9 feet up and 12 feet from the front row. If the choir is recorded at the same time as an orchestra, start with the choir mics about 9 feet away and add convolution reverb if necessary.
Grand piano spot mic: 6 feet up and 3 feet away.
Singer spot mic: Chest height aiming at the mouth, 1 to 2 feet away, with a foam or hoop-type pop filter.

If the monitored sound of the organ, orchestra or choir is too distant and reverberant, move the mics closer. If the monitored sound is too close and dry, move the mics farther.

If possible, have the singer face the orchestra, and aim the "dead" rear of the singer's mic at the orchestra to reduce phase interference and improve isolation. Generally, phase interference between close and distant mics is not a serious problem if the spectrum and level picked up by the close and distant mics are different.

As for recording equipment, I'd recommend a multitrack hard-drive recorder such as the Alesis HD24XR. You'd also need a good mixer with at least 8 direct outs or insert sends to feed the multitrack recorder.

After the session you can mix the tracks back in your studio over a good monitoring system. Suggested starting EQ for the CM-700 is +3 dB at 80 Hz, -3 dB at 6 kHz and +2 dB at 15 kHz. Use as few mics as possible in the mix. Sometimes the orchestra mics alone can pick up a good balance of everything.

Some equipment links are below.
Stereo mic bar (holds two mics for stereo on a single mic stand):

Shure telescoping mic stand (expensive but excellent for the purpose):


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