Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

Recording Tips: What kind of Microphones should I use?

Here is a compilation of the information I received about microphones.
Thanks to all who replied.

I use the following stereo microphone with my Sony Professional walkman:

Sony ECM-959A

The mike has a choice of 90 or 120 degree separation. I bought it a
couple of
years ago for about $250. I've been extremely pleased with the results
recording choral music.

Kathryn Schneider, J.D.
Musical Director, The City Bar Chorus
New York City

To record a performance that I'm giving this weekend I've come up with a

rather successful mix of microphones. I'm using two Peavy
Dynamics aimed toward the upper left and upper right corners of the
choir, and
an Audio Technica condenser in the center with a plexiglass screen
behind the
mic stand. The plexiglass helps to shield the mics from noise out in
and to focus sound on the mics that would otherwise pass by. You can
even use
that kind of set up for performances as the plexiglass becomes almost
invisible from the other side.

Hope this helps,

Joseph A. Farrar
Director of Music
Munholland United Methodist Church
New Orleans, Louisiana


AKG C1000 Around $180 at Sam Ash.
Shure Sm81


Shure SM-81 has worked well for us in seemingly ALL applications.


Two great options!

If money is not a concern, You could go for the AKG 414. A great mic!

If money is a concern, try the AudioTechnica 4033. It sounds very good
and is about a third to half the cost of the AKG 414.

Best of Luck!

David V. Hinck
Director or Choirs
Madison High School


Just a quick briefing on recording mics.
For recording the condenser mic is preferred over the dynamic. Both use
type of magnetic pickup for sound transfer but the condenser is "live"
that the magnetic field is boosted by an electric signal (phantom
Dynamics are fine for up close micing of instruments or solo voice but
the choral ensemble the condenser is preferred for its area coverage.
Which brings up another point. The field of a microphone. There are
main fields. They include cardioid, figure eight, and omni directional.
The cardioid goes straight out in cone like fashion from it's source.
figure eight goes straight out and straight behind. The omni
creates a circle of coverage in all directions stemming from it's
Backward forward up and down equally. If you have a quality acoustic
environment (hall, cathedral, etc.) the "omni" is preferred. The idea
that it picks up the choir and the resonance in the hall as well. The
cardioid will make the choir sound dry and one dimensional (good for
diagnosis of rehearsals). The omni picks up the resonant imaging
(reverberation) that a hall creates in the choral sound by spreading
pattern in all ways.
If my high school budget allowed I would go for this set up. A matched
pair (for stereo imaging) of Audio Technica AT 4050/CMS. They have the
ability to switch over the three patterns and have a gold plated magnet
extra sensitivity. They run $800 each. For a more cost effective
look into the AKG's or CAD products still good mics in the $300-$500
range. If you have a thick budget my recording friend (Mike...who has
passed this invaluable recording knowledge on to me) recommends B&K
(about $2500 each). You should also invest in a good (small) mixer
or the like) and a DAT machine.
Quick Tips. Think of your microphone as a pair of ears. They pickup
sound much like ears do and placement of microphones is as important as
quality of the mic you're using. Have and assistant direct the choir
walk around the hall. Chances are fifteen to twenty-five feet back
(depending on hall size) is usually good. Mics should be spread about
fourteen inches apart. This however is not a law. Everyone's ideal
sound is different. The best way of finding that "sweet spot" is to
around in the vicinity and listen.

Lastly, shop by mail order. The catalog folks have more volume and can
give you the best prices. Try Musicans friend (on the WWW), Musicians
emporium, or pro stage and sound. Good luck.

Todd Henry
WWCHS Director of Choral Activities


I have had excellent sucess with several mic systems in recording choral

music. The choice is heavily influenced by your budget. My mic of
choice is
the Crown PZM system. I have two freestanding (floor mounted) PZM30D's
and my
clients love the sound they produce. It has very good "reach" and a
response when used on the floor or taped to a wall. Bass response is
excellent and because of the boundary effect, my recordings are mono
compatible. I also use the stereo version, the SASS-P MkII (also
Although not quite as smooth as the 30D's the sound is still excellent
and it
mounts two pickups in a stereo pattern on one mic stand. Also, it can
be used
with either phantom power or two internal standard 9 volt batteries.

Another good (and reasonably priced) mic is Crown's CM700. They are
from Full Compass Systems (1-800-356-5844, ask for Vicky Harper) for a
over $200 apiece.

Naturally, the large diaphram ($$$) are excellent, however, CAD makes
interesting models, including a cardiod model CAD 100 for around $250
(discounted, see Full Compass above)

Good luck anplease let me know how you fare.


Larry Phillips
the electricear
New Orleans, LA


Crown Stereo Ambient Sound System Mark II - Looks like Darth Vader and
better than anything else for live recordings.


Jon Hurty, D.M.A.
Director of Choral Activities
Augustana College
639-38th Street, Rock Island, Illinois 61201

on June 9, 2002 10:00pm
I use a combination of some of the aformentioned mics. I "fly" (wooden 12"x 8" boards that attach to a boom
stand, with mic attached) depending on size of ensemble, 2 or 4 Crown PZM's in the 15-25 foot range about
8-10 feet high, to get an overall sense of the ensemble. When I do this however, I find that beacause of the
maturity of voices, the high school men get lost in the mix.I then place an AKG414 nearer the choir
(men's section if possible) to help the bottom end.
To eq the whole mess, I roll off the lows on the PZMs especially if we're in a church. A few good mic preamps
really help, but aren't necessary if you can get enough gain. I've been very satisfied with a number of digital
recordings we have done this way. And for my ear, it gives me the most natural sounding recording in a good
on September 3, 2002 10:00pm
If I were on a budget I would not hesitate to recommend anything in the Shure KSM series of condenser mics.

These other suggestions are not especially light on the bank account but they represent cutting edge technology for high quality voice or instrument recording. You won't be disappointed.

Try a stereo pair of Sennheiser MKH 40's (about $1200.00 each)

Anything from Royer Labs.

Earthworks QTC 1's ( warning...EXTREMLEY open clean omni mic, will pick up everything in a room,good and bad!!! Traffic, Ac, etc)

Also, Earthworks makes a fine microphone pre-amplifier. Difficult to beat at twice the price!!!