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Huge show to record ... could do with advise
Old 13th May 2003
Lives for gear
🎧 15 years
Huge show to record ... could do with advise


I'm looking at recording an artist with a full orchestra and 100 piece choir, plus backing singers and a rhythm section. It will be for TV and Video and will be in a concert hall with about 1000 people seated. It will be edited and mixed afterwards.
The main vocal and the gospel backing singers will be on radio mics. My main fear is that there will be a lot of spill from the vocals through the pa onto the orchestra's mics. To make matters even worse, they are planning on putting the orchestra down in front of the stage for tv reasons.
Last time I did anything simular to this was with twenty strings and we put small B&Ks or sonys under the bridge of the violins. Even at that there was mucho spill. Of course, spill is only a problem is something goes wrong (vocal tuning for instance).

Anyone ever done anything like this? I could do with advise.

Old 13th May 2003
Lives for gear
🎧 15 years
How important are the looks of this gig? Also, how much control of the PA will you have?

I do a lot of shows like this and the PA makes or breaks the final product. If you have somebody sensitive enough running FOH, it usually isn't a problem.

I usually place microphones on stands inside the strings with an array in front of the ensemble (like a decca tree with wides).

A usual studio/pops setup:

3-4 mics for each section of strings. 1 must be on the principal chair.

1 mic per section of woodwinds (4 mics total).
1 mic per sax (or sometimes per section - 3 mics total)
2 per section on some brass (2 on the trumpets, 2 on the bones)
1 tuba, 4 horns
no more than 4 on the kit
2 on the piano
1 on the harp
1 mic and 1 tube direct on the bass
2-4 on the percussion section (as needed)
3-5 on the choir depending on the size of the ensemble.
2-4 on the audience (rear facing, usually at the sides of the stage)

I'm not a fan of placing mics on the string players as I don't think it is a particularly realistic representation of what the instrument sounds like. When you get mics a couple feet over the instruments, you'll get a much better string sound. The majority of the orchestral sound, though, comes from the array at the front of the ensemble.

The only time vocal spill really bothers me is when the PA doesn't sound particularly good. If your speakers are placed far enough out, the system is tuned well, and you have reasonable levels coming out of the stacks, you shouldn't have major problems.

Good luck and have fun. I love doing shows like this.

Old 18th May 2003
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Excellent explanation, Ben!


Can you add plexiglas barriers to help with the vocal spill from the PA? I usually hate plexiglas barriers very close to the instruments (drums especially). Strategically placed may do the trick, do to the fact they plan to put the orchestra in front of the stage and between the PA speakers.

I would place extra mics over the 100 voice choir and ask the choir director to position their best singers under them. You can adjust the over all blend between the clams and sweet sounds. It definitely will help the post production. It will also help the PA side by mixing out the clams (in the first place) for better sounding spill (into the orchestra) and stuff.
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