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Recording Brass Band and Choir
Old 11th May 2006
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Talking Recording Brass Band and Choir

Hey all,

I've read quite a few posts about recording Brass Bands and Choirs over the last few years and i shall be recording both in a few weeks time in a concert, for video, and wondered what you guys thought about my initial ideas.

I've done quite a bit of sound work for video before like interviews etc. but nothing quite on this scale! Thanks for your help in advance.

Itโ€™s going to be in a relatively small hall (About 500 seater) with a small balcony running across the back (about 3 seats deep) and around the sides of the hall to the stage front.

The Brass Band are going to be on one side of the stage (Lets say right) and has a few brass soloists that will stand in front of them, slightly aligned left or right, and the choir on the other side. The choir plan to have a vocal soloist and piano, drum kit and bass guitar. At this sort of thing there is also the potential for congregational singing and the band marching in the hall.

My initial plan is to hang 3 Neumann AK 30 capsules (omni, diffuse field, HF boost) across the front of the stage (Left, centre, right) with the rigging going into the balconies either side of the stage. These will act as outriggers to the band and choir.

Then for the main pairs i would have an ORTF set-up on the band behind the conductor and on the choir i would use an AB set-up. These will use AK40 (cardioid) capsules and will be placed across the same rigging as the outriggers, all hanging relatively same distances.

Along with these main mics and outriggers I would use another mic for the band and that would go inside the U shape or over perc (at the back) using another hanging Ak 40 capsule and for the choir just spots on piano, drum kit and bass guitar using AKG C414 ULS for the piano and DK and a Sennheiser MKH40 on the speaker for the Bass. These will be all mounted on floor stands

For the potential of congregational singing and the band marching in the hall i plan to use 2 more AK 30 in the hall hung across the balconies in a similar way to before so they sort of give an even coverage from side to side.

For the vocal soloist and speakers etc. I will use 2 SM58 on floor stands, DIed so a feed can go to me and another to FH.

All these will be feed through multicores (~50m) and specialist cables (in the case for the Neumann Ak going to the KM 100 pre-amps before the multi) to the production room. These feeds will then go into a DDA Series D (16-8-2) or a AD 144 mixer.

There I will do a stereo mix for the video and record multi track onto 2 Tascam DA 88 or 98HR from the direct outs of the mixer.
Doing this lets me tidy up the mix for video in post and gives video a reference to edit from.

Sorry itโ€™s so long I just needed to make sure I tried to get every thing in! If you have any questions or can put me right on anything just let me know.



P.S. I think I have got the right place for this post but if Iโ€™m wrong just move it, Thanks.
Old 12th May 2006
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 15 years

Any suggestions? Anybody?

Old 12th May 2006 | Show parent
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Originally Posted by DJM
Any suggestions? Anybody?

I guess I fit that description...

I personally like to individually mic instruments. So, my opinions should be taken with a grain of salt if you want to record this with a more traditional approach.

How large is the brass band? And will the soloists move to the front when they solo or will they already be positioned in front of the section?

Is the choir section and vocal soloist separate from the piano, bass and drums or are they just next to the choir? Or, is the band center with the choir on one side and the brass section on the other side?

Too many questions; I know but, this helps me get a better picture of your setup.

Room mics hanging off the balcony and stands in the hall should handle the congregational singing and the band marching if applicable.

I like your initial plan. I would also add close up mics especially for the piano, bass and drums but, thatโ€™s only my opinion.

In any event, your proposed mic placements sound right and well planned out to me.

Do not DI the two SM58s. You must use mic splitters. A DI is used to take a HiZ signal and turn it into mic level signal. A simple two way mic level splitter transformer will do the trick well. The direct side could go to your recording setup while the transformer isolated side goes to the FOH desk.

If possible, use two DA98HRs. Their A/Ds sound much better than the DA88 A/Ds.

Remember to place isolation transformers on all interfacing between you, FOH and the video department. Mics, TC, video black, the stereo mix to video all should have transformers inline. I use IL19s for line level inline transformer isolation. Any good quality transformer will work.

I trust the traditional recordist will chime in with their wonderful ideas and enlightenment.
Old 12th May 2006 | Show parent
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 15 years
RE: Recording Brass Band and Choir

The Brass band is about 30-35 players arranged in their usual U shape with their percussion at the back. The brass soloists will just stand in front of them just left or right of the conductor (usually left) just so they can see him. The band will be stage right.
The Choir is about the same in number and is a sort of a traditional choir, stage left. The Piano, Drum Kit and Bass will be probably in front of them slightly to the left. The Piano, drum kit and bass will only be used for the choir and they don’t have any sort of brass section accompanying them.
The Vocal soloist will stand infront of the choir i think and she will only sing with the choir and/ or piano, drum kit and bass.

I’ve been chatting to a few other people about this and we discussed having Wide cardioids for the 3 outriggers in front of the band and choir (Prob the AK 43 capsules) instead of the omni AK 30s. This was talked about as the room probably isn’t going to be great sounding as it used to be an roller skating rink so I feel its going to sound like a big box! I have the room mic for reflections/reverb if I want or I can add some reverb in post. Any thoughts?

With the DA98HR do they have analogue inputs? Like the DA 88? And offer ADAT optical output? That’s how I was thinking of getting it into my computer. I looked on the Tascam website but I couldn’t really understand it lol.
With recording Timecode do I need to record it on a sound track (ie leave me with 7 tracks) or is there a 'Hidden track' it records to? Does this effect how I get it into my computer?

Thanks for your help.

This is the Hall, if it helps


Old 13th May 2006 | Show parent
Lives for gear
roonsbane's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
So am understanding this correctly? The brass band never plays along with the choir? If this is in fact true, than I would treat each group seperately. A full stereo setup for each side of the stage centered in the middle of each group. I personally hate it when they split a stage like this and I need to get some kind of reasonable stereo spread of each group that performs on its own. To me it's strange if this kind of music sounds like a Beatles recording (by the way, I worship Beatles recordings) with the drums fully on the left and the vocals fully on the right or whatever. If they do play together, it will be very hard for them to ballance reasonably for the listeners in the audience. The conductor will have his/her job cut out for them. It will be equally hard for you the recording engineer. Also, if they play together, be very carefull where the tubas are placed since they will often point right at any choir spot mics and dominate that mic. Use figure eights from above the choir with the nulls to the tubas in those situations. Good luck!

Old 13th May 2006 | Show parent
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I donโ€™t particularly like it when they split the stage like this. I would rather have half the concert brass band, and the other choir or something like that.

Thanks for your advice, the only thing puzzling me is this the DA 88 and DA98HR have Balanced analogue inputs at +4dB. If I connect the direct outs of a mixers mic channels (Rated at -2db or 0dB) would this give me a low signal on the multitrack? If I used unbalanced inputs on the DA88 would it give a signal too hot? Do I need something to go in between the mixer and multitrack?

Keep the advice coming.

Old 13th May 2006 | Show parent
Gear Addict
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Just a few points as I'm busy right now.

1. Having recorded quite often in the Regent Hall, Imo, the acoustics are rather poor. Especially with loud sources. The overal sound tends to be short on reverb length with too much in the way of discretely audible reflections. It sounds like quite a "pingy"/small-room like sat in a nasty tizzy larger space - too many loud early/discrete reflections and not enough diffused body of reverb.

2. Using relatively ambiently positioned omnis in there will pick up a lot of the not very nice room and reveal a couple of other nasties - there's several tube train lines running nearby under the hall and you get a lot of LF rumble and subsonic noise from this and the surrounding traffic on the roads in front of and behind the hall. Stand mounted mics can suffer badly from infrasonic noise due to vibration if they're not isolated. (Conventional mic shock mounts don't help much as they don't do enough at that low a frequency - try mounting the stands themselves on big foam rubber/other springy blocks (in addition to the mic's own shockmount) - the mass of the stand on top of the "spring" helps to damp the worst of the VLF vibration). Or use mics which are less sensitive to LF (i.e. mics which roll off naturally at LF) Also, if the restaurant/tea room/kitchen off one side of the hall is working during the concert, you'll hear a lot of noise from them, even if they do close the screens. That probably won't be too bad on the BB stuff as they'll be quite loud, even when playing quietly, but it may become apparent on the quieter sections, particularly on the choral music.

3. The DDA D Series has post fader direct outputs. (Unless it's been modified.) If you're thinking of getting one from RFS, theirs isn't modified (or wasn't when I last used it). If you're trying to do a decent stereo mix whilst optimising levels sent to a multitrack backup, you'll find it rather hard work with a D Series. (I have a few of these desks and used to struggle with using them in exactly this way on the same kind of gigs as you're talking about. I modified a couple of them to have pre-fader direct outs.) The level off the D Series direct outs is rather low when driving DTRS machines on their balanced inputs - if the machines you're using (hiring?) have unbalanced inputs, use them instead. (The DA88 does have unbalanced inputs (on RCA/phono sockets); iirr the DA98HR does not. The 98HR converters are however so much better than the 88's that I'd still be inclined to use it as the preferred option.) The other problem with using post fader direct outs will become apparent when you come to mix the multitracks - every move you made on the live stereo mix will be recorded on the multitracks. A much better bet would be a DDA Interface/FMR series console as it has direct outs which may be switched to be pre-fader, in which setting they also have their own level control and are balanced. They're also smaller and lighter than the D Series(!) - and sonically slightly better. (If you can't find one, PM me - I might be able to lend you something.)

There isn't a huge amount of backstage room at the RH and with a band and choir in there it could get rather cramped. If you haven't already, go and check it out and see if you can grab a bit of space somewhere sensible. Oh, and there's lots of stairs so don't go alone with a load of very big, heavy cases unless you've got yourself a room on the ground floor!

And to echo the advice already given - isolate everything you're sharing with anyone else, use GOOD transformer splitters or isolators. Always good practice but especially given that the RH is an old building and the AC supply, though modern and well installed, is not really designed for large scale audio setups - the potential (sic) for problems in linking gear between one part of the hall and another is quite high!
Old 13th May 2006 | Show parent
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Thanks for your words of warning and advice

I haven’t got a chance to go there before the concert so I have based my ideas on the photos on their website.

From what you have said if I use Neumann AK45 instead of AK 40 would that improve getting rid of the LF? I really want to use the Neumann capsules as it is for video. I don’t want to stick up 414s or anything like that.

In terms of the omnis in the hall again changing these to the AK45 would that help? Would I need to change the outriggers (currently AK43) to the AK 45??

It sounds a bit of a nightmare hall lol

The DDA D was RFS so I may stay clear of that. What do you think about the AD 144?? Would that be any use for stereo mix and multitrack??



I've PMed you 0VU.
Old 13th May 2006 | Show parent
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 15 years

Do Regent Hall have any rigging points higher up than the balconies, sort of 2/3 meters out from the stage, like a lighting grid or something?

And can you really fit a band and choir on that stage side by side? It doesn't look big enough.

Thanks for your help.

๐Ÿ“ Reply

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