Are Condenser Mics Good For Choirs?

Condenser microphones are the widely known microphone type for capturing vocals. Most people that work in audio production work that involves getting a clean and flat vocal signal almost always go for this type of microphone.

With that said, can a condenser mic be the appropriate microphone for a choir?

In this post I’m going to answer this interesting question that I recently found in my emails. If you have a similar question as well, I believe you’ve stumble upon the right post.

With that said, lets jump right into it.

Are condenser mics good for choirs?

The two best condenser microphones for choirs are mics with the cardioid or super-cardioid polar pattern.

These polar patterns reject feedback, yet they have a reasonably wide sound pickup for good coverage of multiple singers like those of a choir.

Cardioid Microphone

Cardioid is the most common and most used directional polar pattern in audio productiom.

It has highest sensitivity to sound coming in directly in front of its capsule at 0°.

Cardoid mics have no sensitivity to sound coming directly from behind them at the 180º mark, and they have a reduced sensitivity to sound coming in from the sides at 90º and or 270º.

A cardioid mic will do a better job of excluding background noise and room reflection as compared t an omnidirectional microphone.

Its most common application is mostly in music production and live sound reinforcement.

But filmmakers will encounter cardioid mics too, especially in stereo microphones.

Supercardioid

Supercardioid is simply a cardioid mic that is a lot more directional.

It exhibits even less sensitivity to sound coming in from the sides as compared to a regular cardioid, but with a bit more sensitivity to sound at the rear.

Despite that, supercardioids perform better when it comes to eliminating background noise and focusing in on a single sound source.

How many choir mics do I need?

You need as few as possible. The fewer mics you use, the less feedback you have to deal with.

A correctly placed, decent cardioid choir mic can cover 15-20 singers arranged in a rectangular or wedge-shaped section about 10 ft wide and three rows deep.

That should tell you that you don’t need to use a bunch of mics.

How high should choir condenser mics be? 

Some professionals recommend a vertical height as tall as the tallest singer in the back row.

While others suggest the height of the tallest singer in the back row, plus another 2 to 3 feet.

Raising the mics can ensure that all singers are equal and prevent the front row singers from overwhelming the singers in the back row.

How do you place a choir mic?

The basic formula often utilized in miking a choir is the 3:1 rule.

 In general, it’s best to place the mics 2 to 3 feet from the front row singers.

The mics to the side should be three times that distance.

So, let’s use a practical example….if you place a mic 3 feet from the front row singers and need additional mics for the choir,

 you should set the mic exactly 9 feet from your center mic on either side.

Following this rule is important in order to avoid the hollow sounds that would result from phase cancellation or the comb filter effect.

These hollow sounds can happen when you place microphones too close to each other and they both pick up two vocal signals in the mix. One signal is direct, and the other will be delayed.

This pickup of two different signals causes specific frequencies to cancel which in turn creates a frequency response that looks like an inverted comb.

Condenser microphone recommendations

Below are some good condenser microphones you could try.

Audio-Technica AT4040

The AT4040 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that can sound just as good as the more expensive options.

It costs around 400 bucks but can sound like a thousand dollar mic with the right engineering skill.

Bluebird SL

The Bluebird SL is a relatively new microphone compared to most veteran condenser mics, but it has become the favourite of many. This microphone is in the same price range as the Audio-Technica and can record pretty much anything.

Sennheiser MD421

 Also in the league of the Audio-Technica and the Blue mic above.

 Sennheiser is a famous German company that most audiophiles trust.

You won’t go wrong with this mic.

Rode NT5

The Rode NT5 is a small diaphragm condenser microphone, which is great for recording instruments.

Many engineers use a pair of NT5s as overhead mics on a drum kit, or to capture the sound of an entire room.

If you can afford it, this is a great mic and a great value for your money.

AKG C414

These microphones are often used in stereo pairs, can do pretty much anything.

They can be great for recording instruments and vocals.

Definitely a good choice.

Neumann U87

This microphone is pretty high end.

If you have a reasonably big budget for a microphone, the U87 is the way to go.

You’ll enjoy a high level of detail. You just have to make sure to use it in a silent room; otherwise you’ll be accidentally picking up sounds from a block away.

Its a highly sensitive mic.