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Author Topic: Choir focused mixing during very lively contemporary praise and worship  (Read 537 times)

Wendall Brown

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Hello to all. New to forum
Big on going problem that I need advice on.
We run 2 services back to back and are going to have to add 3rd.
Service 1 starts with 2choir songs that are heavily arranged with brass section and key focused.
Then we have remaining praise and worship with 3 guitars synth drums bass lead vocals and 3 backing vocals no brass no choir.
Problem I'm having is to accommodate the choir portion with the quality needed. Once I open brass mics and open choir mics the quality and dynamics set for hard driving p&w goes at the door and we are left with thin tones and overall lacking in any punch. I've tried to work with it but just can't get it to come back. Second service no problem cause no choir. I'm afraid if choir and brass is added to other services I'll be in same problem. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Choir focused mixing during very lively contemporary praise and worship
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 01:23:30 pm »

Hello to all. New to forum
Big on going problem that I need advice on.
We run 2 services back to back and are going to have to add 3rd.
Service 1 starts with 2choir songs that are heavily arranged with brass section and key focused.
Then we have remaining praise and worship with 3 guitars synth drums bass lead vocals and 3 backing vocals no brass no choir.
Problem I'm having is to accommodate the choir portion with the quality needed. Once I open brass mics and open choir mics the quality and dynamics set for hard driving p&w goes at the door and we are left with thin tones and overall lacking in any punch. I've tried to work with it but just can't get it to come back. Second service no problem cause no choir. I'm afraid if choir and brass is added to other services I'll be in same problem. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated

Please change your name to your real name so we can assist you.  This is policy of the forum.
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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Choir focused mixing during very lively contemporary praise and worship
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2017, 02:06:37 pm »

Hello to all. New to forum
Big on going problem that I need advice on.
We run 2 services back to back and are going to have to add 3rd.
Service 1 starts with 2choir songs that are heavily arranged with brass section and key focused.
Then we have remaining praise and worship with 3 guitars synth drums bass lead vocals and 3 backing vocals no brass no choir.
Problem I'm having is to accommodate the choir portion with the quality needed. Once I open brass mics and open choir mics the quality and dynamics set for hard driving p&w goes at the door and we are left with thin tones and overall lacking in any punch. I've tried to work with it but just can't get it to come back. Second service no problem cause no choir. I'm afraid if choir and brass is added to other services I'll be in same problem. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated
I'm not sure I understand the problem you are having - are you fighting feedback and making tonality cuts for that reason?

The loudest sound at the microphone wins.  Make sure that any foldback to the choir and orchestra only contain what is necessary for them to do their jobs - i.e. a rhythm reference and tonal reference.  If you're getting too much band bleed in the choir mics, you may need to move them closer to the choir and/or farther from the band.
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Wendall Brown

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Re: Choir focused mixing during very lively contemporary praise and worship
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2017, 02:23:49 pm »

I'm not sure I understand the problem you are having - are you fighting feedback and making tonality cuts for that reason?

The loudest sound at the microphone wins.  Make sure that any foldback to the choir and orchestra only contain what is necessary for them to do their jobs - i.e. a rhythm reference and tonal reference.  If you're getting too much band bleed in the choir mics, you may need to move them closer to the choir and/or farther from the band.

Band and lead vocal and praise team on in ears
So band not issue other than hearing keyboard through choir mics coming from monitors. But choir director makes me have it that loud. I even hear it from mix position.
It's almost like I'm picking up a tremendous amount of ambient room noise i.e.ambience mics for video etc. mics are the maudio ones and we have 3 positioned in front of 30 person choir on 3leveks. Also director insists that 6 praise team mics be used among choir members in addition to 3 mics in front of choir. That in it's self is a problem that I can't make them understand. Thank you so much for your time in assisting me. Been in live sound 20 years and 15 of them serving in church also. Not ready to let this one take me out
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Choir focused mixing during very lively contemporary praise and worship
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2017, 04:06:49 pm »

Band and lead vocal and praise team on in ears
So band not issue other than hearing keyboard through choir mics coming from monitors. But choir director makes me have it that loud. I even hear it from mix position.
It's almost like I'm picking up a tremendous amount of ambient room noise i.e.ambience mics for video etc. mics are the maudio ones and we have 3 positioned in front of 30 person choir on 3leveks. Also director insists that 6 praise team mics be used among choir members in addition to 3 mics in front of choir. That in it's self is a problem that I can't make them understand. Thank you so much for your time in assisting me. Been in live sound 20 years and 15 of them serving in church also. Not ready to let this one take me out
Wendall, this seems like an opportunity for education.

I would do two things:  First, during a rehearsal, go stand next to the choir director, then stand in the choir itself.  How is the mix?  If the keyboards are too loud, then move on to step 2.  If not, that indicates that the monitors covering the choir/director are aimed poorly, so that too much sound is spilling into the main area.

If the keys really are loud, the problem is the perception/preference of your director.  The solution to this is tactfully explaining the challenges this creates for the overall musical output of the service - something he should care about - and if possible, demonstrate to him/her by having him/her listen in the room while the choir sings.  Hopefully your director is reasonable and will be willing to partner with you to make the situation better.

Changing your microphones to ones with a different pickup pattern might help - cardioid/hyper cardioid for the hanging mics if they are Omni, or hyper cardioid for handheld vocal mics.  Also, mic placement for the handheld mics matters - they should be 1" from the lips of the singer.  If they are being held at chest height, that's contributing a lot to your problem.

You may also get some benefit from more active mixing - i.e. only turn on the mics needed at the moment.  This is important if the 6 mics are more for solos - only turn them on during the solo.  If the handheld mics are for general reinforcement of stronger singers, that may or may not be the best way to solve that problem - you may have better luck positioning the stronger singers nearer the hanging mics and ditching the handhelds - more mics is not automatically better than fewer mics.

The last comment I will make as a musician of a couple decades, is that many people are trying to recreate a Dolby THX experience in their monitor.  This is rarely possible without severe consequences to the overall sound.  If you can get away with it - great (IEMs allow this), but if you are having problems, the solution is lowering the mix level or removing less-critical items from the mix.  This is not always welcome news to the musician, but it is the primary solution.
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Don T. Williams

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Re: Choir focused mixing during very lively contemporary praise and worship
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2017, 04:50:58 pm »

+1 for Tom's answer and advise.  I'm not saying this will work, but it's worth a try: use on the center mic for the choir.  It might pick up everyone well enough.  If that doesn't work, try only the two outside mics.  As Tom said, the fewer mics that are being used, the louder (and better) it will sound. 

Also remember the 3 to 1 rule regarding your hanging mics.  If the mics are 3' (1M) from the choir, they should be 9' (3M) apart from each other to avoid comb filtering.  Each outside mic would be 9' (3M) from the center mic and the array of three mics should cover a width of about 27' (9M).  This rule isn't absolute in all situations, but is a good starting place.  Maximum gain before feedback comes from using the fewest mics possible.
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Taylor Phillips

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Re: Choir focused mixing during very lively contemporary praise and worship
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 09:26:52 pm »

I think there might be two problems here - the choir monitors, and the choir itself.  If the choir mics are positioned well but picking up sounds that are not made by the choir, then the choir needs to sing louder.  Easier said than done perhaps, but if they are not performing well, there's little we can do from the sound booth to make things better.  Using a few handheld mics among choir members is not uncommon and can actually be advantages if your director is giving them to the best singers in the group.  I saw a group from a local Slavic church do this and I think it was effective at making the choir sound better than they actually are.  As for the monitors, the biggest thing is that the choir should not be the choir monitors at all.  Anything you can clearly hear while standing in the choir should not be in the monitors. 

The Slavic Missionary Bible School Choir with 8 handheld mics used by singers in the front row: https://youtu.be/-ih3tx0vVI0
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Choir focused mixing during very lively contemporary praise and worship
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2017, 09:47:14 pm »

I think there might be two problems here - the choir monitors, and the choir itself.  If the choir mics are positioned well but picking up sounds that are not made by the choir, then the choir needs to sing louder.  Easier said than done perhaps, but if they are not performing well, there's little we can do from the sound booth to make things better.  Using a few handheld mics among choir members is not uncommon and can actually be advantages if your director is giving them to the best singers in the group.  I saw a group from a local Slavic church do this and I think it was effective at making the choir sound better than they actually are.  As for the monitors, the biggest thing is that the choir should not be the choir monitors at all.  Anything you can clearly hear while standing in the choir should not be in the monitors. 

The Slavic Missionary Bible School Choir with 8 handheld mics used by singers in the front row: https://youtu.be/-ih3tx0vVI0

I have never seen a contemporary Slavonic worship, beautiful.

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Wendall Brown

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Re: Choir focused mixing during very lively contemporary praise and worship
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2017, 01:22:18 pm »

I have never seen a contemporary Slavonic worship, beautiful.
Thank guys for your guidance. I have tried all of the mentioned procedures all ready. I think the problem is a combo of things. It kinda boils down to the choir portion of service which is opener just doesn't fit anymore. It kinda bring praise band down off their energy level for first service. Second service sound is great energy great congregation energy high. It shows in attendance numbers also. First service 60% capacity second service 95% capacity. Any suggestions on handling that??

Thanks again

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dick rees

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Re: Choir focused mixing during very lively contemporary praise and worship
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2017, 01:27:39 pm »

The problem is not really technical.  The fault, as is common, lies squarely with the director and his/her ignorance of the need to balance all the parts.
Tech cannot make up for poor direction.  Yes, you would stand a better chance by expanding the channel count to include mics for every voice, but that's extremely costly. 

And if the director insists on putting the current choir mics through the choir monitors, it's just sooo wrong.

As to attendance numbers:  since when is worship evaluated in show business box-office terms? 
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 01:38:53 pm by dick rees »
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