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Author Topic: Outdoor choir, how much PA?  (Read 2449 times)

Kurt Kesler

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Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« on: July 20, 2011, 08:18:27 am »

I have gotten a request for a PA and I'm pretty much at a loss.  Choir outdoors, crowd of ~500.  No instruments.  They want 4 mics for vocals and to be able to play recorded music behind the singing.  They are looking for their least cost option, but on this type of gig I'm pretty much clueless as I've never worked with choirs before.  Would a pair of S115Vs and a EMX860 be enough, or do I need to recommend a bigger system?  He says they don't need monitors. 
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g'bye, Dick Rees

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Re: Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2011, 09:45:16 am »

I have gotten a request for a PA and I'm pretty much at a loss.  Choir outdoors, crowd of ~500.

500 listeners.  But over what sized area?????  And what ambient noise level in the area????

You'll need 10dB over ambient and enough coverage for the probable spread of the audience.  I often end up using a delay ring 50-75 feet out when doing this type of gig.

Quote
  No instruments.  They want 4 mics for vocals and to be able to play recorded music behind the singing.  They are looking for their least cost option, but on this type of gig I'm pretty much clueless as I've never worked with choirs before.

4 mics may be enough, maybe not depending on the number of voices and the configuration of the group.  A long single line across the stage is different than four deep on risers....

Quote

  Would a pair of S115Vs and a EMX860 be enough, or do I need to recommend a bigger system?  He says they don't need monitors.

For me.......absolutely not.  But if they're interested in cheap rather than proper they may accept it.  I'd use a minimum of four of the Clubs if that's the box you have.  You'll need the extra 2 for a few more dB output and broader coverage.  But I'd still have 4-6 delays out at 60 feet to deepen the sound field.  Audiences outside tend to spread out over quite a wide area....especially if they're looking for shade.

But if they'll stay in a tight area in front of the stage you'll have it easier.  And you can hope that there are no food vendors with noisy gasoline generators at the event......

Edit:

You'll need more EQ than the powered head will afford, both channel strip and system.  Also you'll have to site the powered head at the stage to run the speakers and that will not allow you to mix from out front......where you should be.  I know it's just a few choir mics, but it's still better to be running them from out in the sound field.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 12:07:08 pm by dick rees »
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Marty McCann

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Re: Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2011, 12:29:30 pm »

I have gotten a request for a PA and I'm pretty much at a loss.  Choir outdoors, crowd of ~500.  No instruments.  They want 4 mics for vocals and to be able to play recorded music behind the singing.  They are looking for their least cost option, but on this type of gig I'm pretty much clueless as I've never worked with choirs before.  Would a pair of S115Vs and a EMX860 be enough, or do I need to recommend a bigger system?  He says they don't need monitors.

He says that they don't need monitors?   How are they going to hear the recorded background music?

I provide sound for different choirs at community events quite often.  I use a pair of quality powered speakers on sticks and they do a good job, even for crowds larger than 500.

I also use four supercardioid condensors on long booms.

Now the key is in getting the choir director to organize the choir into the four voice groups (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone).   If you mic each voice section, you can really have control over the balance of the choir.  When the choir members are not grouped in voice sections, the Sopranos are always way too loud in the mix (what mix?).

Often the Sopranos out number even the total of the other three voice sections.  You may have 12 Sopranos, 9 Altos, 6 Tenors, and 3 Baritones, but by miking them in sections, you can make it balanced rich and full.

I once did four choirs for an event and the only one that did not arrange the choir in voice groups simply did not sound as good.  One of that choir's church members accused me of not doing as good a job.   ???
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Brian Ehlers

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Re: Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2011, 12:51:15 pm »

And don't forget you need wind socks for the mics!!!  Nothing worse than listening to Mother Nature blow into all your open mics louder than the choir.
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Re: Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2011, 12:56:41 pm »

And don't forget you need wind socks for the mics!!!  Nothing worse than listening to Mother Nature blow into all your open mics louder than the choir.

My "favorite" outdoor venue is a sort of concrete pagoda with lots of sparrows nesting up in the rafters.  Put a choir in there and the birds are pretty much an equal part of the total choir sound.....

And please.......no "cheep" sound jokes.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2011, 01:10:48 pm »

Marty and Dick have brought up some very good points and suggestions.  The bottom line seems to be communication and expectations.  Instead of their telling you they need four mics and don't need monitors and your trying to figure out if the speakers you have will work you should probably be working togther to determine what would be the most cost effective approach for you to offer that could meet their expectations and goals (or to determine what expectations and goals they feel can be compromised in order to meet the cost constraints).
 
An example is whether you can get the level and clarity they desire for the audience and also provide enough level for the choir to go without monitors if you use just four mics and your speakers.  For that the expectations, the audience area, the specific mics, the choir arrangement, where the speakers would be relative to the choir and mics and other factors all come into play.
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Kurt Kesler

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Re: Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2011, 07:55:06 am »

Good info from everyone, thanks.  I especially like the idea of breaking the choir up into voice groups.  I do have more (better) gear, but that would cost them more and the bottom line is their focus.
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Matthias Heitzer

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Re: Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2011, 10:02:58 am »

how does the "stage" look like? if there are no reflective surfaces near the choir, it's gonna be hard for them to sing.
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Kurt Kesler

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Re: Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2011, 11:44:25 am »

He is looking for a 20x30, but as yet he doesn't have one.
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Re: Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2011, 12:04:56 pm »

He is looking for a 20x30, but as yet he doesn't have one.

20 x 30, eh?  So they have money for a stage but don't want to spend anything on the PA.

Typical.......
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Brad Weber

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Re: Outdoor choir, how much PA?
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2011, 02:37:06 pm »

He is looking for a 20x30, but as yet he doesn't have one.
I think Matthias may have been referring more to a shell type arrangement as with no monitors and no nearby reflective surfaces the choir may have a more difficult time hearing the music and themselves.  Just another factor in why the physical choir arrangement may be so important to the outcome.
 
I just realized that I don't think we ever established if the choir has done something like this in the past, with you or with another provider, or if this is a first for them.  They may have it all figured out from past experience or they may be basing the comments about the number of microphones and needing no monitors on how they perform in their usual indoor space and have little idea of hoiw that will translate to an outdoor performance.
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