Question: How do you mike musicians in a house of worship? (Part 2, Choir and Praise Band Vocalists)
Answer: A wise, world-renowned conductor once said that the advantage vocalists have over instrumentalists is that vocalists have the actual words to portray in their musical notes. In a house of worship, being able to tell the story in music separates the voice from the instruments and gives them the advantage. This is why it is important to properly mike and amplify those who have words to give in your worship service. Houses of worship range in design, and the music in them differs as well. In a traditional style of worship, choirs often sing unamplified and the rich acoustics of the building help deliver the sound to the congregation. However, microphones may be used for recording purposes or for reinforcing the choir in the sound system for an overall boost. Helpful techniques for that may be found in the blogs for Miking Your Holiday Choir and Miking Your Children’s Choir. Miking the choir for contemporary styles of music may use similar techniques but with more volume. Proper microphone selection and placement will help avoid feedback issues when amplifying the choir above an orchestra or screaming guitar solo.
Choir miking techniques may vary and, remember, there is no one “right way,” but rather a way that will work best for your specific situation. You may use hanging microphones such as the U853R overhead or, for non-permanent applications, you may use the included AT8438 stand adapter with your U853 microphone to get the microphones up and in front of the choir. Another option is to use small diaphragm microphones such as the PRO 37 or the AT4021. Microphone placement is critical to the audio success of capturing and amplifying the choir. Finding the right spot for even coverage, good gain before feedback, and overall tonality may take some experimenting. Choir microphones are often mistaken as magic wands, but remember that all microphones will only “hear” the signal if the choir is singing loud enough. If the choir is not singing out (as if they are pretending there are NO mics at all), the audio engineer may need to turn up the gain of the microphones, which has the potential to introduce feedback. Reminding the choir to sing out properly will not only help their vocal health but also result in a good audio signal to be picked up by the microphones and offer a vivid performance of the piece.
Just like with miking the choir, there a few different options for miking praise band vocalists. You may use similar techniques for small groups of people as you did with the choir, though close miking techniques are often chosen. The worship leader or persons singing the lead part for the congregation may use a handheld vocal microphone such as the ATM510 or AE4100, which have dynamic microphone elements, or the ATM710 or AE3300, which have condenser elements. Each microphone will have its own sonic signature, so you may want to experiment with different models to find the microphone that best suits each person’s voice. Backup vocalists may be tucked back into the mix to let the leader or melody carry the congregation along in the singing, but the backup vocalists’ microphone selection is just as important. For lead vocalists or backup, whether you’re holding the microphone in your hand or using a microphone stand to hold the microphone, proper microphone techniques should always be used to make certain you are getting the most from your microphone.
For miking spoken word in your house of worship, you may refer to the past Miking in Houses of Worship blog posts. If you have questions on using your Audio-Technica microphones to put the spotlight on the message in the words you are singing, feel free to reach out to the Audio Solutions Department.