Recording a choir presents more challenges than recording singular vocalists. Thankfully, some specifically designed choir mics have the capacity to capture group vocals and interact with the acoustics of a church.
When deciding on the best microphone for recording choirs, it’s important to make sure certain aspects such as the polar patterns, frequency response range and audio clarity are well suited to this purpose.
The Best Choir Mics for Church
The U853R condenser microphone is well suited for recording choirs, largely due to its cardioid pickup pattern and impressive ability to reject outside noise. Audio-Technica opted for a UniGuard design, which minimizes the risk of RF interferences.
With its low-profile design, the U853R doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to itself, remaining discreet amongst a choir. It has a low-reflectance finish to make it even less noticeable.
Audio-Technica has ensured that the off-axis rejecting abilities of the U853R are of the highest standard, allowing for maximum gain before any feedback occurs. This is especially useful for group vocalists where lots of volumes are produced at a distance.
Another thing that makes this Audio-Technica condenser mic great for recording in church settings is the 80Hz low-cut filter coupled with a power module. These two assets allow for problematic bass frequencies to be scooped in an instant.
Finally, the U853R permits an angle of acceptance that ranges from 90 degrees to 360 degrees. Put more simply, this means it can either pick up sound sources that are the front and sides, or in a circular direction.
Shure's MX202B/C is a hanging condenser microphone fitted with a cardioid pickup pattern that lends itself to the recordings of group vocals and choirs. Despite the microphone's small size, it picks up sound with clarity and depth.
With a 30’ cable, the MX202B/C works best when it is hung directly over a choir. To position it perfectly, you use the gooseneck and secure it in the best possible place to pick up the vocalists.
To negate the need for an external power source, Shure has included a preamp with the microphone. This further improves its mobility and reduces the need for more equipment.
The preamp can be attached to a microphone stand or installed permanently in the ceiling if it is unlikely to change locations.
It's no surprise that this microphone captures audio with pristine accuracy, even when many voices are singing at once. Shure's attention to detail is what makes them one of the best-known mic manufacturers on the planet.
Affordable, reliable, and purpose - built for choir recordings, the PRO 45 by Audio-Technica ticks all the boxes. With a signal to noise ratio of 66dB at 1Pa, this cardioid condenser accurately captures wide sound sources with little unwanted noise.
With a frequency response of 70hZ – 16kHz, the PRO 45 is capable of recording every variety of the human voice, making it perfect for a church setting. The self-contained electronics make it even more convenient, removing the need for any external power.
To make the PRO 45 even more efficient when recording choirs, orchestras, or other ensembles, Audio-Technica includes a 25ft cable with the microphone. This makes it possible to suspend the PRO 45 vertically above a sound source, thus recording the ambiance of the room.
Another feature of the PRO 45 is the subtle design and aesthetics. When recording a choir, none of the equipment must be distracting or overly obvious, so the understated black and red design combined with the slimline body ensure that it remains incognito.
Along with the extra-long XLR cable, you also get a protective foam capsule shield and a spring holder that clips the microphone firmly into place.
4. Rode M5
When it comes to recording a choir, sometimes the best method is to use a pair of microphones. This allows for stereo recording so that when the audio comes to being mixed, two sections can be split and processed individually.
A pair of Rode M5s will perform this role sufficiently. Built with that classic Rode quality, robustness, and high-quality recording abilities, these two condenser microphones perform to a level that you'd expect from much pricier options.
Not only are Rode M5s ideal for capturing large groups of vocalists, but they are also just as capable of picking up ensembles of guitars, brass, strings, and percussion. Thanks to the wide frequency response range, they are highly versatile.
Included with the two mics are a wind-shield to eliminate any plosives or undesirable background noise, and a stand mount for each M5 to ensure that they stay solidly attached to the stands.
With a frequency response ranging from 30Hz-15kHZ, the Pro 37 by Audio-Technica is great at capturing the lows and highs of a choir. It has a low-mass condenser element internally installed which boosts the response to transients, creating crisp and tight lows.
Whether you need to record from a distance or close to the sound source, the Pro 37 can do both with equal efficiency. With a maximum input SPL of 141dB, it can handle aggressive close-ups. The dynamic range of 122dB makes it a good choice for long-range recordings, too.
The Pro 37 can operate on lower-than-usual phantom power voltages. This means that even if you aren’t familiar with the mixer or equipment in a venue, you can rest assured that the microphone will receive adequate power.
Also, this Audio-Technica is built to last. With a gold-plated, corrosion-resistant XLR connector, you're bound to get your money's worth out of it. It also comes with a stand clamp, windscreen, and protective pouch.
The LIZ-choir microphone is a high-end condenser that has all the capabilities required to record in a large space like a church. Featuring three switchable mic capsules, this versatile Acacia mic provides you with plenty of recording options.
You can interchange between the wide-range of an omnidirectional capsule, focus in on a singular sound source using the hyper-cardioid capsule, or find a happy medium by using cardioid.
The flexible nature of the capsules is also reflected in the 50 inch boom stand. Made from carbon fiber to combine strength and malleability, the stand is perfect for reaching those tricky positions when recording a choir.
The microphone comes equipped with a high-quality, 8ft XLR cable and two windscreens to ensure the clearest possible recordings.
The Shure CVO-B/C has a tailored frequency response that makes it well equipped to capture fast-paced transients when positioned above a choir. It has the notorious Shure qualities of solid durability and construction that you can depend on.
Shure has used their renowned CommShield Technology to protect against undesirable RF interference that is caused by using the microphone in close proximity to wireless devices like smartphones or radios.
This low-profile condenser microphone is specifically designed for overhead use and comes with a 25ft XLR cable for that very purpose. It's also available in either black or white depending on your preferences.
8. AKG CHM 99
The CHM 99 is a high-end condenser microphone that’s designed to hang directly over a sound source. It has a discreet white design to ensure that it doesn’t detract attention from a choir or ensemble.
The frequency range of the AKG CHM 99 goes from 70Hz to 18kHz. This makes it especially effective at picking up the higher-range singers of a crowd, like altos or sopranos.
With a maximum SPL input of 125dB, the CHM 99 will have no issues with the loud volume of group vocalists or an orchestra. Although it’s not meant for close up recordings, you could still achieve some interesting results with this method.
The microphone requires phantom power but isn't set to one singular limit. Whether a mixing desk produces +9v or +52, the AKH CHM 99 will still be able to run. Its cardioid polar pattern provides focus and direction so the recordings won't become muddy.
AKG’s range of affordable microphones are known for their versatility, and the CHM 99 is no different. It's a sensitive, subtle, and accurate condenser at a very fair price.
The Best Mic Capsules for Recording Choirs
The pickup pattern and type of capsule that is installed in a microphone plays a large role in deciding how effectively it can record a choir or a group of vocalists.
Unlike average studio mics that focus on a singular sound source, choir mics require certain capabilities to capture a wide range of frequencies in a clear and distinguished manner.
Below is a guide to the most common pickup patterns and capsule types, and how they interact with a choir when recording.
The most common type of capsule used in a microphone for recording choirs is the cardioid. This versatile polar pattern is used for a variety of purposes and is popular due to its all-around reliability in the studio or in a live setting.
The main reason cardioid polar patterns are great for recording choirs is that they eliminate some of the bleeds that occur from outside the stage, and focus on the main sound source which, in this case, is the group of vocalists.
Supercardioid capsules, sometimes referred to as hyper-cardioid, are also commonly used on microphones for recording in large spaces like churches or cathedrals. This is due to their ability to isolate the sound, and really hone in on the desired instruments or voices.
These microphones are perhaps best used for choir recordings when they are used as a stereo pair. Because they are very specific in terms of the sound sources they focus on, using two mics allows you to mix the choir in stereo and blend the low and high frequencies together, thus avoiding any problems caused by frequencies clashing.
When an omnidirectional capsule is used to record a choir, they pick up all of the sounds within a wide area. These microphones are the preferred choice for recording crowds or sounds of nature due to their increased sensitivity to all directions.
These microphones are also less likely to be affected by background noises like wind, and they reproduce the tone of the choir without adding any color to the overall recording.
Time To Start Recording
Recording a choir is an art-form in itself, and it requires technical knowledge and attention to detail. Without the right microphone, it doesn’t matter how much you prepare, the result will be sub-par.
All of the mics included on this list are guaranteed to capture a choir in all its glory. There are only few better sounds in the world than a myriad of human vocals singing in unison!