What microphone to use for simple choir/organ recording?
  • I would like a microphone to make decent choral recordings, both acapella and accompanied. I don't want or need a studio quality or professional quality mic. I would just like to be able to evaluate and enjoy rehearsal footage again and again--with something that provides more rewarding audio than my cell phone's mic. I would like something I can quickly turn on or plug into my phone or laptop at rehearsal, set down on the conductor's podium, and hit the big red record button; and then later, plug into headphones or speakers and hit the play button. I would like something that produces reasonably faithful audio without adjusting settings or knowing how to do any sound editing after the fact.

    1. Do I want condenser mic or dynamic?
    2. Do I want an omnidirectional or unidirectional mic?
    3. Do I need something to connect the mic to the phone?
    4. Can I just plug into the phone and use the factory recording function, or will a basic recording app limit the quality of the recording?
    5. What is available between $50-200?

  • You would be better off with a Zoom handy recorder. The better models are in the $300-$400, but even the lower end models (under $200) would, I think offer better results than a mic plugged directly into a phone.

    Thanked by 3MarkS CHGiffen Kevin814
  • Condenser microphones are usually the better option for recording. Cardioid or Omnidirectional pick up pattern would be fine, just depends on placement if using Cardioid; IE: aim it towards the singers unless you just want to pick up room sound.
    I cannot speak to recording apps.

    I'd use a Zoom recorder personally.
    Zoom H1n & Accessory Pack
    Zoom H2n
    Zoom Lightning Connector Mic
    Shure does make a microphone that can plug directly into your phone (guessing it's an iPhone here)
    Shure Microphone Lightning Connector
  • MarkS
    Posts: 276
    Seconding Zoom recorder. We have been using the H4n for recordings of all sorts and streaming. Very versatile, and relatively inexpensive.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Kevin814
  • Zooms can indeed be great. They are a nice turnkey solution. Whatever you do, do not get a SINGLE microphone and attempt to do monophonic recordings. You must get at least two (identical) mics to do stereo recording.

    Also, NB: if you get dedicated microphones (I’m not discouraging this), bear in mind that you’ll also need an interface of some sort to plug them in to. Ultimately, dedicated mics and an interface will perform better than a zoom recorder, but it’s significantly more expense (generally), setup, and hassle (by comparison to a set and forget zoom (or the like) recorder).
  • Total amateur here- what is "stereo" recording?

    Also, wouldn't I want to pick up room sound in order to get all the nice blend and reverb from the room? (Sounds like I need an omnidirectional condenser mic?)

    How much better quality would a Zoom H1 or H2 be over, say, a simple usb mic like the Samson Go mic?
  • I've been very happy with my pair of AT2021s, though you will need an audio interface with phantom power (the cheapest would be something like a Behringer U-Topia) to connect them to your computer.

    This is the kind of audio quality I get during a Mass, with a much higher noise floor than a studio recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26FjozJm8Dw

    Total amateur here- what is "stereo" recording?

    Human beings have two ears, so a stereo recording uses two microphones to (theoretically) simulate what a listener would hear. If you use only one microphone, you won't capture any of the spatial component of the sound and the resulting recording can sound "narrow".

    Also, wouldn't I want to pick up room sound in order to get all the nice blend and reverb from the room?

    You will still pick up some room sound with a cardioid microphone setup. If you want more acoustic in the mix, then you can simply move the microphones back. Only using an omnidirectional microphone won't give you the sound you're expecting.
  • As someone who does regular recording, I can assure you that Stereo is an absolute must. We have two ears, and although they aren’t very far apart, they provide us a TON of spatial information; our brains are able to sense the tiny time delay between the same signal hitting each ear, and we glean a ton of “data” from that. Stereo recording picks up two signals.

    You will absolutely get a MUCH better quality recording from a zoom recorder than from a Samson usb mic.

    If you do a single microphone, your recording will sound utterly “flat”.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,021
    My Zoom H4n recorder is an excellent device and produces superb recordings.
  • So is there much difference for the function I've outlined above between a Zoom H1 vs H2 vs H4? And these things produce stereo recordings because they contain multiple microphones?

    Sorry, lots of questions here-thanks for all the advice.
  • Another option is one of the Blue microphones which comes with several integrated microphone options, contains its own ADC which plugs directly into a computer without a separate interface, and would offer superior quality to a Zoom recorder. All you would need is a stand/shock mount (I would buy separately rather than using Blue's overpriced offerings) and a computer (I wouldn't advise plugging into a phone with something like this)

    I would be wary of one of the Zoom recorders and would always favour the dedicated option at the price points these command.
  • The Zoom recorders are self-contained 'handheld studios' are they not? That is pretty much how the comparable Tascam DR-07X is described . It's a pity the English translation is not a bit clearer, but the A-B configuration is evidently better for a choir than X-Y.
    I am clear in my own mind that a dedicated handheld is a much better choice for the limited purpose stated by the OP than either lugging a computer about, or struggling with an app on a phone.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Kevin814
  • francis
    Posts: 10,152
    Less expensive but comparable to a zoom is the Tascam

    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Got to add my voice to the chorus of "get a Zoom"...my H4N has become an indispensable tool for me in evaluating my own organ playing and the sound of my choir. It's easy to use and produces a nice sound quality.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Carol
    Posts: 793
    We use a Tascam to record and find it very easy to use. It can do a lot more than we use it for, but it is quite simple to operate which makes it perfect for us. It comes with a wire to connect to a laptop Don't know anything about Zoom, so can't compare.
  • davido
    Posts: 701
    Zoom 4 is much nicer than 2. I have both. Zoom 4 you can also hook up external mics, it has xlr ports.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • donr
    Posts: 970
    I use the Tascam DR-40x myself for home recording and choir recording. I like the fact that it has stereo mics and XLR input if you want to use studio mics.
    Very nice recording device.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,021
    The Zoom H4n also has XLR/TRS input along with its stereo mics.