• rogue63
    Posts: 410
    I will be taking some recordings for a choral yearbook of sorts at the end of May/beginning June, and my pastor wants it to be high-quality. What are my options for equipment? What do I need? Please assume that I'm a complete dummy. Could anyone recommend some stuff to buy that would useful? I've suggested a few scenarios that may aid your recommendations.

    Scenario 1) Money is no object.

    Scenario 2) What can we get for $2000-3000?

    Scenario 3) Best sound for cheapest price.

    Choir will vary between 8 and 20 singers for various pieces. Recording will be in main church, in front of sanctuary, and it's moderately live. Any help anyone can offer is much appreciated.
  • kenstb
    Posts: 364

    There are a few questions that you will need to answer before anyone can truly help you.
    Budget is your first challenge. You must also know whether you intend to record in a studio, live in the sacred space, or in a home studio. How many musicians will you be recording in addition to your singers? There are a few websites that you should check out before you spend a cent. I would suggest that for any level of proficiency in the recording arts, you take a look at tweakheads lab online. Their forum is frequented by recording professionals and you can get lots of free advice from folks who make music for a living.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    Thanks! Post edited above.
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 992
    In my view, part of the answer depends on how you will use this equipment long term. If this is a one-shot deal and various pieces will go to different places, then I'd tend to go cheaper. If you're trying to outfit the sanctuary for recording or broadcasting for the long term, then it's worth getting someone who can design something appropriate and spending a bit more money. If you ever plan to do video in addition, then that may also affect your decisions.

    For me, the top priority is microphones - where, how many, and what type. If you don't get the best sound going into the system, then there's nothing you can do after that to fix it.

    Second would be a mixer, assuming that you're talking about more than 4 microphones. Then will be the recorder itself, probably recording to a hard disk or SSD. Multi-track would be awesome, because you're only limited by the time you want to spend in post-production. But you can do quite amazing things with just a 2-track or 4-track recorder, even those little portable ones that only cost a few hundred bucks.

    Given that you're on a tight timeframe, your best solution might be to get one of those portable recorders, and hack the rest of the bits together from available resources you have in the parish, maybe renting some high quality microphones for the day. You'll learn a whole lot on the first try, and that will help you make decisions on how to wisely spend money for the longer term investment.

    My parish made a CD some years back of our various musical groups, and I was amazed at how many takes we made of each song. In total, there were probably 20 hours of recordings for a 1-hour CD, and perhaps 40 hours of elapsed time. At some point we just had to declare it "good enough" and send it off to be duplicated.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    Thanks for the help!
  • mrcoppermrcopper
    Posts: 653
    Another opinion: your local recording engineer (he/she surely exists, nearly everywhere) can probably work with you for a few hundred dollars ... so if this is not something you'll be doing repeatedly, that might be a better solution than buying equipment that you don't really have experience using.

    And, of the portable recorders, should you go that route, the zoom products seem to be a very good, very affordable solution. The built-in microphone gives reasonable results.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,115
    I've been very satisfied with zoom products. I own a zoom h4n, and very much like it for a wide variety of projects, both with the external mics and the internal mics. If you want multi-track, the zoom h6 (with the XLR input module bringing the number of inputs to 6) looks promising, though I haven't used one. I would agree that hiring a knowledgeable engineer is the best way to get the best sound. He would be able to provide the best recommendations as to the best equipment to buy/rent as well.

    Also, don't overlook rentals. Full Compass is just down the road from me, and I have rented audio and video equipment from them many times when I acted as tech director for plays and other situations where I needed equipment for a short amount of time. I know they are in town, but I believe they will also ship rentals to anywhere in the US, if you don't have a good rental place locally.