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  • Microphones

    Does anyone know of any mics (preferably omni-directional) that will record organ and choir well? Unfortunately my church's budget is only going to allow me to get something under around $130. Does this one look any good? https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...tal_handy.html
    Organs I play regularly:
    -Estey Opus 3103, II/8 (1938)
    -Schantz Opus 2145/2224, IV/86 (1998-2002)

    For a list of other organs I've played, see my bio.

  • #2
    Originally posted by St Josaphat View Post
    Does anyone know of any mics (preferably omni-directional) that will record organ and choir well? Unfortunately my church's budget is only going to allow me to get something under around $130. Does this one look any good? https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...tal_handy.html
    Obtaining a good quality handheld recorder is a great option for the price range you're searching in. Did you also see this option: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...tal_audio.html? Let me provide a couple of considerations for you.

    The recorder should be able to be mounted on a microphone stand. It would also be nice to have the option of X as well as Y recording options (placement of the microphones). I like how the Zoom microphones have some sort of protection in case the recorder falls or is dropped.

    Between the two vendors (full disclosure–I use a Tascam), I do prefer Tascam because they are built solidly. On its guitar pedals, Zoom did not anchor the ports/jacks to the case, so it was only the legs soldered to the logic board holding the jacks in place. The jacks will get the most use as you record, import, export, and manipulate the recorder. Make sure they are anchored to the case, or you may be buying a replacement soon. Also, make sure whomever handles the recorder is careful with it (or is capable of paying for the replacement!).

    My 2¢ worth.


    P.S. I've dealt with BH for years, and they're right there at 420 9th Avenue.
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos


    • #3
      I have used a Zoom H5 for recording choirs and organs in a church setting and found it to perform quite well for what it is. I have not used the H1 that you refer to above, but don't see why it wouldn't work. Just be aware that it is Zoom's low end entry and will have some limitations. I would suggest reading user reviews on the major retail sites that sell it to see what these are. Not knowing what your ultimate goals are, I can only suggest that you might eventually wish you had spent a little more to get something with some growth potential.
      Note that this is not just a microphone. It is a fully self contained portable recording device. Mount in on a photo tripod, turn it on, set your levels and start recording. Your audio will be recorded to internal memory card for later transfer to a PC for editing. The microphones are probably not omni-directional. Most X/Y stereo pairs have a cardioid pickup pattern, which will emphasize sound coming from the front and sides of the mic over sound coming from the rear. If both the choir and organ are at the same end of the sanctuary, this should be fine. If not, you will need a more complicated setup to achieve satisfactory results. Also note that the built in microphones on any of these small, handheld recorders will struggle a bit with the organ's 16 ft. stops. It's simple physics. Just like you need big pipes/speakers to create/reproduce low notes, you need larger microphones to record them. My H5 has 2 additional mic inputs that I connect to a pair of large diaphragm condenser mics for organ recording, and the difference between them and the internal mics is quite noticeable. While this may be beyond your budget, getting a unit that can accommodate additional inputs may save you money in the long run. Good luck with your search.


      • #4
        Could you clarify, the title of the thread refers to microphones and the link you provided is for a portable recorder. Are you looking only for a microphone, or an all-in-one device to do the recording? Do you already have the other components in the audio chain and are only looking to add a mic?

        The Rode NT5 and the Oktava MK-012 are well regarded as good entry level options for small diaphragm condenser mics available with omni capsules. They could both do well in your application, however they start at the $500 mark for a matched pair. Do a search for mic comparisons between the NT5 and MK-012 put beside the likes of Neumann, Sennheiser, Schoeps, and company - of course the high end mics sound better, but it is surprising how close the NT5 and MK-012 get.

        There really are not many options for omni under $500 (unless you are willing to venture to little known brands sold in online shops, of which have little to no end user reviews). There are plenty of cardioid condenser mics around the $100-200 mark, but omnis are noticeably lacking in this price point. The Rode M5 is in the $200 range for a matched pair, however they are cardioid only, good option if you can't stretch for the NT-5.

        Is it possible for you to delay your purchase in order that you could raise more funds?

        Can you tell us more about how your church is laid out. Where are the choir and organ located? Do you have a specific stereo pattern or mic placement in mind that you are looking for omni?

        What is the intended usage of the recording? Internal use for teaching and archiving? I think a portable recorder is absolutely fine for this.

        Will the church be using the recording in any official capacity, such as posting recorded services or livestreaming services? If so, I would suggest trying to raise the budget a bit, as it will open up more options. If livestreaming, consider how the mic or portable recorder fits in the signal chain and how you will eventually get your audio+video out for stream.


        • St Josaphat
          St Josaphat commented
          Editing a comment
          We do have a small church, the organ is a two manual Estey in the choir loft. A portable recorder would be better than just a mic I think, but anything is fine.

        • quantum
          quantum commented
          Editing a comment
          A mic by itself won't make a recording, the mic needs to be placed into a signal chain of devices. At it's basic level: microphone > mic preamp > recorder. If you, or your church already has this stuff, than getting a mic alone could possibly work within your budget. If you could give more details on what audio gear you already have access to at your church, then we could advise you further if getting a stand alone microphone would work in your situation.

          A portable recorder takes the microphone, mic preamp, AD converter, and recorder and packages it into a neat little box. You don't have to worry about how to connect these things together. You just press record and go (there is more to it than that, but it is the general idea).

      • #5
        I am using a Samson C03 USB stereo microphone to record my keyboard and vocals from home. I bought it 10 years ago but had never used it until C*v*d-19 denied me any access to my church's instruments. At that time I had looked at the Zoom and Tascam recorders, also popular USB microphones like the Blue Snowball. Just about all of them had roll-off below 100hz which makes them fine for vocal applications but a little lacking for keyboard and definitely lacking for organ. The Samson has switchable Omni, Cardioid and figure 8 pick-up patterns and it has switchable roll-off below 100hz or completely flat response. It was about the same price as the Zoom recorder. I daresay that the C03 and a laptop running Audacity will bury any self-contained mic/recorder for sound quality and versatility in a field recording assignment. FWIW.


        • #6
          As long as your goal is simply to capture high-quality stereo recordings of organ, choir, and other music, and not to make complicated multi-mike productions, one of these small portable recorders will do just fine. While $130 or less would not have gotten you any kind of decent recorder (much less including good microphones) 25 years ago, nowadays, these little units are incredibly good, even the cheapest ones, like the $85 unit in your first link.

          I have a similar little thing that is around 15 years old, a Roland (Edirol) R-09. I bought it used, 10 years ago, for about a hundred dollars, and I think it cost nearly $300 new. But the one you see for $85 is probably every bit as good, possibly better. The quality has gone up and the prices down in recent years.

          Without any fuss, I can set this little unit on any convenient surface, or on a stand, or prop it up in a pew, and capture incredibly realistic, clean, clear, full-range recordings of organs when servicing out in churches. It is a device that simply WORKS beautifully. The recording level is not terribly critical, though it's wise to at least check the level before recording.

          The condensor microphones they build into these little devices may not be the equal of the better free-standing mikes, but they are apparently quite awesome. I can pick up even the profound 32' pedal effects with it, which I probably could not do with even a fairly expensive dynamic mike. And the placement of the mikes for stereo is just right. Listening to your recordings with headphones, you are virtually transported to the location.

          In short, I can't see any reason not to go for one of these, UNLESS you need to place several microphones around the church and record with a mixing console. In that case, you may need more sophisticated equipment and a lot more money.
          *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!



          • #7
            I've got a Zoom H4n, it has held up surprisingly well over the years. For the most part, I use it for practice journals and informal recordings. To be honest, I find the mics and preamps on it are okay, not bad, not great, they get the job done. Using entry level condenser mics in the $150 range I've been able to get far superior recorded sound compared to the Zoom's internal mics. The Zoom is small, convenient, easy to setup, and that is where I find its value. I am very impressed with the H4n's ruggedness.

            When it comes to more involved musical settings like choir concerts, I will almost always prefer using studio mics over the Zoom. I find the resultant sound is worth the hassle of setting up the gear.