Re: [LAU] OT: Microphone choice for pipe organ

From: Jörn Nettingsmeier <>
Date: Sat Jun 19 2010 - 11:18:09 EEST

On 06/13/2010 11:40 PM, Jonathan Gazeley wrote:
> Hi all,
> In the past I've recorded a church choir and organ, using a pair of
> small condensers[1] in an X-Y layout for the choir, and a single
> large-diaphragm condenser[2] for the pipe organ (which is at the other
> end of the church).
> The large condenser copes extremely well with the organ, and it sounds
> great when the choir and the organ play together, but during the solo
> organ parts, the organ sounds a bit "mono".
> Today, I recorded again but used two inexpensive dynamic microphones[3]
> in an X-Y pair for the organ. I was pleasantly surprised by the general
> recording quality and sound colour of the dynamic mics - I thought they
> wouldn't stand up against the much more expensive condenser. It also
> sounds good in stereo - although these cheap mics have a fairly loud
> background hiss. What can you expect from a 3-pack for £25?

nothing :)

> So, is anyone able to recommend good quality but inexpensive dynamic
> mics that can cope with the loud SPL of a pipe organ at ten feet, have a
> low background noise, and don't mind being at the end of a 20m XLR cable?

no. i'm also pretty sure you'd want a condenser. for the organ, dynamics
might be interesting and ok'ish, but condensers are more versatile,
generally. i love my md421s, but i'm not using them as often as the

no serious microphone should show signal degradation after just 20m. for
professional recordings, 100m or more used to be the norm whenever an OB
van was involved.

> Another choice might be for me to buy another pair of C-2s (which are
> excellent), although I'm not sure how well they will cope with the low
> frequencies of a pipe organ (as low as 15Hz).
> I could also try a pair of large-diaphragm condensers, such as the
> Behringer C-1 [4]. Any thoughts?

large diaphragms are mostly show-off, in my experience. good large
capsules can be quite nice, but they are expensive to manufacture, and
their directivity patterns are a sad joke. if you're on a tight budget,
go small diaphragm. i like the røde nt55. for 500€, you get a matched
pair with cardioids *and* swappable omni capsules.

after having heard a direct comparison, i'm now pretty convinced that
the only way to record an organ is with omnis or very wide cardioids, as
main mikes, due to their extended low frequency response. with
cardioids, no matter how good, you are simply missing two octaves at the
bottom, where the nice 32' oomph is.
if you can't use omnis because of the reverb situation or because they
pick up nasty echoes from the choir, you will have to use a shelf eq to
bring the 32' back to where it belongs, but that can be difficult.

depending on the configuration of the organ, having another pair at 4-5m
height to capture the upper stops can be useful.

if you're not looking for very precise localisation, just pleasant
spaciousness, AB miking rather than XY is the technique of choice. with
large sounding bodies such as orchestras or organs, it has the
additional advantage of more uniform coverage as the spacing increases.
(finding just one spot where all parts of the sounding body have good
balance can be hard.)
using two (or even three) omnis on an organ, spaced several meters
apart, is not uncommon.



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Received on Sat Jun 19 12:15:01 2010

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