Mixer thoughts and recomendations.


So the equipment in my school's new theatre is, in short, some taboo that I know someone knows and everyone I talk to doesn't know and wont tell me who does know. But our jazz choir is thinking about upgrading from a 16 channel mackie to a 24 channel board. I have only ever mixed on mackie boards and was looking at the 24.4 but thats a little on the high side for our budget. Does anybody have any recomendations for a 24 channel board maybey with less features ie. don't really need the two matrices and the built in compressor on every channel but the 6 aux sends are nice.

gabe said:
So the equipment in my school's new theatre is, in short, some taboo that I know someone knows and everyone I talk to doesn't know and wont tell me who does know. But our jazz choir is thinking about upgrading from a 16 channel mackie to a 24 channel board. I have only ever mixed on mackie boards and was looking at the 24.4 but thats a little on the high side for our budget. Does anybody have any recomendations for a 24 channel board maybey with less features ie. don't really need the two matrices and the built in compressor on every channel but the 6 aux sends are nice.


Mackie makes some good boards.

You can also check yamaha, or soundcraft. Both yamaha and soundcraft are some big names in mixing consoles. My school has an old yahama it still sounds good after 13 years.
I don't know what you're talking about with the comp on each channel. There isn't one on the 24.4.

There isn't a 24 channel mixer cheaper than a Mackie I'd reccommend to you. The only choicea below it are a behringer or a very used board and neither is a good investment. I recommend you guys work to get the money for this purchase and get yourselves a decent sound board. There are many options from grants to fundraisers to corporate sponsers. Attaining outside resouces is pretty easy for a school, you just have to go to the trouble of doing it. While your at it, look for money to replace other equipment. I assume (very prematurely) that if you're using a mackie and considering downgrading that the rest of your equipment isn't exactly top notch. The mixer is only a link in a chain and the weakest link...yada yada yada. If you're going to look for the money, look at upgrading everything.

Now considering you get the money, what is the setup you're using? i.e. Number of mics, monitors, recording setup, etc. Need to know all the specifics to help you pick a suitable board.
I agree with everything said in the previous post. You need to fundraise to get your new board, and anything cheaper than a mackie ain't going to cut it. If I was going for a budget 24ch board, I'd got for the new Mackie Onyx 24.4 board. It's got the Onyx preamps, and it's at a pretty decent price for a 24-ch mixer. But if you're going Mackie, keep in mind how they treat stereo channels when you count the boards for mic channels...My other very high reccomendation would be a Souncraft GB2, which will serve you very well if you end up with it. Soundcraft is a very reputable and high-quality company. So, help the department raise some more money and also tell us about the rest of your setup.
Right now we have our 16 channel mackie, some nice QSC amps, a snake, and more mics than channels. Usually this setup is for about 20 choir members and we just have several singers share so that we can mic the band unless we are in a venue with a board that has more channels. We also just bought a DP-01 HD recorder. Now, a bigger board would be nice but it might just add more stress into mixing. I was also thinking about some cardioid condenser mics to pickup the whole sound and just hook them straight into the recorder.
well first off, setting up a TRUE stereo mic config and running it into your recorder will be much more trouble free, but to be effective it really has to be set up properly, with decent microphones and of course thoughtful placement.

Simply having more mics than channels is completely the wrong reason to get a larger board and I pray you aren't just hooking everything you've got up because it's there. If this is actually a choir that stands in a group, you shouldn't need more than 5 mics on them. More and more mics can be really detrimental. Give more detail. What does the band consist of (how many channels do they take up) and how specifically are you micing your choir and how are they organized on stage?

More more detail! :) It's amazing how the apparently small stuff affects advice.
Also, what mics are you using for each part of this setup? This can be important in deciding if you should go for new mics.
OK, this setup is used for about three different choir groups. Jazz A and B choir are each about 20 poeple with the altos, tenors, and soprano's standing in a arch and the bases on a riser right behind the tenors. There is also a concert choir of about 30 people on risers that just use mics for solo's. Offhand I can't remember exactly what mics we are using, but to pickup the concert choir for the recording mix I used the same mics they are holding. The band usually consists of a drummer, who is lound enough and gets picked up in every mic on the stage, piano, bass, and guitar. We also have four monitors we put them on two aux sends and daisy chain the ones for the band together and the ones for the choir together.
Honestly, your solution isn't a bigger, better console, it's fewer mics. You're over-mic'ing for a choir. Choirs as a rule almost never use individual mics, or even close to it. More typically, a handful of good, matching condensers are used to pick up the entire choir. Depending on the size and arrangement, a single stereo pair is often enough, plus a few mics for soloists--either handheld ones, or ones downstage of the risers that the soloists step up to.

This allows the choir to mix themselves, which is a key to a good choir sound. The key to reinforcing or recording a choir is to think of the choir as a single voice created out of the blend of all the voices in it, and not a collection of 20-30 individual voices.

In a very large or spread out group, it may be necessary to use more than two mics, but it'd be rare to need more than four or so, and with the sizes you're talking about, I can't see a need for more than two, or at most three, plus solos.

The only time I've ever used individual vocal mics in a choir-like setting is for contemporary a cappella groups, and even then, the main sound when recording them is from a stereo pair, with individual close mics for the bass and vp, and sometimes (but again, not as a rule) for the lead. In concert where a stereo pair for the group isn't a reasonable option for staging reasons, ie with a Rockappella/Ball-in-the-House style group, then you go to individual mics, but that's really a different beast, altogether, and the close-mic'd feel really is an integral part of that type of group's sound.


The solution to your drum problem isn't necessarily to make the choir louder, it's to control the sound of the drums. A better investment of your money would be in drum baffles--these are the clear and fiber panels that you often see around the drummers in a rock band or in an orchestra pit. They can keep the sound of the drums from bleeding into the vocal mics and keep the other onstage sounds from bleeding into the sensitive overhead mics.

Remember that there are always multiple solutions to any problem, and throwing money and more electronics at the problem isn't always the best one.
that won't work. If the drums are quieter than the intended source, then there's no way at all to utilize a comp. If they're louder, they'll take down the source with them when the signal compresses and while you've lowered the drums, it's moot since the intended signal is lowered equally.

The options in this area are A) if the drums are coming up in others microphones, but at a lower level than the source, use a gate. This will turn off the signal whenever the level drops below a threshold you set. Now the quiet drums only come through when say the choir is singing, which doesn't matter since the choir will hopefully overpower that quiet drum signal.
B) If the drums are overpowering signals into other mics, use a limiter on the channel. This way, you'll still get drums, but those loud hits can be brought down to the loudest level of the intended source.

Of course, the real thing to look at is keeping the drums from ever reaching a microphone they shouldn't be or at least lowering them to a point where a gate remedies the problem.
First off, I suspect that with so many choir mics, you're loosing a lot of available gain before feedback. Lessen the number of mics and things will most likely sound cleaner and LOUDER!

So here's the rundown as far as mics go as I see it.
no more than 5 mics on drums. And that's really on the high end. You could really go with 3 or 4, which I certainly recommend if you aren't too experienced.

2 mics on the piano. give good attention to placement.

DI the bass and a mic on the guitar.

As far as the choir goes, use 2 microphones. Andy is spot on in saying that you should let the choir mix themselves. That's the whole point of a choir. Ideally they should go unamplified. Or at least that's sort of the indended setting. So really you aren't mixing the parts, you're amplifying the whole. Think of it as a sort of submix in the air you're picking up.
As far as soloists go, I guess that's show specific, but given a choir of 30 on the high end, I don't see the need for more than two soloist microphones. Again, though, you really shouldn't need them. It's the singer's job to mix themselves in and come above the group for a solo. Also the groups job to lower their own voices. I realize this isn't likely in high school, and soloists need help. The best bet is to setup mics SL and SR and have singers go to them, but this might not work for you and handheld, passed around mics may be all you can do.

So, you really should only need 10-12 board channels. Let's go crazy and give you 4 soloist mics and 5 drum mics and even another choir mic and you're just at 16. You certainly don't need a new board. I'm really amazed that without drum mics, you're pushing the limit. That can only mean you're wayyyy over micing the choir. If the money's there, burning a hole in your pocket, maybe look at high quality microphones for the choir and of course a drum baffle.
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Since you're running monitors, cardiod is going to be your best bet. As for brands, that's hard to say. Of all your mics, these should be where you put your money.
There's huge amounts of opinion as to mics. Good microphones will usually have unique characteristics that some sound guys like and others don't. People usually choose some they like for one reason or another. Sometimes it's in their head though. If you can, try renting several different models. Set them up side by side and do some tests.
What's the stage environment like? If there isn't much movement, you'll get a good sound from a couple of large diaphragm condensors. However, these will give you lower gain before feedback and of course are far more fragile. Their sound characteristics, though, may lend themselves more to the range of a choir. I think this is something worth investigating, but probably not your best bet.
As far as the more likely choice, small diaphragm, there's certainly a wide variety. Let me just say, stay away from anything labelled "choir mics". I'm just not fond of hanging choir mics. you'll definitely get a better sound from full size, small diaphragm condesnsers.
Some specific brands to look into are earthworks and neumann. These are more expensive, but it's definitely a good place to put your money. If it's just impossible, look at AKG. A lot of companies are offering cheap microphones with really high quality sound, so while earthworks and neumann and definitely top 'o the line, if you can't afford them, don't feel like you're falling back a whole lot. Quality is increasing a lot in cheaper brands. But there really isn't one microphone I can say will work perfectly for you. The brands I mentioned are very good bets, but if you can, try before you buy as with any purchase.

Also, let us know what specific microphones you're using already. You may already have what you need.
Cool, I'll look into renting some different brands over the summer or next year when concerts start back up and tomorrow I'll hop into the choir room to look at the mic type.
You could use Rhodes they seem to work well. But one thing to note is for the stereo mikes. If you are going to buy them normaly buy a matched pair. This means that the manufacturer has tested them to make sure the responses of each mike are fairly similar. It means less hassle trying to balance them.
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As for brands, it's hard to say, and it really depends on your budget. If you can afford it, I highly recommend looking at the Earthworks SR line (these are their cardioid mics; the QTCs are omni). A matched pair of SR30s, which are the midline model, costs ~$1700. Not cheap, but not disgustingly expensive as mics go, and they sound incredible. And they're less expensive than the other recommendation that immediately comes to mind, the AKG C-414, and while the 414 is more flexible (it's a multi-pattern mic), the Earthworks wipes the floor with it for natural sound.

They give a really great, natural choir sound, and are great as drum overheads and piano mics, among other things, too. They'll do well for both recording and reinforcement (the QTCs are actually better choices for recording in many situations, but for live use, the omni pattern will be more trouble than it's worth).

You might be able to find Earthworks or 414s used for less money, too. I highly recommend buying in a matched pair if at all possible, as this is better for stereo recordings, and it sounds like you do quite a bit of recording.

You'll be amazed at the quality recording you can get if you experiment a bit with the various stereo mic array options using a pair of Earthworks...they're not the mic for every job, by any means, but if I have to mic a choir or a piano, they're definitely one of my first choices.

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit to this, but I use SM-58's depending where the chorus is. If they are behind the proscenium, we have some Audio Technica choral mikes that I use. In front of the proscenium, we have bad problems with house feedback. Whenever the group is in front of the proscenium, I use the 58's. The isolation is great, and they sound OK. With the 58's, I usually put them at waist level of the people on the front row of the risers pointing up. The director is usually pretty good about placing groups where they are needed to sound good, but there is the occasional chance where that is not the case.
I also mix small choruses of eight or ten people that dance while they sing. For that I use body mikes with the names of the the performer under them. Because I usually know who everyone who has a mike is on stage, I can just mix those individually.

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