Having made the decision to Record your Choir the next most important decision is to decide where. This post is assuming you aren’t looking to record in a fixed studio but instead have decided to record on location.
For Choirs and Schools, a Location Recording is by far the most sensible choice. Recording studios, whilst perfectly set up to record bands and small groups are (unless you go to Abbey Road) not usually big enough to deal with Choirs.
When choosing a venue here are some of the key points to consider:
Is the venue located near a main road? If so how well is it soundproofed? Even in relatively quite areas, the noise of cars going past, however infrequent can potentially cause a low ‘rumble’ on the recording. If you plan to record in a hall then also check if there are other nearby rooms which are hired out, particularly if they are in the same building or complex. If you record in a church, make sure no other meetings are planned in adjoining rooms.
The Biggest cause of unwanted noise on a CD recording will often come from Lighting sources or Heaters. When you go and view the proposed venue for your recording, even if it is day time make sure you turn all the lights on which may be needed and give them time to settle. Some lights only start to buzz after a few minutes! Also confirm any heating requirements and try to avoid using fan or electric heaters as these will be picked up on the recording. Where there are radiators being used, try to ensure these come on well before the recording session. Not only will this ensure the space is already warm but also avoids the noise of water filling radiators or pipes creaking – particularly in older buildings!
Whilst it sounds obvious, if you are going into a different venue from your usual rehearsal or performance space then check there is enough space for your choir. This includes not only positioning the choir how they normally stand to perform but also ensuring adequate space for instruments and any soloists who may come along. Ideally there should be at least some separation between the soloists, instrumentalists and the choir.
Most importantly of all, wherever you decide to choose for your Location Recording, visit the venue. Spend at least 10 minutes standing in the venue and just listen to see if there are any noises from inside or outside the building. This will save a lot of problems if we turn up and the noise from the venue or outside has a negative effect on your recording.