How To Mic a Vocal Ensemble

When recording multiple vocalists at once, the choice of mic placement will depend on the size of the group, the style of music, and how the track will be used.

For small groups of 2–4 vocalists, often a single large-diaphragm condenser mic placed 3–4′ from the vocalists can be enough to mic the group (see Fig. 129). The group should stand in a semi-circle around the microphone. If the group is experienced, they should have no problem self-mixing to make sure no individual is overpowering the group. Experimenting with mic distance will allow control of the amount of presence in the track.

Miking a Group of Vocalists

For larger groups and choral ensembles, stereo miking is often a good option. Techniques such as X-Y, ORTF, and the Decca Tree can be used. These techniques are all explained in the Stereo Miking Techniques section of the Encyclopedia of Home Recording.

In some cases, miking each vocalist or each vocal section, if it is a larger group, separately can provide more versatility during mixdown.

This is an excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Home Recording, a complete reference for the home recording studio by Mark Garrison. For more information about this book, please visit