The Concert Choir at Kirkland, Washington’s Northwest University has a reputation as a premier performance ensemble, demonstrating a wide-ranging musicality on pieces from throughout the choral repertory.
For the choir’s recent annual concert at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, engineer Steve Smith recorded and mixed the live performance, utilizing microphones from Audio-Technica. Although the recording will likely be used only for archival purposes and internal circulation rather than commercial release, Smith did not take any shortcuts, carefully miking the 100-plus member choir, nine-piece brass ensemble and grand piano and mixing a stereo recording any classical label would be happy to release.
Smith, who also serves as creative director of Creatio, Northwest University’s innovative music business and recording arts degree track, used five AT5040 studio vocal microphones on the choir and one on the piano. In addition, two AT4047/SV cardioid condenser microphones were provided for the brass ensemble.
“I love the AT5040,” Smith states. “It’s super high quality. I’d put it up against anything. The AT5040 is extraordinarily transparent and beautiful-sounding.”
And Smith’s AT4047/SV’s only scratch the surface of Creatio’s microphone locker, which includes nearly 40 A-T microphones. As Creatio’s creative director, as well as director of the Recording Arts Technology Program, chief engineer of Creatio Studios and a principal instructor, Smith works to impart his students with practical knowledge and nuanced listening skills.
“I believe very strongly that educational institutions and music technology programs have an added importance in this day in age,” he says. “People used to go to music stores to learn and listen – to A-B mics and signal processors and whatnot – but that is happening less frequently these days. Educational institutions are now the place where students learn both the formal science and art of recording, and that practical, real-world perspective. And we feel lucky that Audio-Technica places such a high level of importance on these programs as well.”
Smith continues, “In my classes, we compare microphone models and techniques with meticulous listening tests, and it’s great when a student can make a connection with a microphone. Our mic arsenal is deep and diverse, and Audio-Technica microphones continually impress the students. I have always loved them too. They are very consistent from mic to mic, with great quality control. I feel privileged to share microphones from Audio-Technica with tomorrow’s best engineers, who will be putting A-T mics to use for years to come.”