recording a pipe organ

For five years I recorded my church choir every SUnday. I had two Shure SM58s six feet from the choir and six feet apart. The electric organ was plugged directly into the mixer.
But now Im in a new church because I realized that the breath of Belezebub was upon the old one.
The new church has a pipe organ that was brought over from EUrope in 1962 and I dont know how to record it.
I have tried some different things but it dint sound good. Can anyone suggest a good way of recording the pipe organ.
What microphones do I need and where do I place them?

You really need a good wide range stereo pair and it needs to be far enough back so it pick up the sound of the whole room. I used to use PZMs in the back of the room (haven’t recorded pipe organ in a long time) but have also used two small diaphragm condensers with good results. Suspending them high will help balance the sound of the congregation, though that can be hard to impossible sometimes.

This is a recording of my brother I did a long time ago. The first time I posted the link I think I said it was recorded with two Radio Shack PZMs but in hindsight I think it was two small Sony battery powered condensers. they were about 6 feet apart halfway back in the sanctuary. Recorded on a portable Sony cassette recorder. The PZMs came a little late.

Because the individual pipes are scattered all over the place and the depth of the bass needs a lot of distance to develop naturally you end up having to record the whole room unfortunately or the sound can be very unnatural.

Thank you Phoo. Very moving recording that was of yours. If mine sounds half as good I will be very pleased indeed. I wanted to close mike the pipes but I cannot see how to do that without a lot of microphones so recording the whole hall may be the only way. Nothing else Ive tried has worked.
But the congregation has many good singers but it has some who have not been so blessed. Perhaps I need to talk to the choir master to arrange a recording when the congregation are at home. Or perhaps just record the organ alone then play that back during service and record just the choir.

Don’t forget - the chapel will sound very different without the congregation - brighter and more echo-ey. If you can get a bunch of folks willing to fill the pews, sit still, and enjoy the music whilst you record, you may get a recording more representative of the ‘joyful noise’ made by the organ and choir together in a church full of people.

Good luck!
'til next time;
tony w

I recorded a church organ overdub about six months ago…

I used my MR-8 portable, a stereo phantom power box, and a pair of Røde NT-5’s. I placed them in the church aisle, about one third length down the aisle, pointing 90° opposite each other and facing the organ, which supposedly is the 5th largest organ in Denmark, located about five meters up from the seats and about 10 meters away in a straight line. It gave an airy and very natural sound.

You may ask yourself: How did I get the monitor sound of the basic track to the organist? I used my wireless Sennheiser headphones…

The recording’s great! :D

regards, Nils

The comment Phoo made about the frequencies that need to develop and the mic that needs to be further back is very valid.

An instrument as complex as a proper pipe organ cannot be close mic’d (even if you had enough mics) You’ll grow old trying to make it sound like one instrument and not 500 pipes playing together.

Tony makes a valid point. If you can get people to sit in on a nonchurch night (or even before or after the service) it would be great.