Part of my performance includes recording and sampling sounds the audience makes during a break down (e.g. the audience singing / saying things together). This will be in indoor theatres with approximately 1500 people.

Could anyone suggest the mics and mic configuration to capture the audience?

I'll be using Ableton Live to take these and loop / replay the audience through the PA.

This other posting was relevant, but I wasn't sure which configuration may be the best for capturing audible / distinct words being said by the audience (as opposed to the sound being ambient / distant):

What mic set-up would you use to capture a crowd?


4 Answers 4


If you're going to need spot mics for audible words and sentences, you're going to need a lot of mics :/ Do you know who in the audience will say what?

If I were you, I'd get ahold of some used large diaphragm mics that are omni or one that can switch patterns. Like the RODE NT2A for example, and place them in certain spots in the audience, or hang them in the ceiling in some way.

If all you want is a loud audience saying stuff, I'd put some stereo pairs in different configurations on the stage.. or get a couple of handheld recorders like Zoom H2n and use the different capture settings.

Sounds like a cool project! Have fun!


When I record concerts, I like to put a pair of shotguns on the lip of the stage, to get the front row singing along. I usually use this in conjunction with other mics placed over the audience.

I want to warn you of a potential problem I see. If I understand what you are doing, there is a great risk of feedback if you feed the audience back into the room especially through delays with any amount of feedback on them. This is due to a build up of the rooms resonant frequencies.


I would hang some shot guns or point them at various parts throughout the crowd. Maybe use a PZM or contact mic somewhere in a resonant tube or catch the crowd from an omni ldc in the middle. Combine it all.


I'm not 100% sure, I only have two inputs on the recorder I use right now and normally build my crowds with a combination of mostly mono-files, with both X/Y, ORTF and A-B added to the mix as I feel it fits for the scene, but I do have a pretty clear view of how I would probably do, considering the mikes I have:

First, a pair of Sennheiser MKH 40 cardioid mics in ORTF 90 degree-formation perfectly centered from the crowd, hanging from the ceiling, pointing at the the middle of the front half of the crowd. I chose the ORTF over X/Y as I actually do not want a center here, this sounds like a bigger event than, for example, a club, and in that case a center tends to narrow the place down.

Then a pair of Octava 012 in A-B formation, on each side of the scene, pointing pretty much like the Sennheisers, with an angle of 90 degrees between them (they should be way to far apart to risk phasing from this distance). The octavas are a lot more fuzzy than the sennheisers, but give a very good body to the sound :-)

I assume there are at least 6 channels to play with here as you wanna have distinct voices in the mix, so the final two channels I use for two Sennheiser MKH 416. As I've kept the MKH 40's and MC 012 quite distant, phasing SHOULDN'T be an issue with the 416's now. Actually, that's why I've chosen lobar-mics here, normally I use the 416's from a distance high above (like the character an clarity of 'em)! The 416's I would position facing right ahead, about in the middle of the different stereo-pairs on each side.

I'm not totally sure about phasing with the shotguns in this configuration, but should you use it and get phasing after all, just try different position till you get one that works :-)

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