FM-transmitterThis weekend I had a recording session with a children’s choir. The session was at Walnut House Studios, where I’ve been doing independent production work.

Recording choirs for churches can be a really great way to expand your home studio recording experiencel. It’s not a terribly difficult session to run. A lot of times a good pair of microphones and preamps will do the trick. But what about headphones?

Even in a professional recording facility, chances are there isn’t an endless supply of headphones. Walnut House has quite a few headphones, but not enough even for the 15-member children’s choir.

What to do? Go out and buy headphones for ONE session? Nope.

Use an FM Transmitter.

Here’s what we did for this session. Instead of shelling out the cash to buy more headphones than we would ever need for a single session, I had the kids bring in their own headphones and portable FM radio. Almost all of them had one at home. In fact, apparently the new iPods even have built-in FM tuners!

Next, I simply ran the signal from one headphone amp into an FM transmitter (pictured above – this one costs around $100, which is as much as ONE decent set of headphones will cost). This little transmitter sent the signal out on an FM channel of my choosing. All the kids had to do was dial in 107.9 FM, and we were in business!

Obviously, this isn’t the most elegant solution, but it worked like a charm for me. Not every child brought in a tuner, so I still had to run some normal headphone lines to them, but all in all it’s a great solution.

Most choirs aren’t going to think it’s odd if you ask each of them to bring a portable FM radio. Just tell them that you don’t own thirty sets of headphones, and that it would be extremely helpful if they could bring their own. Ask them with courtesy and professionalism, and you may end up with a session you never thought you’d be able to book before!

  • Awesome! You are the man!

    • Well, that’s awfully nice. Thanks Albi!

  • How about an even cheaper option – run one set of headphones to the conductor!

    -Kim.

    • Hi Kim. That would work for certain sessions, but the kids were singing along with backing tracks, so they were needing to hear where they were in the song.

  • Great idea. I never would have thought of that.