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Author Topic: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups  (Read 4777 times)

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stevetoney

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2009, 11:34:04 AM »
Hands down, my favorite live recordings are high quality matrixes, so my own glass ceiling would follow the seqence laid out below...

(You'll need one complete audio recording rig and a separate recorder for getting the SBD patch, or a 4 channel recorder with a long pair of cables that reach back to the SBD.)

1)  Make arrangements with the sound engineer in advance and confirm with him/her that he/she will have the time and gear (extra SBD channels and cables or whatever might be needed) to provide a soundboard patch that will be dedicated to recording the performance.  Make sure you know what output connections exist on his gear so that you have the right cables to patch into your recording gear.

2)  On the night of the recording show up for the soundcheck.  The recording engineer will of course get the levels for the PA feed set, but then he needs to spend time getting your special SBD patch levels mixed correctly too.  Since it's a separate patch, it will be a separate mix too.

Note:  For a glass cieling recording, you don't want to record from the PA mix because that mix is mixed for the room and not the patch, and usually sounds like crap later on.  The only way to get a perfect patch is have the mix for the patch done separately so that the levels for the patch are correct.

3)  During soundcheck, while your soundguy is getting the patch mix perfectly set, you roam the room to figure out the sweet spot for an ambient recording.  Obviously, since we're talking glass ceiling here, you probably want to have a fairly good quality recording setup where the mics and preamp is towards the higher end of the gear spectrum.  Hoswever, like others have stated, it's more important to get the mics in the sweet spot than to use the highest dollar gear.

4)  Before the crowd comes in, set-up your live recording rig in the sweet spot and do whatever you need to do to protect it from the public, including the ass-hats that are gonna yell into mics that aren't high enough...so tape it down and get the mics up high...suspend the mics from the ceiling...whatever you gotta do to get a clean audience recording from the sweet spot. 

5)  After you have both recordings, synch them together in post using software such as Audition or Soundforge.  If you use two recorders, you might have to stretch or shrink one of the recordings to get them time synched together, but it's easy to do with the software.  Usually, my experience is that the split will favor the ambient recording, but mix the two to taste.

(Note that if you're using a 4 channel recorder, you might need to adjust one of the recordings backwards a millisecond or two in order to get the two tracks perfectly synched...but the advantage of using the 4-track is that they'll be time synched together (no time drift as the recording progresses).  It depends on how far back from the stage the mics are located...the farther back they are, the more the delay that will exist between the ambient recording and the SBD recording.  You can tell there is delay in the record when you listen to all 4 tracks together...if you hear a slight reverb that is delay between the two recordings.)

There ya go!
« Last Edit: September 14, 2009, 11:43:08 AM by tonedeaf »

Offline Todd R

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2009, 01:12:37 PM »
Cowboy Junkies  + one mic = The Trinity Session

It can be done without regard for the gear at all.  Anyone know what mic they used?

Interesting...the first I have heard of it...

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=U1ARTU0000825

"
Their seminal second album, The Trinity Session, was recorded in 1987 at Toronto's Church of the Holy Trinity, again using the Calrec Ambisonic microphone. Produced by Moore for $250, the album helped the group obtain a contract with RCA (1989) and sold more than 1.5 million copies internationally.
"

The Calrec mic was an earlier precursor to the soundfield st250.  The Soundfield company didn't form until a few years later.  Some more info on it:
http://www.michaelgerzonphotos.org.uk/ambisonics.html
http://www.soundfield.com/company/company.php
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Offline 6079

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2009, 04:53:22 PM »
Thanks Tonedeaf, and everyone else. Lots to chew on here so I appreciate the help.
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Offline yltfan

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2009, 12:24:16 AM »
Pretty much an amateur here, but I thought I'd add my 2 cents anyway.

I agree with Tonedeaf, but I might add some on-stage mics, maybe even in place of the room mics. I think it's pretty hard to get a real nice mix thru the board (even a separate mix), unless it's a pretty big venue. The other night, there was a special sbd mix set up for taping, and it sounded fine in the headphones at the time, but when I listened to it at home, it was pretty off, too heavy on the vocals and too little guitar. But mixed with my on-stage mics (which are heavy on the guitars) it will probably sound nice. An on-stage tape is going to be even more helpful if you're not able to get a separate mix from the board.
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stevetoney

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2009, 11:39:44 AM »
Pretty much an amateur here, but I thought I'd add my 2 cents anyway.

I agree with Tonedeaf, but I might add some on-stage mics, maybe even in place of the room mics. I think it's pretty hard to get a real nice mix thru the board (even a separate mix), unless it's a pretty big venue. The other night, there was a special sbd mix set up for taping, and it sounded fine in the headphones at the time, but when I listened to it at home, it was pretty off, too heavy on the vocals and too little guitar. But mixed with my on-stage mics (which are heavy on the guitars) it will probably sound nice. An on-stage tape is going to be even more helpful if you're not able to get a separate mix from the board.

Yeah, I thought about this too.  The reason I initially left the on-stage mics out of my 'glass cieling' equation was simply because I like a reasonable amount of the crowd in the mix.  On-stage mics do provide a little bit of the audience, but not much.  My thoughts are that stage mic'ing can oftentimes sound closer to a SBD (and the accompanying sterile argument) than a high quality AUD.  My favorite recordings are those that capture the energy of the band (obviously) but also when that energy is mirrored by the audience and also captured. 

So, in thinking about this further, for 'glass cieling' I might even consider substituting the SBD with the on-stage mics...but leave the audience mics...or since this is a 'glass ceiling' discussion, why not have all three and then mix them in post to taste!

easy jim

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2009, 07:20:45 PM »
^ in smaller rooms, where not everything is going through the PA due to stage volume, stage + SBD (PA mix) is often an ideal 4 track approach. 

What is not sufficiently loud on stage will be emphasized in the PA mix, and the opposite will be true for the stage sound (it will lack precisely those things that the FOH engineer is adding to the PA mix).  If you're worried about not getting enough crowd noise w/ stage + SBD, use omnis or wide-cardioid mics on stage.

The best mic approach to take when 4 track recording should be conditioned by the size and acoustic properties of the venue, in a similar fashion to the considerations the FOH should take in setting his reinforcement mix.  (Of course, other set-up limitations may further limit your options, but those are more people/management considerations vs. audio theorizing).

I think it is generally not cool to ask a FOH engineer, who is likely being paid peanuts, to do extra work and set up a recording sub-mix for you unless you're already friends or you're tipping him/her somehow.  So, a fail-safe approach is to never expect to get more than a PA mix feed from the SBD (if that), and choose which mics to use and how/where you set them up accordingly.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2009, 07:22:39 PM by easyjim »

Offline 6079

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #21 on: October 22, 2009, 12:47:12 AM »
The wild card to me is the soundboard; specifically if you can get a special mix, which requires you to rely on the good will of the sound guy and his skill in mixing for recording.

Can anyone share about exploiting the subgroup channels to give yourself more options for post-mixing? Meaning, if there are six outputs, can you tell the sound guy to space out and mix the instruments over the six channels, for a sort of "smart" multi-tracking pull? Is this a tough process or something that can be done relatively easily during soundcheck?

Or if that's too much, just mix a stereo feed as was stated earlier. If you had some noise-canceling headphones and had your stage and aud. mics set up on the same recorder, it seems like you could even fine tune it in accordance with that, so you can tell him how you want it (politely, of course).

That's a nice scenario, because the other one I'm looking at is renting an Alesis HD24 for about $75 a day and then mixing it all together later. And I'm not so sure having the separate tracks would be much better than just getting a solid stereo mix from the board patch.

If you contact the sound guy ahead of time and lay this out politely, is it at least feasible? I understand it's more than is commonly asked.

Any details on that process above is what is still an important mystery to me. I tried to lay it out as best I understand it.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2009, 12:49:34 AM by 6079 »
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Offline Patrick

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2009, 02:40:49 AM »
Can anyone share about exploiting the subgroup channels to give yourself more options for post-mixing? Meaning, if there are six outputs, can you tell the sound guy to space out and mix the instruments over the six channels, for a sort of "smart" multi-tracking pull? Is this a tough process or something that can be done relatively easily during soundcheck?

this is a perfectly feasible way to get "fake multitracking" and it works very well.  However most engineers (that are worth their salt) will be making extensive use of their subgroups and output assignments for mixing the show, especially if they have to run multiple bands with saved settings on the same console in the same night.  Asking an engineer to do this much work just for a recording feed is a little bit much, and 9 times out of 10 you will get laughed at.  However, I've engineered a bunch of shows and given up 2 subgroups to make a feed for a camera, an internet stream, or a record feed and not cared much.  It's all about how you handle it, and also how complex the console is on that particular night.  Catch the engineer EARLY, when he is NOT busy and you may get more help than you expect. 


Quote
That's a nice scenario, because the other one I'm looking at is renting an Alesis HD24 for about $75 a day and then mixing it all together later. And I'm not so sure having the separate tracks would be much better than just getting a solid stereo mix from the board patch.

Do you have a DAW to mix all those tracks down with?  Even small-ish rock bands can take up a lot of channels, so if you don't have access to a Pro Tools, Logic, Samplitude-type workstation, I'd go with the stereo feed and hope for the best.

Offline 6079

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2009, 04:29:19 AM »
However, I've engineered a bunch of shows and given up 2 subgroups to make a feed for a camera, an internet stream, or a record feed and not cared much.  It's all about how you handle it, and also how complex the console is on that particular night.  Catch the engineer EARLY, when he is NOT busy and you may get more help than you expect. 

That's interesting. So, for example, if you wanted a stereo sub mix to suit your recording, could you explain to the sound guy you've got a pair of mics on center stage and one on each end, so you'd like the corresponding instruments in the mix similarly panned? Is that what the default move is anyway; just to pan them as they are on stage to give some separation?

I'm sure the example I listed above of putting on the headphones and cross-checking during sound check is pushing it a bit, but if the levels seem way off, it'd be a good way to give him a quick direction. Other than that, I guess you're subject to his taste in mixing, which hopefully would be familiar with the band and skilled.

One person I talked with suggested it wasn't too taboo to let a taper adjust the levels for their mix on the board their self during this period of time? I guess with isolated headphones.

Do you have a DAW to mix all those tracks down with?  Even small-ish rock bands can take up a lot of channels, so if you don't have access to a Pro Tools, Logic, Samplitude-type workstation, I'd go with the stereo feed and hope for the best.

Yes, mixing that many channels should be very daunting. The appropriate software and capable folks are available, though.
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Offline Patrick

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #24 on: October 22, 2009, 12:31:04 PM »
That's interesting. So, for example, if you wanted a stereo sub mix to suit your recording, could you explain to the sound guy you've got a pair of mics on center stage and one on each end, so you'd like the corresponding instruments in the mix similarly panned? Is that what the default move is anyway; just to pan them as they are on stage to give some separation?

Personally I wouldn't have a problem accommodating someone that wanted to do this, but I'm sure there are some engineers that would take it very personally if you asked them to change their pans.  Not that it makes a huge deal of difference in the end (for smaller venues, at least) but the engineer is there to mix for the show and not necessarily for the record feed. 

Just to be clear, never run your recording microphones into the console under most circumstances, unless you have full cooperation of the engineer.  However, you (usually) can use the stage snake to bring your mic lines back to the FOH position to really simplify your setup.  Ask the engineer which two snake lines aren't being used, plug your mics into those lines on stage.  Have the engineer remove the corresponding XLR Male connectors out of the console, plug those into your preamp.  Makes your life simple.

Quote
One person I talked with suggested it wasn't too taboo to let a taper adjust the levels for their mix on the board their self during this period of time? I guess with isolated headphones.

The biggest issue:  you will be adjusting your levels as the show begins.  This will most likely be the most stressful part of an engineer's day as he is making some big changes to how the room sounds.  He'll need to have access to all the channels, masters, EQ's, comps/fx, etc during this time.  The taper will also be checking his levels during this time and if you try to stick your hand in to turn a knob on the console, the engineer will get pissy at you.  Just be respectful and you'll be fine.  Not all engineers are as bad as I've made them out to be, but always go in expecting the worse and have a backup plan (running 2 channel audience only...) if everything falls through. 

Offline BayTaynt3d

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Re: The civilian taper's glass ceiling; the hierarchy of best setups
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2009, 10:42:46 PM »
Well, if you're talking a full-on approach, I'd say it's definitely taking directs of everything into an HD24 or some such, and I'd include at least one ambient stereo pair as well. You'll bug the FOH less (just patch the directs), and you'll have robust options in post. Then again, I always go lightweight, so I'm personally much more of a matrix type of guy myself.
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