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Offline heathen

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Location Location Location
« on: May 16, 2018, 03:24:20 PM »
Lately I've been trying to make an effort to think more about getting the best location in a venue first, and then gear tailored to that location second (rather than the other way around...I find I'm more inclined to think of gear first and foremost).  I think it's fairly well-established that decent gear in the perfect location will make a better-sounding recording than superb gear in a mediocre location.  (One thing that opened my eyes to this is the Audience Recording Hall of Fame thread...that Pink Floyd show from '77 was recorded on mics that most people on here would avoid if given the choice, yet 40 years later it still sounds great, which I can only assume is a testament to the taper picking the optimal location rather than having the best mics in existence.)  So, what I've been trying to think about is: what gear best facilitates me getting set up in the optimal location?

One important caveat here is that, when possible, I prefer to mount my mics on something other than myself.  That's just my own personal preference, of course, and not some rule that I think should apply to everyone.  I can and do stealth shows with mics on my person, but given the choice I'd rather avoid that.

One of the things that I have found (in my admittedly limited experience compared to most tapers on here) that limits where I can set up is my mic stands.  I use mic stands with the three legs in the bottom section, like many on here.  Those obviously take up space because of their footprint, but they also can be tripped over in a dark and crowded venue.  Obviously, mounting mics on my person is a way to prevent this, but see my caveat above.  Another potential solution is using a clamp or securing the stand to something so the legs don't need to be extended.  The limitation with this approach is the need to have something to clamp onto...if that something isn't in the ideal location, then it's not terribly helpful.

That leaves alternative mic stand designs.  One that doesn't present as much of a tripping hazard is the mic stand with a heavy base.  Those heavy bases, however, present problems in terms of portability (does anyone feel that they want to make their bag heavier than it already is?) and questions from security when bringing gear in.  Another possibility is a monopod.  There's virtually no tripping hazard with a monopod, but the big downside is that it can't stand up on its own.  You're left to either recruit a very willing helper, or keep one hand on the monopod throughout the show.  I have seen some monopods with little feet that can extend at the bottom, but those don't seem nearly stable enough to be trusted on their own in a dark and crowded venue.

A context I have in mind for this whole issue is a show where maybe taping is allowed, but they want you to set up in a less-than-ideal location (so you try to get set up in the sweet spot instead, but have to keep a low profile).  That or some of the shows where might have no trouble bringing in whatever gear you want, but you still have to keep your setup inconspicuous.

Unfortunately I don't have any silver bullet answer, and am more looking for input from others about how to tailor your setup towards prioritizing location.  This is not to suggest that anyone on here just sets up wherever is most convenient and doesn't consider where the sweet spot might be.  Keep in mind I'm thinking of my own tendency to focus on gear first, which maybe others succumb to at times as well.

(I know I've focused a lot on how to mount mics, but I recognize there are other considerations as well.  For example, it's easier to set up anywhere with a more compact setup...actives, IPAs, and M10 versus bigass LDs, outboard preamp, and 788T.)
« Last Edit: May 16, 2018, 04:28:43 PM by heathen »
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Online rippleish20

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2018, 03:33:09 PM »


I started taping in 79 and stopped for a long time after Jerry Garcia died. I got back into taping four years ago, but streamed shows live for two years before that using a phone. I'm telling you all of this because it confirmed to me that location is, in many ways, more important that equipment. The beauty of hand streaming with a phone is that you can easily get in the sweet spot. Going to a full rig makes things a lot more challenging as it's unusual to be able to setup the sweet spot with a stand and equipment. Because of all the talking at shows I try first to get SBD patches and this locks you in even more to a location that may not be good for audience recordings. 
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Offline ycoop

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2018, 03:40:28 PM »


I started taping in 79 and stopped for a long time after Jerry Garcia died. I got back into taping four years ago, but streamed shows live for two years before that using a phone. I'm telling you all of this because it confirmed to me that location is, in many ways, more important that equipment. The beauty of hand streaming with a phone is that you can easily get in the sweet spot. Going to a full rig makes things a lot more challenging as it's unusual to be able to setup the sweet spot with a stand and equipment. Because of all the talking at shows I try first to get SBD patches and this locks you in even more to a location that may not be good for audience recordings.

What’s your general approach to getting a patch?

Given my current external mic-less set up, I figure my best chance at a good recording consists of a patch+well placed portable recorder internal. Haven’t figured out how to secure the patch part though.
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Offline heathen

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2018, 03:46:08 PM »
Getting a board patch isn't the solution in all cases, though.  Lots of bands that allow audience recording don't allow board patches.  Even when a band allows a board patch, the feed you get could have any number of problems (I'm sure we've all been there). 
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Online lsd2525

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2018, 03:56:23 PM »


I started taping in 79 and stopped for a long time after Jerry Garcia died. I got back into taping four years ago, but streamed shows live for two years before that using a phone. I'm telling you all of this because it confirmed to me that location is, in many ways, more important that equipment. The beauty of hand streaming with a phone is that you can easily get in the sweet spot. Going to a full rig makes things a lot more challenging as it's unusual to be able to setup the sweet spot with a stand and equipment. Because of all the talking at shows I try first to get SBD patches and this locks you in even more to a location that may not be good for audience recordings.

What’s your general approach to getting a patch?

Given my current external mic-less set up, I figure my best chance at a good recording consists of a patch+well placed portable recorder internal. Haven’t figured out how to secure the patch part though.

1. Research. Some bands are known to be patch friendly. Reach out to band or manager beforehand if possible.
2. Talk to the soundguy. Try to be there before soundcheck if possible.
3. Be prepared with the right kind of cables. I usually find the need for female XLR's, but all boards are not the same.

If you keep going to the same venue a lot, get the know the house soundguy. He/she will be familiar with the board, and may or may not be willing to allow a patch regardless of what the band thinks.

Some of the newer digital board will even let you download directly to a thumb drive

Given my current external mic-less set up, I figure my best chance at a good recording consists of a patch+well placed portable recorder internal. Haven’t figured out how to secure the patch part though.
[/quote]
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Offline nulldogmas

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2018, 04:00:13 PM »
It depends so much on the venue — I have an entirely different plan (short stand, tall stand, no stand, mics on hat, mics strung from ceiling pipe, etc.) depending on where I'm recording. Every time a new music space opens, I have to fight my disappointment: "I don't want to go there! I don't know how much masking tape to bring!"

Online rippleish20

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2018, 04:04:56 PM »
My current thinking is a board patch and microphones on stage are the best thing to shoot for in my case. I happen to record a lot of shows of a musician where I can get board patches. Yes, they vary widely in quality and mix but incessant talking is worse to me than a weak soundboard.  For bands I know less about, I look into whether they allow patches and, if they seemingly do, I just ask nicely. Or I talk to the FOH and feel them out. I have had a harder time getting microphones on stage (there are many unhelpful Sound Engineers, often a lack of space, etc) but that's what I am shooting for. It takes some effort in many cases but simply asking will often get you further than you think. 

I think audience recordings can be better than soundboards but, really, the talking thing makes it very difficult these days. I still always record using microphones no matter what but sometimes it's not even worth the effort.

In scenarios where I can't get a patch, I am thinking more about using stealthier equipment so I can record closer up. Or, in some places, situation my equipment right in front of a speaker stack. You can often get closer up if you re willing to be to the side. At the Brooklyn Bowl, for example, most people record from a spot about half way up the right side (or in the case of Zman, the left side). There is a small area that is somewhat protected and you are much closer to the right stack of speakers...

Several people I have encountered get to be freinds with the FOH in their local venue and are able to get microphones permanently mounted in a spot closer up and above the crowd. You might be able to do this at Be On Key, for example. 


 
« Last Edit: May 16, 2018, 04:11:45 PM by rippleish20 »
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Offline heathen

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2018, 04:20:22 PM »
You might be able to do this at Be On Key, for example.

With a bar clamp like you suggested in the other thread I think I'll be set at Be On Key.  The spot I used last time seems good to me, though for some shows I imagine on stage will be better (Scott's on stage DPA recording of Garaj Mahal smokes mine, for example!).

Something specific that got me thinking about the subject of this thread is an upcoming show at the Ogden.  It's a decent-sized theater in Denver, and when I've taped there it has been behind the SBD.  While I thought the sound was fine in that spot, for an upcoming show I want to try the FOB railing.  I've heard, though, that the venue prefers people to record from behind the SBD.  While I'll certainly do that if they ask me to, I'm thinking that if I can keep my setup as low profile as possible (hence no big mic stand towering above the crowd and taking up space on the floor with its legs) then maybe they won't mind.  My plan is to bring my normal mic stand, but try to secure it to the railing so I don't need to unfold the legs.  If I do need to set up behind the SBD, though, I'll still be able to use the mic stand in its normal configuration.  (The band in question definitely does not allow SBD patches, FWIW.)
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Offline heathen

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2018, 04:33:12 PM »
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Offline jefflester

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2018, 04:57:52 PM »
I have seen some monopods with little feet that can extend at the bottom, but those don't seem nearly stable enough to be trusted on their own in a dark and crowded venue.
I've seen one of these, don't know what kind, though. Three little metal feet (think 1/4" diameter rod) extend out about a foot each, and flat (or nearly) to the ground. Seems like using something like that and then gaff taping them to the floor would solve most of the stability issues.

Like this, but hopefully a little taller since this is only 66 inches. These feet store up inside the tube, there are others were the feet fold down on the outside.
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Offline jcable77

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2018, 07:03:34 PM »
I have seen some monopods with little feet that can extend at the bottom, but those don't seem nearly stable enough to be trusted on their own in a dark and crowded venue.
I've seen one of these, don't know what kind, though. Three little metal feet (think 1/4" diameter rod) extend out about a foot each, and flat (or nearly) to the ground. Seems like using something like that and then gaff taping them to the floor would solve most of the stability issues.

Like this, but hopefully a little taller since this is only 66 inches. These feet store up inside the tube, there are others were the feet fold down on the outside.

I grabbed one of these at Mikes photo in boulder last time i was out there for $50. I was in a pinch and needed something. I think that image is a little weird, its upside down. Its a decent extension for 50 bucks, but yeah youd most likely want the longer manfrotto extension with the footing.
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Offline kindms

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2018, 07:55:26 PM »
great mics in a shit location is only going to make it sound EXACTLY like it does in that shit

so yes location location location is indeed A numero uno

but to your point about floyd. the other thing to consider is those guys spent A LOT of $ and time to make sure their shows sounded awesome.

its why the dead tapes sound as awesome as they do etc.

its a combination of whats coming out of the PA or stage #1 > Location >EQ

IMHO.

not every band has the budget or inclination to care about the audio quality of their shows. And for sure 70s - 80s floyd was sometimes losing money on those tours if you can believe that. the amount of gear etc they were hauling around was ridiculous

think about the wall of sound. can you imagine the tear down and build for that monstrosity ? I bet those guys were soooo pumped when line arrays etc hit the scene.
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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2018, 10:21:07 PM »
Totally agree with you kindms.  The best recordings are made when taping from the best location using the best gear when recording a band that really gives a shit about their sound.  The Dead always did and of the current touring bands I think Roger Waters consistently does the best job with their sound system.  I was amazed how good Oracle Arena sounded last year.  Barclay's Arena sounded equally as good and I was warned beforehand to temper my expectations.  I have recorded many shows at Oracle in basically the same seats and there was no comparison.   If the band doesn't give a shit about the sound then location and gear can only do so much. 

In many (dare I say most) cases the best sounding spot is not where a venue will let you put up a stand if taping is allowed so that is a limiting factor.  If I could run mics on a stand from the sweet spot with a bunch of big dudes blocking that would make the best recordings (U2 Joshua Tree Tour 1987 where we ran on a stand 7 feet high FOB with venue security "busting" us if the band saw us and multiple blockers) but taping is often making compromises.  My preference would be to wear the gear in the right spot rather than use a stand in a sub-optimal location.

Listening to some of those classic recordings is why many of us got into this hobby and pulling comparable recordings today is the holy grail.   


Offline goodcooker

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2018, 09:02:28 AM »

For the last few years I have used a Super Clamp and articulating arm setup far more than I have used a stand. I can setup on railings, conduit, table edges, chair backs or legs, monitor handles, etc...

Taking up zero floor space makes the venue and patrons happier and I am more likely to be able to get in the spot that I want with the gear I need. I'm also able to roam around and not have to worry about someone tripping over my stand legs. It's always a trade off - I may get to a space where I get the right balance of stage and PA sound but get more talkers or be closer to a wall or balcony overhang than I would like.

In one venue in particular I use an unusual setup of a flex arm wedged into the handle of a monitor and cables run around the lip of the stage to backstage where the wireless soundboard is and also take a patch from there when available.
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Online Gutbucket

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Re: Location Location Location
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2018, 09:30:02 AM »
Yes, location, location, location.

Miniature gear and creative rigging expand one's location possibilities, and help one consider recording spots and setups which might otherwise come to mind.  The other side of the equation is finding the most appropriate location of those available.  Sometimes it's obvious, but many times not.
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