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Church Recording Setup

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ZTubeMan, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. ZTubeMan

    ZTubeMan Guest

    Hi everyone! I'm a newbie here, who is facing a daunting task and is in sore need of professional advice. I ran across this forum, and it looks like just the place to find it! :D

    First, please allow me to apologize for waxing so wordy with my very first post, but I learned long ago that when it comes to stuff like this it's not wise to omit the details! I also apologize for asking what's probably been asked a hundred or more times, and for probably posting it in the wrong forum section too...... :oops:

    Here's the story: I got "volunteered" as the new church soundman shortly after I'd started attending there earlier this year, as the current soundman just happened to be moving out of state at the time, and they knew I just happened to have extensive experience in running live sound........ (see Murphy's Law, Section B, Article 3C). :wink:

    So, being the church sound guy, I was recently asked by my pastor to research the possibility of assembling a computer-based recording system within our budget constraints, and therein lies my dilemma. He fully understands we won't obtain anything near pro-grade LA/Nashville/NYC studio sound quality on our budget (which is about equal to the cost of two U87s), but anything we can get will easily beat the pants off the only recording studio in the area, which is by far the worst studio I know of.

    We have a 35-member choir with tenor, alto, and soprano sections. Our music always consists of drums, bass, and electric piano, accompanied by various combinations of sax, acoustic guitar, mandolin, harmonica, and electric guitar depending on the particular song.

    There's a phenomenal family singing group in our church, that records their latest songs for copyright purposes several times per year, plus demos, and a new studio album every couple of years or so.

    We also record each sermon direct to CD, which amounts to about 190 CD masters per year that must be organized and archived.

    Our goal is threefold:

    (1) do some good quality choir recordings

    (2) record the family's demos and copyright tracks with much better quality than at present
    (3) replace CD-based sermon recording with hard drive recording

    We have a room directly adjacent to the live sound booth that can be treated and converted to a booth for recording solo vocals and acoustic instruments. Our sanctuary, which holds about 350-400 max, probably really isn't big enough to get a good recorded choir sound in, but we have access to a local cathedral with dreamy acoustics.

    I have decent ears and a fair grip on acoustics and basic micing techniques, so hopefully I'll eventually be able to produce what'll pass for a decent recording. But before I start worrying about conquering that, I first need some highly experienced advice on acquiring the proper hardware.

    Mic stands, shockmounts, cables, rack, power conditioner, and other no-brainer sundries have already been accounted for in the budget, so what is listed below is how much actual cash I have to work with for each item I'm not totally sure about.

    For the recording system itself, I'm leaning towards the ProTools LE/003 Factory bundle and ProTools keyboard, on a nice XP Pro computer I'll personally build specifically for the application. But, the choice of ProTools, like everything else listed here, isn't written in stone. I covet your expert advice, with an open mind, heart, and ears.

    I can supply some decent studio monitors and an excellent monitor amplifier, but we have no headphones. Any thoughts on the Sennheiser HD280, or any other <$100 cans?

    The next item is maximum bang-for-the-buck mics, as our live sound mic arsenal is pretty much anathema for recording. I only own a couple of SM57s, and a really old AKG dynamic mic that's the bee's knees for live micing of mandolin and acoustic guitar. The church and the family group have oodles and gobs of SM58 Betas, but nothing else.

    For micing the 5-piece drum kit, it looks like the price cap is probably around $800. For snare, I already have the SM57 in-hand, so I'm well covered there. Above all, I don't wanna skimp on the kick drum mic, not only because it's the heart of the drum sound but because we'll use it for "everyday" live sound too. I have a D112 in mind for that duty.

    For toms and overheads, I guess anything within our budget will be a drum mic set that says "Made in China" somewhere on the box. But, that's OK if the mics sound decent, and it would also let me use the set's kick drum mic on the floor tom. Actually, I guess it'll have to be OK, unless I happen across a money tree in full bloom somewhere! Any recommendations as to a <$600 drum mic set brand/type that doesn't sound like you're banging on oatmeal boxes?

    For recording vocals and acoustic instruments, I've been considering a few copies of the $200 AKG C 2000, and we may be able to spring $300 each (maybe Audio Technica AT4040?), but I don't know yet. Anyway, $300 each will likely be the high cap, so "Made in China" applies again.

    BTW, these mics are a fixed cardioid pattern. Will they work in a Decca tree for recording the choir, or are omnis absolutely mandatory? Or, does it depend on the particular recording space? Are any of the multi-pattern mics in our price range any good? I know, questions, questions, questions....... :lol:

    I'd love to be able to cover choir, solo vocal, and acoustic instrument micing duties with the same mics in order to save on initial cash outlay, if that's at all possible to do with at least satisfactory results. It would sure save us a pocketful o' frogskins by only having to buy a few large diaphragm condenser mics, and would probably save me a lotta stress as well. Not only is our budget limited, but I'm the one who has to play salesman to the deacon board, and persuade then to approve the funding!

    But, I've been a performing and recording musician for 25 years and alas, I know that in the real world there ain't no such thing as a "Swiss Army knife" when it comes to mics. Again, your professional recommendations are what matters most to me, above all. It's not likely, but I *may* be able to pry some more moolah out of the powers that be, *if* I can convince them it's absolutely essential, bar none.

    Thank you so VERY much for any advice you have to offer.

    ZTubeMan :D
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    A couple of quick reactions:

    1) Don't spend money on an iso booth. Improve the sound in your sanctuary. Big rooms are better than small for recording.

    2) Add to your collection of SM57s and SM58s. You could make good recordings using these for everything.

    3) First step after the 57/58s is a pair of small diaphragm condensers. Use these for choir but also for drum overheads. I like the Rode NT55 as the best budget option here. Includes both cardioid and omni capsules. Allows you to experiment with different stereo configurations.

    4) I would really suggest that you get a small pallet of equipment like the one suggested above and claw your way up the recording learning curve before filling your mic closet. There are big advantages to, say, multipattern large diaphragm condensers if you can hold off until you are in a better position to make educated choices.

    Good luck.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    Having made many gospel recordings in churches, I recommend SM57/58's own most everything. Particularly, hung over top of the choir. You see, if you're going to be sharing these microphones with the PA system? You don't necessarily want studio condenser microphones amplified. Way too many opportunities for feedback issues. The restricted bandwidth & lesser sensitivity really works for you in this situation. This is particularly important since studio microphones don't generally make for good PA microphones, i.e. too sensitive, not tight enough directional patterns, too wideband. 57 & 58's are hard to beat and actually sound better than most people realize. I've actually taught this to recordings school teachers, who Kept Trying to Use Studio Condenser Microphones. It didn't work out. They finally succumbed to my insistence upon SM57's and were thoroughly delighted. They didn't realize 57's could sound that good on a choir. DUH! But then it was also coming through my Neve which I felt certainly helped? And I was actually taking my secondary split off of the splitter transformer and not the direct passthrough. LOL! Most recording guys want the direct pass through or "First Split". But then you have to deal with phantom power and I don't want to. Let the PA guys screwup I certainly don't need to be supplying any loud explosions to the PA system by interrupting my phantom on a patch. Nobody has said "Oh I can hear that 3% distortion at 50 hertz....".

    I'm on the level
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    A couple more thoughts.

    1) I agree with Remy that micing a choir with condensers for amplified live sound is very tough. I was thinking of the condensers strictly for recording.

    2) Recording an amplified band and a 35 person choir is about as ambitious a way to begin recording as I can think of. Keep it really simple to start. Start with just a pair of condensers in ORTF or AB or any simple stereo pattern that seems right. Record the sound of the whole group some night at choir practice. Just learning to position that pair, get the levels right in your recording system, mess with eq, reverb, compression, etc. is a big job. If you can't make that pair sound good, you won't fix it by adding a lot of spot mics and a dozen tracks. But once you make the pair sound good, you can make everything sound better with spot mics and direct recording of the main instruments. As I said, the learning curve is steep.

    3) Head over to the acoustic forum. There are lots of discussions on micing a choir.
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Distinguished Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    'Nobody has said "Oh I can hear that 3% distortion at 50 hertz....".'
    Because in the UK, it's at 60Hz :p

    OP, I do the same as you, on less of a budget, in a smaller sanctuary, and with no choir.

    "I know that in the real world there ain't no such thing as a "Swiss Army knife" when it comes to mics."
    Maybe there isn't. But if I was stranded on a desert island, I'd want an SM57 with me before any other mic.

    Don't underestimate the amount of hard drive space you'll need...500GB external drives, however, are cheap enough. Just remember you'll need a few of these every so often. Keep them in WAV format but use 7zip or some software to archive them (usually I can get them to 50% original size).

    As for your choice on PT, is there a reason why? A decent interface and Cubase or anything else, would be just as good a choice.
    The usual advice round here is to choose the software you're comfortable with and which will do everything you need it to. PT doesn't give you magical abilities unoffered in any other software.

    And best of luck with everything. It gets you down sometimes. Just remember God is by your side and this site is right behind you. Or in front of you, assuming you face the PC when using it.
  6. ZTubeMan

    ZTubeMan Guest

    Thank you for your answers, Bob! That's just the kind of feedback I was hoping for.

    I had a bad case of "isolation booth on the brain," because I'm so used to that concept from all the studio recordings I've played on through the years. Preconceived notions are killers, aren't they! You know though, I had indeed mulled over the idea of just trying to record solo vocals and instruments in the open sanctuary first to see if it would work OK, because in my way of thinking there are a number of factors that are perhaps in my favor:

    (A) The sanctuary's big enough (bigger than the entire building most recording studios are in) that acoustic interactions from the wall surfaces will be minimal

    (B) Ditto for the ceiling, which is acoustic tile and about 20' high.

    (C) The rows of thickly padded pews provide great absorption/diffusion.

    (D) Although the church is located on a highway, it's back from the road a good bit and there are a set of steel entry doors, a large foyer, and a set of inside doors isolating the sanctuary itself from highway noise. And, it has thick outside walls and is very well insulated. It's dead silent.

    (E) The sanctuary lights are fluorescent but their noise is nil because of the high ceiling, plus they're switched in about 8 separate blocks and you can keep only what you need turned on.

    (F) HVAC noise is also nil, again because the ducts are located in the high ceiling. And, like the lights, the sanctuary's AC can be turned on/off in 3 blocks.

    So, I guess the question is, "Self, why do you even need an iso booth right now, especially when everything is going to be recorded individually anyway?"

    I've recorded the church's family singing group a few times; just scratch tracks to be sent off for copyrighting purposes. We do on-the-fly live to CD, as we of course have no multitrack capability right now. The vocals are done using our SM58s, and I add some compression and reverb from our Peavey FX16 mixer's on-board digital effect engines. The electric piano is straight into the board, recorded dry with nothing but its own indigenous reverb. The recorded sound I get is significantly better than the local studio's I mentioned in my earlier post........ AAMOF, I've done home recordings years ago with an old Fostex 4-track cassette recorder and some ultra-cheap rack effects that sounded literally as good or better than the local recording studio! Yes, it's that bad...... :?

    I once did a session there, when an area band found itself without a lead guitar player just a few days before their studio time was scheduled, and they asked me to stand in. The sound was so bad and the engineer so obnoxious I vowed to never step foot back in that place again, ever, no matter what the reason or how good the pay might be.

    Many years later, the sound is still terrible, the engineer still has narcissistic personality disorder, and he charged the church $3000 for the worst recording I've ever heard by far, which included only a few hours of recording time plus mixdown and (I think) around 200 CDs. Needless to say, this was before I was attending there.....they were ignorant of this con artist, I'm not. He didn't just rip my church off, he has a decades-long history of ripping off churches and church musicians. I don't think the guy even has a conscience.

    Woohoo! Thanks for the recommendation of the Rode NT55! It looks like a very fine mic, with exceptional versatility. We really need to have our own small diaphragm condensers, because even though I can borrow a friend's pair of SM81s anytime he's home, the problem is that, well, he's never home! He's often on the road for 2 or 3 weeks at a time.

    That's what I was hoping for, that somebody would make the educated mic choices for me, LOL! :wink: While I do get a good recorded vocal sound from a SM58 and have many times over the years in live recordings, we're definitely wanting to step out and go whole hog with large diaphragm condensers for that extra je ne sais quoi on the vocals. And, I already have room in the budget for it.

    If our initial results are promising enough (and after my recording skills progress as you've mentioned), we'll almost certainly be able to get a few better/different ones somewhere down the road, once we've had ample time to recover from the devastating blow of the initial system purchase. And, after that I've learned the ropes of mic purchasing a little better....

    While I'm not 100% totally green to setting up *real* recording sessions and running the desk, my experience as a recording engineer is indeed very limited. But, I do have a pretty good basic foundation upon which to build. A friend in the town I used to live in had a really nice little ProTools studio, and he taught me a great deal and let me play around. Plus, I have vast hands-on, ears-on experience in other areas that should prove very beneficial, such as nearly 25 years as a musician singing and playing guitar, bass, mandolin, piano, and fiddle. I have several hundred live performances and many studio recordings under my belt, with lots of experience running live sound along the way.

    So, I already have basic knowledge about micing techniques and signal processing from my past studio experiences (I pay close attention and ask LOTS of questions, can ya tell, LOL?), besides what my studio owner friend has taught me. The years of gigging and live sound experience have provided me a treasure trove of knowledge about EQ'ing, getting a good mix, how to mic drums, etc. I also have a good working knowledge of acoustics and acoustic treatments, thanks to not only my experience as a musician, live sound tech, and lots of intense study, but also several years of experience in designing and tweaking hi-end audiophile listening rooms.

    You see, I own a boutique company that manufactures hi-end, all-tube audiophile electronics of my own design (my electronics guru grandpa got me into electronics at the tender age of 9, believe it or not!). I also do guitar and audiophile amplifier modifications, and design and build custom, made-to-order, hi-end guitar amps. My name is well known among the triode amplifier/high efficiency speaker audio subculture, and I have a strong reputation for designing and building some of the best sounding tube audiophile gear you can get at any price. My wares are in use all over the world, and garner rave reviews.

    Because I have quality experience and knowledge in several other disciplines of music production, recording, and playback, and my musician/audiophile ears are already well-seasoned, I'm hoping it'll give me a better-than-average head start towards attaining some really sweet recordings. Plus, I have an unusually tenacious determination to master whatever I put my hand to, that refuses to recognize the word "can't." However, I know my limitations and realize I have a long road ahead of me, with lots of little mistakes and probably even a few really major blunders along the way. :(

    But right now, what I really need is all the help I can get in selecting the correct initial hardware for a solidly good recorded sound. If I flub that, especially if to the point that the initial results were to be significantly poorer than expected, the cash spigot will probably be shut off and sealed up forever. Not to mention I probably will be too! :lol:

    Thanks, sir. I'm gonna need it!

    ZTubeMan :D
  7. droc8705

    droc8705 Active Member

    Jan 18, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    as far as mics go, focus on getting some mics that are useful for everything. for the drums, i'd go for the Shure DMK57-52 package, which gives you 3 sm57's and a beta 52 kick mic for about $400 if you look around. now you have everything you need, other than a pair of overheads for micing the whole kit. HOWEVER, you may realize that you don't NEED to mic the whole kit, maybe just overheads, snare and kick, in which case you have extra sm57's now for other things, like guitar amps, acoustic instruments, vocals, choir (as mentioned above), etc. you can never have too many of these.

    I agree with bob on the rode nt55's. they'll work great for drum overheads, acoustic instruments, etc. in my opinion, ldc's are a little more touchy. if i were you, i'd go to a local guitar center or sam ash and try some out and see what you like, but i'd definitely look at the at4040 and at4033. these are great mics for the price. i also have some rode nt2-a's and like them very much, especially since they have the multi-pattern feature. having 2 different ldc's gives you a greater variety of flavors for recording vocal tracks. so if you put these together as far as price goes, you have:

    Shure DMK57-52 @ $450
    Rode NT55 Matched Pair @ $700
    1 AT4040 @ $300
    1 AT4033/CL @ $400
    1 Rode NT2-A @ $400

    These mics together, if purchased new (you could save HUGE amounts of money if you bought used through ebay or craigslist), total up to just under $2000...so about $1000 less than a u87 (~$3000), so that leaves you for $4000 for an interface, headphones, monitors, hard drives, and treatment.

    also, you haven't mentioned what you are using for pre amps. how many do you have, if any? are you planning on using the pre amps in a mixer? how many channels are you thinking of needed at any given time? if you tell us what you already have, we may be able to point you to an interface that is more geared toward your needs. I personally have the digi 003 and like it, but that doesn't mean it's going to suit your needs as well as say a RME FF800 or a TC Electronic Konnekt 24D.

    hope that helps.

  8. ZTubeMan

    ZTubeMan Guest

    Sorry, RemyRAD, I'd forgotten the all-important detail that we're never gonna be recording live (except for the simple recording of our sermons, of course). So, no problem there with the amplified band/PA system.

    The only condenser mics we'll ever be using on the PA are the three Peavey VCM-3s we already have. They're your typical, garden-variety cardioid pattern choir/ensemble mics, suspended by their thin wires above the choir.

    I'm not at all happy with the live sound results we get from them. Of course, feedback is the main problem I face, even though I've tweaked their channel strip EQ for best GBF, and kill the two floor monitors on that side as the choir is coming to the stage. I have to listen through headphones and ride the fader through the whole song, just to get a decently usable SPL out of the works.

    The guy before me is who installed them, and I don't think he'd ever heard of the 3-to-1 rule. They're too close together, and too far from the first row. I'm getting some very audible comb filtering artifacts and poor GBF too, the worst of both worlds... :x

    The tenors aren't nearly as loud as the altos, nor do they project very well. So, I have to run their mic up over 6dB above the altos and sopranos just to hear them. The tenors must stand in the center, with the altos and sopranos flanking them so they can hear them to cue their harmony from, or else I'd just ask the director about having all the ladies stand together to one side of the guys. That way, I could use one less mic, picking up +3dB GBF and eliminating a lot of comb filtering at the same time.

    Moving back to our recording gear.... Everything will be recorded individually, on nights when we aren't having service, with nobody present but me and whoever's being recorded.Tthe PA won't even be turned on. There are five or six solo vocalists in the choir who also sing various combinations of 3-part harmony by themselves during certain interludes, and that's what we want the large diaphragm condensers for, plus acoustic guitar, harmonica, the ambience mic on a guitar amp, etc.

  9. ZTubeMan

    ZTubeMan Guest

    That's why I don't even wanna try doing it live, LOL! I was just explaining a few days ago to some folks at church why it didn't work, when the conversation turned to the topic of the ill-fated live choir recording about 9 years ago. It was done by the local studio I mentioned, and the church found out about how bad it was the hard way.

    You'll very rarely hear me saying anything negative about anyone, but this studio's owner really gets my goat. He's a shyster who preys specifically on churches and inexperienced church musicians, who are typically unknowledgeable concerning recording or sound, and rips them off blind. He has a notoriously bad reputation among the more knowledgeable musicians in the area, and they all avoid him like the plague.

    Now, it's not a crime to have inexpensive, lower-line gear or not know what you're doing, IF you're honest and up-front about it. But, when you lie and claim your equipment and skills are the best in existence and then charge a premium fee for them, well, I have a problem with that.

    Although this is my first year at this particular church, I've known the pastor and several members for many years. When a friend told me they were using this joker to record their first choir album, I considered going to the pastor and spilling the beans on the guy. But, it really wasn't my place to, and because this guy is such an amazing, slick-talking con artist, I don't know if he would've believed me.

    I was there when that live choir recording was done. Although I'd already experienced this guy's imcompetence first-hand, what I saw that night absolutely stunned me. The recording setup was beyond ridiculous. I expected to see a Decca tree or maybe an ORTF on the choir, but instead there was a far too widely spaced AB. Needless to say, the choir sounded thin and diffuse, and completely lacked a defined, locked-in center image. And, the drums and bass weren't direct-miced, but were area-miced with a large diaphragm condenser. You can just imagine what the kick drum and bass sounded like through that. :x

    He duct-taped the three vocal soloists' recording mics to our SM58's. Two of them were on stands just a few feet from the drums, sitting on the hollow, wooden stage platform.

    The icing on the cake was his "crowd sound" mic, which was on a telescoping stand ran up about 10 feet in the air in the middle of the sanctuary, in the direct radiation from the FOH speakers.

    He then charged them $3000, including (I think) about 150 CDs, for the single worst recording I'd ever heard. It was the poster child for phase and time anomalies, not to mention the solo vocals were seriously distorted on the peaks! NOTHING about it was even remotely good.

    Much to my dismay, they amazingly used him for the next two recordings as well, because (A) nobody there knew the first thing about recording, (B) nobody knew where the nearest good studio was, (C) everybody thought if this was $3000 then a good studio must surely charge $10,000, and (D) his studio just happens to be conveniently located about 5 blocks from the church.

    These latter two were both studio recordings. The choir was recorded in his main studio room, which is about 15' x 20' with an 8' ceiling, and has very poorly done DIY acoustic treatments that only address high and upper mid frequencies, and even at that there's not much of 'em. Midrange to bass frequencies are left to have a party. No diffusers, and no bass traps of any kind.

    Our main drummer has a top-line Tama 5-piece with Sabian and Zildjian cymbals, but had to use the studio's drums that had muffled heads with triggers underneath. They were connected to a very old head unit that sounds like "robo-drums." He got to use his own cymbals (the studio has cheapo, horribly cheesy "pie plate" cymbals) but they sounded terrible too, as the drum booth is practically untreated and barely big enough for the drummer to squeeze around the kit to sit down. Plus, the overheads weren't gated and the lows weren't cut, because you can hear the "thwap" from every snare and tom hit. The hi-hat has that really nasty "bronzy" sound that's about as pleasant as fingernails across a chalkboard, the victim of improper (or no) EQ.

    To add insult to injury, once again the solo vocal mic levels were too high and occasionally clipped on the peaks, and once again the price tag was $3000. So, for the price of two of these useless recordings, we can have our own setup, get far superior initial results, and expect additional improvements as my skills and techniques progress.

    Thanks a million, I'll lurk around over there as well!

  10. ZTubeMan

    ZTubeMan Guest

    Sound advice there (pun intended!) from you, BobRogers, and RemyRAD concerning the SM57. I agree completely. If I had a dollar for every minute I've spent with my SM57s in front of my own instruments and guitar cabs giving me great sound, I'd be en route to Tahiti right now on my Learjet. Actually, I'd probably have enough money to own Tahiti!

    I'm planning on two 250GB internal drives with 16MB buffers, one for OS/software and one for recording, of course. Then later on, getting at least a 500GB external drive for storage and archiving. For the rest of the internal hardware, I'm thinking about a quad-core Phenom CPU and 4GB of DDR2, on a good motherboard with really fast bus speed, and XP Professional.

    More than for any other reason, it's because I'm already acquainted with ProTools. I don't, however, like the idea of being forced to use only Digidesign's interfaces, as I was told that PT can't be used with other interfaces. From that perspective, Cubase and Sonar indeed look very attractive. Like I'd said, the choice of PT is something I could be easily swayed from.

    Thank you, I much appreciate the warm words of well-wishing and encouragement! I know there'll be some rough spots, and even my best work won't please everybody. I've been playing music and running sound waaaaay too long to have not figured that out already!

    Running live sound is probably the world's most thankless job, with never a praise when things go right but no shortage of complaining when the least thing goes wrong. It's amazing how YOU get blamed for one of the SM57s sounding scratchy, when it was probably the one that the drummer had dropped on a concrete floor several hundred times while setting up, and subjected to about 430,582,649 stick hits.

    And then there's the seemingly endless death glares and shaky thumbs-up signals coming at you from the stage, while they mouth the words, "More monitor, more monitor!" So many singers just can't understand the concept of gain-before-feedback, that is, until you finally get tired of it and dime their monitor to the stop for several seconds while they scream in pain, trying to get away..... :lol:

    Thanks again to you, and to the others who have so generously given of their time and knowledge to help me. Thank you all very, very much. :D

  11. ZTubeMan

    ZTubeMan Guest

    How many simultaneous channels I'll need depends on how I mic the drums. For live sound, a setup of kick mic, floor tom mic, shared mic between the ride toms, snare mic, and overheads has worked great time and time again, so something like this is probably what I'm looking at, although I'd like to add a small diaphragm cardioid condenser to spot-mic the hats.

    The digi 003 would give me 8 simultaneous channels, and since you own it you already know it preamps on only four of the inputs. However, the recording system will be set up directly next to the Peavey FX16 live sound mixer, which has quite respectable sounding, low noise preamps with pre-EQ, pre-fader, ΒΌ" outputs on every channel. So, as long as I don't end up with a ground loop hum problem from doing that, I have oodles of mic preamps.

    As far as recording everything else goes, even if we had iso booths so we could the most channels we'd be simultaneously recording on is 3, for 3-part harmony (or the choir).

    To me, there's just a certain something, maybe you'd call it a coherency or integrity, that comes from recording stuff like that together in one pass instead of recording the lead vocal, then the harmony vocals separately. It just "feels" different, kinda like when the drummer and bass player record together instead of the bass player laying down his tracks later. Of course, I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you haven't already know for a veeeery long time!

    Again, this PT LE/003 setup ain't etched in stone, and I could easily scrap that in favor of Cubase. Thank you for this and any future advice on interfaces, and the mic recommendations. It is MUCH appreciated.

    BTW, is it true that PT will only work with a Mbox or 003 interface?

  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    No, it's not true. ProTools will only work on authorized Digi design hardware such as the their "high-priced spread".

    ProTools LE will only work on their 002, 003 & any M-Box' product they make.

    And only ProTools "M-Powered" will only work on authorized M-Audio equipment for an additional $300 US.

    The different versions along with their hardware, are not cross compatible with the "2" Manufacturers product lines. Stupid eh eh??

    And mix out can only be accomplished in real-time playback. So no faster rendering of your two track mix, like the other software manufacturers can do. Stupid eh eh??

    Of course it has redeeming values that most of us don't have the opportunity to utilize. Such as being able to open something that was created on those different versions. In that way, there is cross compatibility but not from the hardware standpoint. So if faced with those situations, it is more universally accepted as a known platform.

    Rare user
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  13. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Distinguished Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    My apologies. I had presumed you were newer to this than you made out. If I had heard your advice before I got into this, I dunno if I would have.

    "Running live sound is probably the world's most thankless job, with never a praise when things go right but no shortage of complaining when the least thing goes wrong."
    Don't I know it. Our minister labours the point of thanking me every concert we do, sometimes a bit OTT but still.
    On Sundays all I get is the same guy coming and telling me the induction loop is fubar. Sometimes I wanna tell him outright, GTFO. I mean the loop was installed 5 years before I turned up, hasnt been maintained despite updating the rest of the system and there's nothing I *can* do about it other than curse at it when it goes off. Maybe if they let the PA system run off a plug that isn't literalling fizzing and hanging off the wall then I'll fix their precious loop.

    Anyway it sounds like you have this well thought out, better than we ever do. We unload gear at another Church, and as the gig starts I find out what the host Church wants: their radio mic+lectern used.

    Three tips for you that you probably already know, maybe someone will like them.

    1) Demand information at all times from all parties. Never let yourself be the last to know because inevitably you have to be the first to act.
    2) Be prepared to do more yourself. I can see me having to get my own hearing aid (I'm 19...) or mug an old woman to find out what the problem is with the hearing loop.
    3) Instructions can NEVER be clear enough. No matter how specific you are or how much you stress the point, someone will do something wrong.
    "DONT PULL THAT LEAD OUT" *pop* >_>
  14. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Lol Code, sounds like work. :p
  15. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    Personally, I would choose an SM57/58 plugged into a really good pre-amp over any LDC + budget pre.

    Perhaps you could make yourself some quality valve pre-amps to provide the extra je ne sais quoi you seek..?
  16. ZTubeMan

    ZTubeMan Guest

    That's a great idea, and the notion has definitely already crossed my mind! The only thing is, well.....

    I know this might sound more than just a little bit psychotic, but I'm such an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist when it comes to valve gear that unless I designed and built a mic preamp to the same standards as my absolute best audiophile gear, I'd always be positively miserable with it. It may sound absolutely glorious on the grand scale of things, but I'd always know that there was at least some level of compromise in it, and I'd always be thinking about how good it *could* have been. Yeah, I know, I'm totally fruity......

    So, why even compromise then? Just pull out all the stops, eh? Well, I would, except just the parts cost alone for a truly uncompromised 4 channel mic preamp is around $3000, which is waaaaay more pocket change than I have lying around. Silver-wired secondary windings on the input and output transformers would kick the sound up even a few more notches, but would literally double the $3000 parts cost figure.

    The hard reality is that the very best sounding componentry costs from several times to hundreds of times more than the costcutter-plus "floor sweepings" they put in all mass-produced pro sound and recording gear, instrument amplifiers, etc. For example, the two output transformers alone on my best custom amplifiers cost more than most commercially made tube amps do. My best volume controls are $150 each; "they" use $3 controls. In my best gear, I use signal path capacitors that cost $60 each for a .1uF value; "they" use 25 cent capacitors.

    Actually, there's no way I'd go that far out for something such as our application. It would be downright foolish to, because there are so many upgrades you could do elsewhere that would make a larger improvement for the same money. Now, if it was for a really hi-end studio and you absolutely needed something spectacular, yes.

    However, if I really psyched myself up for it, maybe I could bring myself to build something a little more reasonably priced, LOL! A good tube mic preamp definitely adds some magic.

    I know, I'm just an obsessive freak when it comes to stuff like this, But hey, it's garnered me a sterling reputation and it keeps the bills payed, so it must not be all bad! :wink:

    ZTubeMan :D
  17. ZTubeMan

    ZTubeMan Guest


    Our Soundmen,
    Who art crammed in booths
    Hollow be their advice upon ignoring ears
    The musicians come,
    Their complaining be done,
    On stage, about monitors no less.
    Spare us tonight from equipment failures,
    And equalize those who feedback against us
    As we compress against them
    Lead us not to blown tweeters,
    And deliver our amps from overheating
    For this is the life:
    Our job is thankless
    With blame and murmuring toward us forever,

    ZTubeMan :D
  18. BobRogers

    BobRogers Distinguished Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    First, you can adjust my previous comments based on the fact that I assumed you had a lot less experience than you do.

    However, despite your experience, I think you are thinking about recording techniques that are far too complex to be practical for your situation. There are a lot of techniques that are "standard" today that should only be used by people (A) whose day job is recording music or (B) whose day job involves fried food. Those of us in between should probably confine ourselves to the simpler and less time consuming techniques that were used back in the 50's and 60's. Eight mics on a drum set does not sound better than three or four unless you invest a lot of time and effort to make it sound better. And as you have heard, it can sound a lot worse - a loud muddy mess. Similarly, recording one instrument at a time sounds great if there are real pros playing or if the engineer has the time and knowledge to make amateurs sound like pros. Amateurs almost always sound better interacting and playing as a group. A good performance is always more important than issues like bleed. And again, recording four musicians one at a time takes roughly four times as long as recording them together. If you are charging the church by the hour that may be a good thing, but otherwise it's not.
  19. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Distinguished Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    :O where did you get that soundman's prayer?
    If it's not a paraphrase of my post over in Live Sound then I honestly am amazed.
    If it is then great spin on it :lol:.
  20. ZTubeMan

    ZTubeMan Guest

    Hmmmm, it is from the Live Sound forum! Honestly, I didn't realize that was where I'd gotten it from! I've been lurking around on some other forums, though not posting, and I could've sworn I'd found it on one of those other ones. So, when I posted it here I was thinking in my mind that it was something the folks here hadn't seen, unless they'd seen it on the other forum. Sorry, my bad.

    Did you write it? You did a great job on it! It cracked up me up, and I just had to copy and save it. I've already printed it off in a fancy-looking font, and am gonna frame it and hang it next to the mixer in the sound booth. :lol:


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