Cool Gig this weekend

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Cucco, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I just thought I'd share a little of this week's upcoming gig. It's bound to put me to the test!

    So, the college in the area in which I live has a very ambitious orchestra director (who has turned a crappy local/college/community orchestra into something pretty damned good) who has created a celebrity series concert each year. I have the good fortune of having a contract with this gentleman and as such, when allowed, I get to record said celebrities. Last year, it was the Canadian Brass. This year, it's Judy Collins!!! For those of you who don't know who Judy Collins is - BITE ME - I'm not THAT old...( :wink: )

    Anyway - this is bound to be a fun and tricky show. Here's what I know so far:

    Her sound crew is showing up at 0700 to begin setting up.

    As of yet, I don't know how much I'll be able to pull off of these guys or for that matter, how close in proximity I'll be able to be to them. So, I'm running off the assumption that I'll be operating everything on my own as far as the recording goes.

    She is doing a master class at 4 pm in the concert hall which she has requested that I record.

    Instrumentation will be -
    Full orchestra
    7' Steinway Grand (front and center)
    2 Drum Sets (front and off set)
    Electric Bass

    She will likely be doing some stage walking whilst performing so I'm assuming a wireless mic.

    My plan is to set up a coincident/near coincident pair for the orchestra (using ORTF or XY, but probably ORTF) and have it positioned directly above the piano trying to minimize bleed as much as possible. Then, I'll go with a flank pair of omnis to capture the total performance. I'll spot the piano probably by mounting mics directly inside the instrument (afterall, we are talking a jazzy sort of show.)

    For the bass, I'll mic the cab. While I'd like to DI it, I'm assuming they'd prefer I didn't.

    For the trap sets, I'll likely go with one spot mic each relying on the over head mics to pick up the overall kit sounds.

    I'll place a spot in the 1st violins and in the cellos as well as 1 each in the trumpets/bones and clarinets/flutes. Spots will go over the percussion section as needed. So, it looks like my channel assignment will be:

    1/2 - Main L/R (Schoeps CMC64)
    3/4 - Flank L/R (Gefell M296)
    5 - Solo Vox (hopefully patched from the Aux out on the FOH board)
    6 - Solo Vox (mounted at piano) (Soundelux U195)
    7/8 - Piano spots (AKG C390B)
    9 - Bass cab (Shure Beta 52)
    10/11 Drum spots (Audix i5)
    12 - Violin spot (AT 4040)
    13 - Cello spot (Beyer M130)
    14 - Trumpet/Bone spot - Rode K2
    15 - Flute/Clarinet spot - Audix M1290
    16 - Percussion spot - Audix M1290 or Oktava MK012

    I'm limited to 16 tracks coming into Sequoia, so that's where I end. I could easily add 8 more tracks as I'll be brining along my HD24 as backup too. However, I think if I can't capture this in 16 tracks, I'm probably doing something wrong...

    Anyway...I'll post once I'm completed and tell of any successes or horror stories out of the day.

    I'll be on site from 0600 to a little after midnight! Thank God I'm billing by the hour!! (With a discount for the contract...)

  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Jeremy, I would never take the solo vocalist Mike from an aux send on a PA board. I think you would do better to use a transformer isolated splitter on her vocal microphone, so that your feed is completely isolated and controllable. If she is going to be walking and talking, it might be with a handheld RF microphone instead of a lavalier, especially if she plans to sing when not behind the piano. I personally would want the same microphone or close similar equivalent, at the piano position as she is holding and demonstrating with for a more consistent sound. If she goes from a handheld RF SM58 to the soundeluxe 195, you're going to have a huge difference in sound and texture on her. From your description, you are going to have a whole bunch of folks double miked if there is not a full splitter? You should have a full splitter for a job like this to keep you separate from the PA guys. If possible as if you can have the "first split"? That way you'll have the direct feed from each of the microphones while also supplying phantom power and the PA guys will then have the split off of the transformers. This will ensure the greatest sound and flexibility for you. It's always fun to negotiate with a good PA Company when it comes to microphone selection and placement. Conversely, if you are using some nice esoteric preamps and they have 2 isolated analog outputs like the API 3124 has, you could use your microphone preamplifiers as an active splitter providing the PA Company with the microphone outputs from your preamps! Then no actual transformer isolated splitter would be required.

    Break a leg and not a transistor
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Just curious...Why would they not want you to record the bass via DI?
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Just a quick note to the above -

    1 - I'm assuming that I won't be able to DI simply because, though it's been cleared with the artist herself and her management (legal) - the engineers, who are not accustomed to sharing any of their equipment, have not been made aware that there will be a recording. This is not customary of national touring ensembles or artists.

    2 - I don't have loads of transformer isolation devices, so splitting the mic signals can ONLY be done by taking aux sends out of their board or by simply putting up additional mics. Besides, see number 1...

    3 - I definitely want the sound of Ms. Collins while she is seated to be far superiour to that of when she is walking. Bear in mind, this CD will not be released to the public. It will be kept internal to the organization and probably given as tokens to high donors. It will most likely be chopped up and only the best selections will go on the final product. Therefore, I would in no way be willing to compromise her natural sound by putting an SM58 as her primary vocal mic whilst recording at the piano!

    Besides, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking an Aux feed from the board. The ONLY drawback would be if they tinker with the faders a lot. However, even if they do, it's easy to fix in post processing. Besides, these guys are travelling with some serious gear!! I would assume that their pres in their console are a little higher up than a standard mackie or behringer. I should get perfectly decent to maybe even GOOD results out of their gear.

    Also, bear in mind again that I am working off the assumption that I will need to run everything on my own. If I don't have to, I certainly won't.

    A few of my pres do have multiple outputs and I might offer that to them (my Summits and Langevins do, alas my DAVs do not... :-( )

  5. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    How important is this recording to you?

    No matter what, I would highly recommend getting hold of (hiring?) a transformer splitter box for the microphones. Apart from giving you total autonomy from the stage onwards (a good thing, of course) there are three very good reasons for not taking your signal from the auxiliary sends of the live console:

    1) you are putting your levels in the hands of someone else who has no idea what levels you're getting, and for him/her you are just one more thing to worry about- if things aren't going so well, your auxiliary send levels will be the last thing the engineer is going to worry about;

    2) most auxiliary sends on a live console are post-EQ, so any EQ the live engineer makes will be yours as well, even if that EQ is to compensate for a poorly EQd PA rig - you are likely to get an ever-changing tonality;

    3) Many professional live sound engineers do much of their mixing with the gain controls, preferring to leave the faders in pretty much a straight line. Although this goes against the logic of nominal operating levels, there is a good reason for it: headroom. By leaving all the faders at (or very close to) nominal level and mixing with the gain controls, they are maintaining as much headroom as possible within each channel. This is of far more importance to a live mix than a bit of noise due to having a lower-than-nominal signal level.

    (Some readers may find this last point a bit surprising or perhaps even incredible, but believe me, I did many years of live sound mixing, and it wasn't until I uncovered this little 'secret' that my mixes started to sound like the big open mixes I'd hear from the major players. And how did I discover the secret? By watching the big guys who were mixing the big bands that my bands were supporting. Invariably, whenever I heard that big, clear and open live sound, the faders were mostly in a straight line and the engineer was mixing with the gain controls, relying on the faders for simple things like riding a vocal, boosting a guitar solo or similar things that ultimately had to be returned to their normal mix level - which was the fader's nominal level.)

    Maybe I'm too late with this information. If so, I hope the recording went well and that none of the things above happened to you!!!
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I appreciate the advice - I really do! However, I think you guys must be VERY lucky!

    I've never had the good fortune of working with a major pop star whose crew even allowed such a thing. Most of these crews will simply kill you if you try to put ANYTHING in their signal chain. Think about it - their livelihoods are on the line in these cases. If my gear (which they haven't tested and verified) fails - they're out of a job.

    With smaller touring groups, I've never had a problem being able to patch into the audio companies' equipment. However, the bigger guys (I mean, Judy Collins is, afterall, an international Pop icon) don't give 2 sh!ts about the little guy like me. They have a job to do and if I get in the way at ALL - one word from them to the artist and the concert is off!

    I spoke with them this morning (I'm on site right now - backstage - thank god for wi-fi access!) and they will not let me do any such thing. They will let me take their direct outs but they will not let me have a direct patch for any of her vocal mics. Her contract stipulates that she is not to be recorded on a multitrack setup where her voice is isolated.

    There was also a mix-up in the agreements. The orchestra director informed the management company that he wanted a good recording for archival and promotion - what he failed to mention is that I would do a full multi-track recording. All that the management company is willing to allow is a two track only and only as a patch from the master bus on the sound guy's console.

    Instead - I've opted to strictly put up a pair of Schoeps CMC 64s in modified ORTF and a flank pair of Gefell M296s at the edge of the balcony. This mitigates the problem of the multi-track and isolated voice and really makes me work with only a 2 track medium (though I guess I could go to 4.) I'm hoping that the main or aux pair will pick up enough of the voice from the PA speakers to make the mix cohesive.

    We'll see how it all turns out.

  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Well, I'm in the booth right now and the orchestra is doing their opening numbers sans Ms. Collins.

    Here's some photos from the booth. When Ms. Collins comes out, I'll get a few of her...

    (Dead Link Removed)

    (Dead Link Removed)

  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Well, here we are...

    (Dead Link Removed)

    (Dead Link Removed)

  9. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    These live on-the-spot messages are very cool, Jeremy! You gotta love wireless internet. Now, if only you could stream us some real-time audio!!!! (Kidding! Don't even think about it, you would be in soooooo much trouble...)

    Good luck with the recording, I am sure you will do your best under the circumstances. :)
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    Actually, I might burn out an MP3 during intermission, but it would not be any of Ms. Collins' stuff - just the orchestra.

    The thing is, it doesn't sound all that good due to the massive compromises I've had to make.

    The mic stand isn't allowed to be any higer (although, the height isn't that bad - it helps bury the sh!tty trumpets!).

    Also, I had to place it at the very edge of the proscenium - 1' behind the conductor/cellists...

    The flanks are at the edge of the balcony a good 45 or more feet behind the main array!

    Anyway - I might post a small snippet of an "un-named" work without the lead vocalist any moment now...(intermission in about 5 minutes.)

    Oh - Just FYI...
    Equipment -
    Schoeps CMC64 in modified ORTF (closed in a bit due to proximity)-->DAV BG2 mounted at the base of the mic stand-->Monster Cable snake-->Lynx Aurora 8-->Sequoia

    Flanks - Gefell M296 --> 50' cable run into Langevin Dual Mic Pre with slight 8kHz lift on the EQ (2dB with wide Q)-->Lynx Aurora 8-->Sequoia

    No effects (of course)...gain is set RATHER conservatively as I didn't actually get much of this set up until AFTER the soundcheck thanks to the A$$WIPE sound guy here!!!

  11. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Play it safe: don't post anything!

    Are you sure he's not looking over your shoulder?!?! ;-)

    I've had similar situations re: soundchecks, and ended up recording at very low gains. No problem with 24-bit technology, so long as the rest of your gear is at least half-decent.
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Here's a quick sample from the first's just the orchestra - piece to be un-named...most of you will get it though...

    Mind the sh!tty brass...

    (Dead Link Removed)

  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    No worries on the post - I'm legally okay - I'm not posting any of her stuff...

    Don't worry - the sound guy has his mixer down in the audience, I'm up in the booth...

    As for the levels - thank god for 24 bit - I've got about 20 dB of head room at peaks!!!

  14. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Good old reliable ORTF!
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Hell yeah!!!

    For those times when you just don't have the time to check positioning, throw up an ORTF and worry not.....

    Of course, with those omni flanks, I'm getting a wierd (but expected) tap delay, so I'm eyeballing the delay on the computer monitor. I think I adjusted a pretty healthy amount (~50 ms if I recall correctly...)

  16. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Looks like you've had a lot of fun tonight, Jeremey! While you were recording Judy Collins, I was recording Midori for a delayed radio broadcast next week. (no pics from me tonight, I was backstage - it was all acoustic, so the mics were all mine, and I could set up right behind the performance area.)

    I will also chime in here about splits; sooner or later you'll want to take the plunge and get yourself a splitter box. They can be pricey, and I admit I inherited mine from the remote recording facility I used to work for years ago. I have a 27 pair Wireworks stage box (24 sends, 3 returns) with the first 12 channels in a transformer ISO split, ground lifts, etc. I've also got 150' and 300' snakes on rollup reels which I rarely use; the fantails themselves are often long enough to give me enough cable to get into my mixer and the house stage box.

    Whenever I have the chance (and a cooperative artist/staff), I find it's always best to simply use the splitter, and everyone lives happily ever after. I avoid being "Downstream" of anything beyond a mic preamp; or at least give me a pre-fader aux send. (The only time I go post fader is if the house sound guy is doing multiple hand-held wireless mics, as they did tonight, for the dreaded "Artist Chat/Q&A" after the show itself.

    If the artist is touring with a backline but rented gear (House PA, etc.) each night, I can understand their reluctance (or even the time) to allow someone to do a mulitrack split and recording on gear even THEY barely know. (For the most part, I stay far away from FOH guys, unless they're exceptionally nice and cooperative.)

    Sounds like you had a good time on this one, though, and it was great to read the "live as it happens posts.
  17. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Another thing that the splitter box can be useful for is sending audio to video crews - but only if the splitter transformers can take line level without saturating.

    Years ago I had regular problems with video crews who were filming the concerts I was recording. They often wanted, nee demanded, a feed from my audio rig, and 50% of the time the minute they hooked up we'd have an earth loop. Of course, that's a sound problem, so I'd have these vidiots telling me there's something wrong with my rig because theirs didn't hum until they connected it to mine, and so on.


    Eventually I built a small iso box using a pair of Lundahl transformers that are capable of taking line level signals without saturating. If I had access to it right now I'd tell you the model number of those trannies, they can do mic and line level, most useful! That alone has proven a very worthwhile contribution. Nowadays, when I get a video crew asking for audio, I simply plug my Nagra's balanced line level outputs into the box, and tell them to take it from there. I also tell them to let me know when they want an alignment tone, and then I send them the Nagra's built in 1kHz tone at -18dB FS (and tell them it's -18dB FS, of course, so they can align to it).

    The crazy thing with video crews these days is that a lot of them are using little hand-held camcorders that have stereo minijack inputs. Two years ago I had to deal with one of these guys - a good friend of the artist, of course - who got annoyed that I had only XLR outputs for him, and started implying, in front of the artist, that it was all my fault that the sound on the video won't be so good because it will be taken from the camera's built-in microphone. Then he started saying that if I was a *real* professional audio guy then I'd have an adaptor to convert my beautifully isolated and floating +4dBu balanced signals into mic level on a stereo minijack, because "no one uses those XLRs for audio any more".

    TRUMPED UP LITTLE WANKER! (I hope he's reading this...)

    That iso box has also proven useful for splitting microphones; only two, but usually that's all I need. A small but worthwhile investment. When I need more channels, I hire a multichannel splitter - it's cheaper than building or buying one, considering the very few times I need such a number of splits.

    On the subject of splitters, the Sydney Opera House has a huge panel of connectors for the concert hall (it's about the size of a door, and uses miniature XLR sockets so the patch leads don't get nicked, clever!), and it has mic splitters built right into it. Handy...
  18. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    Glad it worked (kinda') out! (Some crew's are just a PITA!)

    Another chime-in about splitters...

    While I run a 48x8 Whirlwind W4, I'm quite sure it's more than you need, especially for the money. You could get their custom shop to make a smaller version to suit your needs. (They're now u$ing Lindahl tran$former$ a$ an option.) Regardless, the concept I bring to the table is that if I provide the interconnect, there ain't squat anyone's gonna' be able to gripe about as far as any signal getting to/from the stage/monitor beach/videiot land and what I can or can't have.

    You might want to look at something like the ProCo MS-43A. It's 4 channels of rackmount 3-way transformer iso. Whirlwind's got the MLTSP1X3. You could rack as many of em up as you need for a gig... provided you don't mind the interconnect method it puts you into.

    Kinda' looking into some of these myself for my smaller remote's. I might even look into an active split system, but they scare the hell out of me... power on the stage-edge... big feet... monitor guys... oooooooooh, scarrrrrry.

    Of course, you could always roll yer' own!

    Always fun to read about cool gig's like yours..

  19. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Exactly! At that point, it only comes down to mic selection. Depending on the gig, most guys I work with are happy to pick the best mic for the job at hand. As long as I don't push something too esoteric or exotic on them, they're always happy to use the best mics avaialbe. (SM 81 on the hi-hat instead of their SM57, for example, or my AT4050's on the piano instead of their AKG1000s, things like that.)

    Of course advance prep - even a phone call when possible, always goes a long way. (I hate walking in to a gig and getting hit with surprises, so I can imagein an FOH guy's reaction when someone like me shows up un-announced....ugh!)

    As for vidiots: I have ZERO sympathy for guys who show up for professional gigs without at least a handful of adapters. I've learned to ask them nicely: "well, where's your survival kit? let's have a look at what you've got." If they say they don't have one, I make it clear they SHOULD have one. (Why should "I" have to bring every adapter known to man just in case THEY show up with a prosumer camcorder and need a mic level feed with an 1/8" adapeter, in mono at that?)

    I also tell 'em I'm happy to give them a CDr afterwards so they can just sync it up later in the studio. That way, they can do wild-audio with their camera mics, and not worry about the level. Of course, some of these guys are just news-gathering and don't have time for that, either. But since I do about 15-20% of my gigs with my own cameras, I don't put up with BS from ill-prepared vidiots who think the world owes them adapters for their feeds. (When it comes to a sound feed from someone else, I assume NOTHING and bring everything. Why shouldn't THEY???)

    Sorry, got off on a rant there......... :oops:

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