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Easiest way to monitor more tracks LIVE than I can record?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by malamikigo, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. malamikigo

    malamikigo Active Member

    Simply put:

    I record through my Presonus firepod. It can record 8 tracks at once. I don't necessarily need to *record* more than that at one time.


    Times have come about where I'd at least like to monitor more than that. For example, recording a drum kit with 8 mikes on the drums, and the drummer wants a guitar and bass playing along with him to get the feel of the song. I'm 2 tracks short of being able to provide that.

    Simplest way I've thought of is this: buy a simple 12-channel mixing board...run ALL the instruments into that, then run the outputs of the 8 drum track channels into my firepod, and run my headphone amp off of the headphone output of the mixing board rather than my firepod. ...actually, that's not gonna work either...(thinking this through as i type)...now i've got a situation where there's no click track (from within my software) in the headphone mix.

    Is there an easier way to do this that I'm just not thinking of? Some piece of equipment that will solve my problem? I'm a step away from just buying another Firepod so that I have the option of 16 live tracks to disc.

    help me out guys....
  2. mark_van_j

    mark_van_j Active Member

    Here would be the "proper" way of doing, in other words, probably the most common way.

    You have a multichannel board. (let's say 12 or more tracks) Channels 1-8 would be your drum kit, 9 bass and 10 guitar. 11-12 would be your DAW output. You now have 2 ways to record the drums. Either by direct output from each channel into the firepod, or through the board's subs. (in this case 8... I don't know of much 12 channel 8-bus mixers, but I do remember seeing a miniature version of the Mackie 24/8 that had 16 channels and 8 buses) You then mute all outputs from the PC except for the click, which will now run into channels 11-12 of the board.

    You now use the auxes to create a headphone mix (for a stereo mix, you would use auxes 1-2) and run the aux outputs into a headphone amp. (Behr*^#er makes a perfectly acceptable one for a very fair price)

    That is the basic setup we use at the radio station to record live sessions for whole bands, using a Mackie 24/8 and running the bus outputs into a M-Audio Delta 1010.

    This leaves with the most options, as the bassist and guitarist can also each have their headphones. Most headphone amps allow a seperate mix for each output, so provided you have enough auxes, you can create up to 4 different mixes with the gear you already have. And since you have a mid-sized board (most probably a 16 or 24 channel) if you ever decide to upgrade from the firepod (or add an additional one), you won't need to upgrade anything else, as you'll already have 16 direct outputs from the board.

    That's how I look at things, but you CAN do it simpler and cheaper. It just won't leave you with much wiggle room for upgrading your setup in the long run.
  3. malamikigo

    malamikigo Active Member

    I think this might be the mixer you're talking about:

    It looks like channels 1 thru 8 have direct outs, and that would be the way to direct those channels into my Firepod, rather than with the buses. I don't have much experience using buses for anything other than FX application, so I'm not quite sure what you mean by using them for the signal path into the interface.

    I'm also a little confused by the description of getting the click track into the mixer for monitoring. I understand muting all of the outputs in my software (I use Logic Pro, for reference sake) so that the click is the only sound being put out, but I'm not quite sure how to route that into a mixer. For example, take a look at this diagram from Presonus about the firepod:

    They are running the "Cue Mix Line out" to the headphone amp. If I'm trying to run signal to the mixer and create my headphone mix off the mixer instead, do i now run the signal from this output to, as you described, channels 11 & 12 of my mixer? Say for example I'm using the mackie mixer i linked to above. The rear view here:

    I'd run from that Cue Mix Line Out on the Firepod to the line inputs of channels 11 and 12 on the mixer?

    Then from there, there are "Aux Send" 1 thru 6 visible near the top right. Is this now where I would output to my headphone amp, thru aux sends 1 and 2?

    Sorry about the pics and nit-picky questions...I just find it helps me to have visuals and get this all straight in my head so I don't go out buying the wrong things. Your help is appreciated.

    I'm not sure I'll even be able to afford this mixer right now anyhow ($900+). I may have to find a cheaper way to do this. Seems like just buying another Firepod just might make more sense (~$400), as I can then just monitor everything through the computer and even track the bass and guitars as well if I want. Seems like if I get the mixer, I'd end up wanting the second Firepod anyways so i could record more of the channels live, and then once I got that, I'd end up not truly needing the mixer anyhow.
  4. mark_van_j

    mark_van_j Active Member

    Nope. In fact it was this one (sorry, couldn't find a larger picture)

    Don't know if it's still in production, but the lack of decent photographic evidence seems to suggest it wasn't as popular as it's larger 24 channel version.
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Connect up the guitar and bass to the firepod and then start miking up the kit with the remaining channels. Stop when you've got to channel 6.

    8 mics is too many on a kit.
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    This is exactly what I was going to say. Start with 3 drum mics and only add what's necessary once you can't get the drum sound you want. (2 overheads and a kick or 1 overhead, 1 snare, 1 kick). If you play with the placement a bit (or a lot) you'll find you don't need 8 mics on the kit. In fact, too many mics on one drum kit will start working against eachother very quickly.
  7. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Definitely! And don't let the band, especially the drummer, bully you into attempting otherwise.
  8. malamikigo

    malamikigo Active Member

    seems to me, even a most basic drum setup would require seven?

    OH L
    OH R

    the 8th for me is usually on the bottom of the snare
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    See, that's a huge problem with recording engineers today. Everything has to be close mic'ed to death and then they can't figure out why it doesn't sound right.

    I've covered this topic ad nauseum on this forum, but here it goes again.

    The drum set is a single instrument, not 8 to 10.

    When you put a single mic on a tom and then another on the snare, the snare mic picks up the tom and the tom mic picks up the snare. This creates phasing issues (that your polarity reversal switch will not fix - only make it equally worse in a different direction.)

    Add to this, you have 5 to 6 other mics doing the same thing.

    What happens is you have a mess of signals, all of which are out of phase with eachother. So, what do you do? You reach for the EQ and try to carve out frequencies to make the sounds fit. What is EQ though? It's a device which alters timing to give the impression of increased amplitude of certain frequencies. In other words, it adds to the phasing issue.

    Oh...that's okay, we'll add a gate to it so that only the snare mic kicks in.

    Okay, the gate opens up and lets the snare (panned center or just off-of center) sound into the mic. But it also lets the tom mic in which now again alters the phase and causes your image to shift from center to off-center.

    "But how do I get that HUGE drum sound that I hear in Band XYZ's album?" You then ask.

    1 - Use a good kit.
    2 - Tune that kit well
    (If 1 and 2 aren't there, you could have 200 mics on the kit and it's still going to suck.)
    3 - Have a good drummer that knows how to play the instrument, not one who is one evolutionary step away from a monkey who can only bang on crap and throw his own poo. (Bo-bo the drummer I call them.)
    4 - Make sure the drums sound good in the room.
    (See the caveat below number 2)

    After that, it's all about placement. Place your overheads carefully. They should pick up the entire kit without emphasizing or de-emphasizing any particular part. If they don't, see rules 1-4 above or try a different placement.

    For your kick mic, it too is about placement. Before you go reaching for that EQ to make it "REALLY BIG" - try just getting the mic and the drum to make the big sound.

    As for why Band XYZ's drums sound so huge - they either followed rules 1-4 above or they sample replaced everything (more and more common nowadays.)

    Do a search here on this forum for drum mic'ing. There's plenty of answers.

    Don't just default to "More mics = more better..."

  10. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Didn't we just go over this on another thread?
  11. mark_van_j

    mark_van_j Active Member

    Or you can do that. :oops:

  12. malamikigo

    malamikigo Active Member

    Thanks, but I wasn't asking for your advice on any of that. I'll mike the drums how I want, and I also do have your 1 thru 4 list more than adequately covered.

    The question I DID askl, was about routing my wiring, not how to mike a drum kit. REGARDLESS of whether I use 2, 4, 6, 8 mikes on the drums, the point is that when I am recording a band, there will be times when I may need to monitor more than 8 tracks, and I'm trying to find out the easiest way to do that either with what I have, or adding minimal equipment.

    I think I'll just be adding a second Firepod to the mix.

    Thanks to those who have made relevant suggestions.
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Oh...I'm sorry. I thought you wanted advice on how to use your equipment better so that you could actually monitor your band without having to go overload.

    Last time I checked, you could monitor a band with 8 channels -
    4 on drums, 1 on singer, 1 on lead guitar, 1 on bass and 1 spare channel for your Yoko.

    But hey, I'm glad you could be such a rude douche bag in your quest to prove that you already know everything.
  14. rockstardave

    rockstardave Active Member

    someone should sticky this entire post... +1 +1 +1 +1
  15. malamikigo

    malamikigo Active Member

    Dude, whatever....I wasn't trying to say I knew everything. All i was saying was you didn't answer what I asked.

    I could've said, "I'm recording a conversation with 12 people talking in 12 different parts of the house, and only want to record 8 of them, but everyone needs to hear all 12 talking."

    Would you advice me that I stick them all in front of one?

    Just because my question involved drums, doesn't mean I don't want an answer to my actual question, and instead a lesson on drum miking.

    When I go and do my recording, then have phasing problems and come back complaining about that, then that would be a good time to pipe up about all that stuff. And tell you what, you can even include an "i told you so", with no hard feelings from me.

  16. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Well, bear in mind, if you were recording them the right way to begin with, you'd be able to do what you're asking about.

    As for the question about 12 people, I'd still tell you to use less mics.

    The fact is, you're stating you record the drums with 8 tracks and you need to have several more free tracks. I'm telling you that you don't need 8 mics for drums and that would free up your remaining tracks.

    So, in that sense, I did answer your question. It's just not the answer you were looking for or hoping for. For that, I can't help you.

    Adding another interface is akin to killing a fly with a hammer. You don't need 12 tracks to record a band.

    But, if you want to get REALLY picky about answering questions and so on...I could give a rat's ass about answering your initial question. I was responding to the statement:

    So, again, I addressed your concerns directly.

    Again, it's a matter of the fact that you didn't like the answer I gave you, not a matter of whether or not it was a valid answer.

    The attitude is the thing I had the problem with. Had you said something to the effect of:

    "Well, thanks for advising regarding the drums, but to put it a different way, can I still monitor more than 8 tracks while only recording the 8 that the Presonus allows me to?"

    Then I would have advised that you need to consider a mixer with 8 direct outputs but 12 or more inputs.

    Or, I would have advised to record your "other" tracks or your drum tracks first, then monitor those while recording the additional tracks.

    Since you're new around here, I'll cut you some slack and chalk it up to newbie-ism. But seriously, if you're given advice, it's usually not a great idea to throw it back in the other person's face with a *screw you* along with it.

    Bad form.

  17. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    I think what Cucco was getting at is that you're not micing 12 pieces of gear. You're micing one instrument. You don't mic every string on a guitar do you? Do you mic every speaker on a cabinet? I know exactly what he's talking about when he says too many mics is bad. I used to mic every piece of the kit(metal drummer yet. BIG kit) I couldn't figure out why it sounded like crap. And of course being young, I ignored the one person that gave me the right advice.

    Now I understand if you intend to replace the hits with samples but wouldn't it be easier to just get the sound right to begin with?
    Edit: Oops. I see i was a little slow typing.
  18. malamikigo

    malamikigo Active Member

    You know what, you're absolutely right, and I apologize. My posts were littered with sarcasmic screw-yous. I can pretty much pin-point why....I've spent the better part of 10 years on car forums, where everybody is generally an asshole, so, you come to expect it and sort of be a 'pre-emptive asshole' yourself.

    Your advice is sound, and I'll certainly try things like you've suggested before going and buying another Firepod. Besides...the money spent on a firepod could be better spent on other gear.
  19. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    Definitely not a response I was expecting.

    Olive Branch extended.

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