Help with Live P&W Recording

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Cmac3469, May 26, 2008.

  1. Cmac3469

    Cmac3469 Active Member

    We have been trying to figure out the best way to record our Praise & Worship Team at our church. I will give you some info on what we have.

    P&W Team Consists of:
    8 Singers
    2 Guitar Players both Electric
    1 Bass

    Mackie 24.4 Mixing Board
    Tascam US-1641 Audio Interface
    Acer Aspire 5640 500 G H.D./3 G Ram Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz processor & Cubase LE4
    Audio Technia Wireless Mics
    Mackie 450 Mains
    SMS Floor Monitors
    The way I have been trying to record is running into the board with everything then out to the Audio Interface. From the interface to the computer by USB into Cubase LE 4. The problem I am having is first I am a newbie at recording and mixing and second the Voices are all over the place and higher than the instruments quite a bit. Most of the singers are inexperienced and are working on mic technique. The board we have has built in compressor and limiter. Should we EQ and add an ext. compressor & add reverb to the live mix before coming into the Audio Interface? The sound we get from the FOH sounds awesome and I am wondering would we better off setting up two mics out from the mains and recording that way or try to get the mix straightened out on the computer. I am also one of the Guitarist with the group and am trying to train someone to mix and record. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Sounds like time for Codemonkey to shine a little light...
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    From what you say, I guess you are recording the stereo mix that feeds the FOH speakers. With this method, you are unlikely to get a good balance in the mix because the live sound in the venue is a combination of what comes through the FOH speakers and the direct sound from the musicians and their amplifiers.

    If you want control of the balance between the different channels for the recording, you have to make a multitrack recording, and mix it after the event for best recorded sound.

    There are compromise possibilities. For example, if it is the vocals that are always too forward in the recorded mix, you could route the all the vocals via a separate summing bus in your mixer which then has different fader feeds to the main FOH and recording outputs. You could guess at the amplitude reduction necessary in the recorded mix relative to the FOH. It might take you a couple of services to get it right, but it may well be better result than you are getting now, and would avoid the expense of going multitrack at this stage.

    I don't do P&W work, but there are many on this forum who mix church sound regularly, and I'm sure they will have more to add.
  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    ok, some quick advice here:

    Keep the two disciplines separate: Your live mix has NOTHING to do with your post-production mix, alright? Remembering that will keep both experiences sounding their best. YOur house sound person should be free to do what they have to do for the live mix (ditto for the monitor mixes) and so on. (Eventually, you may have some overlap, but you're a ways off from there yet...)

    Your interface appears to be 16 channels (yes?) and I'm guessing your'e doing SOME mulitracking from the board, not just a stereo out. Your Mackie 24. has four sub outs, one stereo out (For FOH) and six aux sends. (Two post, two pre, and two selectable, yes?)

    You probably use at least two monitor mixes and two sends for the house, and perhaps one of the aux sends or Subs 1&2 for a CD recorder/backup, etc.

    So, with "only" 16 inputs on your recorder, you'll have to get a little creative at this point in deciding which input gets routed or combined to which track. Some compromises may be made between you and the house/monitor folks. (Perhaps you can scale back a few extra monitor mixes, if it's set up that way...)

    I would do a submix on the drums, perhaps with the bass as well as your rythmn section (This may take some experimentation over time, of course; you may want to route the bass to its own tracks regardless, at least for starters) and route them all out of sub mix 3 & 4. There are latching buttons next to each channel strip, so you'd want to UN-latch all but the drums here for subs 3&4; making sure only the drums are routed out of the submix 3&4 buses. That's two tracks.

    Ditto for the guitars and keys; maybe a composite stereo mix of the guitars spread across aux sends three and four, and the stereo keys on aux sends five and six.

    You've now got 10 (or 9) tracks left; the Mackies all have inserts so you can take a dedicated feed OUT Of these with an insertion plug that will let you "Tap out of" the channel, but not interrupt the signal flow to the rest of the PA mix. (Get the Radio Shack Audio Adapter: Mono to Stereo, Part #274-365). Then with an RCA to 1/4" cable, you can route signals from each of the the Mackie's channel insert jacks on the back of the board over to your Tascam interface. (Which is probably 1/4" inputs?)

    OR, you can do a submix of your background vocals (if you have any aux sends left) and just take the lead vocals out separately, via the insert jacks.

    You will probabaly also want to hang a nice pair of omni or cardioid mics placed somewhere out in the sanctuary for an overall "Live" mix of the ensemble and anyone who might be singing (and praying, clapping, etc.) along. It will of course eat up a pair of mic/line inputs to your recording rig, but it will add some life and sparkle to the overall mix in post-production, avoiding the dreaded "dead" sound so many multirack recordings end up like. You'll mix this in "to taste" as you build your mix.

    When tracking from a console in a case like this, it's best (at least for now) to avoid any and all processing on the multitrack side. Keep all your cables as short as possible (you'll want to set up right next to the console, esp taking care with those unbalanced channel insert cables- keep them short as possible and away from any transformers, etc.)

    Take your feeds BEFORE any processors, limiters, etc. You'll want the cleanest, clearest feeds you can get. (You can play with them to your hearts content later on, in software, in post production....) What might sound OK in a live situation could end up sounding AWFUL in the studio later on. You want to have ALL options open to you, and not get stuck by what worked for a live PA in a live church setting.

    And once you have set up your channel/input/signal flow (remember to NOT mess with anything going to the house mixer - you want both to be autonomous) and tracked out to your computer, then the fun begins: Mixdown in Post.

    Soon enough, you'll probably be working from a temlate you'll create (no need to reinvent the wheel every time out) and you'll have some re-callable settings in your software.

    Once you get that far, you'll have a whole new set of things to learn and enjoy. Good luck getting started.
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    I would say something, but I used 2 stereo line ins on a Foxconn mobo (piece of junk FYI), and not a 16 channel interface.

    However, I can say one thing: if you're doing FOH and monitors and recording at once, MAKE IT EASY. I had the 4 buses (2 monitors and 2 effect sends) punting out grouped instruments etc, and I just had to keep it from clipping. Easy enough to concentrate on FOH at the same time.
    Now, if you do it at rehearsals, you can just slap on some cans and mix how you like the headphones to sound.

    "Most of the singers are inexperienced and are working on mic technique."
    Heh. Sounds familiar. NOONE knew anything about a year ago (crikey, have I been doing this that long?) when I joined. People, however, still have very little idea on how to manipulate mic stands.

    If you want a really easy way of doing it, set up two mics where you think it sounds great, and record the sound there. Might not be awesome or flexible but it gets live tracks down easy.
  6. Cmac3469

    Cmac3469 Active Member

    Yeah I am keeping the two mixes seperate.

    Yeah it is 16 channel and I am running directly to the interface from the board out by means of DB 25 out of the back of the board to XLR and 1/4" connectors to the Interface. Yeah you are correct on the board.

    Right now I have enough channels on the interface as we are only using 16 channels off the mixer.
    I am using two sends for both. Actually I am using 3 Aux sends for the monitor mixes and 1 more for in ear monitors.

    I have been thinking about sub grouping but I think I would like to keep them seperate until the final mix. I may do some trial runs and see what happens.

    I have a template at this point now and this is where I am running into the problem. I am completely new to doing the mixdown part and I guess it is just going to take some time. I may try the 2 mics out past the FOH and see what kind of recordings I can get that way also for mixing into the final mix and for quick recordings if needed right away.
  7. Cmac3469

    Cmac3469 Active Member

    Thanks! Yeah the singers don't quite understand what a difference it makes in how they sound. I played some unmixed stuff back to them the other day just to show them what they sounded like. They really did not like that. We have a guy coming in to work with them for the next little bit so hopefully that part will get better and make my part easier.
  8. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "We have a guy coming in to work with them"
    Count yourself lucky :(

    The only person that came in to talk to us was (is still) a member of the congregation and it was to give the band a pep talk based on where we could be in 5 years, and how we got there.

    Well, for a start, I'll know how to solder, and will have a screwdriver and soldering gear on me at all times. Our monitor input jacks have a habit of going. I'll assume yours don't as more was likely spent on your band than on ours.
  9. Cmac3469

    Cmac3469 Active Member

    Well actually the guy may be coming to stay also as he is looking for a church like ours.

    Well I can say I know how to solder also as I am the one who installed all the connections for our mic inputs and monitor inputs on the stage. That was interesting to say the least! I guess God truley has a comedic side to him as I have found myself being the person for getting the equipment, learning how to use it within 3 months and also playing in the band. I feel like pulling my hair out sometimes! But I have to say with me learning all this I have also gotten equipment and am making a recording studio in my basement for doing personal recordings. Maybe there is plan here that I did not realize at the beggining.
  10. Cmac3469

    Cmac3469 Active Member

    Update: Well we had practice the other night and I think it is the way the singers are singing and also the high levels on the instruments that is giving me the problems. We tried a song with the help of the guy who came in and the recording was almost perfect. I will load a sample of it today if possible.

    I am still going to try a couple of different ways to see if I get something I like better.

    Thanks for everyone's help. If you have any better solutions let me know.
  11. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    I was describing where I'd like to be in 5 years. Although I'd like to learn how to solder properly in a lot less time than that. The drummer can solder though, so our monitors are working again - for now. They'll break again next concert we do, inevitably.

    "I am still going to try a couple of different ways to see if I get something I like better."
    Good for you.
    I concluded a while ago - There is that, which doesn't work and sounds crap. There is that which sounds acceptable and people will settle for. But there is nearly always that which is better, that you should strive for.

    God has a sense of humour, no doubt about that. He also has a plan for you - you just need to follow it as closely as you can. If you think it leads you to having a basement studio, go for it.

    However other than God's plan, you won't find many churches with plans. We organise everything as late as possible. Generally 5 minutes beforehand. If you can cope with that, you're halfway there.
  12. Greener

    Greener Guest

    Sounds like your drummer can't solder.
  13. Cmac3469

    Cmac3469 Active Member

    Yeah I am use to the plan things at the last minute. I have to say where I go now we try to plan things at least a week ahead of time unless something just comes up.
    Well I have my poor mans studio going up in my basement. I will be doing some trial recordings over the next week if I don't have to have Gall Bladder surgery (will find out Wednesday). Keep me in your prayers.
  14. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Greener: yeah, well, I dunno. The jacks work, so he can do the job. It just doesn't last long. Whether it's bad soldering, bad solder or just the connections having been soldered too often.

    Cmac: will do. Good luck with the recordings. We plan enough to know what's coming up, usually it's a lack of specifics - ie knowing who's playing or what order we play songs in.
  15. Cmac3469

    Cmac3469 Active Member

    Yeah, I know what you mean on the - last minute who's playing or what we are playing deal.

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