I'm new here + opinions on live recording please!

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by diablo, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. diablo

    diablo Guest


    2 posts in one really. Firstly, hello, I'm new to this forum. I run a PA hire company that's only been up and running for about 3 months at this stage. I've been a long time away from the pro audio business and obviously things have moved on considerably in that time.

    I'd like to try my hand at a basic multitrack recording set up from the FOH desk, just for my own kicks I guess, so I don't want to spend loads doing it. I have an A&H GL3300 with 8 subs and I have a spare laptop kicking around at home. I've been offered a Phonic Firefly 808 firewire interface for reasonable money and wonder if this set up would make a decent stab at live recording on to the HD of the laptop to be remixed later at home. I've done 2 track recordings many moons ago on to cassette (remember those?) and had reasonable, if somewhat limited results. What I'd like to do is take direct outs from the 8 subs and at least have some control over the final mix.

    Does this seem like it would fly?
  2. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Don't record to your laptop's hard drive though.
    Unless you like pops, skips and grief.

    What software have you got?
    Kristal (http://www.kreatives.org) will do the job for you but is limited in flexibility.
  3. diablo

    diablo Guest

    Thanks for the reply...

    Software? Absolutely none as yet, although I understand that the firefly 808 comes with Cubase.
    Laptop spec is P4 1.8GHz running XP SP2 and sadly only 512Mb of ram. Would I be best to use an external hard drive then?

    The plan initially was to submix down to the 8 groups on the FOH desk into the 8 ins on the interface, then later on when more funds for toys exist, maybe get another 808 to piggyback up to 16 tracks. I don't often go far beyond using 16 channels live anyway and even if I did, I could always sub the BV's, toms, etc.

    I have a spare Soundcraft desk and a nice amount of outboard, so rather than using the software to tweak things, was going to mix down on the analog desk, but being completely new to this multitrack recording lark, maybe this is all nonsense?

    Thoughts please folks, but needs to be very tight budget as this isn't going to be earning me any money, just for fun!
  4. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    To be fair you're probably going to do better using software.

    Unless you have decent outboard and damn good converters, you'd be as well keeping it "in the box" and fully digital.
    Going from DA's out to the mixer, outboard and then back to AD converters, will only cause noise and you can get free plugins to do anything although maybe not as nice as good quality outboard.

    I would use an external drive regardless of the specs. Laptop drives are notoriously slow and writing to your system drive is not a great idea.

    Your plan of hooking stuff into the Firefly should work.
  5. diablo

    diablo Guest

    Thanks codemonkey.

    I do have some very nice outboard, but did consider that noise might be an issue going back and forth between A to D.

    I'll try my hand at doing it within the PC and see how I get on.
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    You also need to bump up your ram. I'd recommend at least 1 gig. Its cheap these days if you order online. Be advised it is possible you might have to revert the 1394 driver back to SP1. It's easy but you should be aware. +1 on using an external drive and make sure it has it's own power supply vice using the bus power.

  7. sweeterstudios

    sweeterstudios Active Member

    First you will want to probably use Hyper cardiod pick up mics or condensors that have the ability to switch into this pick up pattern. This allows your signal path more control.

    Next take the individual out puts of each channel and send them out to a presonous fire wire interface or another brand(you can use as many as needed to equal the number of out puts from your mixer) Record into a real software that can deal with this amount of audio with these types of interefaces such as DP (you'll need a mac laptop for DP though). To get the appropriate # of firewire inputs you can purchase a Powered (recommended) Firewire hub with multiple firewire inputs for almost nothing.

    Watch the meters coming in so you don't get clipping. Also keep in mind that Unless you Bring a desk top with the ability of handeling a second internal hard drive you will have latency issuse. This is not a probvlem if you use the computer for recording only and not as a live monitoring of the music. After it's recorded it should play back fine with no problems of latency, being that it's now all recorded and it's not a live performance but a recorded performance.

    I would also recommend an external Hard drive that you can easily attach into a studio setting to mix and edit the songs after the performance.

    I hope this was helpful :)
  8. diablo

    diablo Guest

    Yeah, I do have some hypercardioid mics, but bearing in mind that I mix LIVE sound and that's what I'm getting paid to do, that has to come as top priority. My mic list runs to a D112 for kick, 57's for snare, toms, guitar cabs, 2 lge diaphragm and 2 small diaphragm condensers and 58's for vocals. I have half a dozen AKG D330BT's that are hypercardioid and I quite often choose to use them on vocals as they reduce feedback issues with very loud vocal wedges. An average mix situation for me could be drums (6 mics), bass DI, guitar x 2 mic'ed, keyboards or sequencer in stereo and 3 or 4 vocals.

    Budget for this little project is very minimal (read close to zero!) hence the use of the spare laptop and it all has to configure into my existing analog gear. Like I say, i've been offered the Phonic firefly on the cheap and it has 8 ins and 8 outs, so I'd need to mix down live to subgroups (which I'd be doing for the live mix anyway). In an ideal world, I'd like to have a separate line for every mic and DI, but that's not going to be an option right away.

    If someone has a better solution they can suggest, with a budget of £200 / $250 US, I'd be delighted to know!

    I've had a play around using Kristal DAW and am finding it all a bit fiddly. I'd really like to just come back out of the laptop via my analog desk and outboard rack and mix from 8 down to stereo to a minidisc, but maybe this is a bit too oldskool? ;)

    For outboard I have BSS 31 band EQ, gates, comps, an SPX1000, a Rev7, a TC D-Two and an SPX90. This is all stuff that I know how to use well, so for the sake of comfort zone, I'd like to use that if poss.
  9. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member


    Get a Delta1010LT. I've seen them online for £110, £130 max.

    8 inputs - but it's a PCI card, so it won't work with your laptop *facepalm*.
    Get one, send it to me, I'll come to your place and record with my PC :p then run off with the delta, manically cackling.
  10. diablo

    diablo Guest

    I'm not up for lugging a desktop PC around with me. The rig is heavy enough with all the stuff I DO need to take into gigs! I remember the old days when musicians would bring desktop PC's on to a stage to run their midi setup! Eh... no thanks...
  11. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    re. software: have a look at Tracktion. http://www.mackie.com/products/tracktion3/

    ver.3 is great, but ver.2 will probably do everything you need, and you should be able to pick it up very cheap. Tracktion has the shallowest learning curve of any DAW software (IMO) while still remaining very powerful and flexible.

    Or, look at Reaper. http://www.cockos.com/reaper/

    Not as easy to get to grips with (again, IMO) but offers very powerful mixing & routing features, with a totally unrestricted & un time-limited demo, and a very affordable non-commercial license fee.
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    A couple quick comments:

    I don't know what your outboard situation is, but "nice outboard" for live sound is NOT the same as nice outboard for recording. A description of your outboard would be helpful. However, if you use the term "graphic" or "31 band" EQ, you automatically get 3 strikes...

    Also, there were some comments about hard drives causing latency, etc. This isn't entirely accurate. I record to a laptop with external hard drives and this does not impact my latency at all. Also, given that you're mixing live through the board, latency will not be an issue - please give that no concern.

    A laptop with an external drive would be fine.

    As for taking directs from each channel - you'd be driving yourself crazy. At best, consider taking outputs from each stem or bus. Do your best to mix the stems to sound good for both live and recording (it can be done).

  13. diablo

    diablo Guest

    @ Cucco:

    Bss FCS966 31 Band EQ (there's my 3 strikes, right?) Please explain why....
    Yamaha Rev 7, Yamaha SPX1000, TC D Two, Yamaha SPX 90, Drawmer DS201 Gates, etc.

    I realise some of this gear is quite oldskool but it all still works! It has knobs and buttons to fiddle with...

    Why no to direct outs from each channel. Too much gain twiddling on the interface throughout the gig? The initial plan is to mix down to 8 subgroups and take the interface inputs from those. E.G. Kick on 1, snare on 2, rest of the drum kit on 3, bass on 4, guitars 5 & 6, BV's on 7, Main vox on 8.... that kinda thing; at least giving me some control with the final 'at home' mixdown. The main issues I've had in the past going straight to 2 track are that vocals tend to be too high in the mix, bass is often totally lost, guitars are a bit weak etc... (usually due to having to compete with overly loud backline).

    Like I say, I'm totally new to recording so I'll bow to your superior knowledge.
  14. diablo

    diablo Guest

    Cheers everyone for their comments and suggestions by the way. I'll look into the various DAW software options when I have a bit more time.
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    In short -
    31 Band EQs are designed for live sound - not recording. In general, for various reasons, they are far inferior to even a good software parametric EQ for recording.

    The remaining hardware is okay for recording. The Yammie pieces are fine as are the Drawmer (probably the shining pieces in the rack...)

    As for why not to take directs -
    Your computer's going to take a hit recording 24 tracks. Not to say it can't be done (I've done nearly 50 in one session - but that's with a purpose built machine).

    Also, the more tracks you have at recording, the greater the complexity at mix time - the more opportunity to try to tweak everything into place and mess up the mix (it happens to everyone at some point - particularly to a recording newbie...)

    The way you have your stems set up, you should have a great deal of flexibility in your recording post-production sessions without having too much ability to shoot yourself in the foot.

    Besides, I also see it is, the more practice you get and the better you get, the fewer channels you'll need to get the sound you want. Recording straight to 2-track is the ideal - at this point, your audio-Jedi training would be complete and you can fulfill your destiny. (Oops...too much "The Force Unleashed" in my brain...)

  16. sweeterstudios

    sweeterstudios Active Member

    I agree with the idea of a simple 8 bus out if you want a basic well recorded mix. What I was explaining before is how to get very high capabilities when mixing and eq-ing ect. later on. Sending the outs of each bus to a seperate channel will give you a nice mix as well. You can still get a Presounus fire wire interface or use the free mixer with fire wire connection(good and simple). Usually the mixer and an interface give you some time of free software adequet enough to record and edit the amount of tracks your looking for. bus 1 with bass drum, 2 with snare, 3 rest of drums, 4 bass, 5 synth, 6 rythem guitars, 7 lead guitar and other lead instruments like sax, 8 lead vocal, and in the studio you can add again the back up vocals or just send the back up vocals to a bus and send the lead vocal out as a direct out from that channel to the free mixer and have it come through one of the 1/4" channel openings making it a nineth track. If you can do it great if not you maybe able to find a mic splitter if you don't have a direct out on individual channels on the main mixer.
    This is another way of doing a pretty decent recording. :D
  17. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Heck, my recording started as a 2-track mix.
    Double heck, it still is.

    Ignore one time I recorded 4 tracks, got myself in a flap, nearly trainwrecked a whole concert (the monitor mixes anyway), and suffered a month of editing around latency caused by MME-based Soundblasters.

    Now, after almost 2 years touching PA gear, I feel I'm ready to have more tracks - for use in rehearsals where I can get comfortable with it.
  18. diablo

    diablo Guest

    Thanks to all for their replies. Good things for me to take on board and all comments appreciated.
    I'll post my musings on the end result once I've done my 1st live recording and post gig mix down!
  19. sweeterstudios

    sweeterstudios Active Member

    If the 6 or 9 track mix works for you great. If you want even more control. Refer back to my first example of steps. When you monitor through the live mixer you don't have to worry about latencey. Let me know which piece of advice works better for you!
  20. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Do you have any matrix outputs on that desk? If so try recording a stereo mix from a pair of those: if you split your mix up into separate groups you can wind different amounts of those groups into the matrix to compensate for the stage spill.

    Actually there are a couple of different ways to approach this, probably depending on whether your desk has VCAs or not...

    I'm guessing your's doesn't, so you will probably want the mix split up into different sub-groups to allow you to use the group faders while mixing. So: if you turn all the group sends up to the same level on the matrix, you will be recording the same mix you are sending to the PA, which you can then adjust from there... obviously there will be a certain amount of trial and error, but as a rule of thumb: everything that is loud on stage should be turned up for the recording, and vice versa. EG: bass and guitar groups should be turned up, keys should be turned down (unless they use a huge keyboard amp!) and vocals should go down. If you want to include your vocal FX returns in the recording, make sure those channels are routed via the vocal group and not straight to mix.

    Method 2 might be more appropriate when using a desk with VCAs, as there is a good chance that most of your channels will be routed straight to Mix and you will be using the VCA faders instead of the group faders when mixing. In this case, designate a group or two as "loud on stage" groups, and route anything that is loud on stage such as snare drum or guitar to one of those groups. Make sure that those groups are NOT routed to mix... the idea is that you wind some of the main L+R mix into the matrix, then add just enough of the "loud on stage" groups to replace the sound coming off the stage and balance your recording.

    Hope that makes sense... might give you something to play with before investing in the multi-channel interface anyway.

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