Recording individual inputs for a live performance?

Discussion in 'Live Sound' started by AthMJ, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. AthMJ

    AthMJ Guest

    Hello community. This is my first post. I bought a powered mixer and speakers earlier in the year, and am hoping to run sound for local bands in Athens GA. I'm not very confident with my ability to mix the sound right, but I figure that will come with some practice, and am making arrangements to get some test runs in.

    My primary question though concerns the possibility of recording individual inputs on my my laptop so they're not mixed already. I want to be able to adjust the levels and offer any future "clients" a good-quality recording of their performance.

    I've looked around on a few music gear websites for the right hardware (I suppose it takes some sort of XLR + 1/4" input(s) device that connects to a laptop via USB port). And also, I don't know what the best software package might be for this as well.

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Moderator Resource Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    Hi MJ,

    Welcome to RO.

    Knowing what mixer you have will be useful information in making a recommendation.

    You will need an interface for your computer, but we don't know how many channels you need to do at a time.

    You've kinda 'painted yourself in a corner' with the powered mixer, so if you can provide some more details - surely someone will have some suggestions.

    Good luck!
  3. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2003
    Kansas City, KS
    Home Page:

    There are some things to consider when recording a live performance. It is almost better to have separate and discrete gain controls for the house and monitors and the computer/recorder. Because you are in small venues, you might not need any amplification for some sources, and lots of gain for others. This will adversely effect your recording process.

    You must also consider that most bands don't really pay for that service on average. Their margins are low enough as it is. Then you have the other aspect, which is the legality. Unless bands are doing all originals, they will have to pay royalties. If they decided to sell one of your recordings, you and the bar owner could also be on the hook if the right (wrong) conditions existed.
  4. AthMJ

    AthMJ Guest

    DVDHawk - you mean you guys can't read minds here? Gah. Just joking. Thanks for the quick response. The mixer that I have is the Phonic Powerpod 740 Plus. It's 7-channel, although I don't anticipate I'd ever be jacking in more than vocals/keyboard/bass (maybe guitar).

    Here's a link from MF

    When you say I've painted myself into a corner with the powered mixer, can you elaborate?

    Sheet - thanks for that heads-up about the covers. That's definitely something that I hadn't considered, and I'm glad you mentioned it for sure! You're right too, most bands probably wouldn't want that/be able to afford it. I'm more or less just brain-storming ideas to help put me through college right now.

    Thanks for the help guys!

  5. stealthy

    stealthy Guest

    I dont know much about it, but maybe someone here can give you more info on it and if it would be a good interface for you. Check out the PreSonus FireStudio Project. It give you 8 channels of input at one time, and you can find them for as low as $350 on ebay. Something to think about...
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Moderator Resource Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    I've never seen a powered mixer with that ability to do what you are wanting to do. Powered mixers are primarily aimed at smallish groups who want to control their own mix from the stage. Most of powered mixers have limited ins and outs to make them quick and easy to set-up and they don't provide much in the way of interfacing to a recorder. The equipment manufacturers don't really cater to that market because generally speaking, if you're serious enough to want good-quality live recordings, you're probably not using a powered mixer.

    There are numerous mixing consoles (unpowered) that have "Direct Outs" on the channels specifically for this sort of application. Pricewise, some are very expensive some are really very reasonable - including Phonic.

    The obvious advantage of a mixer with Direct Outs is that you can mix the band's live sound and have separate feeds for recording purposes which you can mix later. Direct Outs can also feed elaborate monitor mixes, etc. Better yet, a mixer that can provide a Direct Out B-Mix with an independent level (like an old Mackie 8-bus) gives you even more control of the signal levels going to the recorder.

    This is one of those things that you truly do get what you pay for, because even the Direct Out signal comes after the mixer's first pre-amp - and sometimes after the mixer's EQ before heading out to the recorder. The better the mixer, the better your chances of a high-quality result to the recorder. That's not to say you couldn't make a decent recording with a middle-of-the-road mixer, it's just more of an uphill battle.

    I hope that helps!
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Distinguished Moderator Resource Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    What you could use is a good, low-cost 8-channel pre-amp unit with a Firewire interface option. You would plug your mics and instruments into the new unit, and take the pre-amp outputs into the line/instrument/Hi-Z inputs of the powered mixer. You would mix your live sound and apply effects on the powered mixer as before, while recording the raw tracks to your laptop.

    Unfortunately, I don't know of any such good low-cost units. There are high-end products from Focusrite, Lynx and others, but you would be better off getting a FireWire interfaced mixer such as a Mackie Onyx i-series, A+H Zed-R16 or Presonus StudioLive, mixing on that and just using the power amps and maybe the effects in the old powered mixer.

    Do you have any sort of budget for this recording capability?
  8. Cabbitt

    Cabbitt Guest

    As others have said, without direct outs you will not be able to get a multitrack recording with that mixer.

    If you are just recording to check your mixes, you can use the Rec Outs on that Phonic mixer. Run that via RCA’s to your laptop soundcard (probably 1/8”)

    It’s certainly not ideal, as you only get a 2-track recording with no separate channels, but it can be handy to check mixes/performances. The live demo on my website was recorded that way.

    Good luck.
  9. moles

    moles Active Member

    Jan 5, 2004
    Winnipeg, MB
    Your other option is to route your signals through your DAW interface first, then use the direct outs (assuming your interface has them) straight into the powered mixer. This has the obvious drawback that if something goes down on your PC - you may or may not still be feeding signal to the mixer. I'd think you'd want to do a significant amount of dry-runs before you did this on a gig.
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Moderator Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    He will likely encounter too much latency if he runs the sticks through a computer first. An ART S-8 (or multiples) would be a way to go. Also, many times splitters can be rented along with other PA gear.
  11. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2010
    Boulder, Colorado
    If this is your first venture into live multi-track recording, expect a couple of years of experimentation, two or three rounds of gear purchases and many fascinating variations of failure. Also expect it to distract you from your job of making the band sound good live, which will make them uncomfortable, which will make for a less than ideal performance to record.

    I use a split at my mixer's insert sends to feed my multi-track recorder, but that Phonic has none.

    If you use an interface with inserts or direct outs that don't go through the converters you have a shot. Go into the interface and from the directs (or insert taps) to the Phonic.
  12. Spase

    Spase Active Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    I generally take my live mix off of the monitor mixer inserts - most places I work in have a separate monitor mixer with its own split. This has the advantage of generally being straight off the preamps, so you get an uneqed signal. I just set the levels and go mix the FOH. As long as I did a good job setting the levels, and the guitar player doesn't turn up too much, that usually will give me a good place to start from.

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