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Mic for matrix recording from FOH board, any suggestions?

Member for

21 years 2 months
Howdy all!

I am a novice recording engineer preparing to record a four piece rock/blues band at a small bar. My equiptment so far is:Mackie onyx1620>FW>amd3200 PC with 2gb Ram>Traction 2. The Mackie will be used to mix the live sound as well as send all channels to the computer to be recorded. In additon to the instrument channels I would like to add a matrix track to the recording of an "audience mic" from close to the sound board that picks up the acoustic mix from the room. I'm looking for a mic or mics that may only set me back $100-$200, I know thats not much to spend but I figure its better than not having a matrix mix option at all. It would also be nice to have a mic that could serve dual purpose if possible, as in one that I could also make use of in a home-recording situation as well.

Ok, so my question is what kind of mics should I be looking at? Can I use a condenser mic like a Perception 200 or AT 2020 to pick up a room sound? Or should I be looking at something like the Crown sound grabber II PZM conderser pair. Is it necessary to have two mics to do the job or will one suffice?

I know this is a lot of info for me to spew to all of you, but people round these parts sure know their sh*t! Any advice and or comments will be greatley appreciated.


Member for

16 years 2 months

RemyRAD Thu, 08/03/2006 - 11:19
I really don't think you need to record the club's ambience if it's a small club? But if you really want to, I love sticking a pair of PZM's on a couple of walls for ambience. Those microphones counter any hollow sounding effects, as opposed to typical microphones. Otherwise a pair of spaced omnidirectional microphones are good for crowds sounds, as long as they are spaced a fair distance apart.

I really think without any ambient microphones, you'll pick up plenty of ambient sound from the vocal microphones on stage. It all depends on the sound that you're looking for?

Matrix mix option?? I don't think you know what you are talking about, since your nomenclature is not quite correct? I mean if you really want a stereo microphones that's inexpensive, Audio Technica used to make a single body stereo microphone. Sony made one also but as to their availability anymore??

Lost in Paradise
Ms. Remy Ann David

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 08/03/2006 - 15:06
Thanks for the insight! Good point about picking up plenty of ambient sound from the stage mics. Perhaps I dont need to worry about room mics quite yet, seeing as how the room is going to be particulary small it may not sound very good in there anyways. Maybe I'll wait till I get to record in an outside ampitheater.

The "matrix mix" option from what I understand is when you take a mix from the board and combine it with a microphone recording from out in the audience near the soundboard. I've heard people take soundboard recordings from Grateful Dead concerts and mix them with audience taper recordings to create a "best of both worlds" sound. But perhaps this works best either outdoors or in a venue with decent or better acoustics.
And of course those audience tapers probally have loads of cash into their recording setups, way more than I could spend.

Anyways thanks again for the info.

Member for

16 years 2 months

RemyRAD Thu, 08/03/2006 - 15:34
Ahhhhh, Terrapin, my little turtle dude. An output "matrix" on an audio console are frequently referred to as buses. The matrix is actually the combination of microphones into a particular output bus. But what those people got for the previous Grateful Dead taper folks is frequently referred to as a broadcast mult matrix feed and/or DA for "distribution amplifier". That device could be amplified as in active circuitry, or passive as in transformers and/or a hybrid of both and it would have 24 or more stereo pair outputs. They would take an output from the PA board that was another main stereo front of house mix and feed that same signal out to the "matrix" distribution box. It really had nothing to do with taking a microphone out into the audience. That was left up to the tapers.

With the advent of portable digital recorders, the tapers could actually combine some of those folks that have their own stereo microphones with one of those folks who got a "mult" feed from the matrix distribution or "press box" recording directly from the PA Board. Because these digital recorders have such accurate crystal controlled clocks and no tape slippage or speed inconsistencies occur, you can conveniently slip multiple source recordings into your multi-track software such as Adobe Audition, since they will hold sync more easily and create a more sophisticated sounding recording. I suppose some maniacs even did that with multiple analog cassette recordings in the past bumped up to analog multi-track recorders, provided enough time and effort and hyperfocused concentration went into it? I can assure you that Grateful Dead tapers may have invested substantially in their live recording pursuits, but its peanuts in comparison to what it takes to construct even some of the simplest home project studios when it comes to cost and equipment. I just could never really understand why anybody would want to use a microphone to make a recording of a PA system?? I mean I think the analogy here is, you can look at dirty magazines and have fun but it's more fun when you're taking pictures for the dirty magazines? And so, in a similar way, since I am a baby boomer and watched too much television when I was younger. My mother would shake her finger at me and yell "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING TO DO FOR A LIVING WHEN YOU GROW UP WATCH TELEVISION?!?!". I love my mother! She is brilliant! So when I grew up, (fat chance) I watched television for a living and still do at almost 51 years of age! Whatever happened to my Mother the car with Jerry Van Dyke???

Bad TV sound engineer for a living.
Ms. Remy Ann David

Member for

17 years 5 months

JoeH Sat, 08/05/2006 - 07:48
Terrapin, with all due respect, the LAST people you want to get advice from regarding taping live bands in clubs are the bootleggers, young or old.

I always laugh at the term "Soundboard recordings". That's a red flag right there... NOBODY but that crowd calls it by that name. It's a dead-giveaway as to who you're dealing with, pardon the pun. For decades I've seen that term, and it always tipped me off to what the mindset is: Fanatical collectors who want to take home more than their admission ticket paid for. (A "soundboard" is in a piano, kids. Live mixes off consoles in venues can often sound silly and lopsided, because the sound is often just a reinforcement of weak stuff that needs help, while the louder stuff (like guitar amps, etc.) isn't always put into the live mix...duh!)

It already sounds like you're on the right path if you're going to do a multitrack recording from the board (with the band's permission, of course) plus an ambient pair of mics for the audience.

You'll definitely want to have a pair of mics in the audience for a couple of reasons; you may not need much for the actual mix once the tunes have started, but you'll want crowd reaction after the tunes end. (Assuming anyone claps, eh?) If it's big you'll have more to work with, including perhaps some ambience of the venue itself. If it's small, you may be able to get some chit-chat between songs with the band and the audience. It all makes for a nice "live" feel to the recording.

If nothing else, just use your DAW to bring the tracks up and down between tunes; gently boosting the applause at the end of each tune, and fading it back down when things start again.

As for mic choice, you can use dynamics facing AWAY from the band and pointed at the audience (usually better in the larger venuse, esp if there's a big PA involved), or you can use omni's out in the house, maybe even suspended over the crowd for that "Big" Sound you hear in live gigs. Depending on placement, PZM's can sound as good as anything else. I have used everything from those cheap radio shack deals to DPA 4006's for ambience mic'ing.

If you DO use a blend of the live mics during the tunes, you may or may not need to time align them a little bit, (at least in larger venues). Otherwise, sweeten to taste, and get the best of both worlds. You're gonna love it.