Live/Mobile Gear


Ed Stork

I'm a musician turned engineer. Just finished school (recording workshop OH). I'm interested in building a mobile recording set-up for live sound. I would like to use the clubs mics by splitting the signal via snake. Any suggestions on gear or how I should approach this? I'm also trying to keep the budget down as much as possible without jeapordising quality or being unhappy with the gear in 6 months. Thanks Ed

lorenzo gerace

Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2002

The gear you need is IMO determined by a few factors like: 1) how many tracks you need to record at once, and 2) how much gear you intend to lug around, budget being an issue.

I can see two solutions:

a) build a system around a laptop CPU and a firewire interface: pros, lightweight, self contained easy to set up; cons, not too much inputs (unless you go for something like a MOTU 2408MK3), needs software, CPUs prone to crashes.

b) build a system around a stand alone HD recorder: pros, as much as 24 inputs on a single unit, no setup needed for OS, analog tape recorder-style ease of use, less prone to crashes;
cons: heavier and bulkier to lug around, a little more expensive.

My personal preference goes to the second option, as I'm just picking up the gear to configure a similar system for my remote recording gigs; for the HD recorder I'm leaning toward the Mackie SDR2496 (there's an ongoing thread about HD recorders on this same forum, check it out), as it's a cost effective and robust solution for remote/location recording (yes, the Radar sounds better, but would you carry a $5000 around in unfriendly locations and lug it around in the back of your car?); in both cases you'll still need preamps, my choice is for compact multichannel units like the Focusrite Octopre, 8 channels class A preamp with dynamics on each cahnnel and A/D optional card, that allows you to split the signal so that you can feed one line back to the FOH for mixing and use the digital out to go into the recorder and keep the two independent.
In the case of an HD recorder you'll need a compact mixer to monitor the recording (usually any firewire interface connected to a laptop will have some monitor or headphone out, so in that case there's no need for a monitoring device), and this is where the problem really arise: I have yet to find a compact line mixer that is light, rackmountable and allows me to monitor up to 24 tracks at once, unless you go for something like a Yamaha 01V digital, but that's a little too much expensive for this purpose and not that compact, I'm still searching.

Eventually you could add some A/D units like 8 channel boxes from Apugee or RME for better conversion, and go lightpipe into the HD recorder or firewire interface.

I hope this will give you some suggestions on what to look for to configure a system tailored for your needs.



Well-Known Member
May 28, 2003
Kansas City, KS
Don't invest in a lot of gear. There isn't much demand on the bottom end to justify spending much. That is unless you are doing it for a hobby.

I have a large PT HD mobile rig, and what I have found is that the average club band doesn't have the cash. The ones that do have the cash have studio CD's to sell already, so there is no need for a live disc. The signed bands can't do live recordings for legal reasons, unless they are doing a live album one day. Then there are bands that suck but have the cash. I pass on those. I do not want my production associated with crap talent. People on the outside don't know how to distinguish between the two, and it affects your image.

Look at something that will hold up well to the club life. The Radar Project D machines and the Tascam MS2424's hold up well. The Alesis HD24 may hold up. I think the buttons are flimsey and cheap. I know of guys who keep them covered at all times with no hassles.

It all depends on what the end result will be. Are you going to hand them a disc or hard drive at the end of the night? Where will they mix it? On what gear? You need to think from the finished product backwards, and that will tell you what you need to buy. To realize that, you need to investigate the market and ask what the needs are.


My mobil rig is an Event EZbus digital Mixer using ADAT optical to a Mackie SDR824, and Sytech Preamps. I house all this in an SKB Mini Gig Rig with a popup slant top. So far so good!


Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2002
St Louis
My Alesis HD24 has been doing very well in a mobile recording environment. I have had some faulty hard disks, but that's to be expected. The second drive bay comes in handy as you can backup you session before leaving the gig.