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Redundant Recording systems/techniques for live concert (novice)

hey all, i just got a call to record an annual concert, destined for dvd. something i have never done before on this scale. it's a rock band w/ numerous guest spot type things. i don'y have all the details until next week, but if it's like previous events i've seen from this client the backline consists of about 4 guitar rigs, 2 bass rigs, and 3 keyboard stations, 3 vocal mics, and one drum kit. everything will be mic'ed up and check thru and thru, and unmuted as needed. For now, until i meet up w/ hI'm and see the setup, i'll figure a 24trk recording.

my responsibilty is only in the recording end up it, which is basically get the levels properly, and quality control. my first thought was to set my recording levels via a pre fader aux. i'm not sure if the board has direct outs, but my thought w/ the aux was if for some reason FOH needs to significantly increase the input trI'm i could turn down the aux appropriately, i guess using the aux as a "headroom" knob?

One of many concerns is introducing redundancy into the recording system. i know in the past the guy has used an Alesis HD24 recorder, which i very much like the idea of using if he still has it. i would also probably bring a mac g5 and a 24ch interface. would bringing another mutlichannel setup be necessary? perhaps just a laptop w/ another 24ch be overrkill? would something like a zoom h4n be reasonable for a 2nd backup? also, what is the best way to split the signals into the multitracks? would a bunch of good brand 'y' cables be acceptable? i have seen splitter boxes from art, and beeringer, but usually they are xlr.

which brings me to my next, question, would it be more optimal to split at the take, and take mic levels into the recording system, or perhaps just the backup system(s), in case of any overs at the board? the HD24 looks like it just has 1/4" line ins.

would it be better to try and get my hands on a 24ch board, split at the stage, and just use the auxes to send to the redundant signals to the recorders.?

i would almost rather stick to coming off the FOH baord, because this dude can be a real hot-head and would prefer to not get yelled at if possible. With the intention being that my job is to simply capture the concert how it sounded, and help them make sure it sounds good on stage, at the board, and and FOH, and simply feed that good sound into the recording devices. Not as a 'way out' but simply so i can say that i captured the the concert how it sounded, and there can't be any questions as to "oh well you did this or that", i would like my response to be able to be, i captured what it sounded like, or what i was given. Besides it'll probably sound pretty darn good any, there are guys who are up there who have been in some pretty decent named 80's bands, so they've been around for a while. but again, i'm here looking for advice and suggestions, because this is a first for me.

i'd also like to incorporate some room/audience mics if the channels are available, any insight on that subject is very welcome.

The concert is dec 6/7 so i've got some time to plan, but i'd really like to try to gather a good idea of what my approach is gonna be so when i meet w/ the guy i know what to tell hI'm to get for equipment. i'll give hI'm a call in the next day or 2 and see what he's already got. but at this moment my concern is the redundancy of the recording devices and the best way to get to them.

also, should i worry about any sort of synchronization between the two? more than just hitting record at the same time, and just lining up the tracks if i need to. I'm subscribing firmly to the KISS theory, keep it simple stupid. not to say i won't do it the best i can, but the less chance for error or frantic trouble shooting in the system the better for everyone. i don't plan on any complicated signal chains, or any other razzle dazzle, my goal is to just capture the raw audio signal at its best, and deliver a nice clear, error free recording. Hopefully if all goes well, i can get the gig for the audio mixes going to the dvd.

i have reasonable experience in studio/demo recording, which often occurs live, in the studio or whatever garage they happen to occur in, but this is a bit out of my comfort zone, as i 've never done a recording where the band was on stage. so i feel like there are some things that i need to be aware of. i also think that it shouldn't be too far off from what i'm used to, other than it's only happening one night, so if an equipment failure happens, it ain't like, well guys why don't we call it a night, and come back in a day or two. i also have some experience in live sound, mainly small bars, and a couple dozen at mid sized clubs.

lol every time i start to get comfortable w/ an aspect of audio, i get a new call. there's been a lot of first times out there for me in the last couple years, but i think this is within my realm of knowledge, and i feel like i won;t be successful if i turn things down cuz they make me a little (i mean alot) nervous, whether i pass or fail. i don't think at my age/experience level/and amount of clients, i can afford to just play it safe, or rest on my laurels

thank you guys for all your invaluable input, i hope when this is done, my last post will be a video link to some 80's rockers doing a Christmas concert, that looks great and sounds awesome!



dvdhawk Wed, 10/09/2013 - 21:16
I don't think you can get too in depth with planning the best splitting and routing until you know what the FOH mixer will be.

For me I use the SL24 and record directly to the laptop via firewire for 24-tracks into the Capture software. I use the balanced [DB25] Direct Outs on the SL24 to an HD24 for a fully redundant back-up should the computer ever crap out (which it never has). For a 2-track I've used anything from a studio quality Sony CD recorder, to a portable Sony MiniDisc recorder, The CD and MD are last resort back-up, that thankfully have never been needed. For shows destined for DVD I will record 2-track audio plus video to my own DVD, or DVR recorder(s), with a feed from my own stationary wide-shot camera. (even if someone else is shooting the video, I will still capture video recorded to the video recorder so we have something on DVR that runs uninterrupted start to finish synced with 2-track audio.)

Cheap splitters suck. Y cables combined with phantom power is asking for trouble. Direct Outs from the mixer are the best bet.

Or, if I'm recording only and not responsible for FOH. I have put my own mics on the backline and drums and remained and independent as possible. The only thing I needed to split was the vocal mics with a handful of middle of the road transformer style splitters.

MadMax Wed, 10/09/2013 - 21:47
If you came in on one of my gigs and didn't have at least a 2 way xlr splitter snake that took you out of the building, redundant recorders and a reasonable monitoring console system, I'd send your ass packin'.

I generally don't let anyone take my inserts... cause I'm using em'... and unless you're FOH Fader Fairy is using something like a real, old school professional console, about the most you can expect to find are 2 open auxes... as most consoles these days are only 8 bus/8aux rigs... with two tied up on verb/delay and 2-4 for monitors, or if it's strictly a FOH rig, there might not even that many auxes open. For 80's rock, I'll use 8 auxes or more and 12 inserts isn't out of the ordinary... so there ain't a damn thing available for you to use... besides, I'm not gonna risk your shit ruining my show when some clown ass trips over your BS cables and takes out 8 of my cabinets and 4 power amps.

Since there's supposed to be video captured, you damn well better be striping smpte or whatever time code the vidiots are using, somewhere on an open track... which means you're gonna need to track at 48k... and watch your recorder's clock too.

Assuming; Kik, Sn, Hat, R1, R2, R3, OHL, OHR, Bass1 DI, Bass2 DI, Gut1, Gut2, Gut3, Gut4, Kb1L, Kb1R, Kb2L, Kb2R, Kb3L, Kb3R, Vox1, Vox2, Vox3... on a 24 channel recorder, you don't have room for ANY room mic's, as your last track will be the sync stripe... so you realistically need 32 tracks of recording minimum... with preference for 48 tracks to capture all the keys individually in stereo, plus 4 pr of room tracks (2 close and two far)... plus you could then double track the guts with your typical SM57/421 setup... and doing your CYA correctly would require 4 HD24's... 2 each synced together as 48 tracks... with each pair freewheeling to smpte for 96 tracks total.

All of which is a really basic rig... and pretty much what I run.

And not to bust your ballz to hard... but you're seriously in over your head if you really think you can halfass this gig by tappin' the FOH console. You better have your own 32-48 channels of pre's and monitoring.

Now... if the guys are running any kind of decent digital console, they'd be much better off just slappin' a coupla' hard drives on the FW output and kickin' you to the curb.

Welcome to the real world of remote recording and playin' in my world.

pcrecord Thu, 10/10/2013 - 09:52
There's a few ways to do this.
For quality sake, you should have the same amount of recording inputs has and get the feed from a split snake.
Reason : you can record with no effects and no preamp quality loss possible from Direct Outs (either from the quality of the board preamps or if the guy is a gain freak and ovedrive them)

For the sake of having less tracks to mix in the end, you could have your own mixer (that has great preamps) and using the direct outs and the group outs.
With group outs, if you have 4 guitar players that don't play at the same time, you record them on a group and save 3 tracks. Same for other player or signers.

For the sake of simplicity (or limit to the givin budget), you could record as many direct out as possible and use groups.

dvdhawk Thu, 10/10/2013 - 10:52
I agree with that 100% Max. The stakes are much higher at the level of FOH you're doing. But even at the club-level if I'm doing FOH and someone wants to come waltzing in and leech off my mixer for anything else they're in for a rude awakening.

If the artist is paying everybody to play nice and giving them enough time to meet and think things through I still contend if the mixer has them and you can get them, Direct Outs are going to be a whole lot better than any of the other notions he's floated to this point. If "in the past the guy has used an alesis hd24 recorder" for this event, he apparently has the Direct Outs, sufficient channel count, and the cables to make that happen. Do that. Don't try to re-invent the wheel. If we're just trying to provide redundancy to the recording media, get another HD24 & TOSLINK cables and do it again. We should be trying to shoot for redundant recording mediums, not more signal paths. That just multiplies the number of things to go wrong, especially if you have to 'improvise' the cable harness. If a drive fails, have a back-up. If the power goes out, it's great to have a UPS on your recorders, but the whole show is still scuttled until the power comes back up. If someone is hellbent on bringing a non-road-tested DAW into the equation - then they deserve whatever headaches they get.

My example is just that, my example of redundant 24-track recording with the SL24 when I'm responsible for FOH and the recording. kmetal doesn't know where to start startin' yet, so that's an example for him knowing he uses a StudioLive for one of his gigs. If I were still doing this the hard way, I'd dig out the old rackmount splitter I built myself 25 years ago using broadcast-quality transformers and sit in the trailer with my own mixer, monitors, and recorders watching the levels - exactly as you suggest. In any case I'd be completely self-contained as much as possible. If I were just responsible for recording, and Direct Outs weren't an option, and I couldn't afford a good splitter; I'd rather use a few decent splitters on the vocals and put my own mics on the backline instead of buying a rack of cheap ass Blahringer splitters. Maybe that's just me.

And based purely on the context clues, I'll be shocked if the video crew turns out to be of the SMPTE caliber. These days everyone seems to believe you can run and gun 12 untethered cameras and drop the footage into the NLE and perfectly sync it up manually, but based on the stuff I see broadcast on AXS and PromoWest, a lot of those 'pros' apparently suck at it. 29.97fps is just too coarse to get it right as far as I'm concerned. Some of them are out by a mile and nobody seems to care - which is when they start rapid-fire smash cutting.

BTW Kyle,
Like Max said, make sure everything is clocked at 48k.
You can't take from the snake and feed mic level straight into the HD24 - they need to be pre-amped and leveled out.
The 1/4 ins on the HD24 are balanced.
XLR connectors on a splitter are a good thing, not a deal breaker.
XLR to TRS cables & snakes might be necessary.
DB25 to TRS or XLR might be necessary, depending on the Direct Out connectivity.
I would never count on getting an Aux from anybody else.
Y-cables are pretty much never an acceptable mic splitter.

It's good that you're trying to be pro-active and plan ahead, but until you know those pesky details about what they're giving you to work with it's kinda futile. Although by spit-balling these ideas around, you might get an earful about what NOT to do.

kmetal Fri, 10/11/2013 - 00:39
thanks fellas, i'm gonna keep this update short, try to fill in some things i missed.

i should have mentioned that 'the guy' is putting on the show, and running FOH, he will play onstage, and have another engineer run the mains while he's onstage. so, we're gonna develop a plan, so i won't like show up to a stranger hoping his mixer has open auxs or direct outs. also i am not responsible for bringing any equipment, he will supply what we need, so a big part of this is kinda developing options, and figuring out the most efficient way to tackle this. keeping budget and quality and simplicity in mind. a reasonably priced good (not necessarily amazing), to the point system is what i'd like to have for the whole show.

this is also a charity type deal so it's not huge, but it is important to everyone involved.

if i feel this is too much for me to handle (and i'm honest about that) i'll just recommend that the dude hire some of the people i know in my area that have been decades on me for experience, and leave that up to him if he wants to pay it. i am okay w/ saying i don't feel comfortable enough, but i know who is. if nothing else he'll respect me as much and get soime free advice.

i don't own the SL, but i love the idea of how easy it is to get recordings and be redundant. i also like the idea of a second hd24. i also like the idea of a splitter feeding me stage into a nice board and using two recorders. (i'd bring my trusty akg 240's, and my familiar hr8's to monitor if i was in another room)

i agree until i can bring more specifics it's all imaginary, but that's okay, that's why i asked you guys so soon. i want to hear all this stuff, what you would do, what you wouldn't, what sucks right off the bat, ect.

the dude said he had like 6 or seven cameras going, which if i can speculate, one over the shoulder, two handheld hd's, one fixed, and probably a couple i phones. i claim no expertise in video (one class in community college ain't enough). I did know that i needed 48k tho for the audio just cuz. my preference would be to stay as far away from the video as possible, because i no little about it, and my brain hurts trying to be good at studio builds and audio.

i really appreciate you guys chiming in on this, it's helping me roll some questions, and thoughts thru the noggin, and helping me be able to present some more thoughtful things when i meet up w/ they guy next week. i don't know exactly what he's gonna have for a budget, but i do know that his p.a stuff/lighting for a gig this size he already owns, and has for some time. if anything there will be particulars to the recording that need to be filled in, when we go over the equipment requirements/requests and form a plan.

i'm gonna mull all this over a bit, but anymore in the meantime is welcome. i just like to go into new territory armed w/ some options.

i spoke w/ a co worker last night who used to work in a truck and he was like "ah just take the direct outs, thats what we did for herbie handcock", i was like what about redundancy "ah i just checked the tape w/ a 1k tone and listened for dropouts, if the machine broke, it broke, we'd just switch to the other one and have a 3 sec dropout"

not quite good enough for me man, i want at least two identical things at the same time, and at least a stereo emergency recorder. i think no matter how it's done this is reasonable as a base line to plan off of. no?

as far as road tested DAW i'm very weary, this old G5 i'm gonna 'inherit' from the studio has run well and for years, and is being replaced so we can do mixes w/ heavy plugs, but for simple tracking, very reliable. still i question (my thought to) bring a cpu into it, even as backup. DP is the daw and i've read (trade mags) that some bigtime artists use it for it's syncing, most notably roger waters' the wall tour where the whole show (music, visuals, mechanical stuff) is sync'd to dp 5. but this is beyond my current level of understanding as a studio rat bar gig guy, and i'd prefer to KISS, not get fired, and get a call back next year. Most importantly more than fidelity even, is just to capture it, w/ no errors.

as far as video goes, i think it's gonna be a big PITA, and not a pro crew. i tried to do a wedding video w/ two hd cameras and a fixed one, i thought ah just put em up, record em, load edit alas done. nope. didn't happen. i can blame adobe all i want or an underpowered macbook, but myself is to blame. needless to say i'm gonna have to verify what the level of video is, but my job will be strictly audio recording, otherwise i don't want it. if my FOH opinion is welcomed, i'll say what sounds bad and good, but audio only is my job for this, and i will make that clear.

which means, i need to research audio for video. any links/wisdom are welcome. again. simple, is good.

thanks again guys, gonna do some thinking for a few. (so much for keeping it short).