More Questions for Location Recording

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Midlandmorgan, Aug 31, 2005.

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  1. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    Gents (and Dames, if applicable)...just trying to get a general feel for this year's orchestra season, and wnated to get a consensus of the exteemed panel.

    - Do you run snakes, etc, to get as far away from the program material as possible?
    - Do you use portable external mons or a quality set of headphones
    (or both)
    - Do you set up a small iso system similar to the Auralex "Max Wall" or just adjust as necessary? (or the back of of truck?!?)
    - How many trunks of stuff do you normally take to a location job? (between computers, pre/converters/etc...3 miles of cable...enough heavy stands to get er done stuff like gaffer's tape, extra clips, tie downs, sandbags, etc...)

    Seems the more "higher end" I approach this, the smaller my truck becomes....Starting to look at a trailer of perhaps a bobtail....

    Thoughts? Experiences? Will John and Marsha finally do the wild thing?
  2. MasonMedia

    MasonMedia Guest

    Hello Ken,

    Thanks for the belly laugh :lol: Nice way to phrase the delema. My situation tends to include lots of tracks, so I have similar challenge as my track to transportation ratio is up side down. :wink: I drive a Montero SUV. There's room in the car for 5 cable-accessory bins and one 6-RU rack case, UPS, and Genelec 1030 pair in the rear seat area; the audio console (in it's road case), 150' 28-ch snake, stand bag, dolly, and mic case in the rear; and the PC & LCD monitor ride on the front seat, belted in. Oh, and there's often a folding table on the roof. You get the picture. Recently we've used the back seat of my assistant's car for overflow, too.

  3. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    For me the answers to those questions begin with budget and proceed to the physical demands of the hall.

    I have two basic concert fees-- one is for the small rig which consists of my 4U rack with Masterlink and Benchmark 420 pre/mixer that handles 4 mics but no pan. To handle pan needs I split output of the touchup mic and steer with gain.

    If the job needs more than 4 mics (this is putting it rather basically) then the price almost doubles and I bring out everything needed up to 16 channels ( Sequoia workstation,HD24 for backup. all the micpres, outboard A/Ds, etc etc) The monitors come along if there is sufficient isolation. Regardless, each mic gets its own channel so I can mix back on the ranch with the B&W 801s in a known environment. I will do a rough mix as I record to cut down on post-production time.

    I have never recorded a full orchestra concert without flying mics-- chamber orch is different as there are fewer mics/stands. Piano soloists were covered with a stand with a stereo bar at the edge of the stage.

    Until the local orchestra bellied up all the needed cables were run from upstairs backstage for quicker setup/teardown.

    It really gets down to that delicate balance of fee vs your desire to go all out.

    Hope this helped!

  4. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    Jul 21, 2002
    Thanks again, gentlemen....
  5. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    May 25, 2004
    A few short takes on my approach. I am on an amateur level here, but the investment starts to reach the level where it is a major money sink.

    My main setup is a portable rack box with Motu 828mkII and multi channel mic pre. I generally run a short snake from that (10 m or 30 feet) just for the comfort but when I need to I rent a long snake to really get out of the way. The signal goes into my laptop, unfortunately a bit noisy so I need to be out of hearing.

    This gives me up to 10 channels counting the two built in pres on the Motu. This is generally well above what I mentally manages to handle on location. The last few mics often gets more or less thrown into place without very much thinking. All goes to Samplitude and to the internal hard disk as multiple tracks for later mixing at home.

    Once home, first thing is always backup to an external harddisk and from that over to the working directory of my stationary PC.

    Monitoring is headphones only, either Sony MDR7506 or Sennheister 280Pro to get good isolation.

    The kit including mics and holders and cables and computer and so on goes into three or four wooden boxes depending on how much I take along. In addition there is the mic stand bag, a converted travel bag for golf clubs.

    For those odd situations I can add 8 more channels on a Behringer ADA8000 for spots or ambience or whatever. Treated carefully the inputs are not all bad but it is of course a budget solution.

    Currently I am in the upgrade process (months of it still to come) to upgrade both the laptop and the sound card. It might end up with some other kind of portable computer as that will not really add very much to the total weight of the transport.

  6. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    Well, our setup is directly related to financial and time resources available on the project. We will go to enormous effort if there is the budget. By this I mean the full multi-track record etc.

    As an example of the other end of the scale, we recently recorded a little chamber music festival in Bangalow in northern NSW near Byron Bay. This was a pro bono gig for our community radio station and as there was no security for gear between each of the 11 concerts in 3 days, pull up and down all the time was essential and had to be quick. Many changes of mics evern within concert. Still we recorded 6 mic channels mixed to stereo most of the time.

    Photos show the economy of scale. Sorry for the out of focus stuff and the repeats, but you get the picture. A soon to be famous great Aussie piano and piano maker feature significantly in the festival.
  7. route909

    route909 Guest

    I´m a semi pro recording guy so far. My remote kit consists of:

    1. A 4u rack with my Fireface 800, a Swissonic WD-8 wordclock generator (for sync purposes) and a 6 ch home made preamp rack, giving me 10 ch of hq preamps and 10 ch of A/D. I borrowed an ADAT XT to get additional inputs to the ff800 when recording the musical Hednadotter this summer.

    2. Computer (Antec Sonata housed AMD XP2800 w 1 gb ram, 500 gb hd) with a 15 inch LCD.

    3. Cables. Lots of cables in a couple of army cases. I have two 15 m 3 ch snakes and a 2 ch snake for stereo pairs, which I make longer with regular shorter mic cables.

    4. Mic stands. I need to get a good case for these, as they are quite unfriendly to carry around. Btw I just bought a large K&M mic stand that goes 15 feet high or something like it :) Awesome for choir recording!

    5. Headphones, adapters, tape and sometimes a small mixer, a Soundcraft Spirit Rac Pac for monitoring.

    How much I bring depends on the gig naturally.

    I want to be in another room while recording, mostly because it makes monitoring easier with open cans and to avoid getting any of my computer noise into the mics, but also to get away from itchy and unwanted fingers poking around my stuff. I usually monitor with headphones only, but I have borrowed a pair of powered monitors from a friend once or twice to make impulse recordings or for live FOH monitoring.

    My gear fit into a regular car. I would love to get something like this: and a rack mount computer case with rack mount lcd screen/keyboard:
    . It´d make my package a whole lot more compact, but I´m afraid it´d be so damn heavy and bulky that I wouldn´t fit it into a regular car. I wouldn´t be able to carry it on my own though. I figure I can lift 80-100 pounds of gear at a time, but my back would disagree after a couple of gigs.

    A good hard drive recorder with outboard conversion is high on my list too...

  8. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    We do what the client wants and bring the equipment necessary to do what is needed. We have a flat rate per day for 8 hours. If the session goes over 8 hours we charge time and a half. If we have to travel more than 50 miles one way we charge a per diem to cover our travel fees. This is going to be much more enforced since the cost of gasoline has gone over $3.00 per gallon and my van gets about 25 mpg fully loaded. I have an associate that goes with me and gets paid for his time. As to equipment we take what we need for the job and some extra stuff always goes along just to cover emergencies or "oh I forgot we have an extra soloist today" kinds of last minute problems.

    Most times we request a walk though if the group has not recorded with us before or if it is a hall we have not recorded in before. We want to check out things like the electrical circuits, van access and where we can park. The client gets charged for the remote survey - usually time plus mileage. If they don't want to pay for it then I cannot guarantee the quickness of our setup which may mean overtime charges from us and a longer session for the client. Most times they understand and are willing to cough up the extra money.

    We try and get to the venue early about 1.5 hours before the recording session is scheduled to start since we want to have no technical problems when the session actually starts and want to make sure all of our equipment is working well. (we check everything before we leave our office but sometimes something will go wrong and the extra time gives us some breathing room in case we have a problem.)

    When the session is over we break down and pack the van and return home where we carefully repack all the equipment in its storage location for the next session.

    Depending on the session we normally monitor though a pair of Genelec 1030 speakers (if we can have a room away from the main area) or on headphones if we have to be in the hall or venue.

    Most of our equipment is packed into road cases made by Caravan Cases (who's plant is located about 8 miles from us) and are great about creating special cases for us. We take with us an isolation transformer and UPS supply because in the past we have had problems with losing power and having to restart all of our digital equipment which in a live concert situation can be FUN! We also have a custom snake that was originally made by PROCO but has been modified for our needs and is basically a 12 pair no return snake 75 feet long. We also have two 75 foot special snakes that were made for us by a very skilled electronics person and use all Neumann wire and Neutrik connectors. These all have there own shipping cases and are easy to coil and uncoil as needed.

    Our mixers are the new Onyx series from Mackie and these feed a Sony Vaio laptop running Tracktion V 2.0 software or Samplitude 8.2. We also can record on our DA-88 if needed. Our stands are mostly light stands or speaker stands that have been converted by yours truly for use in holding microphones high up.

    We mainly do recordings of acoustic concerts such as orchestra, choral, small ensemble and solo concerts but have done the odd amplified concert as long as it is not too loud. We have a Proco mic splitter for such occasions and have nod a very good results from it.

    The van is usually pretty full when we go to a job and we do take extra mic cords, extension cords and spare microphones and stands JUST IN CASE.

    Hope this helps
  9. johnnyg

    johnnyg Guest

    remote recording rig

    Hi: I am usually recording classical choral, string, and band music w/ a little jazz thrown in.

    For remotes I take one or two 80 foot AES/EBU snakes for up to 24 channels.

    I also bring 24 channels of mic pres--8 of ATI 8Mx2, and 16 (two) True Precision 8's.

    For recorders I go to an Alesis HD24XR for multitrack (usually at 24x96k for classical) and I also send the summing bus from the 8Mx2 or the two channels from the main stereo pair to an Alesis Masterlink as a safety.

    For Mics my main pair is usually a Royer SF-24, flanked by two Royer R-122s. I use pairs/singles of Shure KSM 141s, Neumann KM 184s, TLM127s, U87s, AT 4047s, Octava MK012s, or Shure KSM44s. For classical stuff I usually end up w/ 8 multitrack channels-sometimes as 4 pairs.

    I of course need mic stands (Manfrotti light stands w/ adapters, 14 FT Shure, and normal boom tripods). And it is VERY worthwhile to use real gaffer tape versus duct tape (doesn't leave sticky residue on cables, and sticks better to everything else.)

    I have two 8-space racks, aand three rolling duffle bags which fit most of the above. I can haul everything in my 4-door midsized car, but often borrow my wife's minivan.

    I hope this helps. I am always looking for ways to haul less stuff. I would be better off w/ a laptop but don't have the cash for that right now. And I still think dedicated DAW systems are more reliable.

  10. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    Nice pics. Where did the audience sit? Was there an audience? :?
  11. OneMegahertz

    OneMegahertz Guest

    The latter is always the question in classical music, isn't it? :(
    Yes, there was an audience, but we always wish it were larger.

    I suspect you're really asking about sight lines, given that I had several different mic stands up. It's not practical to fly anything in that hall -- the only catwalk is someplace acoustically useless. :roll: I used to worry about my hardware being in people's way, but the hall doesn't sell out and folks just fill in around it. The music director once told me that he thinks having visible microphones is actually a plus. Some folks take the festival more seriously when they know it's being recorded for broadcast. Go figure.

    The stereo rigs don't have a big visual profile (except for Schneider or Jecklin disks). The LCR tree is terrible, IMO. It was worst in the first concert where it had two long horizontal bars and eight mics. In the second concert, with only one bar and three mics, it's not quite so bad. The Hamasaki rig looks terrible in the photos, but it's up so high that only the pole is in anyone's sight line. People sat right behind it, so I guess it didn't bother them too much.

    BTW, a few regular patrons have believed for years that I'm actually up there in the booth mixing the live concert sound! Despite the fact that there are no mics on stage and no speakers anywhere, they catch me after the show to tell me how good it sounded. :lol:

    David L. Rick
    Seventh String Recording
  12. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    Re: remote recording rig

    Hi johnnyg,

    Can you (or anyone else) provide some comment on the 8Mx2? It looks like a decent piece of gear for the price, but how does it compare to other pres you may also have some experience with (Grace, True, Benchmark, Millennia, etc)?

  13. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    Yes, this was my point. I once put a stand in the audience area of a similar hall and had a guy tap it with his foot all through the first half, before I could "alert" him with some softly spoken kind words during the interval.

    I remember Ron Streicher telling me that the trees he used to erect at the Aspen festival were frowned upon, but it was a great opportunity for comparisons of mic technique.
  14. johnnyg

    johnnyg Guest

    Re: remote recording rig

    Hi johnnyg,

    Can you (or anyone else) provide some comment on the 8Mx2? It looks like a decent piece of gear for the price, but how does it compare to other pres you may also have some experience with (Grace, True, Benchmark, Millennia, etc)?


    Mike: I like the 8mx2 a lot. I bought it when I was recording classical stuff direct to 2 track and I wanted a very simple, high quality mix/summing bus so I could use more than two mics. It has the same pres as the ATI Paragon live console, so I wasn't sure it would be transparent enough for classical work, but it was recommended to me by a well respected hardware designer who said it was clean. I do not have Grace or Millennia experience to compare it too, but it seems similiar in quality to my Trues, and more open sounding than my M-80, or DBX Silver Series channel strips. Hope this helps.
  15. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    Re: remote recording rig

    Thanks a bunch! Cheers, M
  16. alexaudio

    alexaudio Active Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    Thanks for the link... I see my name is on that posting. Didn't even remember sending microphones to Colorado for that session till now.

  17. alexaudio

    alexaudio Active Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    Far as location recording goes, I agree that the clients budget and overall purpose of the recording are major factors in how we setup for the recording, equipment we take, etc.

    Generally speaking, we have 4 tiers.

    Without going into rates (since they are now changing), our basic setup is just 2 microphones (I have many to choose from), going into a quality microphone pre (True Systems or Millennia Media), into a variety of 2 track recorders. In the past, these recorders were primarily 16 bit recorders. We were using a modified Lexicon 20/20 ADC; however, that unit has been retired, along with the 16 bit recorders. Everything is now at 24 bit. At the moment, I record utilizing a portable Sequoia workstation and utilized the ADCs that are in the Lynx Two card. In the near future, I'll either be ordering another one of these systems, or if we cannot afford that, we will likely acquire a used Masterlink with external ADC, a Tascam DV-RA1000 or a similar unit. Keep in mind, this is our BASIC setup, no frills, yet quality equipment.

    Our second tier, is similar, but will always use the Sequoia system, and up to 6 microphones will be used.

    Third tier, is up to 8 microphones, into the same quality microphone pres. However, in this case, the microphone pre's are kept closer to the stage, where-as, in tiers 1 and 2, this is not so much of a concern as either the venue, concert or other factors are prohibitive to placing the microphone pre-amps where desired -OR- the cable run really isn't that long. In the third tier, we usually are into a higher quality recording scenarios. The mic pre's feed Genex ADCs, which then go into the portable Sequoia. We are surely recording at higher resolutions in the third tier as well (aka 88.2 or 96kHz sampling rates, we rarely go above that, though we can).

    Up until this point, most monitoring is done on cans. We do have the ability and have taken our NHT A-20s with use for the third tier, along with some Aurelex room treatment when monitoring is used.

    Our highest tier is up to 16 microphones and/or is a surround sound recording scenario. Attention to detail is key in these scenarios. Also, everything is thrown in, minus the kitchen sink. Mic pre's close to the microphones, monitoring on multiple headphones and speakers, etc. We also have been taking a Tascam MX2424 to these sessions for backup along with the portable Sequoia workstation. Genex is still our main ADC (though I have EMM Labs on trial right now as I type). Everything in this scenario is recorded at high res/high bit rates. Our second and third tiers are most common, and the highest tier usually goes out about 3-5 times a year, as most other high quality work is done at our studios.

    Only other scenario I'll share is at Music Hall, where we recording the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Opera and May Festival. I generally don't consider this an on-location session, since we have a small studio in Music Hall. However, just go give you a taste of our setup - it is....microphone pre's close to the stage, as we feed about 300-350 feet of cabling to our booth. ADCs are Genex, which then feed into a Yamaha DM1000 V2 for mixing and that mix then goes to a Sequoia workstation (both the stereo and surround mixes simultaneously). Stereo mix is also sent to several HHB CDR recorders for the orchestra to listen to for edit decisions. Everyting is recorded at 88.2/24 bit in stereo and surrond simultaneously. Monitoring on a full blown 5.2 NHT Pro System calibrated to the room. We prefer to mix live instead of having to remix after the fact. FYI - All of our surround mixes are being broadcast using some rather new technologies under test for HD Radio. The Lt/Rt downmix sounds very good and have never gotten negative feedback.
  18. hughesmr

    hughesmr Guest

    Thanks for the info, Alex! I was at Music Hall last night for the CSO opening night Beethoven program: it looked like it would have been a lot of fun to be in the booth with your orchestral/choral/soloists setup.

  19. alexaudio

    alexaudio Active Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    You are welcome to sit in anytime (giving appropriate notice of course).

  20. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Ken -

    This is a great topic. Many of the items have been touched on elsewhere, but not exhaustively.

    Personally, here is my usual set-up.

    Multiple mics (I rarely use only two mics. I don't have seperate tiers for pricing. High School bands get the same treatment as professional orchestras or choruses.)

    All mics patched into a custom Monster Cable 100' Snake (which can have the preamps located before or after the snake - either one works and it depends on the situation, nothing else - when I can, I put the pres before the snake.)

    Snake patched into either location console (Soundcraft M12) or directly into A/Ds and then into the PC.

    I also run an Alesis HD24 for redundancy at all times - never failed yet and only ever had to use it once (which was my fault b/c I accidentally set the A/D and the Lynx AES 16 as the master -- oops.)

    I stay off to the wings whenever possible - usually I get a table (or bring a folding one) so that I can see the conductor from the rear wings either in a straight line or with minimal movement. That way, if there are any surprises, I can see them about to happen.

    The only time I don't do this is:
    1. When I can't be out of the sightline of the audience
    2. When there isn't enough room backstage
    3. When the power backstage is awful

    I typically stay out of other's booths. Though they almost always offer to allow me to run my mics into their stage boxes and then into the booth. The reasons are:

    1. I don't want to be blamed for breaking their console even though I never touched it. (Just think, you're in the booth with a "paid by the hour" theater tech who accidentally spills coffee on the board. When the manager finds the mess, do you think the minimum wage guy will own up to it, or will he say "it must have been the recording guy..."

    2. I don't trust other's cable runs. I don't care how nice the space, who designed it and so on. If it ain't my cable and I didn't test it before the session, I don't use it. Period.

    3. Often the cable runs that are built in are dreadfully long and run right by the cans power supply lines. This is a noisy situation in many halls.

    As for monitoring - I almost always monitor on cans while on location. Since I can adjust almost everything back at the studio, there's no reason for me to drag out big monitors. There are some exceptions to that too - if I know the artist(s) will want to hear it played back or I know I'll have my own isolated booth (even then I'll use headphones a lot of times), or if the session is dreadfully long.

    For cans I use AKG K240S and for monitors, I use Audix PH5-Vs or Infinitys with a Hafler Power amps.

    All of my stuff traditionally fits easily into a small SUV. However, since I just traded my small SUV (Honda Element) in for a smaller hybrid (Toyota Prius - hey, I drive 130 miles every day! I need fuel efficiency), I'm not sure yet. If I need to, I'll rent a small Uhaul for the larger gigs.

    Typically, I have the following cases:

    * 1 small briefcase (aluminum) for microphones
    * 1 Small briefcase for mic clips and misc accessories
    * 1 small briefcase for mics cables / DIs / adapters / DATs / Cans / HP Amplifier
    * 1 small briefcase holding the 15" LCD
    * 1 4U rack case holding the HD 24
    * 1 6U rack case holding the Pres and AD
    * 1 Pelican case holding the PC/mouse/keyboard/dongle
    * 4 AEA 15B mic stands
    * 2 QuikLok A85 mic stands
    * 2 standard tripod boom stands
    * 1 High-weight capacity rolling dolly (quik-lok 500 lb support)


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