Multitrack recording questions and options?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Unregistered, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Hello. I am new to this forum and waiting for my registration to come through. I have been enjoying making purist recordings in DSD with my Korg MR-1000 with simple stereo mics of live unamplified acoustic performances. It is amazing how good these can be when things are just right. But, my opportunity to capture such things is rare. Most live music is amplified and going through their soundboards mixed for house sound make less than ideal recordings. So, I am looking for my options here.

    What do you fellows do when forced to use a board set for house sound? Do you take parallel mic feeds off of their board to feed either your own mixer or a multitrack recorder? I knownthat there are a lot of options for going multitrack, such as using a computer interface for recording. I just don't know enough about how soundboards are configured to allow the kind of access this kind of recording requires. I am sure this is a very basic question to most of you, but I need to start somewhere. Thank you.
  2. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    I am not sure if my first post was clear enough. I am asking what the best options are for recording from a bands mixing console that has the pans set for house sound. Is there usually a way to take direct feeds from a board to record as separate tracks?
  3. Ripeart

    Ripeart Active Member

    May 13, 2011
    Miami, FL
    Home Page:
    Yeah a lot of live mixers have 1/4" outs on each channel that are usually pre-fader.
  4. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    Depends entirely on the desk in question. Large hi-end analog boards will usually have direct outs for every channel, probably on XLRs, quite possibly switchable pe or post fader. Mid-range desks are more likely to provide them as jack outs, and might not give you the pre-fader option. Small/budget desks often won't have any at all. You may also run into desks which provide a multi-pin format such as DB25 (eg: Audient Aztec or Mackie Onyx).

    Digital boards normally don't have dedicated direct outs per channel: generally there will be a set number of generic outputs which can be assigned as needed. In this case it will depend how many are left over once all the PA (and possibly monitors) are patched, and how willing (and capable) the house engineer is to soft-patch them for your recording.

    The best solution would be a set of active splits: stage mics would be patched into these, which would split off isolated feeds for the PA and the recording. This also leaves you free to set pre-amp gains independently of the house mix, and gives you the option to set up on stage / backstage rather than at FOH.

    A cheaper option would be a set of simple passive Y-splits. However, your recording equipment will not then be isolated from the PA, so you may have a harder time persuading the house engineer to let you patch it in. Also a lot of venues use passive splits to feed a seperate monitor mix: if you added your own passive splits to this tye of setup you would be effectively y-splitting the mics 3 ways, which is not a good idea. In this scenario you will need active splits, or will need to take direct outs.
  5. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Thank you everyone. This is just the kind of information that will help point me in the right direction to help get me started. Would most of these available board outputs be at line level? I believe my best options should first be based on ideas that don't require the sound man to alter their normal connections and routine. I think that will allow me the most access.

    Now let me ask you this: I have read that some folks create their own mix on the fly by combining a stereo out from a bands board and some of their own mics placed either for good audience sounds and steering, and/or on stage with the musicians themselves. How well does something like this work since the extra mics used, especially the audience one, will be recording the bands sound system and not the band itself? I assume that the level for the audience mics would be set lower than the direct feed from the board?
  6. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005

    There are no such options! If you're taking direct outs from his desk, that means an extra loom in the back of his desk (you're going to give him a loom, right? not a tangle of separate cables?) which is probably already a rat's nest of multi-core tails and inserts. Remember: he or she may well have to dive in there to re-patch between bands, so adding to the tangle will not necessarily make you his friend. You are also going to have to share his FOH space, which may be limited: you might have to ask him to give up his usual beer / coffee / laptop / ipod table!

    Active splits are by far the best option for staying friends with the house guy: once he's patched you in you should be safely out of the way on stage or backstage, and the splits guarantee that you can't inadvertantly screw up his FOH sound.

    But whatever way you do it, you are going to need his cooperation. Its easier to get this if you avoid springing it on him at the last minute! Check out the venue in advance if you can; have a chat with the house guy, warn him you'll be recording an upcoming gig, find out if direct outs are available from the desk, and what loom you will have to bring to make it work, and turn up well before soundcheck on the day!

    I'm actually listening to such a recording as I type: a 7-piece african jazz band performing in our local cathedral earlier this evening. The promoter asked me to record it during soundcheck, but having not been fore-warned I only had my little Mackie Satellite with just 2 inputs. I fed one input from the mono output of the little A&H desk I was using (low budget charity gig!) and the other from a Rode NT5 which I hurridly threw up at my mix position... actually it sounds great! The ambient mic is pretty washed out in reverb obviously, but the desk mix sounds a bit dry... mixed together with a bit of time-alignment delay for the desk mix sounds really nice. Of course its possible that a couple of bottles of strong ale plus my laptop speakers are masking some issues: I'll find out at the studio tomorrow.

    So anyway, yes it can work. But its a bit hit and miss, and it depends very much on both the quality of the FOH mix, and the acoustics of the venue. In addition, if the venue is small or medium sized the PA balance will not really be what the audience is hearing: a band with very loud guitars on stage (for example) will probably end with the guitars much too quiet in the desk mix. In a really small room (200 or below) you might not need any guitars in the PA at all... in this kind of situation you might want to experiment with ambient mics on stage, aimed to capture the sound from the backline, but to exlude the main PA stacks and monitors as far as possible: you can then blend the PA mix and the offstage sound to try to recreate the same balance the audience heard. Obviously, this will only work if the balance the audience heard is worth re-creating. If you need to guarantee results from every gig regardless of the talents of the house engineer and the acoustic properties of the room, you will need a multitrack recording and a dedicated mix.
  7. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Once my registration goes through I am sure I will have quite a few more threads on lots of topics with specific questions, but so far this has been a very good start. With these answers I am seeing the beginnings of what is possible and now I need to consider what is practical. I can see that each situation will be a bit different and I will need to be flexible in my ability to make connections to the sources, be they live mics, or at line level. For me this is just a hobby right now. It is one I enjoy and would like to learn more about and I think I have picked a good forum to do that.

    Although just a hobby I have had a few opportunities to record a few actual recording artists over the last few years using my simple two channel Korg Mr-1000. I am not a musician and have never been able to sing or play a note properly to save my life, but I have always been a good listener. I am more on the audiophile side of things having a very nice dedicated listening room set up with proper acoustics to enjoy that. I like to directly compare my simple recordings with some of the best out there that I am aware of and it is amazing how close some seem to come to them. So, I know that with some better education, training, techniques and equipment, what the possibilities could be. And once again I think this may just be the place for me to begin that.

    Multichannel is my next step and I am not sure exactly what will be practical for me to begin with. There are a lot of choices in equipment and several directions to go with it. Two main choices that I see right away are in how I will want to capture the tracks. One way is through a computer interface recording directly to a PC, the other would be through more of a stand alone all in one multitrack recorder, similar to what I have been used to with my DSD MR-1000 and then transfer to a PC later for the mixing and editing. Each choice has distinct advantages and disadvantages as well as many different options within each of those choices.

    For example, computer interfaces can be either firewire, or USB. Then within each one of those choices are units that vary from simple to complex with what they are capable of, and from more basic signal routing boxes for post mixing to complete mixers with a USB out with the ability to mix on the fly as well if wanted. Lots of choices out there. Maybe too many :). One thing for certain is that I will need to do a lot more reading and put out more specific questions when I start to narrow things down a bit more.

    Of prime importance is the sound quality. Without that I would have nothing. I like DSD but that isn't really practical
    for me passed just very simple editing and so I generally convert that to 24/96 to work with. That is my prefered high resolution medium to listen to as well, and so what I am looking for should be able to handle at least that level of resolution. I feel I will not be a full power user and so simple parameter adjustment and capability may suit me just fine, but then I may also want something that I can eventually grow into.

    I have only just started to look into what is available and I am sure I will get more ideas from this forum. So far I have been looking at such things as the Metric Halo 2882, Tascam US-2000, DR-680 and HS-8. I know that just scratches the surface of manufactures and models, and then there are all the digital portastudios out there as well that I know absolutely nothing about and if they are even something I should be considering?
  8. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    Matric Halo is mac only. Perhaps you are aware of that and used the acronym "PC" for its literal meaning. But if you meant "Windows PC" you can cross that one off your list.

    Important questions to ask yourself at this stage: how may inputs do you need? Will you be wanting to increase your channel count in future? How portable does the setup need to be? What's the budget?
  9. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Metric Halo????? Is this Jeemy? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!
  10. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    I have narrowed things down to what I think will be a good start for me. I am looking at PreSonus and one of the Firestudio units, but first I will need to get a new Macbook Pro. So, in the mean time I ran across a good deal on a Tascam DR-680, a nice portable recorder not unlike my Korg MR-1000. This is an 8 track recorder that I find easy to use and greatly expands my current capability. I should be able to learn a lot from it before I move on to a more advanced systems. I also picked up a TRS cable snake by CBI, as well as some new mic and other patch cables.

    I am going to try and register once again as nothing came through from my first try.

  11. Housteau

    Housteau Active Member

    Jun 24, 2011
    Ah, it did come through. I was expecting an email and never checked if my log in actually worked :).
  12. Matheus

    Matheus Guest


    Hehehe,this is the closet I can get.Build a shed/building out of ICF.Cost? mmmmm,perhaps as much as $25.00 sq ft that small.Nice thing about ICF is it's bulelt proof,virtually soundproof,great insulation,withstands winds in excess of 250 mph.To each there own I guess.Allot depends on what code will allow.My Best
  13. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    A closet that will withstand 250mph winds? Is that inside or outside?
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