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Simple Live Gig Recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by eViL cAkE, Apr 17, 2004.

  1. eViL cAkE

    eViL cAkE Guest

    Sep 6, 2001
    Just East of Dallas
    I did a search and did not find a thread that addressed my issue directly.

    I was just wondering what type of recorder, (DAT, minidisc, direct to hard drive, etc) ya'll feel is easiest to bring to gigs and run lineouts from the house mixer with.

    So I'm looking for something very portable, that I can hook up to the house mixer quicklie, and is simple enough to operate that I could enlist a buddie to press the buttons while my band's performing.

    Of course sound quality is also an issue, just something that's realtively easy to get an "industry standard" demo recording out of.

    Thanx A Lot,

  2. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    The answer to this question depends mostly on what type of mixing desk your PA has? Or are you using different PA's all the time?
  3. eViL cAkE

    eViL cAkE Guest

    Sep 6, 2001
    Just East of Dallas
    I play in two original material oriented rock bands who play in Dallas mostly. Most of the venues we play in have house systems, and the soundmen can get pretty irate if you complicate things to much. I just wanted to see what my options were for quick on-gig recording.

    Suggestions on mics that work well for a live recording would be helpful too.

    Sorry about my question being somewhat general. I've just heard stories about people like Frank Zappa, who took tape machines to just about every show they did, and became masters at splicing different performances together, and got near studio quality recordings. I figured that with the technology available today, that something like that should be easier to pull off.

    Thank you much,
  4. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Oh OK I understand your situation better now.

    For a quick and rough recording, use whatever the PA guy has in his rack. Most will already have a MD player or tape deck, and they'll usually set it up so that all they have to do is throw the tape/MD in, hit record, then forget it's there. It'll be rough because he won't be mixing it for a recording, he'll be focusing on the live sound. So be careful that everything remains in his live mix. The best way to do this is keep your stage volume down so he doesn't have to pull you out of the PA and hence out of the recording (guitarists are the worst offenders).

    Anything that involves bringing your own recording device will require some sort of signal splitter somewhere in the chain so that the audio signal gets fed to both the recorder and the PA. As you can imagine, this requires total co-operation from your sound crew, something which is hard to come by. Frank Zappa would have had no trouble telling his sound guys what to do, he's famous, and pays their wages.
  5. Corwin81


    Mar 18, 2003
    Ames, IA
    a pair of condenser mics(I've used some Audix(can't remember the model), and Behringer ECM8000) into a M-Audio Audiobuddy into a recording device of your choosing(laptop computer, minidisc, cassette, etc). I've gotten some good recordings that way.
  6. I would opt for a portable MD and record with room mic. that way you won´t be dependent on the house gear and sound guys mood swings. In my experience taking sound straight from the board works ony in pretty large venues, where majority of sound comes from PA. And even then the balance will be off (drums will be too quiet, vocals and keys too loud). On smaller gigs it´s even worse. Recording with room mics will give you "rougher" overall sound, but at least the instruments will be somewhat in balance.

    As for the mic, I recommend those small stereo mics that plug straight into the MD. IMO outboard preamps and fancy mics are not worth the hassle; we´re not talking about some audiophile recording of a chamber orchestra here. Most of the times you´ll be recording a crappy PA in a crappy room with (hopefully) lots of noisy people, so a pair of Neumann KM184s and an Avalon pre would be a bit of an overkill... Besides, there is usually more than enough stuff to worry about on a gig night without the extra hassle of complex recording setups. Keep it simple and concentrate on playing.

    And BTW, don´t know about Zappa, but most live recordings of bigger name bands are done with multi-track recorders so don´t excpect to get comparable results with a stereo system. At best, you can get adequate results for a down-and-dirty demo, but it´s always a hit-and-miss process.
  7. kanthony


    Apr 25, 2004
    ditto - just what I was about to type... even though an MD uses an audio compression - it's not a raw wave - I've never heard the loss personally although I'm sure there's someone somewhere ...

    The next option is DAT tape deck for uncompressed wave but I really love the MD.

    I wouldn't take a hard disc recorder anywhere - it's a harddrive and shock can crash the head. I'm actually amazed people by HD based mp3 players and IPODS. Now I would really love 'smart media' ( no moving parts ) but I think an hour or so of media would cost way too much although I seem to remember some obscure devices using inexpensive DRAM - just don't turn of the power!!!

    A pair of high quality condensor mics that can stand the transients is in order and may cost more than the MD although I've had great success with home built condensor cans placed in my ear like ear buds. This also allows you to record 'binaurally' by recording 'from the ear' - an awesome effect. btw: the mics cost about $20 to make yourself or about $80 to buy - search google for 'binaural mic'

    also - every recording I've ever made 'from the board' sounded like crap becuase the mix sounds way different in the room then on the tape.
  8. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I have a Yamaha 4trk MD recorder that we use. We can take Stereo Out 1/4" or RCA from the house. Then we mix in 2 channels of a Sony stereo mic that belongs to our manager. No big whoop, and only 39 mins of recording per MDData disc. But the sound quality/mix control is worth it.
    These go for pretty cheap on Ebay, or your local GC might have one on clearance. They're kind of oboslete now...
  9. LarryO


    Apr 4, 2004
    can't you just go out from the house's mixer into a tascam or similar unit?
  10. What do you mean by "tascam or similar unit"? A multi-track recorder? Way too complicated IMO, unless you have a very collaborative soundguy and lots of time to tweak things before the show. And suitable gear like a desk with direct outs or a signal splitter.
  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Minidisc recorder and electret microphone clipped to something nearby. I get listenable results - not true demo quality but certainly enough to hear what's going on and thus learn from the good and bad points of a given performance.

    I've not tried recording on a line out from the desk much - even assuming the desk has a suitable output and you've got all the signals going through the desk, I'd be worried about leaving an expensive piece of kit sitting on the desk without someone watching it very closely. If you've got a friend who's knowledgable enough to do the job, they've probably got their own recording gear - if not, don't get too upset if they go to the bar and somebody whips the your MD unit!

    Having said that, if you've got somebody at the desk who knows what they're doing and a spare monitor channel to mix a signal on you can get some excellent sounds (although any mistakes in the performance will be very hard to fix... I think Zappa drilled his musicians up to a very tight level of performance).

  12. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    We've done house feed and mics into minidisk mutlitrack and a portable DAT, in multiple configurations.

    Where the soundman had an easy stereo Out from the board (RCA or 1/4") it was no sweat. We just had someone watching levels during our soundcheck and blammo.
    Adding in a stereo mic signal was no more complicated.

    It may be overkill, but it's flexible as all get out.
  13. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I've dropped my iPod twice onto a brick walkway from about 5 feet (it was in a belt clip case). Other than a small ding in the corner of the backing you would never know it.
  14. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    Portable MD is the coolest. We have a Mackie board that we use for the mains and monitors. Then we go out of the direct outs to a Behringer Eurorack Pro RX1602 8 channel line mixer that we use for the sub mix. This is so the house wix won't have to suffer for the recording quality on disc.

    It's cheap and pretty portable since it all sits in one rack.
  15. megiddo


    Apr 5, 2003
    Houston, Texas
    I use a Sony MZ-R700 MiniDisc to record practice and gigs. I used to put it down on the floor with my pedals but I just went to GC and bought a Roland clamp with a platform on it. I'm going to clamp it to my music stand and velcro the R700 to the platform so I can press the track button without bending over and I won't have to mark the tracks later. I use a cheapo stereo mic that came with it clamped on to a mic stand. I'm going to get an upgraded mic later on. I've been using it for about a year with great results. I bought it on eBay for about $100. :D
  16. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001

    I was going to ask about splitting the incoming signal to two different mixers (One for live, one for recording). Dont most of the nice mixers have a line out for each channel so that splitting the incoming signal wouldnt even be necessary? i.e. from the output of the live mixer...run those into the recording mixer and setup the levels there to be fed into the recorder?

    i dont really know about this...just asking.
  17. I've tried this, ran from each input channel's patch point (on the main mixer) out to a line mixer then mixed down to 4 channels that I recorded on my Tascam 4 track.

    Theoretically, "good" way to do it. However, I had two problems. First, using the patch points didn't work well. This was the TRS kind that if you inserted the 1/4 plug in half way, you got a signal out without breaking the signal chain, insert it all the way, you broke the signal chain. It wasn't easy to find that halfway point and several channels suddenly lost all sound on the main FOH mix as the gig started.

    Secondly, I didn't have time to adjust the mix on the line mixer and I lost some of the vocals on recording. It takes so long just setting up the PA, adding the line mixer setup, I ran out of time.

    So this isn't an easy solution IMHO.
  18. dunivan


    Jul 3, 2003
    Ft. Myers, FL
    endorsing artist: knucklehead strings
    I use a Sony MD direct with the input coming directly from the board and it comes out steller everytime...dont know why you guys arent getting the live mix...unless you plug into the headphone jack off the board...

    SBD recordings are the only way to go for a close to studio recording....but for a live cd or release most bands have a mic going into the board, that is set up to put a little more crowd noise in the mix
  19. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    That works, but we are going for a great quality recording. So we want to be able to remix before we go to DAT. So the stereo signal is different from the house to the DAT. Vocals tend to be a lot hotter live than in studio recording. So you need a sub mix of at least those to do it right.

    I got my live recording tips from the guys that recorded the Iron Maiden "live after death" album and it works to perfection each time. I'll dig one up and post it.
  20. MascisMan


    Nov 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    Hey Evil Cake what Dallas bands are you in?

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