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R/E/P => Recording - Engineering & Production => Topic started by: alifocan on April 07, 2014, 06:54:42 pm

Title: Live recording issues
Post by: alifocan on April 07, 2014, 06:54:42 pm
Hi guys,

I'm new here, and I searched about this with no result. I'm sorry if similar stuff was posted and I missed it.

I'm doing sound at a small jazz club with a small stage. I work with a Allen & Heath GL3300 desk. The stage is small, and there's a Yamaha GP1 piano on stage all the time even if it's not used.

I'm asked to do multitrack recordings, which is my main problem. With the microphones on stage and the amount of gain I use on the desk (can't turn them on more because of leakage and feedback) signal levels are almost straight lines making it almost impossible to do any editing. Drums and even sometimes bass for example are no problem, because I don't even raise the faders although they are miced all the time, giving me the freedom on my gain levels. I record from the direct outs, by the way (well, actually from the inserts as the direct outs are post fader).

One solution that came to my mind was to use a Y cable to split a channel's signal. That way, for example, I would send the vocal to two channels and then turn one on the mixer and sending the other through the direct out with much more gain. I don't think this method will work with condensers, but do you think I should give a try?

By the way, there are no preamps or compressors in the setup. Mics, to the multicore, to the desk and that's it.

Any help will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Cheers,
Ali
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: Jerome Malsack on April 10, 2014, 11:50:53 am
When you direct out,  What are you going into and how many inputs are available to record to ?   The inputs available to record on will be the key?  How many direct inputs are you wanting recorded.   24 channel?  5 channel?
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: DarinK on April 11, 2014, 05:31:20 pm
First of all, thank you thank you thank you for being a sound guy who doesn't crank the drum mics all the time, for no reason.
The best bet for splitting microphone signals is to use a transformer-isolated splitter.  You can build your own, or buy them.  Radial makes a good one for around $200, and they also make an 8-channel version for around $800.
Are you sure your signals levels are too low right now?  Can you zoom in on the recorded tracks to do the editing you need to do?  What are the actual levels?  If you're recording 24-bit, you can have fairly low levels and still great sound.
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: Dinogi on April 12, 2014, 06:34:48 am
I looked up the manual for your mixer. I noticed a couple of things. First, the direct outs, which are postfade from the factory, can be internally reconfigured for prefade. This is something you may want to look into doing, as it would simplify your situation. The manual states that this is something that should be done by a qualified technician.
I also noticed that the inserts are unbalanced and at a lower level than the rest of the connections. Have you accounted for this at the recording devices inputs?

Also, canít you set your gain trim to feed a happy level to the faders and then reduce the level to the speakers in the subgroups? That way you would have a healthy signal going to both the direct outs/ inserts and the channel faders.
I only took a brief look at the manual, so I may have missed something, but it would seem that this is a gain staging problem that can be easily dealt withÖ.d
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: Fletcher on April 13, 2014, 12:49:01 pm
If you can take the "direct outs" pre-fader [which will probably only require the moving of a jumper on each module] -- that is without a doubt the way to go.

If you get a "sound check" I'd recommend that you set your levels to the recording device during that sound check... and set them a good 4 db than you would actually like to record each sound during the show as the musicians will generally have more energy when playing in front of an audience vs. playing to an empty club [which is what happens during sound check].

From there -- with the possible exception of adding "cue markers" -- let the recording roll from head to tail and don't touch ANYTHING unless there is an egregious level issue with a particular instrument.  Once the show is recorded you can take care of any other issues when editing / mixing / general post production stuff.

The other thing I would encourage you to do is to put up two additional microphones -- one on either corner of the stage facing the audience.  This will give you the "room" sound as well as a general ambience into which you will bring the "close mic'd" sounds when you mix.  This will also require you to do an excellent job on the FOH mix for the club as that will be the basis for your live recording... hence the "other than cue markers" leave the recording stuff alone [so you can focus your energy and attention on the "house" mix].

I hope this is of some assistance.

Peace
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: alifocan on May 06, 2014, 08:41:46 pm
When you direct out,  What are you going into and how many inputs are available to record to ?   The inputs available to record on will be the key?  How many direct inputs are you wanting recorded.   24 channel?  5 channel?

First of all I'd like to thank everyone who took time to answer my questions. It's highly appreciated. I'm sorry it took so long, but I had a lot of whole-day long things to do and although I read all the answers almost as they were posted I did not have the time to write back as I wanted to reply each by quoting them.

I want to record 8 channels into 8 channels, via a M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R. I know it's not the best, but as I already had, and have, a licensed Pro Tools M-Audio version it was the only option I had without spending more on gear and software.
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: alifocan on May 06, 2014, 08:54:35 pm
First of all, thank you thank you thank you for being a sound guy who doesn't crank the drum mics all the time, for no reason.
The best bet for splitting microphone signals is to use a transformer-isolated splitter.  You can build your own, or buy them.  Radial makes a good one for around $200, and they also make an 8-channel version for around $800.
Are you sure your signals levels are too low right now?  Can you zoom in on the recorded tracks to do the editing you need to do?  What are the actual levels?  If you're recording 24-bit, you can have fairly low levels and still great sound.

Haha, thanks for the compliments on the drums. I've even had guys who want the OH in their monitors, I don't even understand how that's possible. I checked the Radial product you mentioned. It makes sense, and I would have loved to use it but then I don't think the club would spend that much on it.

I can't even zoom in on the tracks for editing. They are audible, but I can't see the waveforms. I don't have the iLok with me right now to get a screenshot, but last week I recorded two shows on 24 bits and I can say the master fader (the uv meter) on Pro Tools reads about -15 at the loudest parts. Most of the time the desk's master's uv meter doesn't show anything at all, actually. Unless it's a really loud band and I need to crank things up.
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: alifocan on May 06, 2014, 09:05:19 pm
I looked up the manual for your mixer. I noticed a couple of things. First, the direct outs, which are postfade from the factory, can be internally reconfigured for prefade. This is something you may want to look into doing, as it would simplify your situation. The manual states that this is something that should be done by a qualified technician.
I also noticed that the inserts are unbalanced and at a lower level than the rest of the connections. Have you accounted for this at the recording devices inputs?

Also, canít you set your gain trim to feed a happy level to the faders and then reduce the level to the speakers in the subgroups? That way you would have a healthy signal going to both the direct outs/ inserts and the channel faders.
I only took a brief look at the manual, so I may have missed something, but it would seem that this is a gain staging problem that can be easily dealt withÖ.d

Last summer I brought the desk to a 'qualified' technician, and it was a last minute thing unfortunately and I mentioned him that you can replace the jumpers so that you have pre-fader direct outs. Later he told me that he tried it but had problems (no explanation whatsoever, and I suck at these stuff so I couldn't push it as I really needed the desk to be working fine for PA use ASAP)

I can't give more gain for two reasons; Musicians are used to the amount of gain they have, meaning they are very close to their mics (especially the vocalists) and when there's gain more than about -15 they get out of control of their tone. Then comes the second reason, which is feedback as it's a really small stage and the monitors are very close to the mics in awkward positions. Sometimes they even have to face the mics from the sides. Then again, even if I solve that there's the gain setting problem for musicians' mic using techniques.
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: alifocan on May 06, 2014, 09:14:52 pm
If you can take the "direct outs" pre-fader [which will probably only require the moving of a jumper on each module] -- that is without a doubt the way to go.

If you get a "sound check" I'd recommend that you set your levels to the recording device during that sound check... and set them a good 4 db than you would actually like to record each sound during the show as the musicians will generally have more energy when playing in front of an audience vs. playing to an empty club [which is what happens during sound check].

From there -- with the possible exception of adding "cue markers" -- let the recording roll from head to tail and don't touch ANYTHING unless there is an egregious level issue with a particular instrument.  Once the show is recorded you can take care of any other issues when editing / mixing / general post production stuff.

The other thing I would encourage you to do is to put up two additional microphones -- one on either corner of the stage facing the audience.  This will give you the "room" sound as well as a general ambience into which you will bring the "close mic'd" sounds when you mix.  This will also require you to do an excellent job on the FOH mix for the club as that will be the basis for your live recording... hence the "other than cue markers" leave the recording stuff alone [so you can focus your energy and attention on the "house" mix].

I hope this is of some assistance.

Peace

I use the inserts as direct outs, with stereo to mono cables. I do the rest as you wrote, except for the ambience mics. Simply because there is no place to put them. But, I might get two mics facing the stage for next year.

By the way, I should add this:

We record every show directly to a DVD recorder. I get two aux feeds from all the channels, level them and they're recorded on to a DVD (with a steady handycam). The only problem is, I need to do some hard eq-ing on some channels (piano for example) meaning I need to feed those to the auxes pre-eq to get a decent volume. So, in this example I might have a live to two track recording with a quite bad piano sounds on it. In this case, maybe, I can actually use that recording and add these low level multi-track recordings for getting a decent recording.
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: alifocan on May 06, 2014, 09:17:42 pm
One thing I wanted to ask is; Do you think a DI box would help? I don't know why it hasn't been used there before, but would it?

Cheers,

Ali.
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: Jerome Malsack on May 09, 2014, 10:26:55 am
Radio Shack used to sell 1/4 TRS to 1/4 TS adapter,  Could not find on website. 

http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/PRO-SIGNAL-PSG02776-/27-8084

MCM sells an RCA equal. 

This will split the signal and send unbalanced to the recording device. 
The mixer will not see the tap or have any problems.  It should be inserted all the way down. 

When using the recording device you should have some level controls and these can be adjusted to bring the recording levels up.  If you cannot raise the levels enough on the recording device you may want to find some mic pre amps to raise the level.  I have used the m-audio mic pre  to do this. 

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/m-audio-audio-buddy-2-channel-preamp

Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: Fletcher on May 11, 2014, 08:28:04 pm
We record every show directly to a DVD recorder. I get two aux feeds from all the channels, level them and they're recorded on to a DVD (with a steady handycam). The only problem is, I need to do some hard eq-ing on some channels (piano for example) meaning I need to feed those to the axes pre-eq to get a decent volume. So, in this example I might have a live to two track recording with a quite bad piano sounds on it. In this case, maybe, I can actually use that recording and add these low level multi-track recordings for getting a decent recording.
Question about the bold quote -- you have to feed "pre-eq" while you're doing some "hard eq-ing on some channels" -- wouldn't you be better served to take those tracks "post-eq" rather than "pre-eq" so you get the "live" impression that will be "in the house" in addition to the recorded tracks?

The "ambience" mics I was talking about are what will make a "live" recording feel like a "live" recording.  Yeah -- I know that if you're a Frank Zappa fan the argument could be made that the recording truck out back of every show was only interested in the "direct" sounds and often cut between performances at various halls -- but that is the exception to the rule, not the rule itself.

If you have the tracks [you mentioned you had 8 -- its really not all that expensive to go to 16, 24, and even more] -- record as much as you can "separately" -- and when you mix -- reference those tracks to the ambience tracks you've recorded.  You do that and you'll get closer to that live recording nirvana of making the listener feel like they're "THERE".

Best of luck with all you do!!

Peace
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: Patrick Tracy on May 29, 2014, 11:12:39 pm
I can't give more gain for two reasons; Musicians are used to the amount of gain they have, meaning they are very close to their mics (especially the vocalists) and when there's gain more than about -15 they get out of control of their tone. Then comes the second reason, which is feedback as it's a really small stage and the monitors are very close to the mics in awkward positions. Sometimes they even have to face the mics from the sides. Then again, even if I solve that there's the gain setting problem for musicians' mic using techniques.

I apologize is you already know this, but it doesn't sound like it from what you've written so far:

I think you've got way too much gain somewhere downstream of the desk and are applying way too little at the board in order to compensate.

Feedback is a result of overall gain, not just the input gain on the mixer. The input gain should be used to get the signal to the correct level inside the board regardless of the intended final volume. You control the overall volume of a particular mix at the master fader and aux master knobs/faders, or somewhere else down the chain to the amps. Typically that would be at the speaker processor, but you can attenuate the signal at the amp as well. For convenience I usually use the output of the graphic at FOH. My master fader stays at 0 and I have plenty of level at the main fader, bouncing around 0dBVU, and at my multitrack (HD24 fed from splits on the send side of the inserts), peaking around -18dBFS or so.
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: alifocan on July 09, 2014, 07:54:19 pm
Radio Shack used to sell 1/4 TRS to 1/4 TS adapter,  Could not find on website. 

http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/PRO-SIGNAL-PSG02776-/27-8084

MCM sells an RCA equal. 

This will split the signal and send unbalanced to the recording device. 
The mixer will not see the tap or have any problems.  It should be inserted all the way down. 

When using the recording device you should have some level controls and these can be adjusted to bring the recording levels up.  If you cannot raise the levels enough on the recording device you may want to find some mic pre amps to raise the level.  I have used the m-audio mic pre  to do this. 

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/m-audio-audio-buddy-2-channel-preamp

I'm sorry to reply all your answers back late again, first I was busy and then I totally forgot about this thread. I just started thinking about getting a mic pre amp, though I have a question: Aren't the desk's pre amps enough for that?
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: alifocan on July 09, 2014, 08:00:17 pm
Question about the bold quote -- you have to feed "pre-eq" while you're doing some "hard eq-ing on some channels" -- wouldn't you be better served to take those tracks "post-eq" rather than "pre-eq" so you get the "live" impression that will be "in the house" in addition to the recorded tracks?

The "ambience" mics I was talking about are what will make a "live" recording feel like a "live" recording.  Yeah -- I know that if you're a Frank Zappa fan the argument could be made that the recording truck out back of every show was only interested in the "direct" sounds and often cut between performances at various halls -- but that is the exception to the rule, not the rule itself.

If you have the tracks [you mentioned you had 8 -- its really not all that expensive to go to 16, 24, and even more] -- record as much as you can "separately" -- and when you mix -- reference those tracks to the ambience tracks you've recorded.  You do that and you'll get closer to that live recording nirvana of making the listener feel like they're "THERE".

Best of luck with all you do!!

Peace

While I was talking about doing some hard eq-ing, I actually meant the live part of things. I never touched any of those recordings because of the low signal levels. I'm thinking of getting two more condensers for ambience stuff, which will definitely help a lot.

So, coming back to post-pre eq thing. Although I do some heavy eq-ing at times, when I record I take them pre. It really could be about not having a pre amp for the recording unit. Because (as I mentioned earlier, I also record everyday's show to a DVD and when I feed the auxes pre-eq, I might even have to keep them low so they don't clip. They might not sound nice, but at least they're audible - especially the piano).
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: alifocan on July 09, 2014, 08:11:20 pm
I apologize is you already know this, but it doesn't sound like it from what you've written so far:

I think you've got way too much gain somewhere downstream of the desk and are applying way too little at the board in order to compensate.

Feedback is a result of overall gain, not just the input gain on the mixer. The input gain should be used to get the signal to the correct level inside the board regardless of the intended final volume. You control the overall volume of a particular mix at the master fader and aux master knobs/faders, or somewhere else down the chain to the amps. Typically that would be at the speaker processor, but you can attenuate the signal at the amp as well. For convenience I usually use the output of the graphic at FOH. My master fader stays at 0 and I have plenty of level at the main fader, bouncing around 0dBVU, and at my multitrack (HD24 fed from splits on the send side of the inserts), peaking around -18dBFS or so.

I just realized something about the monitors and the desk. First of all, there really isn't a lot of gain somewhere in the mix. However, here's what I found out. My desk's supposed to feed the auxes like this:

Pre: Pre-mute, pre-eq, pre-fader
Post: Post-mute, pre-eq, pre-fader

This is what the manual says. However, when I feed the monitors pre-eq then the volume on the monitor is VERY low. And I mean LOW. It's almost impossible for a vocalist to hear themselves unless I feed the monitor up to eleven. That means no feedback, by the way. When it's post-eq, then I need to bypass the graphic eqs that are used for the monitors, as it all gets muddy (duh!) but as that leaves me with no control over the monitors in terms of eq, that's definitely not something I prefer. So, it's obvious that there's something wrong in there, which I have no idea about. I would say there's something with the graphic eqs, but there are 2x2 graph eqs which means at least there would be a feed somewhere that does work. Any ideas about this?

Thanks to all of you for taking time to reply all my questions!
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: Fletcher on July 14, 2014, 09:30:45 am
You might try some kind of line amplifier between the "pre-EQ" send and the input to the equalizer for the monitor.  Something like an FMR "RNC (http://www.fmraudio.com/rnc.html)" compressor [about $175 USD for two channels] will give you the ability to raise the gain in that signal path [you don't need to use the compressor function unless you want to... you just leave the "ratio" at "1:1" -- the "threshold" at "0"... and use the output gain function to kick up the output by as much as 15db.

This should solve all your problems for a reasonable price tag.

Peace
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: alifocan on July 14, 2014, 07:12:11 pm
You might try some kind of line amplifier between the "pre-EQ" send and the input to the equalizer for the monitor.  Something like an FMR "RNC (http://www.fmraudio.com/rnc.html)" compressor [about $175 USD for two channels] will give you the ability to raise the gain in that signal path [you don't need to use the compressor function unless you want to... you just leave the "ratio" at "1:1" -- the "threshold" at "0"... and use the output gain function to kick up the output by as much as 15db.

This should solve all your problems for a reasonable price tag.

Peace

Thanks for the suggestion. Will try that with a guitar processor's compressor to see how it works to begin with.

Another question: Do you think I need a mic preamp? I mean, I thought I wouldn't need one as it's a nice desk but I really struggle with vocalists. Like the other day, it was a basic quartet (v, p, b, d) and my last option was to send the vocal channel to the sub groups and raise that around -20. Of course, it had something to do with the vocalist as well but I really hate the fact that the desk's meter reads nothing when I have vocalist on stage.
Title: Re: Live recording issues
Post by: Fletcher on July 15, 2014, 09:19:24 am
The desk should have its own set of microphone level amplifiers -- not knowing what desk you're talking about I can't be sure... but they are usually at the top of the channel strip.

A "guitar compressor" [as in a "stomp box"] will NOT work!!!  It is looking for an entirely different level than will be provided by the insert point of a desk [not to mention the impedance mismatch, etc., etc., etc.].  You will need some form or "line amplifier" to raise the gain on something like a console insert point.

Peace