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#2927041 - 05/14/18 07:49 PM My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer
cphollis Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 2410
Loc: Massachussets, Florida
Hey, I know many of you like the extended blog posts, so here's another one. Please weigh in on your personal experiences, all good!

Clonk
_________________________
Life is too short to be playing bad music.

Keys: NP2, NS3C, NE4D, DeepMind-12
Home: Bosie 200, Yam AG N3
Amps: FA 12acs, RCF TT08as, QSC Ks, SSv3
Stuff: Stay stands, Key Largo, Vent II, X-Air 16

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#2927097 - 05/15/18 06:20 AM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: cphollis]
WesG Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/16/13
Posts: 3361
Loc: Inverary, ON, Canada
HA! It seems we are still on similar paths.

I just recorded my first dead band show on Sunday. I've recorded a couple of my Big Bands already, and my rock band once.....slowly getting the hang of it.

This was my second time using my new X-Live card, which plugs into the X32's expansion slot and lets me record straight to SD. The first time I used it, the SD card got corrupted part way through and ruined the first set. I suspect it may have been corrupted for years due to an ill-timed eject or something...so, lesson learned, I format the cards with gparted on my laptop right before I pop them in the board in now.

The band played pretty great, the sound out front was decent. This was the first time I'd done sound for that band since buying the X32, so I loaded in a scene I built ahead of time on my PC, and all went well.............except the scene changed my "card out" routing and I didn't capture AUX 1-6.......bass guitar, piano, and Leslie. frown frown frown frown frown All gone. frown

I haven't got a DAW yet. I have a copy of Logic Studio I bought when Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) was current. I may have to see if that will work on whatever I'm running these days. I tried Tracktion, which comes free with the Behringer hardware purchase, and could not bond with it. (Also, their GUI messaging library, Juce, is a massive CPU hog and chews up 1.5 cores at idle).

I've been re-mixing with the X32 itself. I run the recording back through the board and mix it as though I were running sound at a live show. This mix gets recorded to my USB key. The USB key then gets popped in the computer, and I do some light overall compression with Audacity.

We aren't going to have the problem with anybody quitting (sorry to hear that, man!!) -- we have been recording rehearsals in the studio with the singer's gear, and using video and zoom stuff at gigs since day one.

Here's what I got out of Sunday.. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ucMpmEd56ZIUnW6f-lEyhFW4geYdS4en/view?usp=sharing ... it's a whole show, if you'd like to hear bits, just download and jump around. It opens with an okay NFA into a decent Scarlet>Fire, I thought Sugaree around 18:30 turned out great, our first time performing it. There's also a Terrapin and a Help/Slip/Frank in there somewhere... I think we closed with China>Rider and Casey Jones. Rambling Rose, Alligator>GDTRFB with a slinky jam and a smokin' Big River are also in there somewhere.

The recording could use more studio polishing, but given that I dropped six tracks, not much point. I thought it turned okay, anyhow...bass and some keys made it into vocal mics.

Is your band double-drumming? I'm having a hard time figuring out where to pan stuff, especially snares and kicks.

My recording was made on a bar patio. Vocal mics are Beta 58s, using e904s on toms, e902s on kicks, Audix i5s on snares, one PVM 480 SDC per kit as an over head, located on the outside edge of each kit. Guitar cabs were mic'd with EV ??? and SM 57. As for the stuff that I didn't record frown - on Leslie I used RE20 plus a pair of MD421s and the piano/bass were run direct. If you want to hear any isolated tracks to compare, let me know and I'll slice something out for you.

BTW, I know how your guitar player feels. I'm always bummed when I hear my vocals. But they're way better than they used to be. I still have this weird unintentional tremolo that makes me crazy. But at least my intonation issues are moderate instead of major.

What mic are you putting on the singing drummer? I have this problem with my rock band, but we're basically at an impasse. The right solution AFAICT is a head worn mic.

Wes
_________________________
Hammond: L111, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, B3
Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 31H
Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85
Roland: VR-09
Band Site: http://DrBombay.ca/

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#2927135 - 05/15/18 08:56 AM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: WesG]
cphollis Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 2410
Loc: Massachussets, Florida
Hi Wes, similar paths indeed, including fumbling up the recording process in the heat of battle! I'll find some time to give a listen, and send you a link to the stuff we recorded.

We had a head worn mic for our drummer with supposedly good signal rejection. Unfortunately, it made his vocals sound overly compressed and flat. We're now trying a near-field Audix OM-7 on an overhead, and we're getting much better results. Although it requires a certain discipline on the part of the singer to keep within 2 inches of the mike at all time.

No big deal with the guitar player quitting. We all think it's temporary. He can be a hothead at times.

We're using a handful Shure SM57s for vocals and the non-digital drums (snare, cymbals, hi hat, etc.). Everything else is direct to board, so super duper clean. Just like we play live. Quick setup and breakdown as well. All IEMs, almost no stage sound.

No double drummer, but I'm jealous. I *love* playing with two drummers.

I saw a nice youtube video about how to think about creating an initial mix, which is working for me. Basically, place your instruments along two axes: use EQ for up/down, and panning for L/R. Each instrument/voice has it's unique "spot" on the soundstage. The ear naturally gravitates to the location of each, which is pleasing.

Compression is amazing when used judiciously. It seems to need to be done at three levels: per instrument, per group (e.g. drum bus) and overall in the final mix.

Still learning, and it keeps getting better!
_________________________
Life is too short to be playing bad music.

Keys: NP2, NS3C, NE4D, DeepMind-12
Home: Bosie 200, Yam AG N3
Amps: FA 12acs, RCF TT08as, QSC Ks, SSv3
Stuff: Stay stands, Key Largo, Vent II, X-Air 16

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#2927189 - 05/15/18 01:39 PM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: cphollis]
Zalman Stern Offline
Member

Registered: 03/21/18
Posts: 19
Are the singers in standard stage configuration or are they facing the drum kit? The latter can make a difference as it will put the drums in the nul of the mics' directional patterns. Add in a mic shield (http://cadaudio.com/products/accessories/as32) if needed and you can get rid of much of the drums. (Maybe put the curtains behind the singers to deaden any reflection into the strong part of the mic pattern.) Toward a goal of just being able to adjust the level and placement of the vocal this can work pretty well. (One is never going to get completely isolated tracks playing with a full band like like this. Other than things run on DIs of course.)

Auria Pro on an iPad is pretty good if one wants to avoid the DAW on a laptop thing. It can record up 24 tracks over USB with class compliant audio interfaces. Allows carrying your mixing wherever. Right pain in the butt getting stuff off the iPad however.

Some good books are Mike Senior's Recording Secrets for the Small Studio, and Bobby Owsinski's The Recording Engineer's Handbook and The Mixing Engineers Handbook.

WiFi controllable mixer/audio interfaces are really handy if you are both playing and being the engineer. E.g. MOTU's AVB interfaces are really nice. The tricky bit is it requires a different head space and stuff like keeping an eye on levels while staying in the flow of performing is a distraction.

-Z-


Edited by Zalman Stern (05/15/18 01:40 PM)

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#2927190 - 05/15/18 01:44 PM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: Zalman Stern]
Zalman Stern Offline
Member

Registered: 03/21/18
Posts: 19
One other comment: I'm deciding recording is a lot like playing in that one has to practice all the stuff a ton before one can do it rock solid reliably. There's a fair bit that can go wrong and a number of things will render the recording nonexistent or unusable. A checklist on things like setting levels, making sure all necessary tracks are mapped into the recording app and all are record enabled (armed), etc. is very handy. Anything that didn't go right last time, add to the check list for next time.

-Z-

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#2927205 - 05/15/18 03:07 PM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: Zalman Stern]
cphollis Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 2410
Loc: Massachussets, Florida
Originally Posted By: Zalman Stern
One other comment: I'm deciding recording is a lot like playing in that one has to practice all the stuff a ton before one can do it rock solid reliably. There's a fair bit that can go wrong and a number of things will render the recording nonexistent or unusable. A checklist on things like setting levels, making sure all necessary tracks are mapped into the recording app and all are record enabled (armed), etc. is very handy. Anything that didn't go right last time, add to the check list for next time.

-Z-


This.

My pre-flight checklist has gotten quite extensive as a result. But we're not churning out solid tracks which are amenable to mixing and mastering vs. hot garbage.
_________________________
Life is too short to be playing bad music.

Keys: NP2, NS3C, NE4D, DeepMind-12
Home: Bosie 200, Yam AG N3
Amps: FA 12acs, RCF TT08as, QSC Ks, SSv3
Stuff: Stay stands, Key Largo, Vent II, X-Air 16

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#2927207 - 05/15/18 03:20 PM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: Zalman Stern]
WesG Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/16/13
Posts: 3361
Loc: Inverary, ON, Canada
Mixing is like that, too! I am taking advantage of the new "virtual sound check" stuff to tweak my mixes at my leisure, and practice my live mixing skills without needing to think about playing.

Chuck - interesting was to think about positioning things with EQ. I have previously used more/less reverb to move singers front/back on the 'stage'. BTW, I do very similar compression to what you've described. I actually route both drum kits to a common stereo mix bus for overall compression, after the individual drums, but before the Main LR bus compression.

BTW, do you know how much tighter the OM-7 is than the OM-3? I have an OM-3 in my bag, didn't make much a difference vis a vis the Beta 58. I need to get some regular 58s, all of the mics I just mentioned have two null points and so will pick up more from behind the kit than a vanilla 58. In theory.
_________________________
Hammond: L111, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, B3
Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 31H
Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85
Roland: VR-09
Band Site: http://DrBombay.ca/

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#2927215 - 05/15/18 04:38 PM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: WesG]
cphollis Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 2410
Loc: Massachussets, Florida
I can't find any evidence that the OM-3 is tighter than the OM-7. Both appear similar from my quick inspection of the vendor web site. But, in the application described, so far so good.
_________________________
Life is too short to be playing bad music.

Keys: NP2, NS3C, NE4D, DeepMind-12
Home: Bosie 200, Yam AG N3
Amps: FA 12acs, RCF TT08as, QSC Ks, SSv3
Stuff: Stay stands, Key Largo, Vent II, X-Air 16

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#2927254 - 05/15/18 11:12 PM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: cphollis]
Nathanael_I Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/11/15
Posts: 144
You can get a studio with an engineer for ~$400/day most places in the country. They will have everything, know how it works and get great, usable tracks and give you a quality mix you can just use.

The best way to do this is to get a day booked and do one track. Don't think you will get more. Go in and get one solid track down. Spend the whole day making that one track good. Listen to the engineer's suggestions - plan to take them all, there's probably a good reason, but you are ultimately the client. Your band can do this. You will be very pleased with the quality and happy to have it represent you.

Keep playing with your gear in your space - record rehearsals and get better. But don't think that you'll get great recordings any easier than great playing. Happily, you have plenty of $$ to spend on all the spendy things that will call your name if you really want to get nice stuff. Makes keyboards seem cheap.

In your situation, it will be WAY cheaper to use local studios. You don't need a posh place - the local studios that cater to local bands are run by totally passionate audio people who eke it out for the love of doing it. Just like your band. You will be in very good hands. Ask around and you'll quickly find the go-to studios. You can't even buy good microphones for the price of doing an EP of 4-5 tracks, let alone pre-amps, converters, monitoring and all the rest.

You have a business purpose in mind - getting gigs. Take the shortcut and get what you need. The band will have a lot of fun just playing, not worrying about recording.

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#2927257 - 05/16/18 12:32 AM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: Nathanael_I]
Quai34 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/05/17
Posts: 47
Loc: Canada, MB
I agree with Nthanael I, I was never able to do both at their best, practicing/gigging and recording at the same time.
On top of that the room we practice in is too small, 16.5X12.5 feet, so, it was my idea to go in a studio for one/two tracks max....
But when you try, and you fail, you learn....A lot....Which means next time you get better result and could even be way more demanding to the guy in the studio....So, where to start with? Studio first to learn from him? Or studio at the end to know exactly what you want? I don't know....
Our plan is to do a re-recording....Bass direct and drums first with headphone with just the vocals for a reference track.
Then, Add guitar and Keys....Then vocals and mixing at the end....I don't have the room to get that "live band together feeling" and the room is too small as I said...
And we play pure Funk/Dance so, usually processed....
But I'm glad you give us these infos they are precious, thanks all
_________________________
Nord: Stage 2, C2 & NL2X+TC Pedals, DSI: Prophet 08+Tetra & H9, Prophet 12, D50+PG1000, 2 Matrix 1000, Proteus 2000, TX802. Guitars: G&L Legacy, Asat X 2, Ibanez Artstar AS153. Bass: L2000, SR1200.

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#2927323 - 05/16/18 08:49 AM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: Nathanael_I]
cphollis Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 2410
Loc: Massachussets, Florida
Originally Posted By: Nathanael_I
You can get a studio with an engineer for ~$400/day most places in the country. They will have everything, know how it works and get great, usable tracks and give you a quality mix you can just use.

The best way to do this is to get a day booked and do one track. Don't think you will get more. Go in and get one solid track down. Spend the whole day making that one track good. Listen to the engineer's suggestions - plan to take them all, there's probably a good reason, but you are ultimately the client. Your band can do this. You will be very pleased with the quality and happy to have it represent you.

Keep playing with your gear in your space - record rehearsals and get better. But don't think that you'll get great recordings any easier than great playing. Happily, you have plenty of $$ to spend on all the spendy things that will call your name if you really want to get nice stuff. Makes keyboards seem cheap.

In your situation, it will be WAY cheaper to use local studios. You don't need a posh place - the local studios that cater to local bands are run by totally passionate audio people who eke it out for the love of doing it. Just like your band. You will be in very good hands. Ask around and you'll quickly find the go-to studios. You can't even buy good microphones for the price of doing an EP of 4-5 tracks, let alone pre-amps, converters, monitoring and all the rest.

You have a business purpose in mind - getting gigs. Take the shortcut and get what you need. The band will have a lot of fun just playing, not worrying about recording.


This is good advice, as always.

My efforts to record the band had more to do with providing critical feedback around what songs were working, which ones weren't, where we had performance problems (especially vocals), and so on.

That mission has been accomplished without going to a pro studio, and -- when we do take that step -- we'll be more ready.

We also ended up with some tracks we can use to help get local gigs. All the venue owners seem interested in is (a) what do you sound like? and (b) how many people can you bring? So we're good for now -- the quality is sufficient for our local market.

I do agree, getting into a pro studio is short money when the time and purpose is right.
_________________________
Life is too short to be playing bad music.

Keys: NP2, NS3C, NE4D, DeepMind-12
Home: Bosie 200, Yam AG N3
Amps: FA 12acs, RCF TT08as, QSC Ks, SSv3
Stuff: Stay stands, Key Largo, Vent II, X-Air 16

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#2927324 - 05/16/18 08:53 AM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: WesG]
Joe Muscara Online   content
Triple Secret Banninated
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Registered: 02/21/05
Posts: 19532
Loc: Heaven, Hell, or Houston
Originally Posted By: WesG
I have a copy of Logic Studio I bought when Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) was current. I may have to see if that will work on whatever I'm running these days.
If it's Logic Pro 8, it works in later macOS versions but there's a drawing bug that clears the track when the playhead moves across. Logic Pro 9 should be fine, but not in High Sierra.

About Apple Pro Apps and macOS High Sierra - Apple Support

macOS High Sierra drops support for older Final Cut Studio, Logic Studio apps - iMore
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Originally Posted By: Theo Verelst
in the higher Jazz it's probably impossible to be omniscient without often acting like a bastard.

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#2927399 - 05/16/18 05:29 PM Re: My Excellent Adventure As A Recording Engineer [Re: cphollis]
RichieP_MechE Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 11/23/05
Posts: 1038
Loc: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I learned recording basics in college about 10 years ago when I got a Music Technology minor along with my engineering degree. We got to use fancy microphones and other expensive gear. Looking back on that experience, all the greatest equipment in the world won't doesn't mean squat if you don't know how to mix (I definitely do not know how to mix)

Over the years, I've had varied experiences with both home and studio recording, some good but many disappointments. I used to think that mastering was the key to the equation, but after having several tracks professionally mastered by a top-tier studio, I realized that it's pre-master mix that is most important (you can't polish a turd, as they say).

Back to home recording, our guitar player/bandleader started getting serious about recording techniques a couple years ago and is slowly building up the knowledge and skills as he hopes to start up a home studio some day. He's got the ears and the songwriting ability and has gradually been building up the mixing skills. Here's something we did in our practice space - no fancy equipment, I think we used either a Shure or Audix drum mic set for the drums, bass and keys recorded direct. I think the interface was either a Focusrite box or Tascam multichannel USB recording interface with preamps. We recorded drums, keys, and bass simultaneously until the drummer got a good take. I re-did a couple of the rhythm keys parts where timing issues existed then overdubbed the synth solo. (keys were Nord Electro 4D for piano and organ and Moog Little Phatty for the synth solo). Guitar was added later as well as vocals. Vocal mic was either a cheap condenser or an SM58.

In the end, we got a decent recording that isn't going to win an engineering Grammy, but is good enough to share with others to show off a song that we recently wrote.
Fast Forward - Good Ship Gibraltar

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