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How do you record your gigs?


Bartolomeo

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I've been recording using what is now a way-too-old TC-D5m cassette deck with a good, stereo, condenser microphone. It does a good job, is simple enough that I don't have to pay attention to it while performing, and is self-contained and inconspicuous.

 

I've thought about switching to MD but that seems like a dying format due to the iPod and related devices. But what alternatives are there? DAT is more expensive, and seems like a dying format too; CD-R recorders are expensive and fiddley. I'm not going to use a laptop to record live. So, where to turn? A newer analog cassette deck? (ick.)

 

Maybe I'll go retro and bring a 1/4" tape machine along. Or a record lathe...

 

Bartolomeo

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We've been using a Sony D7 portable DAT Walkman with an Audio-Technica AT822 stereo condenser microphone. The results vary widely from barely adequate to pretty good (mostly dependent on the room's acoustics). Our demo uses cuts from our live shows recorded this way.

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minidisc works remarkably well in random bad acoustics- saves learning how to record, a potential advantage. It'll never sound warm or natural or great but it would be decent for a diagnostic device- what do we sound like?

 

DAT you really have to figure out how to deal with acoustics and the other subtleties that make for enjoyable recordings.

 

is this just scratch stuff?

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If it's just for the band and friends to listen, I find that a portable minidisk or an iPod-type device, with a good stereo mic, work perfectly. On the other hand, if it has to be of decent sound quality, I prefer to take a master out from the main mixer and record either on my Akai DPS or a DAT. I also have had a couple of gigs recorded with some Marantz CD recorder which can write directly on CD. I'd say it's a bit risky, but those particular recordings came out well.
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I currently use a portable Sony minidisc and a half-decent mic (AT 822), with acceptable results. But I'm always interested to know what other options are out there.

 

I think an iPod-type device would be the ideal thing, i.e., if it can record un-compressed on the device, and be able to upload to your computer, at high speed, in the digital domain, and end up with a standard-format, editable file on your computer such as .wav or .aiff. I thought such a device didn't exist yet (at least, not one that I can afford). Can the iPod do all those things? The iPod doesn't have a mic input does it? I thought it had a built-in low-quality voice-recorder mic? Can the iPod upload un-compressed recordings to a computer at high speed, to a standard format?

 

The new Sony Hi-MD format uses larger-capacity discs, and can record un-compressed. It can also upload to your pc in digital domain at high speed. The only drawback is that it uses a Sony proprietary software to do the uploading, and will not upload to a standard format file, so you can't edit the file that you uploaded to your pc, the file is locked into a Sony propieraty software. So, if you want a .wav file on your pc, you still have to upload to your pc in real time, in the analog domain, and then have another analog-to-digital stage in your soundcard. Not good enough to make me want to replace my current minidisc.

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To clarify, the original question was intended to be about getting reasonable-quality recordings for noncritical use. Like, self-evaluation, giving to a potential new member so they can learn the songs, and possibly demo tapes.

 

I see that the D8 DAT recorders (the D7 is now discontinued) cost around $800. That seems like a lot. It seems to me that with the decline of the cassette tape as a consumer audio format, the era of availability of good, solid recording technology at reasonable prices may close.

 

In checking around for D8 prices, I see that there are some hard disk and flash recorders out there for not much more money, around $1200 or so. These seem compelling given the lifetime media expense for DAT.

 

I think I'll stick with my D5 until it dies, since the technology seems in transition. Yeah, it's analog, but with the quality of recording you end up with live, it's good enough.

 

Bartolomeo

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See THIS POST for a unique concept. A few good mics, a mixer, and a few VCRs could work pretty well....

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Originally posted by Ted Nightshade:

minidisc works remarkably well in random bad acoustics- saves learning how to record, a potential advantage. It'll never sound warm or natural or great but it would be decent for a diagnostic device- what do we sound like?

 

DAT you really have to figure out how to deal with acoustics and the other subtleties that make for enjoyable recordings.

 

is this just scratch stuff?

I don't understand what you mean. How is recording to dat any different from recording to minidisc, or any other format for that matter, in terms of having to learn how to record? I know that the dat format is slightly better quality (at least, it was prior to Hi-MD, not they might be equal), but the having-to-learn-how-to-record part seems to me to be exactly the same no matter what the recording format.
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Originally posted by The Pro:

I have used my Nomad Jukebox for recording gigs and it works great. Just took the audio outputs from the main mixer - no mic. It stores the files as wave files which are easy to later seperate and master on a computer. The Nomad is an MP3 player like the iPod and is pretty useful and a lot less expensive. Go to http://www.nomadworld.com.

Yes, the Nomad Jukebox is very cool. If only it had a mic input...
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