Recording multitrack audio from a concert soundboard at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old June 15th, 2007, 06:55 AM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Hertfordshire
Posts: 118
Recording multitrack audio from a concert soundboard

I am shooting a concert sometime soon and I wondered if anyone could give me any recommendations on capturing multitrack audio from the PA soundboard.

I am going to need to organise it with the show engineer, so I was wondering if there is a standard setup, or if i will need to take charge and take a PC to deal with the job.

Ideally I need 24/48hz of each channel of audio. I will settle for groups or even subgroups. A two channel soundboard will be undesirable as it is a very intimate venue, and we will need to produce a studio mix.

I have an idea how I might tackle it, but if there is a quick and easy solution or device I can just hire and plug in to the board, or that the venue may already have, please advise me of it!

Many thanks,

Rob
Robert Wheeler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 15th, 2007, 07:01 AM   #2
Trustee
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Little Rock
Posts: 1,383
Direct outs from the board into your multi-track recorder,
or maybe a snake with transformer balanced splits.
David W. Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 15th, 2007, 09:07 AM   #3
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Hermon Maine USA
Posts: 138
Direct outs from the board can work, the only problem is that you need to know whether the outputs are pre or post fader. If they are post fader than whatever the soundguy does live is going to change your mix as well. This also applies to pre or post EQ, if the sound man is inexperienced you could end up with some badly EQ'd tracks.
Another thing to be aware of is that most soundmen will be using the direct outs (or inserts) for effects (usually compression). In this case using the subgroups makes more sense.

What I like to do is take the sound directly from the stage and by pass the mixing board altogether. I use mic splitters and direct boxes and take 16 channels directly into protools using my own preamps. Sometimes I will even put my own mic next to thiers on a guitar cabinet or kick drum if I dont like their selection of mics.
In my opinion this method gives you the maximum control over the sound and eliminates problems caused by amatuer sound guys.
Mark G
Mark Ganglfinger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 15th, 2007, 09:45 AM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Seems to me the first thing you need to know before you can come up with a strategy is what the make/model of board you're dealing with so you can look at it's capabilities. Does it have direct outs, how many subgroups, aux buses and how many, etc.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 15th, 2007, 11:55 AM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,259
Done this many times with an Alesis HD24, which has 24 channels of 24/48 recording, from channel direct outs. Consult with the house engineer, many boards will have separate inserts and direct outs except some Mackies.

Tascam and Mackie also make similar hard disk recorders. In my town, I can rent an HD24 for USD 75/day, plus another $15 for the adaptor to slurp the recording into the computer.

Don't forget to ask the house engineer to set up an audience mic or two. You'll want that for audience reaction, and, will also be a nice resource for natural room reverb.

As mentioned earlier, you want pre-fader direct out (this is switchable on many boards). One of the challenges is that recording volume is then controlled by the channel trim on the board. Many live sound ops run their trims pretty low - this is something to explore with the engineer.

Regarding splits - this can be best, but requires not only a box or splitter snake, but also your own mixer and operator.
Seth Bloombaum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 15th, 2007, 12:05 PM   #6
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Hertfordshire
Posts: 118
Many thanks for the support so far guys. I was thinking along similar lines to the things you guys were saying. I assuming that anything that utilizes direct outs is going to be analogue and therefore incur an extra d/a to a/d stage. To be honest, im not too worried about that. The project budget does not currently stretch to much gear hire. Can anybody recommend a fair budget conscious multitrack recorder which we would be able to hire in for the day?

I had this dream that prehaps I might spot a little firewire socket on the desk, and then plug in a laptop and watch every pre-direct channel magically appear in cubase and do it all from there. Recording to a PC in a mission critical situation could be foolish though I suppose... What I may do is try and get a soundboard CD dump for safety to patch up any multitrack disasters.

I should get details on the make and model of the desk to be used early next week, upon which I shall return with the aim of scrounging more guidance from you wise chaps :)

Many thanks!

Rob,
Robert Wheeler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 18th, 2007, 01:32 PM   #7
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: McKinney, TX
Posts: 195
Hi Robert,

Unfortunately you are going to find that the console will either have discrete direct outs or if digital, light pipe outs or no direct outs. All consoles will have at least a stereo mix out but as everyone mentioned, your capture will be the result of the soundman's setup. This isn't bad if you are just wanting a reference track to your video but to "do" anything with it is not going to yield great results. Without discrete outs and a budget, you will be hard pressed to do what you want. If you split the signal as mentioned, you need the budget for the gear to process the split.

Good luck

Jeff
Jeff Mack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 18th, 2007, 03:23 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,259
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Wheeler View Post
I assuming that anything that utilizes direct outs is going to be analogue and therefore incur an extra d/a to a/d stage.

... What I may do is try and get a soundboard CD dump for safety to patch up any multitrack disasters.
Yes, direct outs will (almost) always be analog, but this does not introduce any extra d/a/d stages. Your sound will only go A to D once during the recording process, and stay D through the recording, editing and mastering process.

Yes, there are a few digital boards out there, but most that are used for sound reinforcement in small and medium venues are analog. If it turns out they do have a digital board you might indeed be recording on your laptop if you have appropriate software.

Always a good idea to get the house mix, this can go to the multitrack recorder, too. It might even be useful later.
Seth Bloombaum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 19th, 2007, 05:38 AM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Even if the console is not digital, you can record to your computer with BoomRecorder and a hardware interface. The number of tracks depends on the speed and other capabilities of your computer.

You record discrete or a poly-wav file. The poly-wav file shows up as one icon with multiple tracks. FCP recognizes poly-wav files, not sure how many tracks FCP will recognize, but I was able to record an 18-track file and import it ditectly into FCP. Click on Import audio, click on the file, 30 seconds later all 18 tracks appeared on the FCP timeline. FCP isn't a good software for manipulating audio, but seeing those tracks pulled in that easily was impressive.

Google BoomRecorder and talk to Take (pronounced tack) who developed the software. He has a list of compatible hardware and software.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 20th, 2007, 12:55 AM   #10
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Brooklyn NY
Posts: 128
Some things to consider; In a lot of "intimate" venues as well as most others the FOH mix is not going to sound good straight to tape/drive. Often the drums will only get kick and overhead and the guitar sound is as much backline as pa. Horns don't see much action in the pa either. Your multitrack raw mix will be mostly vocals with some rhythm section thrown in for fun.

The first best piece of advice is to intoduce yourself to the soundguy and shake his hand. Let him know what you're trying to do and ask what he thinks is the best way to accomplish it. As far as gear is concerned you'll need as many inputs as there are mics if you want to multitrack. Groups are really for well......groups, things like brass, back up vocals, strings etc., They're more for sharing processing and control than discreet output.

If you have a 4 channel recorder your best bet is 2 mics in the house and the left/right foh mix. If you have 8 channels add vocal, oh, rhythm, and solo. You get the idea start with the basics and work your way up as you go. Good Luck, Charles.
Charles Hurley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 20th, 2007, 04:24 AM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
And if you do use room mics and more direct sources from the board, in post, you 'll have to slide all the direct sources to the right on the timeline or slide the room mics to the left. One millisecond per foot based on how far the room mics are from the source mics. Not terribly difficult, but neccesary of the difference is more than a few feet.

Regsrds,

Ty Ford
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 20th, 2007, 05:25 AM   #12
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Hertfordshire
Posts: 118
Hmmm, ok I've tried to absorb all of your advice. I've got a good ear, and can work the levers fine in a live situation for PA, but I have little experience in live setups and recording and have virtually no terminology. So with that mind, this is the way my thinking is going -

1, Use a "loom" or a "snake" (are they the same - is there a difference?) to split all the stage xlrs destined for the stage between me and the inhouse pa.

Things that concern me about this:

a) I'm guessing that its standard practice for all inputs to come into a PA desk as balanced xlrs?

b)I'm also assuming that it is standard practice that if there are any inputs thats require phantom power, that is provided external to the PA board. If it isn't, does a loom/snake work in a way that stops 48 volts flying up my xlr's and frying my mixer?

2) My split xlrs will feed into a borrowed digital Beringher mixer. It's either 48 track or 24 tracks, I find it hard to recall. I'll get the details once I've secured the loan...

3) If it has a firewire port, I'm hoping that will mean it will show up as 48 or 24 inputs in Cubase and I will be able to record with a discrete laptop, and life will be easy. Although I am looking to future proof the recording - I prefer 24/48 to 24/96 as a recording format sonically, and I suspect it may be necessary with the number of tracks I am dealing with on a 400 rate firewire connection.

4) Failing that, I will risk taking a large tower format PC, and see if I can power it off a well regulated power supply. I'll mix the audio off the board in groups to an 8 input Envy 24 based sound card (unfortunately, unbalanced) I have knocking about. I'll probably go:

2 tracks for drums,
1 for guitars,
one for bass,
one for lead vocals
one for any backing vocals and one for crowd.

If there are no backing vox, I'll go two on the crowd, or split the rythum and lead guitars if necessary.

5, Either way I like to record with a flat EQ so I will set all EQ faders flat and concentrate during the sound check on getting safe recording levels. During the performance all I want to be doing is keeping an eye on levels creeping up and keeping them from peaking in the red, and making sure the system hasn't fallen over.

6, If possible, I'll use a CD recorder to capture a safety dump of my stereo mix at 16/44 or leave a dvcam recording audio in line at 16/48 linear.

7, Whatever PC I use I will have it running in a very stripped down capacity while I am recording. It will be running XP professional. There will be no extraneous tasks running, including explorer.exe, and recording will be direct on to an internal large capacity (probably 500 gig) non system NTFS formatted disk - most likely across a SATA 1 interface.

That is the crux of my plans at the minute, formed after reading the guidance kindly given by you guys here. I would be really grateful if you could clue me in where I am about to go wrong due to the remaining gaps :)

To be honest, once I'm sat in front of the desk and we are rolling, I'll probably be really bored and tempted to produce a live stereo mix that would be good enough for release on the fly! Wouldn't risk that though for fear on ruining the multitracks.

Many thanks again!

Rob
Robert Wheeler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 20th, 2007, 10:53 AM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,259
Regarding #1 above, here in the states you'd be wanting a snake, specifically a splitter snake.

Take Charles' advice and have some long discussions with the house sound op, give him/her a t-shirt, a cup of coffee, your success depends on him or her doing more than their job. A splitter snake this would best be supplied by the house sound operator, as it is part of his or her signal path.

Yes, it is standard practice for a mic-level balanced signal to come in as an XLR. On some boards, there isn't even a mic preamp available on the TRS input.

I've never worried about phantom crossing the split with bad results. In fact, many if not most live sound operators are not using condensor mics, so, no phantom.

A transformer isolated splitter will pass phantom from one board to the mic(s), but phantom won't pass the transformer to the second mixer. In this circumstance it is important to figure out which console is powering the mics, if needed.
Seth Bloombaum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 28th, 2007, 12:01 PM   #14
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Hertfordshire
Posts: 118
First of all, I have scrapped the idea of using a PC to record the audio, as the machine I had in mind as my super reliable test machine croaked it a few days ago.

Ok, I scouted the venue today and as luck would have it, they had the desk setup and ready to go. However, I was not overwhelmed. The desk was a Allen and Heath ML3000. The website is at: http://www.allen-heath.com/uk/Displa...ct.asp?pview=7

The good point may be that it has direct outs, all on 6.3mm jacks (I think so anyway, the same as my guitar leads).

1) Would it be more desirable to feed the outputs from the desk directly into a dedicated recording device (I was thinking of one of the Alexis models)

or:

2) Use a snake and split the xlrs directly into a recording device

or:

3) Is there a real benefit to using a dedicated recording mixer between a snake and the recording device?

I know these are probably really dopey questions, but I really would appreciated the guidance as this is really a sort of hobby thing rather than a commerical thing we are doing.

Oh one last thing. The sound engineer for the night has been booked, and the venue are going to pass me his number. As of yet, he is unaware that we are shooting and recording that night. I'm a little bit wary of calling him out of the blue, so can anyone give me any tips on how to approach him?

One really final thing, and this will sound really dopey I know, but you can get sets of cables that come in a big bound up bunch cant you? So if you have to run 24 channels down 24 cables, you just have a load of xlrs or jack plugs coming out of a big blue outer core, and the other end has a load more xlr's or jack plugs? i know its a stupid question, and I'm pretty sure they exist, I just don't know what to ask for...

Many thanks,

Rob,
Robert Wheeler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 28th, 2007, 12:30 PM   #15
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: McKinney, TX
Posts: 195
Hi Rob,

I looked at that board diagram and read the specs on the direct outs. It says they are post fader vs. pre fader. That means, unless he changes the jumper (which he might not ever had to consider), any output you capture will include his settings. If he makes adjustments, it will adjust your capture. You can probably look into renting an Alesis HD24 to record the tracks. I would suggest calling the technician at this point. I have never known one that has a problem litting you connect. JUst let him know that you are doing this for the band. If you are not with the bands blessings, you will have problems. Make sure he is the one doing the connections. Sometimes they are particular about who toucheds their equipment.

You will want to make sure you bring a surge protector and any cable you may need. If you rent the HD24, make sure you find out how to operate it. The technician will not want to be responsible for your capture. If you can't figure it out at the show, he will be too busy to try to figure it out.

Hope all goes well!

Jeff
Jeff Mack is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:33 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network