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Recording from sound board?


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  • Recording from sound board?

    Does anyone ever use the soundboard to record during live shows at places?  I know some places charge for that, but how exactly would the process go or how should I go about asking the sound guy?

  • #2

    Sure you can but there's a number of factors involved.

    First would be if the entire band is miced including the drums. Second would be if the mixing board either has sends or busses to capture a signal to the recorder. Third would be whether the recorder has enough channels to capture all the mics individually or its only stereo capturing the entire mix.

    If the mixer has inserts, you can use those to split the signal from the mics on stage into the recorder to individual tracks. This is the best option because the only thing affecting what's being recorded is the preamplified signal from the mics. So long as the sound man sets the gains properly and leaves them alone, you get whatever is being captured by that mic. Any changes the sound man makes to the mix for the PA speakers wont be heard on the recording except for any bleedover that comes back to the mics from monitors or the PA cabs. You then mix the tracks on the recorder that have captured the mics full frequency response later and EQ them in a separate process.

    Also with this process, the mix isn't affected by having say vocals louder than guitars bass, drums etc. You can even mic the drums and have the volume slider turned all the way down and the recorder picks up what the mic is hearing.

    A second method involves busses. If you have a limited number of recorder channels, you can group the mics into busses and record multiple instruments from those busses. Proper mixing from the sound man becomes more complex. He has to make sure the instruments sent to that buss are properly balanced in that group or masking may occur. It may also require those instruments to be properly EQed and sent through the mains depending on the mixers options.

    Then you have recording through a tape or mains out on the mixer to a simple stereo recorder. In those cases, all instruments must be pumping through the PA speakers and professionally balanced. Its a What you hear is what you get approach that may or may not work because the sound man usually balances the sound with the on stage instruments so often times the balance of the instruments vs. the vocals is not good. Best thing for those cases is to use one channel from the board to capture direct vocals and use a good stand alone condenser mic plugged directly into the recorder to capture the whole band live.

    there are many more options including onstage mics that only record instruments and capturing only vocals from the PA. Its mainly dependent on the gear and cable you have available for live and recording and how much trouble you want to go through setting up. Some newer boards have a USB out that will connect directly to a laptop for multitracking so, knowing what you have to use is the key item.



    • gubu
      gubu commented
      Editing a comment

      I've done some reasonably successful live soundboard recordings like this:-

      Pre-fader direct outs into 16 channels of an Alesis HD2424. Took them home and mixed them thru the same desk and outboard.

      You can substitute any multitrack recorder/interface for the Alesis. If you've got 16 channels of input, and a DAW-equipped laptop, that will work too. Just mix it down later from the DAW.

      I would err on the very conservative side with levels - peaks bopping around -15dBFS with the occasional stray up to -7 or -6 or so.

      It's also a good idea to mic the audience, or you'll get pretty crappy applause/cheering/ambience:- http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_recording_audience/

      Use a couple of spare desk channels for this, and 'direct out' them to the recorder the same as all the other channels. Simply unroute them from the desk mix buss/main outs while you're recording the gig.

      Of the arrays listed in that article, the 'Lincoln Box' array works best, in my experience. A stereo pair of condensers with bass rolloff engaged should get you pretty good results.

      And, as WRGKMC points out above, you'll usually need to consider what way the band is being mic'd, i.e. a full set of drum mics, or the drums can be very problematic on mixdown, etc. It's definitely a good idea to to a dummy run, or 2 with the band and equipment. Or at least find out in advance exactly what equipment/routing/mic setups etc are being used.