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Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

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Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby blinddrew » Sat Mar 30, 2019 4:19 pm

Afternoon folks,
My band will be doing some proper* recording later in the year, much as we did a couple of years ago (hopefully with fewer mistakes but...)
In the meantime we'd like to capture some of the stuff we've been working on in a much simpler way.
We've tried the smartphone-in-a-sweater routine and, whilst it's enough to capture structure and core elements it's not really something we can use to finesse things.
Between us we have a couple of digital stereo recorders kicking around but nothing as fancy (or new) as a Zoom H4n or 'owt like that. 2 inputs only.
Here's a quick diagram of our general practice layout:
Image
And some explanatory notes, clockwise from the top:
- the upright isn't used (well, very rarely) but is in the room and isn't removable.
- singing drummer (with monitor top right. He's vox 3 and likes a bit of main vox and acoustic guitar in there to pitch to. The kick is there because he plays quieter if he can hear his kick).
- singing bass player (she's vox 2)
- guitarist (bottom amp) gets enough out of the two central monitors and doesn't need his own feed.
- Me over on the left sings, plays acoustic, electric, and has an electro-harmonix B9 organ pedal. Acoustic and organ go to the monitors, electric goes to the amp, sometimes all three outputs are in use.
- occasionally other things creep into the mix like a rogue synth or bit of percussion.

My starting thought was to take a feed from the mixer to one channel of the recorder and then put a ribbon mic above the central monitors with the null pointing at the monitors. This should then pick up the drums and amps with the least amount of monitor noise, which can then be added in with the first channel.

Thoughts and suggestions gratefully received.


* For a given definition of 'proper' (see previous posts and signature!) :D
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby CS70 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 6:05 pm

Faced with same issue, I simply miked everything that wasn't already going thru the PA, which wasn't much. The drums had a super simple setup with one overhead (I used a sontronics which was just lying there), a single snare mic (a 57) and a kick mic (an AKG something made for drums). Guitars were mic-ed with a couple dynamics, 58s I think and the bass player uses a Black Finger thru the PA so wasn't an issue. Could have spent ages trying mics but for the intended result it was really no point. The mic positions with respect to the grille are easy, you may use some time the first time but then you just remember. All the vox go already to the PA, so it's not really hard to set up. Used the Alesis multimix to get a multitrack (but then figured it was too much work to actually mix the result), and the alesis main outs went into two line ins in the regular PA.

Thought not sure which advantage it gives vs. the phone in a sock thing? I mean so long the sound is not of much interest, which details can't you discern from the phone recording?
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby Music Wolf » Sat Mar 30, 2019 6:46 pm

Hi Drew

I think that I see where you're coming from. You just need something to capture practices with a little more detail so you can analyse what's working / not working. I do the same with my lot.

I've found that for this sort of thing it really needs to be plug in, hit the record button and get on with it. In a band situation the others are going to get bored incredibly quickly if you have to mess around saving files, messing with mixer settings etc.

I bought a Tascam AI (16 x 08) but I only used it a couple of times. There was too much messing around so Father Christmas brought me a Zoom Livetrak L-12. I use it as our live mixer (I gigged with it last night) and I can record all 8 mic channels plus the 2 stereo line channels. You just hit record and play and it records everything whether it's going to FOH / one of the 4 monitor channels or not heard at all. When you hit stop it takes a couple of seconds to process then hit play and record again and you are automatically recording to another folder. I import it into Cubase the next day, balance the levels and send the mixes out by DropBox.

I recorded the whole performance last night. Postmortem is ongoing.
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby blinddrew » Sat Mar 30, 2019 7:03 pm

Hi CS70, the phone in the sock thing is just a bit too mushy to be able to work stuff out. It's been fine in terms of haivng a record to remember how we've cut around with the arrangement but trying to figure out if the bass is trampling on the kick or vice versa, or if we need to shift the tones of the electric guitars, it's just not clear enough.
I'm sure a better player than me could do this kind of assessment as we go but frankly my brain is already full with words, melody, chords, pedals... ;)
It's a complete set-up & tear-down every week so I don't want to be sticking a load of additional mics up - I can probably rig an extra one or two without hitting practice time too much, but no more than that.

Hi MusicWolf,
Yep, as mentioned above, it's got to be simple. I won't be doing it every week but maybe every couple of months. Hence looking at a hard disc recorder that only needs minimal set up (and automatically creates a new file each time i hit record).
I've got one of those tascams as well but that will only be coming out for the proper recording. Sadly after splashing out on my new monitors there is no further budget for kit this year.
Or next year.
or... ;)
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:28 pm

You might like to think about the Zylia ambisonic mic and software. Their basic model at €599 has limitations but the main use case they have for it is generating decent recordings out of rehearsals. Might be more than you'd want to pay though.

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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby The Elf » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:41 pm

I'll echo the simplicity of the Zoom L-12. I have one you could borrow for a while?
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby blinddrew » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:56 pm

Offer very much appreciated Elf, but with borrowing comes wanting... :D

Oh and CC, I've been keeping an eye on things like the Zylia for a while - it's on a long list of things I'm keeping an eye on though...
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby gingertimmins » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:46 pm

I picked one of these up for £30 on gumtree a few years ago...https://www.zoom-na.com/products/field- ... o-recorder

Once you find a good place in the room for it (as well as sorting out your placements within the room) it sounds very clear and separation between instruments is good (again, dependant in your positioning)
Way better than a phone, less hassle than multiple mics.
I nearly always switch the camera off and record to wav or mp3 but if you ever want to capture any footage then the camera is nice to have.
The mics are M/S config with adjustable width on the sides.
It works for us. Maybe you could grab one cheap?
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby blinddrew » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:55 pm

Good idea, I'll keep an eye out.
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jun 05, 2019 4:09 pm

Well, after a couple of failed experiments / learning experiences I ended up just taking the laptop, an interface and a couple of extra mics. Here's an example from last week's session: https://soundcloud.com/the-southern-wil ... 05/s-TkvhA for anyone who's interested.
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby ef37a » Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:39 pm

blinddrew wrote:Well, after a couple of failed experiments / learning experiences I ended up just taking the laptop, an interface and a couple of extra mics. Here's an example from last week's session: https://soundcloud.com/the-southern-wil ... 05/s-TkvhA for anyone who's interested.

No idea of the setup Drew and so not fair to criticise in any way but for me, the main vocal (you?) was muffled and a little distorted such that I could not make out much of the lyrics.
To my mind you either need a better mic or eq what you have but then my hearing is really bad!

LOVELY bit of soaring guitar!

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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:10 pm

Nice (again) :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby James Perrett » Wed Jun 05, 2019 9:02 pm

ef37a wrote:No idea of the setup Drew and so not fair to criticise in any way but for me, the main vocal (you?) was muffled and a little distorted such that I could not make out much of the lyrics.
To my mind you either need a better mic or eq what you have but then my hearing is really bad!

I think it may have something to do with your hearing Dave and the way it interacts with this particular vocal sound. To my ears the vocals don't have much high midrange but they have a fair bit of really high frequency information which creates the clarity for those with good hearing. That's fine for this purpose but for a proper recording you need something that will work on a more bandwidth limited system so the vocals will need more in the 2-4kHz range and possibly less at the really high end.
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby ef37a » Wed Jun 05, 2019 9:25 pm

Spot on James!
I put it through Samplitude's parametric and tried to pull out a bit of midrange but couldn't,. much. I did find some HF "splash" when I moved the boost higher.

Yes, voices baffle me. I find some people I can understand very well and others hardly at all. I have a digital aid but it does not always help. Mind you, it has been years since I went for a hearing check and have the aid tweaked. Been busy keeping more important bits going, like the minces!

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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:26 pm

Cheers folks, will give the vocals another work-over to see if a little more presence can be extracted without making the cymbals overwhelming.
I can have a bit of a blind spot with my vocals as i find it a bit too easy to hear what i remember in my head, rather than what's actually been recorded. One of the dangers of a diy approach.
The key thing is that i think we've captured things well enough to be able to make some objective decisions about structure and orchestration.
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby ITHertz » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:56 am

How does it sound in the room? What about an omni mic? If the levels aren't right, ask people to play/sing louder or softer i.e. set the balance by adjusting the performers!

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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jun 06, 2019 10:35 am

We did try an omni, and a m/s array, but without a great deal of luck. In the room it sounds good enough for us to practice pull things together, but we're all concentrating on our parts (and the sonically adjacent ones) and we needed something to give us a complete picture.
As to getting people to control their own volume, it does happen a bit, but we have a loud drummer in a small room...
When we record properly later in the year we'll take a different approach.
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby ef37a » Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:15 am

" but we have a loud drummer in a small room..." I got the kick on cans (K92s).
In fact it was a bit oppressive and I rolled it off a bit in Sam. It was so low in frequency I doubt many monitors would show it up much?

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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:06 pm

It occurs to me that I haven't done a headphone check on this yet. I've been using them less and less since I got my monitors, so much so that I occasionally forget about the importance of checking the low end on headphones... :headbang:

Anyway I've made a couple of tweaks that improve general clarity when sticking a bandpass filter on to simulate a grotbox.

I'll probably post links to the other tracks here when I get them done but thanks for all the help so far.
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Re: Simple recording of practice sessions - suggestions welcomed...

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jun 07, 2019 3:14 pm

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