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Mobile recording rig

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Mobile recording rig

Postby sound bites » Sat Feb 06, 2021 4:08 pm

Maybe not top level priority at the moment- but, lockdown isn’t going to last forever:
I’m curious about the tools others are using for location recording. Whether you’re into field recordings, out of the concert hall stripped down music sessions in unique locations, etc., I’d-like to know what equipment you are using in 2021 and how you personalise your kit.
Do you pack your bag for any possibility or as lightly as possible? Or both?
Are you still using the same gear you had years ago?
How has any new gear changed your workflow or the quality of your audio?
Please feel invited to expand in this.
Really looking forward to your replies!
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby MOF » Sat Feb 06, 2021 4:29 pm

Yes both, it depends on the setup, a sit down interview, carefully lit and multi-camera or run and gun vox pops etc.
I started with an Audio Developments mixer 4 into 2, now I have a Sound Devices - 6 xlr plus more TA3 inputs with a built in multi-track recorder.
The microphones have always been Sennheiser MKH 60 & 30, AKG C451 and line Sony ECM 77s plus TRAMs then later COS 11s with the radio mic’s. I’ve added a Neumann KM 184 recently for some fish pole work, much lighter than the 60 & 30 in a Rycote housing.
The new mixer makes life much easier, especially having a backup just incase there’s ever a dispute and clients like to have a copy on their Mac laptops.
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Feb 06, 2021 4:38 pm

For serious external field FX/atmos recordings I use a Nagra VI with DPA4060core as spaced omnis and Sennheiser 30/40 (or 30/20 or 30/50) MS array in a Rycote Cyclone, either pole or stand-mounted. All four mics can be recorded simultaneously, along with a stereo mix. The Nagra is quite bulky but not heavy, and I love the big screen and large finger-friendly controls -- very important in the winter when wearing gloves!

I keep toying with getting a SoundDevices MixPre10 (ii) for a more compact solution, and as a back up for the Nagra.... But the Nagra just works and sounds lovely and I can't bring myself to spend the money yet...

For less serious applications, I use an Olympus LS10 with a Rycote windjammer over the built-in mics. I also have a Beyer omni interview mic with high-level unbalanced output imtended for use with semi-pro recorders like the LS10, which is great for vox-pops and on-the-hoof interviews.

If I want to use pro mics with the Olympus then I feed it's (unbalanced stereo) line input from a little (discontinued) battery-powered Sound Devices two-channel mic preamp with MS matrix. The whole kit is a lot more compact than the Nagra, and only two-channel, but it works very well.

For serious but small scale music work I use the Nagra again which can handle four mics directly, six if I use the Sound Devices for two extra external preamps via line inputs 5/6, and eight if I hook up a four channel preamp with AES3 outputs (usually my ISA428). For larger scale work I use a SADiE LRX interface feeding an MS Surface (or a laptop). The LRX can handle 16 or 32 mic channels directly, and/or 16-32 AES3 inputs from external preamps or my Yamaha DM1000 console via their digital outputs.

The LRX includes transport controls and 8 assignable moving faders for live mixing, if needed, but I can also use a Yamaha DM1000 if proper hamds-on mixing with lots of big faders is necessary.

And there are various other analogue and digital mixers of different sizes and capabilities if needed... Importantly, all the gear I have can be used in different combinations to provide scalability and for backup / plan-B purposes.
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby The Elf » Sat Feb 06, 2021 5:40 pm

I seem to have acquired a world of mobile options in the recent past! :headbang:

A Zoom H5 used to travel with me always (and I still have it), but I acquired a charity shop Olympus LS-P1 and that's become my constant companion. For something that looks like a dictaphone it gets some great results.

I also have a Zoom H6, and that opens the door for any of my favourite mic's. The mid/side capsule is very good too.

Then I have a few options for connecting to a PC or an iPad/Phone, including an NI KA6. To that I can attach a number of pre's with digital outputs, including SSL Channel strips, or my beloved Focusrite Liquid Channels. For more channels it's a Zoom LiveTrak L-12. And let's not mention the Behringer XR18...

With all this lot I can tackle anything, and it's just down to the details of the job and how lightly I need to travel.

But I do need to thin some of this kit out! :lol:
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Feb 06, 2021 6:49 pm

Where to start...! I won't go back to 1969 when I started... or at least not in detail...

Virtually all of my recording work has been location/live in one form or another. So went through various iterations of mono mixer and tape-recorder, progressing to stereo eventually.

Took the leap to digital in c.2005 when I bought a Fostex F2RLE, but the mix was still 'live' straight to stereo.

Then progressed to a Cymatics 16-track, being fed from the inserts of my analogue mixer and recording on a portable hard-drive. Transferred into a DAW back at home for mixing.

Then switched over to a QSC Touchmix which generated and stored its own multitrack files.

Then, briefly, to a Behringer 1604 all in one mixer/recorder.

Now I do very little. What I do do is to a Zoom F4 operating in 6-input mode. Extract and mix in the DAW...
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby blinddrew » Sat Feb 06, 2021 7:48 pm

For work it's a Zoom H4n and a rode shotgun or an AKG lavalier for talking heads stuff.
For music stuff I just take the laptop, my Tascam US16x08 and whatever mic that I think might be appropriate. Big car helps. :D
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby CS70 » Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:07 pm

I usually bring a laptop and an interface - which one depends on the job but the one that's been seeing most use is the UR28M with built-in effects. If I don't have that I may bring the Picoverb to get some comfort reverb as needed.

Assorted preamps and microphones depending on what's on the menu, stands, reflection filter if I suspect dodgy acoustics. Tall stands with boom arms, including a couple to set up duvets if necessary, and often a short one just in case.

I use an Aphex 4Pod as headphone amp and usually a couple of AKG M50x and often the Beyer DT990 to get a more open sound. Usually don't bother with monitors, but I can bring a boombox so that raw tracks and rough mixes can be auditioned.

Cables of course, including two USB ones (just in case) and the all-important headphone extensions, 5-6m.

Usually all fits a medium size luggage, except stands and reflection filter.

I find that an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of onsite work, so I prepare the project on the laptop before hand, including all the routing for the specific interface I intend to use.

The project is always in a Dropbox folder for ease of transfer.

Occasionally, if I know for sure that I won't need more than a few takes, I can bring the Touchmix and record directly to the SSD, avoiding laptop and interface, but not so often.
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby Jorge » Sat Feb 06, 2021 8:19 pm

For recording my music group at live performances and rehearsals, I went from a Fostex FR2LE with Rode NT4 stereo mic to an Olympus LS10, then a series of small Sony digital recorders, with little change in sound quality from the NT4.

I like the PCM D100 the best when I can find an acceptable location to place it, but one time the PCM-D100 got me kicked out of recording my friend's band at Lincoln Center. He had asked me to record the event and the recorder was at FOH watched by the mix engineer, but a cop objected and escorted me out with the recorder when he saw it. I don't think that would have happened with my current ICD-SX2000 or PCM-A10, which are much smaller but with sound quality not too much worse than the PCM-D100.

If you don't need stealth and stereo is ok, I highly recommend the PCM-D100. If you are willing to give up a little bass extension and a little clarity in the mid-highs, the PCM-A10 is much more cost effective and much much smaller (and easier to place).

With stereo recorders like these, however, finding the right location that sounds good but is not in anyone's way is critically important and takes some practice.
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby Music Wolf » Sat Feb 06, 2021 9:35 pm

I did purchase my Zoom Livetrak L-12 in order to record bands, and it did the job no problem, but it’s seen very little action since I got my Behringer XR-18.
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Feb 06, 2021 9:41 pm

Currently I have everything from a Marantz PMD620 up to my X32 Compact, plus Rack and a laptop or or a Mackie SDR24 but those are hardly portable. I don't have a portable multitrack recorder as such but I do have a couple of other digital mixers and both can record stereo if I want to record smaller gigs

* Mackie DL1608 and Berry XR12.
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby James Perrett » Sat Feb 06, 2021 11:09 pm

Up until recently my mobile rig was based around a Focusrite Saffire Pro 26io firewire interface connected to an Audient ASP008 and a Behringer ADA8000 to give 24 analogue inputs at mic or line level. The Focusrite has always been a bit temperamental but a few weeks ago it stopped talking completely to the Acer laptop that I was using with it so I decided to get myself an RME Digiface USB. I've had my eye on one of these for ages but held out all the while the Focusrite continued to work.

I haven't used the new setup in anger yet but I've discovered that the Focusrite still works in stand alone mode as a mic preamp/A/D convertor which means I may still keep it in the rack. I'm hoping that its word clock output still works too as that will help keep everything in sync. I usually use the Behringer's analogue outputs for headphone mixes through a Behringer headphone amp and it all fits in a 4U rack case. The Totalmix software that comes with the RME will certainly help here as it gives me most of the facilities of an external mixing desk.

Like Mike, I could go back and describe a whole host of different mobile setups that I've used over the years but I would say that these days cabling and microphones probably take up more space in the back of the car than the recording rig itself.
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby sound bites » Sun Feb 07, 2021 9:41 am

James Perrett wrote:...but I would say that these days cabling and microphones probably take up more space in the back of the car than the recording rig itself.

You’ve hit the nail on the head:

...electrical cable reel, microphone stands, spare battery packs, all different size mic cables, all kinds of adapters, windscreens, foldable table for laptop, preamps, interface, control surface and tea mug...
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby sound bites » Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:22 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:For less serious applications, I use an Olympus LS10 with a Rycote windjammer over the built-in mics. I also have a Beyer omni interview mic with high-level unbalanced output imtended for use with semi-pro recorders like the LS10, which is great for vox-pops and on-the-hoof interviews.

If I want to use pro mics with the Olympus then I feed it's (unbalanced stereo) line input from a little (discontinued) battery-powered Sound Devices two-channel mic preamp with MS matrix. The whole kit is a lot more compact than the Nagra, and only two-channel, but it works very well.

I use my LS 11 in a similar way. Been very happy with it for interviews.
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby sound bites » Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:27 am

Mike Stranks wrote:Where to start...! I won't go back to 1969 when I started...

Actually, I would like to know what you used back then.
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Re: Mobile recording rig

Postby Mike Stranks » Sun Feb 07, 2021 11:18 am

sound bites wrote:
Mike Stranks wrote:Where to start...! I won't go back to 1969 when I started...

Actually, I would like to know what you used back then.

Image

and

Image

The tape recorder cost me a month's salary then - £48! I bought it specifically because it had a very simple onboard two-channel mixer... two-speed: 1 7/8 and 3 3/4... mono 4-track...

Back then if you wanted anything more than what Currys et al had on offer you went to London to Tottenham Court Road/Charing Cross Road.

Anyone remember G W Smith? Lasky's? REW? (John Willett of this parish worked in REW back in the mid 70s... he could well have served me at some point!)

Comet were strictly mail-order only from a warehouse in Hull. They advertised in various magazines and if you were on their mailing list you got regular promo-sheets in the post... I bought the Philips from Comet that way...

For compiling the cassette-equivalent of 'podcasts, my dad let me borrow his valve-based Philips tape-recorder...

A pic from a couple of years later...

Image

when I'd bought my own Philips 4307 in addition to the 4308, a record-deck from Boots ( :o ) and had a Philips cassette-deck on semi-permanent loan from a friend..
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