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Re: Recording live sound

Postby MOF » Mon Dec 14, 2020 12:33 am

Leaving aside the confusion over the exam brief I can’t help but agree with Hugh when he questions the OP’s request for suggestions about the routing of ambient mic’s.
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Dec 14, 2020 12:49 am

We've still only got one paragraph from an entire exam scenario, with no context, no detail, and no exam board... Nothing that supports any kind of understanding, let alone the offer of a reliable answer. It's all maybe's and could be's and what if's...

That said, I agree that it appears to be incredibly vague and badly worded -- unless earlier parts of the exam setting set the scene rather better.

But as Wonks said, on the face of it you could have four vocalists or instrumentalists, needing just four mics, so why specify a minimum of eight tracks? Is that an exam setter making crass assumptions (four piece band with, drum kit plus guitars, bass and vox?) or is it a lack of understanding, or is there missing information?
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby Humf » Mon Dec 14, 2020 4:09 pm

Sorry, I was just asking for reassurance with a setup I’ve not physically done before. I did not say it was an ‘intellectual struggle’ - that was your wording and completely unnecessary imo. I’m not really sure what your grievance is but I notice you swiftly tone another post laying into teachers. Admittedly, I’ve never attempted to capture ambient mics during a live gig nor used groups for that specific purpose. I hold my hands up to that. Any recording of this nature that we’ve done before, was at external venues. I give the engineer a heads up a few days in advance and smile sweetly on the night, reminding him we’d really like a bounce from his desk as a keepsake.

Not wanting to be drawn into a separate argument about education but I do think this needs saying as, Hugh, you do seem to be living in a bit of a false reality. The demands placed on a musician working in a large secondary music dept. are huge. Unlike a science dept., for example, that employs many staff across multiple disciplines, the reality of a music dept is its often two members of staff, if you’re lucky. Often one. On a typical day, I might go from accompanying some Poulenc at the piano or something equally demanding, the next minute I’m in the hall troubleshooting a PA. I probably posted that bus question as I dismissed one class and moved to another. I know I’m well-skilled and able to offer students a high level of expertise across many areas of the subject. But inevitably we are spread thinly and there will be times when you just look outside for a bit of reassurance on a less familiar area. I don’t think it helps, or is in any way supportive of our work, if you to go down the route of denigrating those of us who work with young people enthusiastically, diligently and let’s face it, in what is often a pretty tough environment for the creative subjects. I’m constantly doubting everything I do, and I don’t need you wading in to put me down further. So give me a break.

In terms of other supporting info, I can’t post the entire paper. It’s just been released and marked confidential so I need to respect that and be cautious on here. I realise that’s frustrating and probably not helping you give more informed advice. What I can say, is that the task leading upto this recording task requires students to plan and setup for a ‘live performance event’, including all considerations of venue size and acoustics, audience, PA setup, sound checks, H&S and more. That’s thrown me. Previous to this, I’ve taught studio recording and ‘sound reinforcement’ as rather discrete disciplines. This paper blurs the boundaries for me and I’ve therefore asked for further clarification.

I posted on here having read Matt Houghton’s article in SOS here https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/recording-live-show which covers many of the things we’ve discussed.

Sorry if it feels like a load of ‘what if’s’ and ‘maybes’. I feel your frustration. I’m waiting for an answer from the board and will let you know when I hear, so any discussion prior to that I guess is just thrashing out some ideas around the topic.

Hope you’re feeling a bit less grumpy today


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Re: Recording live sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:07 pm

Humf wrote:Sorry, I was just asking for reassurance with a setup I’ve not physically done before.

Hmmm... It seemed to me you were asking quite specifically how to route signals through a basic analogue console. If you were really asking for reassurance you would have said how you planned to do it, surely? So apologies if I've underestimated your technical abilities, but I can only react to what is posted.

Would you not agree, though, that signal flow through a simple analogue mixer really is a fundamental basic of music technology, and not something anyone would expect a teacher to be seeking reassurance about? I would have exactly the same concerns if a maths teacher was asking for reassurance about algebraic manipulations....

I really don't want to fall out with you... It's obvious from the fact that you are hear asking questions that you are trying to do your very best for your students. And I applaud that.

Unfortunately, my view might be tarnished because I have come across too many teachers -- and university lecturers, actually -- who, while I'm sure are perfectly capable in other areas -- are simply not qualified or competent to teach music tech. And I find that deeply troubling both as a parent and as an industry professional.

The demands placed on a musician working in a large secondary music dept. are huge.

No illusion here. I have friends who are/were music teachers in secondary schools (one current, one just retired). They are both brilliant multi-talented musicians... and both freely admit to being largely out of their depth when it comes to music technology. From what I've seen and heard, this is not unusual. But I recognise that it is a systemic problem, and certainly not a personal one.

I fully appreciate that this is an area that many music teachers are being required to cover while often lacking the appropriate training and expertise... That music teachers like you take on this aspect of the syllabus with enthusiasm is to their/your credit... But that doesn't alter the validity of questioning the educational standards being achieved.

As you noted, I previously shared (and subsequently deleted as it wasn't directly relevant), a recent disturbing experience where I was asked to help a GCSE student to fathom some ludicrously incompetent 'study notes' relating to various aspects of simple music technology and basic recording practices. If the student took those study notes as factually accurate and wanted to go on to study the subject at a higher level (as she does!), they would have a very rocky foundation indeed. I found that shocking.

I’m constantly doubting everything I do, and I don’t need you wading in to put me down further. So give me a break.

Can I ask if you would doubt your ability to play the Poulenc accompaniment? Or your ability to conduct the school choir or orchestra? I suspect not, and that's my point....

In terms of other supporting info, I can’t post the entire paper. It’s just been released and marked confidential so I need to respect that and be cautious on here.

Yes, I understand and respect that. But rather than publishing the specific question paper, perhaps it would help to know the aims, outcomes and syllabus of the exam course.

What I can say, is that the task leading up to this recording task requires students to plan and setup for a ‘live performance event’, including all considerations of venue size and acoustics, audience, PA setup, sound checks, H&S and more.

Fair enough. In that case, all you can do is record the musicians on stage, mix for the FOH, and note why some sources were not miked, or mixed in a very low level (to balance with the back-line acoustic contributions).

I’m waiting for an answer from the board and will let you know when I hear...

I'll be fascinated to hear their response and explanations.

Hope you’re feeling a bit less grumpy today

:lol: I wasn't grumpy, just recognising that the post would make me sound grumpy. I dont apologise for expecting competence, but I do apologise for any upset caused.
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:18 pm

If you need a proper recording of a live performance, then for me, you can only go down the dual mix route, with a desk for the FOH and a desk for the stereo recording mix and mic/signal splitters (unless you have a desk with direct outs, which can never be a given). Possibly why they were suggesting 8 mics to stop the desk requirements becoming too great (or too little) . But it seems like most schools would have to hire in equipment to do so, which could be a big struggle for a lot of schools who just don't have the budget, especially as you'd really need to hire it in advance so the students could get to know it.
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby merlyn » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:28 pm

I was waiting for the horse's mouth but the assignment seems now to be leaning towards a live multitrack.

It occurred to me that it would be possible to plug the mics into the interface then route the eight outputs of the interface to the desk allowing two mixes to be made. The mix on the computer only has to capture the eight signals without going over, nominally -18dB, then a FOH mix can be made independent of the recording levels.
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby MOF » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:31 pm

I’d started to reply re: routing mic’s through an analogue desk but Hugh has done that, I was going to say in addition that

Sorry, I was just asking for reassurance with a setup I’ve not physically done before.....Admittedly, I’ve never attempted to capture ambient mics during a live gig nor used groups for that specific purpose. I hold my hands up to that. Any recording of this nature that we’ve done before, was at external venues. I give the engineer a heads up a few days in advance and smile sweetly on the night, reminding him we’d really like a bounce from his desk as a keepsake.

If you’ve asked for a bounce from the FOH mixer’s desk then most likely you won’t have had any ambient microphones in that mix. It’s not standard practice to rig ambient mic’s in venues and they need to be recorded on separate tracks for mixing later, they only tend to get used for moments of audience reaction.
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby CS70 » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:38 pm

Humf wrote:Distinction: Create a multitrack live recording of four instruments/voices, including at least eight simultaneously recorded audio tracks. Show confidence and high degree of skill in the use of a variety of mic'ing techniques. Make highly effective adjustments to the live recording process.

Hm. Perhaps it's me, but the intent seems pretty clear.

Take three instruments and a voice (say drums, guitar, bass, vocalist), mic them all with 8 channels, balance them in the mixer and send the recorded tracks. As they say, mic positioning, bleed control etc are more important than the specific mix, as it's a multitrack.

It doesn't mention any audience, so this is not about recording a live gig, but a "band in a room" situation, which is pretty common in the studio.

This would be exactly the situation where you are when you begin mixing a song recorded by a band in the room (only, in a "real world" situation you'd have many more tracks than 8, usually). All raw tracks, and then you mix. Of course you (the students) can EQ and compress at recording if you like, exactly how they would do if a real band was to lay down some tracks. Or not, as it's quite common nowadays with 24 bit digital recordings. Actually doing so or not (and with which result, if doing it) would tell quite a bit about the student's understanding of recording and skills.

4 mics for the drums (overheads, kick and snare) , one for guitar, bass DI-ed, one for vox and one channel left for either a singing guitarist, or a room mic, or an additional mic for the guitar amp - you're set.

I think a lot of the confusion comes from the "live" adjective, which you/we assumed meant a gig - a performance with PA and public.. and for us, that you (as a consequence) posted in "live sound", which normally refers exactly to that.

But here I'm pretty sure they just want the best multitrack the students can make - and maybe the next exercise would be to actually mix it.

It's not a bad test at all.

Just my $.10 of course.
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:47 pm

You’ve not read Humf’s latest explanation, where this is clearly a live show with a PA and audience. Which makes the distinction category requirements all the more confusing as they are written.
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby CS70 » Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:04 pm

I have - if you refer to

The requirement of the brief is to capture the essence of a live gig in a multitrack recording of the event. The students are also required to plan and setup the PA, minimum of 8 tracks recorded, minimum of 4 instruments/vocals.

but the generalities of the question makes me think that's not a textual quote (as opposite to the "distinction") and that it could be more of an induced understanding.

No need of opinionated opinions though: Humf will tell soon enough.
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby blinddrew » Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:55 pm

Not that bit, this bit:
"What I can say, is that the task leading upto this recording task requires students to plan and setup for a ‘live performance event’, including all considerations of venue size and acoustics, audience, PA setup, sound checks, H&S and more."
;)
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby CS70 » Mon Dec 14, 2020 8:00 pm

blinddrew wrote:Not that bit, this bit:
"What I can say, is that the task leading upto this recording task requires students to plan and setup for a ‘live performance event’, including all considerations of venue size and acoustics, audience, PA setup, sound checks, H&S and more."
;)

Yep, that's what could lead to the assumption. Will find out. Trying to find sense in things as opposite to assume others haven't any sometimes helps, even if it's somewhat less satisfactory :lol:

But hope he manages, doesn't sound like a fun situation.
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby blinddrew » Mon Dec 14, 2020 8:38 pm

CS70 wrote:But hope he manages, doesn't sound like a fun situation.
I think we're all agreed on that.
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Dec 14, 2020 8:42 pm

+1
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Re: Recording live sound

Postby AlecSp » Tue Dec 15, 2020 1:10 pm

Wonks wrote:You’ve not read Humf’s latest explanation, where this is clearly a live show with a PA and audience.
No-one's questioned the "live show with audience" part of this - are schools even doing live shows with audienes for the forseeable...?
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