Looking to Record Live Music from Band

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by jayeskreezy, May 16, 2007.

  1. jayeskreezy macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    Ok so I'm totally new to audio recording, but I have a band that will be recording with live instruments and vocals and I wanted to know what I needed to get the sound to sound clear and not too much background noise other than the band.

    Is there a special mic or something that I can use? I do video and for the best sound you need like a shotgun mic which focuses the sound on the subject. What about for sound? I know there's certain things you need. Please let me know. Thanks guys!

    I'm really a newbie to the recording part of it, but we'll be using alot of vocals, drums, keyboard, and maybe guitar.
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    the "trick" is to mic things correctly. like any craft, it's not something that's learned with a couple paragraphs, it takes (years of) practice.

    if you're serious about getting a good recording, your best bet is to go into a studio. doing it yourself "on the cheap" won't get you good results, at least not for a couple years and $20,000 later...
  3. jayeskreezy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    thanks but this isnt a band thats looking for a label...this is for a missions trip with some students who will be doing praise & worship music with instruments and decent audio

    ...im just looking to make something for them to be able to take home with them as a momento of the trip...not a studio recording...any suggestions?
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    yes: lower your expectations.

    if they're performing w/ sound reinforcement, nicely ask the sound guy to give you a stereo mix off the board. that's your best bet.
  5. bgalizio macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Head over to taperssection.com and start from the beginning there.
  6. jayeskreezy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    lower my expectations? I dont think im asking much. I just want to know whats the best way to do it. I dont have any expectations other than the fact that I'd like it to be recorded to my computer. They have their own instruments and it's wired pretty well in there with mics and amps. I just want to know whats goign to give me the best quality sound so it wont just sound like a bunch of confused noise when recording? Thanks. and whats a stereo mix? I will most likely also be the sound board person. as you can see this is pretty simple
  7. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Oh. You have some reading to do before you go on this project.
    Get some books out of the library on live mixing and sound reinforcement and read up. It's not that simple, there are any number of ways the soundperson can make the amplified sound worse.

    A stereo mix is a copy of the 2 outputs that go from the mixing board to the amplifiers (assuming that the sound reinforcement system is a typical stereo setup). It is the result of the mixing and equalization done to the sound inputs. Many mixers have muktiple outputs that can accommodate this, but you should test it first and get to know your mixer and what exactly it does.

    The mix you'd want for recording and the mix that you make for the house can be different. For example, the audience is getting the acoustic sound directly from the drums and other loud instruments like brass, so these instruments would be lower (or sometimes, not even present) in a live mix as opposed to a mix made for recording. But in your scenario, a stereo mix off the board is your easiest way to get a usable recording.

    If your computer and interface can record 4 simultaneous inputs, you could consider putting up 1 or 2 microphones in the hall, to capture the live sound (including unfortunately, the echos, reverb and miscellaneous noises of the venue, and the audience) You can then combine the board mix and the live mics later when you edit the recording.

    Question: If you are recording a stereo mix only, you may not need the computer (and all its fiddly bits). A cassette, DAT, HardDiskRecorder or MiniDisc recorder may be sufficient (and having one of these running may be a good "safety" if the Computer system b0rks.)

    Did I mention testing this all first? Record some full-on rehersals to work out the bugs.
  8. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    i'm telling you right now: you're in over your head. this isn't video, we're not talking about setting up a camera in the 3rd row and framing a good shot. we're talking about placing mics (which includes choosing them), getting good levels to both the house and the recorder, setting up monitor mixes for the band, then doing a mix.

    how much gear do you have? what's your budget? what's your timeframe? have you spec'ed out the venue? if you're gonna spend $10k and have a year or two to hone your skills and do pre-production, that's one thing. if you think you're going to stick a mic or two in the house and get good sound, it ain't gonna happen.

    so refer to my earlier comment: manage your expectations. if you want good sound on this project, hire someone and their gear.
  9. jayeskreezy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    sighhh....I've been on a project before and someone did this and they didnt even have garageband. All they had was a regular pc laptop with a huge church with poor acoustics and things came out ok. All I really want to know is what is the best way to record it besides the default built in mic on a mb/mbp. Perhaps I worded it to where I have these large expectations. I dont. I really just want to know whats the best way to get mediocre sound thats audible and not hear everyone elses voice in the room talking. This cd isnt being sold-only a memento for those on the missions trip.

    Perhaps you're unaware of how missions trips are, but the emphasis certainly isnt on any of those things you're mentioning. Nobody is "making a band" or even concerned about that. We just want to praise the Lord and I thought it would be koo to record praise and worship. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. So if you'd like to put your comments in layman's terms and layman's budget then I'd really appreciate your assistance. If not then I will pray about it and be resourceful.
  10. jayeskreezy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    thanks for this answer...it explains alot...what are the best mics to use to capture the live sound and does a mb allow 4 simultaneous inputs? I could use a cassette, but it would take awhile to transfer to the computer. I guess I could also just get a shotgun mic for my camcorder and record the video and separate the audio from video and then just break the audio track up into smaller songs. Would the sound quality remain though if I went that route??
  11. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    this is simple mic'ing technique: get the mic close and point it at the thing you want to hear.

    you haven't provided any details on what kinds of instruments you're dealing with. is it a typical guitar/drum/bass kind of band? an acoustic guitar and piccolo? you keep asking "best mic", but you're not asking the kinds of questions, or providing the kind of information, which indicates you have even a basic understanding of what you're up against.

    what gear will be available? mics? stands? snake? XLRs? mixing board? monitors? speakers? what are the details? because that's where the devil is.

    you keep saying "i just need a simple answer", but tracking a live band and providing sound reinforcement are not simple problems. i'm sorry you're getting frustrated by that, and i suspect it's because you think audio is like video. it's not, and the two behave in very different ways.

    let me ask you this: what's wrong with using the onboard camera mic?
  12. jayeskreezy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2005
    Oh well, we'll be using maybe drums vocals of course, keyboard, and perhaps guitar-electric. camera mics are bad, but I guess I could do that. there will be mics, stands, speakers, and amps. I guess thats not such a bad idea...thanks!
  13. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    yes, they are. i wasn't suggesting you use the camera mic, i was going to say that setting up (for example) a single mic will sound like a camera mic. to get better audio, that's when you need to start mic'ing everything, and close. and once you get multiple mics, then you need systems to handle multiple mics. that's when it starts getting complicated, and you need way more gear than you think you do: stands, cables, a snake, adapters, stage monitors, power sources, etc.

    it's easy to think of the obvious things like mixing boards, mics and recorders, but the "support" for that stuff, if you will, requires a lot of planning and pre-production. it gets complicated -- that's really the only point i'm making.
  14. buswheel macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2007
    Sydney, Australia
    What you can do will all depend on what facilities you have. I am guessing you are a situation where you are wanting to just make a simple two track recording most likely just using your macs soundcard.

    How you do this will also depend on the set-up of the room, etc.

    As it seems you are using a centralised mix you have three options
    1) Just take the stereo out from the board. The quality of this will depend on how the board is used in your sound reinforcement, and what you are running through it.

    2) Use spare aux outs from the board. This provides the bonus in that you can adjust the outputs from each channel to better suit the recording, and depending on the board you may also be able to run some additional inputs that do not go back to the FOH mix (such as the microphone(s) from method 3). If you use this method I would be taking of the aux's post fader.

    3) Forget using a take-off from the board and simply find the place in the room which gets the mix you want to record and set-up up an appropriate microphone(s) making sure you can interface with it/them.

    I have used all of these methods in the past to record using a small portable digital recorder. Method 2 definately gives the best result, but definately requires more set-up time and practice.
  15. bgalizio macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2006
    Well, I'd argue with that statement, if Method 2 does not include any audience/ambiance mics.

    I've done some 2 channel ambient recordings in good rooms that have turned out way better than the multi-tracks, simply because they didn't use the good room/crowd to their advantage.

    I'd suggest a simple SBD feed (Method 1) as the easiest way to get decent results on the first go-round. It will be dry and not balanced, but the result will probably be acceptable for a first attempt.
  16. Tailordsound macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2009
    Similar Question : Recording

    I want to take my I MAC to the a venue and record a show on Garage band or Pro Tools (if I figure it out in time). We have:

    Two acoustic guitars - no amps. One uses acoustic effects pedal, the other would need to be mic'd
    One electric guitar w/ amp
    One keyboard
    One set of three congas
    One djimbe
    two vocalists

    I'm looking at an 8 channel m-box. Will that work?

    Also: I see a lot of people with videos on YOUTUBE of them with their guitar in front of the computer. Sounds okay. I tried it with Photo Booth and it sounds like crap cause the guitar doesn't ring. I don't have an amp. All I have is an acoustic effects pedal (XOOM) and a MAC Guitar Cable. Can I make a good video recording with this?
  17. Soundburst macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2006
    Borrow some SM57s and an SM58.

    Put them reasonably close. . . .check the levels. . . plug them into the desk. . . connect the desk to your Laptop/Computer. . . open pro tools. . . hit record.

  18. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You forgot one thing: "Budget".

    Are you looking to just directly record a stereo recording that can't later be mixed down, kind of like what you'd get if you were a fan with a cam-corder or do you want a multi-tack recording that later you can edit and mix? In other words what is your goal for "quality". Is "bootleg" OK or do you need profesional quality sound. Again what is the budget?

    You asked for "the best way". Well that is going to be "way expensive" (five figure price tag) and require an experienced engineer. I think what you should ask is "What is the best I can do with a budget of $XXX and YYY weeks of study time and reading." That is a reasonable question.

    To do this right means that you will have to mic each source of sound with at least one mic. Each mic needs a preamp and this all feeds a multi-track recording system. A good engineer will select the best type of mic for each singer and each instrument as well as the bet mic placement.

    You may have to compromise

    If you have a $100 budget you can go with a stereo feed lead directly into the computer's "line in" jack and then use Garage Band to record the sound on your Macbook. Given a $500 budget you can do better, given $1K even better but be warned that as you buy more an better equipment there is a steeper learning curve.

    I think the best thing is to start small. Learn to record just one guitar. Then try guitar and vocal. Work up to a full band over time.

    See above. Start with just one mic and one instument. Learn the software. In addition to the mbox you will need some mics. Buy then one at a time and learn what each is good for and when you buy that second mic you will know if you want another of the same or something different. Build your equipment and skils over time. It woud be nuts to attempt the above as your first project.

    Remember how they teach music. they start with "this is a quarter note" andhave you play those for a while and only weeks later introduce sharp signs and doted eights. Same here

    But then you could take the advice give a few posts up: buy a bunch of mics, some cable, a big mixing console, computers and pro-level software, monitor speakers some headphones and plug it all together and turn it on and see what happens

    This is a good book:http://www.amazon.com/Recording-Musicians-Dummies-Career-Education/dp/0470385421/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233170968&sr=8-1
  19. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006


    All kit which performs far better than you would expect from incredibly cheap gear, but I wouldn't expect it to sound anywhere near as good as even a basic 'good' recording.

    You'll get a (dull, metallic, vagye and messy) stereo recording out at the end. Use the mics as a crossed pair (google it) on their (included) crossbar.

    Hopefully this will work for you. If you want to achieve better results, you're going to need to do something quite a bit more complex...
  20. pkoch1 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 3, 2007
    Also more commonly known as an XY configuration.
  21. jono_3 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2005
    i have one of these


    that i used to record rehearsals and such, it works quite well and gives you some options. stereo xlr and line ins, matched x-y mics, and ability to record to 24 bit wave files or mp3s on the fly. good on a budget
  22. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    The OP would probably understand the term 'crossed pair' more though, as it sounds just as it's set up.

    RE the Zoom H4, I've never used one of those, but I have used the little Edirol recorders quite a lot and find them to be very good, although they're less than flattering in poor acoustics (ie, avoid them if recording in churches etc).

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