How do you do it?

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assr's picture
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Joined: 03/12/2009
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Be great to hear other people's approaches to this challenging topic.

sndtechie's picture
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Joined: 04/11/2012
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2 track live with built in Pizza Limiter technique.

This is a method that will work well for bands on a budget with limited resources.

To use this method you'll need to purchase wireless headphones.

Since the sound environment on a small stage has a ton of bleed going into each microphone the objective for the bands engineer is to achieve a balanced sound in the main and monitor PA by the end of the first set of the show.

Loud does not mean your sound is balanced since every small club acoustically has a VOLUME LIMIT that once exceeded is like pressing the big red SUCK button on the mixing console. The goal here is to get the mains and the monitors to sound like you’re in your living room or car listening to the radio with the volume turned up.

Once you’ve achieved a balanced mix use 2-AUX SEND (L-R) in PRE FADE mode for the recording mix sent to any kind of two track recorder. Guessitmate the fader levels for the aux sends from the levels the main faders are set at by arming your recording device. Remember to keep the levels at least -6 to 10 dB under the clip level of the recorder. If you’re clipping the recording mix will suck and un-useable no matter how much post processing you use.
Next connect the output of your recorder to the really expensive wireless stereo headset you've purchased.

Now it’s time to leave the building wearing the wireless headset. Walk until you find a quiet spot within range of the wireless headset then ask yourself “What’s wrong with this mix?”. Remember all the frequencies below 120 hertz are not accurate. Base the recording mix on what you hear between 250 to 6 kHz. Run back inside the building and adjust the levels to achieve a balanced mix in the Mids. Run back outside to check the new levels. Repeat and rinse the rest of the evening. Doing a live recording this way is a great form of exercise to reduce the waistline from all the pizza you’ve been eating.

After the show is over don’t listen to the recording for a couple of days since you’ll need to recuperate from all the running back and forth you did. If the first time you listen to your live mix and you say “God does this suck! Remember everything went to tape pre fader for a reason. The balance is there and that’s where the awesome power of a mastering EQ can take that dull screwed up mix and make it shine like the star it is.

Getting a live recording is a great way to develop critical listening skills since every new venue offers a new challenge to discover why you should sneeze whenever you say the word acoustics.