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Live Recording Gear Lingo...Reality Check


Have a location recording gig next month; & the band's boardmeister wants to interface w/ me in the following way:
Rent a Transformer Split w/ a Tail (to get to their Snake)
Enough extra Snake to be able to set my board up in an adjacent room

Otherwise...all they can offer is an XLR copy of the mix from the group outs.
What the hell does this all mean? (aside from Snakes...which I know about) I'm using a digital multitracker (Korg D1600mkII)...w/ mics in front of all instruments/amps; & I had mentioned to their mgr. that I also wanted to grab a feed off their board so as to have big vocals.
Could use some clarification.
February 15, 2008 @05:47pm

Customarily multitrack live recordings are made by taking a split of all the signals coming from the stage. One side of the split goes to the house mixer, and the other side goes to the recording desk. Each operator has control over all settings and (with just a few exceptions) they can each make whatever changes are needed without effecting the other system. They are telling you to rent a splitter system with enough extra cable to get your setup away from the stage to wherever you intend to set it up.
If you are running your own mics and cables for your recorder then you may not need to worry about the split. But keep in mind that is now two mics (and stands and cables) for everything on stage (Yikes, what a mess!).
If you in addition want/need to take a feed off the house board for whatever reason then it sounds like you've been told what is available: subgroups. How useful this will be depends on how many group outs they have and what may (or may not) be routed to them. You may be able to get a subgroup of all the vocals, for instance, but it may or may not have the vocal effects they are using mixed with it, etc. You really do need to talk to them to get more specifics if this is something you're counting on.
You should further be advised that these XLR Group outputs are more than likely +4 dBu signals, which is a pretty hot signal for those little mic amps in your Korg. You may or may not be able to pad that down enough to even use those. Be prepared with extra in-line pads if that's the case.
My (strong) advice would be to go see this band in person and talk in detail with their sound guy and manager (or whoever calls the shots). I think you may be in for a long evening if you just show up with your Korg, some mics, stands, and cables.
February 15, 2008 @11:48pm

DAS, as always, has given you sage advice. However, I see two other challenges:
1. If I read your post correctly, you are thinking of recording the instrument amps with your own mics, while at the same time accessing a group out of the house mixer for your vocals. Not only are you at the mercy of the house effects plus (probably) the +4 dBu levels, but the actual sound quality of the instrumental and vocal components could be very different.
2. Check carefully how many channels of your 16 channel standalone DAW are able to record at one time. I use a number of Yamaha standalone units, and therefore do not know a lot about the Korg products. However, there is a good possibility that the highest number of tracks that can be armed and recorded at a time may be 8. If these 8 are enough to handle both your live mic and house board feeds, then you will not be limited by this issue.
The last recommendation by DAS is the only way to go...If you talk to the band sound people and can fully understand how they are grouping the band 'sections', you may be able to go with ONLY the group outs as your source. It is possible that drums may be a mixed group, guitars may be a mixed group, vocals may be a mixed group, plus keys. I understand that this gives you only control over group levels, and not individual instruments and voices... If you can procure the proper cables (no splitter needed), and can handle the possible +4 dBu level, you should be able to handle the project with your Korg workstation. As you are aware, effects will probably be up to your discretion, as they are probably outboard, in the house mix.
While speaking with the band representative, also find out if individual pre-fader mic preamp outputs are available to you. However, if they are, please note you may run into a problem with the number of input channels you can record at a time...
Good luck with your endeavor.
February 17, 2008 @02:17am

The most you can do with your Korg D1600mkII is 8 tracks at 16 bit, and only 4 of them can be microphones, inputs 5-8 are line level only. Renting a split would be a moot point for a band, you only have 4 mic inputs.
Your best bet is probably taking subgroup outs of drums, instruments, vocals and a pair of room mics to capture the audience. Assuming the subgroups are stereo, that's 8 inputs, maxing you out.
You should let the band's engineer know of your limitations, I suspect they are under the impression you have far greater capabilities than you do.
March 12, 2008 @10:36pm

indeed as pointed out above, your KORG multitrack has limitations taht must be known to the band.
Here's what you need for successful live recording of 16 simultaneous inputs
  • SPLITTER (passive is best). Check out Radial 8ox available via Sweetwater.
  • 16 channels of preamps for mics and DIs for instruments and line devices.
  • Audio interface capable of 16 simultaneous INs and at least 2 OUTs so you can monitor. Preferably firewire interface to your computer.
  • Analog to digital converters. Standalone converters are best but multi-channel preamp with built in ad are also fine (Presonus Digimax, Focusrite OctoPre, Focusrite ISA... )

This link has information on my live remote recording system and service.
Live recording is a very challenging situation coz you only get one shot, there is no opportunity to retake. Apart from having to interface with a bands backline, monitor and foh systems, you also need to consider proper gain staging (which is most important) and you really want to get out of the way (almost be invisible). Your main contacts should be the FOH and Monitor main guys. While the recording is important, you will find that the band and a lot of people involved with the production are more concerned with the performance and sound of live show/concert. Not until after the show will they check what has been recorded, if you did a great job, it will be "oh ok cool"... Preparation, preparation, preparation...
As mentioned above, your system's limitations must be known to the band and their producers.
good luck with it.
March 13, 2008 @03:52am

You do not necessarily need a splitter. If the FOH or monitor console has pre fader/eq direct outs, you can use these. I've done many very successful live recordings this way, and many a (national) touring act records nightly this same way.
March 13, 2008 @12:38pm

You do not necessarily need a splitter.

I will not do a live recording gig of a live band without a splitter. The splitter spares any need to compromise with the live sound systems (FOH & MONITOR). In the end, everyone will be happier and perform their jobs better. Blame game will be avoided, etc. So many PLUSes to involving a splitter in really live recording situations.
March 14, 2008 @02:43am

Given the OP has a total of 8 inputs, and only 4 are mic, IMO it would be pretty moot to bring a transformer split.
I'd be fare more concerned with getting clean power, and be bringing a good UPS over a transformer split since they won't have enough inputs for even a small band anyway, and have to take feeds from the FOH or monitor console.
March 19, 2008 @10:58pm

Agreed...the transformer-isolated splitter wouldn't be worth it for as few inputs as are available.
With Direct Outs, one has to make sure that no changes are made to the gain structure of the console - if the preamp(s) is/are changed in any way, the d/o level will change as well.
Do they have a matrix feed available? That might be another option to pursue.
Oh, and just to let you know...I think a lot of people would get really pissed off if you . Also, learn the language that you're going to get presented with practically every single time you accept a live audio job - recording or as a FOH/MON guy. And always remember: the knobs on the amplifier attenuate ;-).
http://www.rane.com/digi-dic.html - check it out...read it and learn it
March 27, 2008 @06:41am

Matrix feeds will be post everything, eq, dynamics, fader, and definitely NOT the way to go.
Minor changed in preamps can be handled while mixing, as long as they are not turned up so much they are overloading the converters for you. Hopefully the FOH or ME will set the inputs conservatively so you are hitting your converters 0dbu reference nominally.
March 31, 2008 @01:46pm

Matrix feeds will be post everything, eq, dynamics, fader, and definitely NOT the way to go.
Minor changed in preamps can be handled while mixing, as long as they are not turned up so much they are overloading the converters for you. Hopefully the FOH or ME will set the inputs conservatively so you are hitting your converters 0dbu reference nominally.

Ha...with the +4 outputs from the board into the Korg preamps, he'll be hitting 0dBFS nominally, not 0dBu...
In your case, as has already been mentioned in almost every post, a splitter won't be too useful for you. But...here's another take.
You're going to use your own mics for guitar, bass and drums, right? But vox you want to take the feed from the board?
Use your 4 mics across those 3 sources and then see if they'd be willing to take a PreFader send from the board and let you have it. Hopefully (for your sake) they only ride the faders and not the gain trim.
The other problem would be, this will be an unbalanced line and based on the fact that they want you in an adjacent room, you may be subject to a little excess noise.
Don't even think about using your own vocal mic though! For 2 reasons - one, you don't want 2 mics in front of a vocalist. 2, you probably will not be grounded at the same point as the vocalist and his/her guitar (in other words, not plugged into the same circuit) and risk of shock creeps up real fast when you're tapping separate grounds.
On to the splitter -
If you decide to go this route, you could use 4 channels of a splitter into a cheap set of preamps (how much you getting paid for this gig? It might be time to add to the arsenal) and then use the 4 preamps on board your Korg to record your own mics.
There are different kinds of splitters and no, we don't mean a Y cable. A transformer based splitter will isolate 1 or more of the outputs from phantom and any inbalancing and load problems will be minimal. When using a splitter (or isolation transformer), you and the FOH guy will need to decide who will be providing phantom power (he/she may be using dynamics only - as may you in which case, the choices become obvious.) Given the fact that he/she has a (likely) more stable source, you'll probably want to let them provide phantom. (Or he/she may insist on this).
If I have a choice on a remote recording gig, I'll opt for my own phantom since I trust mine far more than any console that may or may not get the crap beaten out of it on a regular basis.
One other point to consider -
What metropolitan area are you closest to?
I'd venture a guess that central Nebraska doesn't have too many sound rental companies. Of course, if you're in NY, LA, or Nashville, then there's no problem.
April 2, 2008 @05:12pm

He's only got 8 inputs. Wasting 4 on vocals while using the other 4 line inputs on guitar bass and drums means one mono input for drums. What if there is a keyboardist? A sax player, then what?
And, FWIW, the combo inputs can handle line level just fine going in TRS without hitting 0dbfs unless the input signal is very, very hot, in the +24dbu range, which, while possible (the world is full of idiot engineers) very unlikely.
April 8, 2008 @05:25pm

Wasting 4 on vocals? What do you mean? I don't see that listed anywhere?
It's nice to see the preamp can handle line input - obviously there wouldn't be much room for play with the input gain, but hey, if it works...
April 8, 2008 @05:29pm

Ha...with the +4 outputs from the board into the Korg preamps, he'll be hitting 0dBFS nominally, not 0dBu...

do you know what nominal means? If you are hit 0dbfs nominally, you'd be overshooting 0dbfs 1/2 the time roughly, something you never, ever do in digital.
In the digital domain, rule of thumb is hit the converters 0dbu reference for nominal input levels. Typically this falls between -20 and -10dbfs.
April 17, 2008 @02:58pm

Yes...I know what "nominally" means...
It was a play on words - I was merely substituting dBFS for dBU trying to prove a point. Reread it - it will make more sense.
I'm fully aware of the fact that one cannot go over -0dBFS.
April 17, 2008 @03:02pm