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Author Topic: Virtual Sound Check  (Read 1848 times)

Isaac South

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Virtual Sound Check
« on: February 09, 2018, 01:24:05 pm »

Thanks for your time.  So, I've been listening to the Mxu Podcast and they mentioned something called a "virtual sound check".  I've also heard other people talking about them.  But I don't know what they are.  Apparently, they are very useful and I want to be able to do one.

Based on my reading and assumptions, a virtual sound check is where you record your service (church, in this case), and then play it back at a later date.  And this allows you to be able to (a) work on your mix, and (b) train other people on mixing, etc.

Please let me know if I'm correct or not.

But more importatnly, I'm wanting to know how to record the service.  Is this done directly from my console (QU32).  Or do I need a DAW, like Pro Tools, Ableton, etc?

I appreciate any help. I think this will be a good tool for me.  I lead worship at my church.  But I'm also the most knowledgeable and most experienced FOH guy at our church, aside from our Bass Player (he's on stage as well).  So, we would love to be able to hear the mix at a later date and see what stuff really sounds like out there.

We have Ableton standard.  But we can get whatever we need.
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brian maddox

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Re: Virtual Sound Check
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2018, 02:06:21 pm »

Thanks for your time.  So, I've been listening to the Mxu Podcast and they mentioned something called a "virtual sound check".  I've also heard other people talking about them.  But I don't know what they are.  Apparently, they are very useful and I want to be able to do one.

Based on my reading and assumptions, a virtual sound check is where you record your service (church, in this case), and then play it back at a later date.  And this allows you to be able to (a) work on your mix, and (b) train other people on mixing, etc.

Please let me know if I'm correct or not.

But more importatnly, I'm wanting to know how to record the service.  Is this done directly from my console (QU32).  Or do I need a DAW, like Pro Tools, Ableton, etc?

I appreciate any help. I think this will be a good tool for me.  I lead worship at my church.  But I'm also the most knowledgeable and most experienced FOH guy at our church, aside from our Bass Player (he's on stage as well).  So, we would love to be able to hear the mix at a later date and see what stuff really sounds like out there.

We have Ableton standard.  But we can get whatever we need.

I did a quick lookup and see that the QU32 has a 32x32 USB interface.  So you should be able to record up to 32 tracks/channels from your service using an external computer and some form of DAW.

The trick is to route your channels to the DAW BEFORE any channel signal processing so that you are recording the "raw" signal.  Most digital mixers allow you to source the USB feed directly after the Mic Pre in the mixer, which is exactly what you want.  Then when you play it back later you play it back "through" the same channels that the live sound went through and you can then mix those channels as if they were coming from the stage live.

So yes, "Virtual Sound Check" is a great tool for mixing practice and training among other things.  There is a HUGE caveat to this however.  Unless ALL the sound sources on your stage run direct [i.e. no acoustic drums, no guitar amplifiers on stage, no stage monitors, etc.], the mix you generate from your tracks will NOT be the same as the actual "live" mix since that live mix takes the acoustic sound coming from your stage into account.  IN most cases unning your tracks through your standard live mix will likely sound light on drums, electric guitars, and maybe even vocals if there's usually significant stage volume from stage monitors.

It's still a great tool, and i highly recommend you explore the benefits.  But it's important to understand the limitations as well.  Preferably BEFORE you fire your FOH guy.   :)
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Isaac South

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Re: Virtual Sound Check
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 02:39:44 pm »

I did a quick lookup and see that the QU32 has a 32x32 USB interface.  So you should be able to record up to 32 tracks/channels from your service using an external computer and some form of DAW.

The trick is to route your channels to the DAW BEFORE any channel signal processing so that you are recording the "raw" signal.  Most digital mixers allow you to source the USB feed directly after the Mic Pre in the mixer, which is exactly what you want.  Then when you play it back later you play it back "through" the same channels that the live sound went through and you can then mix those channels as if they were coming from the stage live.

So yes, "Virtual Sound Check" is a great tool for mixing practice and training among other things.  There is a HUGE caveat to this however.  Unless ALL the sound sources on your stage run direct [i.e. no acoustic drums, no guitar amplifiers on stage, no stage monitors, etc.], the mix you generate from your tracks will NOT be the same as the actual "live" mix since that live mix takes the acoustic sound coming from your stage into account.  IN most cases unning your tracks through your standard live mix will likely sound light on drums, electric guitars, and maybe even vocals if there's usually significant stage volume from stage monitors.

It's still a great tool, and i highly recommend you explore the benefits.  But it's important to understand the limitations as well.  Preferably BEFORE you fire your FOH guy.   :)

Brian - What you said makes perfect sense about difference between the actual service and the virtual.  I was actually just about to ask that additional question about having acoustic drums, etc.  I see how that can make a difference.
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Isaac South

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Re: Virtual Sound Check
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2018, 02:47:40 pm »

Just thought of this.  What if I have the drummer play his drums during the virtual sound check.  Would that help?  Or is that a crazy idea?
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brian maddox

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Re: Virtual Sound Check
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2018, 02:50:22 pm »

Just thought of this.  What if I have the drummer play his drums during the virtual sound check.  Would that help?  Or is that a crazy idea?

If you use a click track that the drummer can follow you can have the drummer play along to the recorded tracks and actually hear him in context with the "rest of the band".  Or if perhaps he can "follow himself" from the recordings and he's on IEMs.  Otherwise, this could get more tricky to execute than the benefit is worth.

But heck, don't hurt to try.  :)
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William Schnake

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Re: Virtual Sound Check
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2018, 02:56:30 pm »

Just thought of this.  What if I have the drummer play his drums during the virtual sound check.  Would that help?  Or is that a crazy idea?
Isaac, in theory that would help, however it is my opinion that it would be limited help.  Here is why, drummers like all musicians play slightly differently with each performance.  In this case the original performance was recorded now you are using it for a second performance 'virtual sound check'.  Yes you will be close, but not exact.

Where the virtual sound check is best used IMO is with a touring act.  They travel from venue to venue and sound system to sound system daily/weekly.  The virtual sound check allows you to get 85%, give or take 2%, of the mix ready and system tuned prior to the band taking the stage for sound check.  It facilitates a quick sound check for the band.

Bill
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Isaac South

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Re: Virtual Sound Check
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2018, 03:06:41 pm »

If you use a click track that the drummer can follow you can have the drummer play along to the recorded tracks and actually hear him in context with the "rest of the band".  Or if perhaps he can "follow himself" from the recordings and he's on IEMs.  Otherwise, this could get more tricky to execute than the benefit is worth.

But heck, don't hurt to try.  :)

Our band does have IEM's.  I may give it a shot.
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Isaac South

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Re: Virtual Sound Check
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2018, 03:08:00 pm »

Isaac, in theory that would help, however it is my opinion that it would be limited help.  Here is why, drummers like all musicians play slightly differently with each performance.  In this case the original performance was recorded now you are using it for a second performance 'virtual sound check'.  Yes you will be close, but not exact.

Where the virtual sound check is best used IMO is with a touring act.  They travel from venue to venue and sound system to sound system daily/weekly.  The virtual sound check allows you to get 85%, give or take 2%, of the mix ready and system tuned prior to the band taking the stage for sound check.  It facilitates a quick sound check for the band.

Bill

William, that makes perfect sense.  Now that you mention it, I remember the guys on the podcast talking about having the sound 90% rerady and not even needing to do an actual sound check with the band. 

And yes, I'm sure you're right.  The drummer wouldn't play exactly like he did during the service.
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Laurence Nefzger

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Re: Virtual Sound Check
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2018, 03:18:45 pm »

William, that makes perfect sense.  Now that you mention it, I remember the guys on the podcast talking about having the sound 90% rerady and not even needing to do an actual sound check with the band. 

And yes, I'm sure you're right.  The drummer wouldn't play exactly like he did during the service.
Where I have found virtual sound check to be very useful is to try stuff I would not dare to during an actual performance or service.
Most congregations would not appreciate my sweeping an instrument with a narrow boost in the parametric as I search for resonances. Musicians get annoyed even during sound checks when the audio changes as drastically as I might like in order to suss something out.

Virtual sound checks allow for considerable experimentation that may yield benefits to future performances.
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Virtual Sound Check
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2018, 03:56:02 pm »

At one of the digital mixer classes I went to where the instructor was the FOH Eng for a big touring rock band he described how he did a Virtual sound check. It included what is referred to as re-amping, playing back the amplified instrument thru the amplifiers they use on stage for the show. I think he also said that they had a speaker on stage at the drums where the playback of the drums was played thru. Now as Bill said this is usually used for touring acts. And for the fellow that was teaching us, the shows were in very big places and they were the headliner. In a place that size the live drums and the amps will make a difference but not as much of a difference as in your standard church, not including Mega churches.

If the intent of the recording is to see how the people are mixing the service then there really isnít any way to accurately do that. Especially if you are taking the raw signal pre everything, which is usually the default for then when multi-tracking. Even if it was a stereo board recording as Brien said that doesn't take into account what is low in the mix because it didn't need much if any amplification.

Maybe a really good pair of mics in the audience recording, but that isnít cheap. But it is going to sound different, you will probably only notice some glaring errors and they may not be the mixers fault.
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