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Title: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Gordon Brinton on November 02, 2012, 03:45:16 am
I was asked to stand in for another sound guy who has a steady gig with a variety pop band. The job takes place in about two weeks, but what the sound guy told me over the phone has me feeling very uneasy. Here is what usually happens with this band...

The drummer, (leader of the band) puts a portable recorder somewhere in the audience to record every show. After listening to it at home, he then tells the sound guy what to change for the next show. The problem is, every show keeps getting worse and worse sounding to the audience because he is making all critical judgements through this portable recorder. To further complicate things, the next bar room sounds different than the last.

I have worked with this sound guy with other bands and he is certainly capable of a good mix. But his instructions to me are to just mix it the way the drummer says, (turn up bass, bury the vocals and guitar, turn up the backing track...) even if it sounds wrong in the room. He says he tried to explain that things are getting worse due to this method, but the drummer won't have any of that. He is convinced he is doing the right thing.

Do you agree that a portable recorder is changing the way it sounds and lying to the drummer? (Yes, I know all about room nulls and standing waves.) I have never heard a portable recording of a live band that sounds good. It probably sounds shitty like smart-phone video does. How do I make it sound good to the audience without offending this drummer? (...who, btw, will be checking my mix the next morning.)
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Jeff Bankston on November 02, 2012, 04:55:10 am
using a portable recorder as a reference for live sound is a bad mistake. if i were going make a recording to see how the pa sounds i would use somethinglike a tandberg reel to reel or a nakamichi cr7a cassette with metal tape. i would use something like an ah mixwiz and a pair of good mikes like akg c414. btw i'm a drummer and the band leader of a hard rock band. i also own the pa.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Mark McFarlane on November 02, 2012, 06:33:54 am
There are some amazingly good digital recorders, I don't see any problem with using one. 

The mics are important, and having them in the 'right place in the room' are important, both particularly for judging bass response.  Using a decent handheld recorder with good mics and the right placement you can make a much more accurate recording than tape based system.

Perhaps you can have a test session with the drummer in someone's living room recording a nice stereo.  Then A/B switch the original material and the recording over the same nice stereo.  If you both agree the recording was accurate then you can discuss placement of the recording system
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Timothy J. Trace on November 02, 2012, 08:50:00 am
Given the artist+venue combinations with which I typically deal, I'd welcome judgement from a portable digital recorder as opposed to the often-scary practice of strapping a recording device across the FOH main outs.

Consider a loud rock band with an awesomely over-amplified bassist in a 150-seat bar.  Imagine how little bass would be needed in the mix.  The distribution of a recording pulled from the main outs might well affect my future _financial_ bottom line, if you get my drift. :)
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on November 02, 2012, 08:57:10 am
I think the crux of the matter is not working through a portable recorder but working through a drummer.........
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: David Parker on November 02, 2012, 09:10:33 am
I hate it when ANYONE tells me to turn this or that up or down. All of the bands I work with require adjustments on every song, and during many songs. I take criticism and add it to my criteria by which I mix, but mixing most bands is not a set and forget proposition. I've had bands use hand held digital recorders in the room and get good results. The problem may be who is deciding if the recordings sound good or not.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: brian maddox on November 02, 2012, 09:11:39 am
I think the crux of the matter is not working through a portable recorder but working through a drummer.........

ding ding ding.  give the gentleman a cigar.

yeah, the real issue is trying to monday morning quarterback the mix.  you either trust your sound guy to do a good job, or you don't.  and then you find one that you do...
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: David Parker on November 02, 2012, 09:35:00 am
ding ding ding.  give the gentleman a cigar.

yeah, the real issue is trying to monday morning quarterback the mix.  you either trust your sound guy to do a good job, or you don't.  and then you find one that you do...

it's a matter of trust. I work for several bands, and all of them get feedback from their peeps. After a while, the bands trust me and it's smooth sailing after that. I can see how some band members might not ever give up the control to the sound man. Those band members will never be happy no matter what you do.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on November 02, 2012, 09:46:00 am
To benchmark the process, get him to make similar recordings of other bands at other live gigs.

That should reveal the validity of the process, or not.

JR

Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: John Halliburton on November 02, 2012, 10:04:59 am
I think the crux of the matter is not working through a portable recorder but working through a drummer.........

"Working over the drummer...with boxing gloves on"

There, fixed that for ya.

John
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Dave Rickard on November 02, 2012, 10:47:18 am
I A/B'd my ZOOM H2 with a pair of KSM32's and a tube pre into an Alesis Masterlink. It's not the same, but it's very good. It's perfect for this!

I record most of my mixes with it. Listening to my mixes later has shown me strengths and weaknesses in my work, and improved my mixes.  We all have blind spots, and these recordings let me hear mine objectively.

Listening to my recordings has been a VERY good thing for me. As for listening to this particular drummer?  Maybe, maybe not....
Title: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Randy Culpepper on November 02, 2012, 12:53:07 pm
I hate being micro managed. If you pay me to mix a show let me mix it. Give me the idea of your band and let me run with it. Don't constantly check me. Feel free to come out front during sound check and listen to the mix and let me know what you think. Every venue is different and if you simply want a fader jockey to move faders at specific points then you may as well program a computer to mix off a click track. Live music should be live and flow with the energy of the crowd. If I don't feel free to mix a band to the best of my ability and creativity they will never sound as good as they could.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on November 02, 2012, 01:13:33 pm
I hate being micro managed. If you pay me to mix a show let me mix it. Give me the idea of your band and let me run with it. Don't constantly check me. Feel free to come out front during sound check and listen to the mix and let me know what you think. Every venue is different and if you simply want a fader jockey to move faders at specific points then you may as well program a computer to mix off a click track. Live music should be live and flow with the energy of the crowd. If I don't feel free to mix a band to the best of my ability and creativity they will never sound as good as they could.

The customer is always right, even when they are wrong, as they often are. If they are paying you for your services you can always decline the gig.

The win-win, is to educate them about unwise choices by managing their expectations, and hopefully giving them what they want, when possible.

JR
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Patrick Tracy on November 02, 2012, 01:20:15 pm
If that method works why doesn't the drummer just fire the sound guy and mix from stage?
Title: Re: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Timothy J. Trace on November 02, 2012, 01:25:33 pm
If that method works why doesn't the drummer just fire the sound guy and mix from stage?
Stand by for part two of Gordon's story.  ;)
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Rob Dellwood on November 02, 2012, 02:36:31 pm
I A/B'd my ZOOM H2 with a pair of KSM32's and a tube pre into an Alesis Masterlink. It's not the same, but it's very good. It's perfect for this!

I record most of my mixes with it. Listening to my mixes later has shown me strengths and weaknesses in my work, and improved my mixes.  We all have blind spots, and these recordings let me hear mine objectively.

Listening to my recordings has been a VERY good thing for me. As for listening to this particular drummer?  Maybe, maybe not....

I do this as well when mixing.  Helpful in improving ones mixes over time.  As to the OP, I'm wondering what kind of recorder the drummer is using?  Maybe it's junk and indeed is 'lying' to the drummer.  The portable Zoom recorder I use at FOH gives me excellent sound and reproduces well what is actually being heard at the show.

It's hard to believe that this drummer actually wants 'buried vocals and guitar'.  This makes no sense, especially for a 'variety pop band'.  I'd turn down the show, or take it, and mix it the way you think best for the room and material.  Worst that could happen is you won't be asked back, lol.   ;)
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Chuck Simon on November 02, 2012, 02:56:21 pm
The customer is always right, even when they are wrong, as they often are. If they are paying you for your services you can always decline the gig.

The win-win, is to educate them about unwise choices by managing their expectations, and hopefully giving them what they want, when possible.

JR
l
Right!  Basing a live mix on a recording is not good practice but doing what you are told to do by the person paying you is.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on November 02, 2012, 03:15:59 pm
Ironically perhaps, I quit my last comfortable, decent paying day job because I found myself arguing with the guy who signed my paychecks. So I understand the need to also satisfy yourself.


JR
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Gordon Brinton on November 02, 2012, 04:09:23 pm
...I'd turn down the show, or take it, and mix it the way you think best for the room and material.  Worst that could happen is you won't be asked back, lol.   ;)

(I'm the Original Poster.)

I've considered mixing it my way and having the luxury of never being asked back. But that may not be the best outcome in the long run.

1.) It would make the referring sound company look bad to the "now angry" client because they recommended me based on my professionalism.
2.) My own reputation would suffer as bands in this area tend to pass on word-of-mouth info about sound companies. One bad apple (dissatisfied client) can spoil the bunch.

I didn't want to turn down the show either, because I am helping the other sound guy resolve a scheduling conflict. I am free that night and, who knows, I may need the favor returned some day.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Gordon Brinton on November 02, 2012, 04:22:48 pm
His portable recorder is a modern digital jobbie with two condenser mics sticking out the top. I am sure it sounds better than most old time recorders but still... I've learned from doing some serious home recording that the room changes the sound a little, the mic changes the sound a little, the playback system changes the sound a little, and the playback listening room changes the sound a little.

I don't care how you slice it, making critical mixing decisions based on a recording will yield different results than making mix decisions in person. Your ears hear it differently than a mic does.

But alas, I suppose I am being rail-roaded into doing it his way.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on November 02, 2012, 04:56:33 pm
I suggest that you not mix them on an LS-9 (Yamaha digital console), but instead use an LS-32 (32 oz. Louisville Slugger).

In my dotage I comfort myself by being able to walk away from such s*** and not lose any sleep whatsoever.  When someone, however well-meaning, comes up and tries to tell me how to do my job while I'm doing it (despite them talking or yelling into my ear.....), I just step back from the console and invite them to take over.  To date I've gotten no takers.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Tim McCulloch on November 02, 2012, 05:03:13 pm
I suggest that you not mix them on an LS-9 (Yamaha digital console), but instead use an LS-32 (32 oz. Louisville Slugger).

In my dotage I comfort myself by being able to walk away from such s*** and not lose any sleep whatsoever.  When someone, however well-meaning, comes up and tries to tell me how to do my job while I'm doing it (despite them talking or yelling into my ear.....), I just step back from the console and invite them to take over.  To date I've gotten no takers.

I can tell I need to visit Minnesota... but stand back from the box of squeeze, Rees.... :D
Title: Re: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Dave Rickard on November 02, 2012, 05:50:53 pm
(I'm the Original Poster.)

I didn't want to turn down the show either, because I am helping the other sound guy resolve a scheduling conflict. I am free that night and, who knows, I may need the favor returned some day.

Helping another friend is good.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Bob Leonard on November 02, 2012, 09:45:24 pm
I can tell I need to visit Minnesota... but stand back from the box of squeeze, Rees.... :D

Squeeze Rees. ;D
 
If it were me I would let the dummer (sic) make recommendations, yes ma'm the shit out him, then do what you want as the gig progresses. How's he going to know. He doesn't walk the floor and if he doesn't like the recording he can only blame himself.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Tim Perry on November 02, 2012, 09:49:25 pm
His portable recorder is a modern digital jobbie with two condenser mics sticking out the top.

Expecting a first time BE to mix cues with not even a rehearsal is just a bit to much.

Just my opinion but the only way one could make the guy happy is to mix the show with headphone on and plugged into the recorder... preferably from another room or sound truck.

You will pretty much sacrifice  the listening pleasure if the audience.

While pretty nice it take some post production to make recordings made in this fashion sound "better".  some EQ, multiband compression, maybe some effects.  usually when the recorders is at FOH the crown noise is way too much.

Optimum placement for the recorder to be on a stand near one main speaker  positioned to catch about half speaker and half stage volume.  the will get the best signal to noise ratio given this recording method. Bass and kick will be a little light.



Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: George Friedman-Jimenez on November 03, 2012, 01:42:42 am
I agree a well placed digi tal recorder of decent quality can sound pretty close to what the audience in that spot hears. The problem is the drummer doesn't know how to translate his perception of the sound into what to do to make it sound better. Try sitting down with him with a y connector and 2 similar headphones and listening to the recording together, discussing what he likes and doesn't like about the sound, and what each of you would do to change it. You will probably be able to agree on a plan. Then do it and make whatever additional adjustments you want. It will probably sound better, as he will probably hear when he listens to the next recording. Rinse and repeat. If you just let him say what he thinks should be changed, then change what you think should be changed without telling him, it will probably sound better to him but then he will think what he said worked and the problem will just get worse.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Tim McCulloch on November 03, 2012, 02:34:50 am
A few years back we provided system and consoles for a country act who's star was dying of cancer, although that wasn't public knowledge at the time.  His mixerperson spent most of the show mixing on headphones so the recording would sound good on the stereo in the back lounge of the bus, as that was where the star would listen and evaluate the band, mix, and recording.

Previous shows with them sounded very good in the house.  This one... not.  A stream of ticket buyers made their way to FOH to complain, and I was appointed to intercept and deflect them.  It wasn't easy to explain the difference in audible performance; I finally pointed to the guy wearing headphones and said "He's aware of it and he's working on it.  Sorry."

To this day I don't know what, if anything, became of those recordings.  I hope they were used to put the singer's kids through college or establish a trust fund of some kind, otherwise all they did was deprive audiences of the fond memory of a star who died too soon.

As a BE, it's been my job to mix the act in a way that is consistent with the manner they wish to be heard.  While well placed recording mics can provide a useful reference, they are not a panacea for evaluating a mix particularly in small rooms.  Reflections, room modes and the resulting comb filters are more closely spaced, and moving a mic even a foot or 2 can radically change the sound it picks up.  Using a Zoom or similar recorder puts the evaluation very much at the mercy of location, location, location.  It's possible that some of what the band leader thinks are variations in mixing could be the result of the recorder being in a different location each time.  That's a tough thing to fight, and it's probable that the band leader would take any such explanation as an excuse for not following his directions.

Ultimately this is about 2 things, trust and power.

I have no advice for you, Gordon, other than to meet with the band leader and understand his issues with whatever he plays for you.  And then silently repeat to yourself "it's only a one off... it's only a one off."  The deposit to your Karma Account will be credited the next business day after the gig.

Have fun, good luck.

Tim Mc
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Tim Perry on November 03, 2012, 03:47:13 pm
Exactly Tim. 

While I have enjoyed some success in doing stereo band recording then having it mastered with appropriate delays to a board mix recording, is cannot will not and does not sound exactly the same as if you were there in the audience and listening.

The sound check recordings should be used by the band to evaluate their overall performance NOT minuscule differences in the way the sound guy of the day mixed.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Rob Dellwood on November 03, 2012, 04:26:01 pm
(I'm the Original Poster.)

I've considered mixing it my way and having the luxury of never being asked back. But that may not be the best outcome in the long run.

1.) It would make the referring sound company look bad to the "now angry" client because they recommended me based on my professionalism.
2.) My own reputation would suffer as bands in this area tend to pass on word-of-mouth info about sound companies. One bad apple (dissatisfied client) can spoil the bunch.

I didn't want to turn down the show either, because I am helping the other sound guy resolve a scheduling conflict. I am free that night and, who knows, I may need the favor returned some day.

As far as your reputation goes, the other side of that coin is, what happens if some other bands, the referring sound company, or other possible future clients show up to this gig?  They will hear an awful mix with buried vocals and guitars, etc. and never consider you again for future work, not to mention terrible 'word of mouth' for you.   Sorry, but I'd rather not mix a show under those circumstances.  Probably best to pass on this one, or only agree to do it if you have full control of the mix. 
Title: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: eric lenasbunt on November 03, 2012, 11:26:24 pm
Personally I would take the suggestions of the band, try to listen to a couple of tracks of what he thought sounded good in the past, then just do what you do. As someone else said, he doesn't walk the room. He is paying you so you want to honor his requests, but ultimately you are the sound professional, you have to do what makes it sound best.
   I would do the gig to the best of my ability, but this is not someone I would regularly work with. As a client you should either trust me to do good work or go with someone else. I am fine with you telling me what you like to hear, but micromanaging from a shotty source is an odd way to do that.
 I frequently have a singer or guitar player on wireless walk the room and make suggestions or comments, I welcome it as long as it is constructive. Throughout the show though I am constantly tweaking and changing as the band changes and moves through the night.
  Finally, if my work is being evaluated by a recording I would like some say over the placement of the recording. A simple sound check with phones should tell you if it is at least close to reality. I don't think it is fair to evaluate your work based on a recording if you cannot verify it is a legit recording.
 
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Robert "VOiD" Caprio on November 03, 2012, 11:35:16 pm
Always a tough call to negotiate this kind of stuff.  There are way too many variables on a night to night basis to evaluate the mix in such a way.  I would have a talk with the drummer and point out that if he's trusted to keep the beat you should be trusted to mind the mix.  If he doesn't buy that I would then multi-track record his performance.  After his nightly critique of your mix I'd then have a good chat with him about his timing not syncing perfectly to the grid on every beat, and show it to him.  That's shut 'em up in the past.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Don Boomer on November 03, 2012, 11:43:53 pm
Ironically perhaps, I quit my last comfortable, decent paying day job because I found myself arguing with the guy who signed my paychecks.

Funny how that works  ;)
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Mark McFarlane on November 04, 2012, 03:48:30 am
Ironically perhaps, I quit my last comfortable, decent paying day job because I found myself arguing with the guy who signed my paychecks. So I understand the need to also satisfy yourself.

A similar thing happened to me a decade ago, except I didn't get to quit.  :o
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Jack keaton on November 04, 2012, 11:38:15 am
how many of you would buy speakers just by listening to them on youtube?

No one..  What needs to happen is the drummer needs to listen to you mix another band.
Title: Re: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Dave Rickard on November 04, 2012, 01:55:02 pm
I agree a well placed digital recorder of decent quality can sound pretty close to what the audience in that spot hears.
Exactly. I record from my mix position so I can evaluate my own work. If I'm in a weird spot, I already knew that from walking the room.

If the guy wants a bizarre mix, I'd still help out my friend...once.   

Doing a bad job for a good reason is still doing a bad job.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on November 04, 2012, 02:02:19 pm
I've already said this, but the drummer needs to record some different similar sized live gig and listen to the results, compared to what he remembers it sounding like.

We are ASSuming that he can't realistically evaluate what he hears. This is just another tool that could be useful if he uses it properly, or not if not.

JR
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Tim McCulloch on November 04, 2012, 02:59:42 pm
I've already said this, but the drummer needs to record some different similar sized live gig and listen to the results, compared to what he remembers it sounding like.

We are ASSuming that he can't realistically evaluate what he hears. This is just another tool that could be useful if he uses it properly, or not if not.

JR

My presumption is that the any evaluation of night-to-night live recordings under these circumstances is flawed because the recording process itself and acoustic environment (mic placement, room size/shape, etc) is subject to variation.  If we are talking about the same mics in the same place in the same room, then evaluating certain aspects of the mix can be valid.  As it is, there are too many variables that can influence the recording to make comparisons an exact science.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: g'bye, Dick Rees on November 04, 2012, 03:11:43 pm
My presumption is that the any evaluation of night-to-night live recordings under these circumstances is flawed because the recording process itself and acoustic environment (mic placement, room size/shape, etc) is subject to variation.  If we are talking about the same mics in the same place in the same room, then evaluating certain aspects of the mix can be valid.  As it is, there are too many variables that can influence the recording to make comparisons an exact science.

Listening to recordings post-performance to evaluate mix content tends to focus on "what's wrong" rather than "what's right".  We all know the power of negativity.  The one person out of 100 who complains will spoil things for the 99 who are (or were) satisfied.

I would wager that the drummer guy, if given the same recordings 5 years down the line, would likely comment something like, "Gee.  We really played good that night."

Recordings tend to "ripen up" over time.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on November 04, 2012, 03:50:06 pm
My presumption is that the any evaluation of night-to-night live recordings under these circumstances is flawed because the recording process itself and acoustic environment (mic placement, room size/shape, etc) is subject to variation.  If we are talking about the same mics in the same place in the same room, then evaluating certain aspects of the mix can be valid.  As it is, there are too many variables that can influence the recording to make comparisons an exact science.

That is precisely my point. It should not take too many DIY recordings by the drummer, for him to realize the difference between what he heard in the room, and what the portable recorder heard.

JR
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Scott Helmke on November 04, 2012, 06:33:18 pm
We are ASSuming that he can't realistically evaluate what he hears. This is just another tool that could be useful if he uses it properly, or not if not.

That's one clue.  That the dude doesn't apparently doesn't trust anybody to give witness is another clue.  Probably a bad situation from the git-go, though for a one-off you can usually make it clear that you're the one-off doing-a-favor guy and don't have free time to sit around listening to bad live recordings.

Sheesh.  Isn't the correct tool for judging a bar gig the alcohol sales total?
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Timothy J. Trace on November 05, 2012, 02:47:50 am
Isn't the correct tool for judging a bar gig the alcohol sales total?
Spot-on.

.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Gordon Brinton on November 05, 2012, 05:28:08 am
...Sheesh.  Isn't the correct tool for judging a bar gig the alcohol sales total?

Perhaps, but us sound guys don't have access to that information other than counting heads.

If it sounds bad (as a result of his instructions) and people leave, will it be my fault or the drummer's fault? I am sure he will blame it on me, if not to my face then behind my back.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Brad Weber on November 05, 2012, 09:51:16 am
It sound like this is a situation where the band, or at least their representative, believes that the person running the sound has been hired to help deliver the result that they define and while they could defer to you or get your input, as the Client paying for the services they have the right to instead dictate the goals.  However, how you then achieve the goals established should be up to you.
 
If you disagree with the goals they've define then I believe that you can support them anyways, walk away or express your concerns and then decide based on their response.  Even if done with the best intents, intentionally undermining them or saying one thing and doing another seems less than professional.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Jamie Chappa on November 05, 2012, 10:55:10 am
What a bad situation. Here is another take on it. How will he know you made changes? Meaning does he hover over you while you make the suggested changes. It seems to me he finds fault in every recording. So changes made or not will it make a difference. it seems like he always makes a weekly change.  I agree this is a trust issue.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Roch Lafleur on November 05, 2012, 11:14:13 am
I  have never done this before, and might be speaking out of my behind here, but wouldn't this be a perfect time for a virtual soundcheck? If this drummer/band leader wants to hear and "fix" what goes on in the room, why not record the band playing a song, then replay it for him on the same p.a., in the same room? The soundman could even let him set the levels where he thinks they should be. This way, everyone would know what it is he likes and expects to hear. It might be that he actually does like the vocals and guitars to be buried. Then again, he might like what the soundman is doing and realize that his recording device does not provide a true image of what actually happens live.

I realize that would require quite a bit of work on the soundman's part to set up the recording. Again, I've never recorded a show or seen a virtual soundcheck, but from what I've read, most digital desk promo lists it as a selling point.

Just a thought.
Title: Virtual Soundcheck
Post by: Mac Kerr on November 05, 2012, 11:45:25 am
I  have never done this before, and might be speaking out of my behind here, but wouldn't this be a perfect time for a virtual soundcheck? If this drummer/band leader wants to hear and "fix" what goes on in the room, why not record the band playing a song, then replay it for him on the same p.a., in the same room? The soundman could even let him set the levels where he thinks they should be. This way, everyone would know what it is he likes and expects to hear. It might be that he actually does like the vocals and guitars to be buried. Then again, he might like what the soundman is doing and realize that his recording device does not provide a true image of what actually happens live.

I realize that would require quite a bit of work on the soundman's part to set up the recording. Again, I've never recorded a show or seen a virtual soundcheck, but from what I've read, most digital desk promo lists it as a selling point.

Just a thought.

Virtual Soundcheck only works in a situation where the PA is the primary sound source for every instrument. In the case of small venues this is rarely if ever the case. The live sound of the guitars, bass, and drums is often the primary source so they will be very weak in the mix, and very weak in the VS playback. If you make a real full recording of the band, it still doesn't represent what will be happening in the live show where once again the live sound of some of the instruments will predominate.

Mac
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Randall Hyde on November 05, 2012, 06:57:36 pm
I hate it when ANYONE tells me to turn this or that up or down. All of the bands I work with require adjustments on every song, and during many songs. I take criticism and add it to my criteria by which I mix, but mixing most bands is not a set and forget proposition. I've had bands use hand held digital recorders in the room and get good results. The problem may be who is deciding if the recordings sound good or not.

Please come to work for me :)
I can't stand "set it and forget it" sound engineers.

To the OP: mike placement is critical. I'd bet that the guy begging for more bass is a result of the mic winding up in a NULL. I'm usually having the opposite problem, telling my sound engineer to turn the bass (guitar and drums) down as it completely swamps everything else. I'm all for having the kick drum cave people's chests in (I spent a lot of money on those subs, I want people to hear them!), but not at the expense of overwhelming everything else.

FWIW, I purchased a DAW that works with my digital setup (SAC + SAW) figuring I could record the band during sound check, drag their butts out to FOH and let them hear themselves. If I'd thought about it for more than 10 minutes before purchasing the DAW, I could have saved myself $600. Alas, I can't playback the backline at the same levels when the amps aren't being used, so it was a useless exercise. Then, of course, there's the issue that the bands seem to want to get off the stage (from sound check) as quickly as possible and go do something else. That really blows me away (that they aren't willing to put in the effort to get the sound as good as possible). I've, literally, had a lead singer show up, speak into the microphone, adjust his level to his liking (sans any other audio source) and walk off the stage. Of course, when the band starts playing he's constantly walking over to monitor world to get adjustments made. No amount of asking him to play a full song during sound check worked. Oh well; that's why we get paid the small bucks.
Cheers,
Randy Hyde
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: andy craig on November 17, 2012, 04:06:20 am
Maybe you could point out to the drummer that when he listens to the mix tape he needs to be listening at the same SPL as the gig.
Show him some Fletcher Muson curves and explain how his low listening level decisions are incorrect.
Maybe that will get him off your back.
Andy.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Doug Maye on November 18, 2012, 10:50:13 am
Suggest to him that you record from the board and not with the mics in the unit. I've gotten some suprisingly good recordings with a Zoom H2N that way.  If he can't understand the difference then walk away.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Patrick Tracy on November 18, 2012, 08:29:23 pm
Suggest to him that you record from the board and not with the mics in the unit. I've gotten some suprisingly good recordings with a Zoom H2N that way.  If he can't understand the difference then walk away.

In big venue maybe, but in anything smaller the recording will be distorted by stage volume.

I think it's already been established that this drummer can't or won't understand the problem with his rationale. This isn't a mixing job, it's a scapegoat job.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Tim McCulloch on November 18, 2012, 08:44:53 pm
In big venue maybe, but in anything smaller the recording will be distorted by stage volume.

I think it's already been established that this drummer can't or won't understand the problem with his rationale. This isn't a mixing job, it's a scapegoat job.

Yepper.

So, Gordon... did you do the gig and if so, how did it go?
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Gordon Brinton on November 20, 2012, 05:09:47 am
UPDATE: The job is now under my belt.

The first thing I did was to have a sit-down talk with the drummer before the show. I asked him what instrument he wanted to be the loudest in the mix, what next, and what should stand out the least. He was actually helpful and accurate in describing his goal and it gave me something to go on.

He wanted a "dance club" type mix with heavy low end. He told me that the backing track included lead vocals because his singer really wasn't that good. So, I needed to keep them equal. He also explained that the guitar player was merely lip-syncing his guitar with the keyboard on the backing track, that I needed to keep his level very low except during real guitar leads.

Now that I finally understood, I was able to work with them (not against them) as I mixed their show. I am happy to say it went pretty well. Someone must have told him that it sounded good because he (the drummer) gave me compliments at the end of the show.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: George Friedman-Jimenez on November 21, 2012, 01:29:45 am
Excellent outcome, good job. Better communication and a team approach put you both on the same page, and you learned some background (eg, importance of the backing track and lip syncing) that you otherwise might not have known. I suspect his complement reflected both better sound and his perception that you were working with them and not against them.
Title: Re: Band makes judgement through a portable recorder.
Post by: Gordon Brinton on November 21, 2012, 04:36:51 am
Thanks, George. ...And thanks to everyone for all of the help. Your replies had me considering every possible approach.

I heard from the original sound guy and he was pleased as well. I am relieved this turned out well for both parties. Hopefully it adds another penny to my reputation account somehow.

Thanks again.