Guide to Recording Music on Location: Intro and Article Index

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Part 1: Popular Music Recording (Rock, country, jazz, folk, R&B, gospel, Christian, etc.)

1. Gear for Live Recording

2. Recording Techniques from Simple to Complex

3. Before the Session: Planning

4. At the Session: Setup and Recording

5. After the Session: Mixing and Editing

6. A Real-World Example: Recording a Blues Band in a Club

Part 2: Classical Music Recording (Orchestra, string quartet, pipe organ, choir, soloist)

7. Microphone Specifications

8. Overview of Stereo Microphone Techniques

9. Stereo Recording Procedures

10. Surround-Sound Miking Techniques

11. Troubleshooting Stereo Sound

12. Stereo, Surround, and Binaural Microphones and Accessories

A. Stereo Imaging Theory

B. Specific Free-Field Stereo Microphone Techniques

C. Stereo Boundary-Microphone Arrays

D. Binaural Techniques

Glossary


Introduction

One listen to "William Walton Symphony 1 (London Symph. Orch., conducted bt Sir Colin Davis, 2005)", and you'll know why live recordings can be so thrilling.

Perhaps the most exciting type of recording is done with the musicians playing "live" in a club or concert hall. Many bands want to be recorded in concert because they feel that's when they play best. They take chances and surprise the audience. Your job is to capture that performance and bring it back alive.

Without a doubt, remote recording is exhilarating. The musicians, responding to the audience's energy, often put on a stellar performance. You have only one chance to get it recorded and it must be done right. You're working on the edge. But by the end of the night, when everything has gone as planned, it's a great feeling.

This guide, Guide to Recording Music On Location, will help you do it right. It is the first guide to focus exclusively on the special techniques used for recording outside the studio. It covers the unique requirements for capturing sound in a room or hall where the music is performed.

Whether you want to record an orchestra in a concert hall, a jazz combo in an auditorium, a rock band in a club, or a touring band on the road, this guide will offer the practical advice to help you do it. The new breed of compact mixers, flash-memory recorders, digital audio workstations, and multitrack recorders has made going on location easier than ever.

This guide was written to help you take advantage of these new tools.

Guide to Recording Music On Location is intended for recording engineers, live sound engineers, record producers, musicians, hobby recordists, concert tapers, and podcasters-anyone who wants to know more about remote recording.

Maybe you're a musician who wants to record your band. If the band is too big for your home studio, or if noise is a problem there, you can go out to a venue and record the band in a live performance. With less cost than it takes to record in a professional studio, you can record a show and produce a live CD. This demo recording can be used to get gigs. Some bands start with live-recorded tracks, and then use them in the studio as a basis for developing complete productions.

Guide to Recording Music On Location is divided into two main parts: (1) popular music recording and (2) classical music recording. The recording styles for these types of music are quite different. Let's look at Part 1 first.

Part 1: Popular Music Recording (Rock, country, jazz, folk, R&B, gospel, Christian, etc.)

Starting off Part 1, Section 1 offers an overview of audio gear for recording pop music on location, both for two-track (stereo) and multitrack recording.

There are many ways to record live pop music, from simple to complex.

Section 2 walks you through each method. You'll also learn how to inter face with the sound-reinforcement (PA) system while making a multitrack recording.

Section 3 helps you plan a live multitrack recording session. Listing the equipment you need, and how you will record with it, will make the actual recording a lot easier and give you a better result. Based on my experience as an on-location recording engineer, this section also offers tips for easier setup. Here you'll find shortcuts to make your job go smoother.

In Section 4 we go over the procedures at the actual multitrack recording session: connecting to power, running cables, miking, console setup, and so on. Section 5 suggests ways to mix and edit a multitrack recording of a gig or concert.

Finally, Section 6 describes a real-world recording project: recording a blues band in a club.

Part 2: Classical Music Recording (Orchestra, string quartet, pipe organ, choir, soloist)

With popular music, it's common to use multiple close mics and multitrack recorders. But with classical music, stereo mic techniques are the norm. There are many ways to make true-stereo recordings, and Part 2 covers them all. It offers a clear, practical explanation of stereo miking theory, along with specific techniques, procedures, and hardware.

True-stereo microphone techniques use two or three microphones to capture the overall sound of the music and the concert hall. The stereo recording made from these microphones is usually reproduced over two speakers. Ideally, the goal is to produce a believable illusion of the musical ensemble and the concert hall in a solid, or three-dimensional, way.

For example, an orchestra might be recorded with two microphones and played back over two speakers. You would hear sonic images of the instruments in various locations between the stereo pair of speakers.

These image locations-left to right, front to back-correspond to the instrument locations during the recording session. In addition, the concert hall acoustics are reproduced with a pleasing spaciousness. The result can be a beautiful, realistic re-creation of the original event-or even an improvement on it.

Part 2, Section 7, starts by demystifying microphone polar patterns (directional pickup patterns), which are key to knowing which mics to use to create the effect you want. This is followed in Section 8 by an overview of the most common stereo microphone techniques.

Next, Section 9 leads you through the procedures in a classical music recording session: where to record, where to place the mics, recording tips, and so on. Section 10 covers several techniques for surround-sound miking.

In a surround recording of classical music, we usually hear the orchestra up front, and we hear the concert hall ambience from all around. Special mic techniques have been developed for capturing this surround effect.

Also included are a troubleshooting guide for stereo sound and a listing of stereo, surround, and binaural mics and accessories. A glossary explains the technical terms in the guide.

The appendices are the most academic sections. They are intended for audio engineers who want a deeper understanding of stereo and stereo mic techniques, or who want to create their own techniques.

Section A covers stereo imaging theory in detail: how we hear where sounds are coming from, how we localize "images" of musical instruments between loudspeakers, and how mic techniques create images in various locations. You'll learn how to configure stereo arrays to achieve various stereo effects.

Specific microphone techniques (such as XY, MS (mid-side), Blumlein, ORTF, OSS, SASS) are explained next: their characteristics, stereo effects, benefits, and drawbacks. Section B is devoted to free-field methods;

Section C to boundary methods; and binaural techniques are covered in Section D.

I hope you enjoy the thrill of live recording as much as I do.

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Updated: Wednesday, 2018-01-03 16:25 PST