Hints for mixing backing tracks for live performance
I play guitar along with backing tracks (from a laptop) and recently I had several debut stage performances. I took backing tracks from my studio CD and found out they sounded not really good in the venues where played live. Any hints how to achieve better sound of backing tracks. I understand ideally it should be mixed for each certain venue but it’s just impossible… I wonder how DJs work live in a different clubs (with different PA and venue acoustic).
Did you just take the backing tracks dry straight from the masters? If you did IMO, it's not the way to do it...
You must produce a new mix of those backing tracks. You got to over produce them or spend the time at each and every venue adding the proper effects and such.
If you did remix those backing tracks and added everything you had to make them sound good in your studio, now's a good time to reconsider your monitoring situation or those vocals in general.
The right mic for the right vocal is always key. Standing in the right position at the perfect distance from the mic is also very important. As obvious as it may sound, a good sounding room never hurts.
It really doesn't need to be mixed for each and every venue, it just has to be mixed right just like a mix for CD/DVD/radio/Internet. You're not mixing for everyone's different laptop, player or receiver.
A good mix will sound great (well sort of) on any system!
I should have mentioned, I recorded all my backing tracks using a real LA drummer. I tracked real bass guitar too.
I always got a good crowd reaction, they appreciated how much I put into the backing tracks and nobody ever put me down for being a blues Karoke guitar boy singer. I just got bored and lonely doing it.
I have another friend who does a solo act with backing tracks. He works 16 nights a month. He grabs general midi files off the internet, doctors them up a bit and plays them from an ipod. It does not sound the same as my rig did but he plays all the time and people like his watered down sound.
Two different approaches, both worked.
Personally I could not face an audience with a watered down sound. It has taken a year for my new band to find a home and some success but it's slowly building and I'm having a lot more fun. sorry to go off toic.
OK a shameless pitch for my drummer bro in LA. His name is Jim McCarty. He sells backing tracks with drums and bass. They are licensed and legal to use. He and his bass player get a good feel and sound. You can buy the files as MP3.
This may seem obvious... but, I've found that recording my tracks without much compression made the biggest impact on how live they sound. The drums and bass, of course may need some, but I've found that using compression sparingly made a huge difference. I record the tracks at lower levels than normal, leaving the dynamics virtually untouched, and just crank the PA.
foldback, I think your idea of mixing on your PA is Brilliant with a capital "B".