I just realized that I haven't posted a reply here...
My one and (so far) only live album happened because the vibe of the group playing live was magical. The record is "The Time Jumpers: Live at the Station Inn". It was done with 2 DA-78's a bunch of ouboard preamps, and with Bob Olhsson's assistance.
The first incarnation of The Biz was at a friend's suggestion: since I wanted to get into recording, and we didn't have a space (or money) he suggested that I go on-site. It worked well for a while, but I wasn't a businessman, so I stopped for financial reasons.
Then 11-Sept. showed me that life is too damn short to not do something you love, so I got back in. It's worked out well so far. If only I could quit my day job...
That'd be cool! Then I could see how it's really done! If you want, I'll be assisstant for the day: "Do you want cream and sugar?" "Fries with that?" How am I doing so far?? :-)
I looked at your massive list of gear, and I'm happy that I own a few of the same pieces. They're on the lower end of the scale, but hey, gotta start somewhere. The fact that a big company uses them makes me feel pretty good about my purchasing decisions.
On-site is pretty cool. New places, new bands. Live gigs add another dimension to it. I just did one last Saturday in Gardner, MA. (Find that on a map.) The drive there and back in the snow was a little hairy...but hey, such is the biz.
So if you're ever at the Centrum or the New Garden (don't call it by that other, very large bank's name) let me know. I'd love to see the rig. I'd even go to NYC. (Twist my arm...far enough! ;-)
Cool, but if you're gonna assist on one of our gigs, it's not about the food order, it's more about being part of the crew. All for one, one for all and that sort of stuff.
So, you're using some of the gear we use. Which pieces were you talking about? I'm curious, only because you said, "They're on the lower end of the scale..."
Low or high end, if it works, just go with it! Greg, even if we weren't using the same gear, how it works for you is what really counts. Does it do what you want it to do? If so, you made a perfect purchasing decision.
Give us a call if you're ever in NYC. If available, maybe you can check out our scene.
> ...it's not about the food order, it's more about being part of
> the crew. All for one, one for all and that sort of stuff.
Hey, I like you already! I try to be that way myself, if I need helpers on a gig. I freelance for a live company, ATS, and they are pretty cool, too.
> ...Which pieces were you talking about? I'm curious, only because you said, "They're on the lower end of the scale..."
DA-78hrs, '58s, '57s, 421MKIIs, that sort of thing. I use an A&H and Mackie console, Aphex, ART, and Presonus pres. I also have joemeek pres, RNCs, Earthworks mics, 4033s etc. (Those things are a step up.) *I* like the stuff, and the people I have recorded do too. It's refreshing to see someone who *can* afford the high end toys using some of the same things!
None of this stuff is bad, IMHO, or else it would have gone back to the store. But, it doesn't have the "name" (or "sound") that Studer, Neumann, SSL and Neve have. C'est la vie! (sp?)
> Low or high end, if it works, just go with it! Greg, even if we weren't using the same gear, how it works for you is what really counts. Does it do what you want it to do? If so, you made a perfect purchasing decision.
Yup, that's what I say. I've heard sayings along the lines of "You spend 90% of your effort to get the final 1% of result." That, and I'd rather learn and get experience on the affordable stuff before plunging ahead with the expensive toys. I *know* there's a 2" 24-track and good-sounding space in my future. But for now, I'm having fun with what I have!
> Give us a call if you're ever in NYC. If available, maybe you can check out our scene.
That I will, thanks! And feel free to give me a call if you're ever in New England and need help.
Originally posted by our venerated moderator Remoteness How did you get started in remote production, location recording, outside broadcasting?
Well now this is different, because I'm involved in remote and location recording in a completely different capacity than you cats are...
It all started back in high school. My boyfriend at the time was interested in recording and convinced me to try college and aim toward becoming an engineer. I was too young and had too many family problems, so I dropped out...but I was still interested in recording.
Within two years, I met a guy that coincidentally was an engineer at a local eight-track studio and we fell in love hard. As an added perk to the relationship, I got to work at the studio. At first I was just out front juggling the bands that came to rehearse in the rooms downstairs, and sometimes I'd go down there and tweak the PAs if some dweeb screwed the settings up. We had good clients, though, so this wasn't often an issue.
Soon enough I got my chance in the control room upstairs, and I became a pretty damned good little tape op (them: "Can you take it back to the second syllable of the eighth word in the third line of the verse right before the intro to the solo?" me: "Rolling...") Analog, mind you, with a little push-button counter. And I'm just a girl.
During that period of my life, I met this remote dude at the studio. We became very good friends, but after my relationship ended with the eight-track guy (it actually was sixteen-track by then), I lost touch with the remote dude. Proximity is everything, or so it seemed...
I thank the universe and Al Gore for the Internet. Within these past few months, AOL was implemental in reuniting me with my old remote friend. Turns out he needed a tough, cute, hard-ass writer like me to deal with the marketing end of his business, and I needed a much hipper gig than the one I'm in...so I auditioned...and I got the part.
So I'm back in the recording industry in the best situation I can possibly imagine...working for a great remote company, and for a man I've admired for over twenty years, and I get to write all day!
Originally posted by Inky Goddess And I'm just a girl.
Inky, we need to talk...
Most of us wouldn't care if you were a 6 legged aardvark as long as you're enthusiastic and competent (and can schlep heavy equipment at the venue). One of my favorite engineers (and the person who runs Skywalker Sound) is LA Jones, "LA" being the initials for "Leslie Ann".
Check out John McBride's (Blackbird) sig line in other GS posts: "Either you rock or you suck." There's nothing about being 'just a girl'. (That's not to say that some gearsluts won't try to hit on you at an AES show, but that's another story).
To answer the original questiion- I got involved in the remote thing first and for the longest time, it was all I really knew.
My recording background is this- I went to the Eastman School of Music for my undergrad years. At that school, there is something on the order of 2000+ concerts that happen every year. The school has a recording department, but with that volume of work to be done, there is no way that they can cover everything. I came to a realization that I could earn more recording recitals than I could working food service. I bought a Mackie 1202 (original), 2 SM-81's and a DAT machine and started doing minimalist recording. When I went to music festivals, I eventually started doing my work-study for the house recording crew where I learned a lot (and got my first taste of what to do with more than 2 microphones). By the time I graduated, I was running my own business of sorts at Eastman and also working part time in the recording department where I was finally able to see some real high-end stuff. (What's a Neve console?)
When I graduated, I moved to LA to go to USC for grad school. I figured I'd get started doing the same thing to earn a buck. At this point, my first priority was still performance, though... By pure luck, I ran into another engineer at a gig who invited me to "see what kind of work he did." I was launched at that point from Mackies and SM-81s to Neumanns/B&Ks/dB Technologies/Vac Rac pres and a Nagra Digital recorder... I was changed and realized that there was a whole slutty world out there that I missed (and oh, how I liked it... That dirty, gear-lusty feeling). I apprenticed for that engineer and a couple others for the next couple years. I learned multi-micing techniques, mixing, mastering, editing... The rest, as they say, is history.
I still perform, but my main focus is my recording business. I now do some studio work, but my main thing is still remote recording.
1. the traditional multi-track studio that I had acquired with two partners had a great big good sounding control room, but only a 300sf fuzz covered "live" room. Recording bands in that room was a real pain in the ass and the results were nothing special. So I needed to get out of the studio to work in decent spaces.
2. the quality of bands that you can attract to a low-,mid level room can make the whole undertaking less than fun. It seemed that every time that I went out on location, I was recording great players playing together live, the way its supposed to be. Then I'd go back to the studio and spend 2 days trying to convince some lunk head drummer that his $79 kit really does suck and that even if we spent 4 more days using everything from rare French cigarette packs to garden variety duct tape, his kit was still gonna sound like butt. The whole multi-track experience just finally got old and tired.
Finally, in the studio I was recording kids who really didn't have a clue, 9 times outta 10. Live, just in the past year and a half, I recorded some of the most amazing classical, jazz, opera, pipe organ and other types of music. I know I made the right choice, I'll never go back.
I just hope my budgets improve to the point where I can always hire a helping hand with the gear-humping. The nights where I have to do it all by myself can be a drag on an aging body.
I was always an apartment dweller so going to the music rather than having the music come to me was how I would go. I have always done location recording and I still have some session tapes I did when I was 13 years old
Now, 30 years later I have a my own 24 track mobile rig based on an RME Hammerfall, Presonus Digimax-8s, and Steinberg Nuendo. It is so small and compact that I don't even bother with curbside recording, I just go right into the venue and "jack-in" with a rack of Mic splitters or supply my own mics.
I also have a day job that pays so well I have a tough time allocating time to do the recordings.
For me, I mostly record classical choirs and solo/chamber recitals. You have to go where they are. They aren't in studios, generally speaking.
Secondly, most performers give a better performance with an audience than in a studio. The environment is not as controlled, but I like getting what they actually did at a moment in time with no "do-overs".
I play blues and old vintage R&B along with some classical recitals. I started out recording my bands and classical guitar/lute performances live with a $200 JVC home system cassette recorder that had one mic input and actually got some pretty fair results. Last year I purchased a Superscope PSD300, along with some other low end mics and pres. which have served very well for demos to get gigs,etc...
I can't wait to get some better high end mics & pres to hopefully take the best of live gigs and release a recording.
I concur with the old Grateful Dead philosophy of recording every and all performances although some of my musician mates think I'm pretty wierd recording even the less significant gigs and rehearsals, etc...One drummer even making snide comments like "So is all this recording for the Smithsonian archives?"
The main problems I have is that I am usually fronting my band and playing guitar while trying to watch record levels, etc...out of the corner of my eye, all at the same time! It is a bit distracting, but blues is a very "live" oriented, spontaneous genre, and I am very happy to have saved many of those exceptionally inspired performances (along with some uninspired, out of tune,etc..) for my Smithsonian archives!!
The main problems I have is that I am usually fronting my band and playing guitar while trying to watch record levels, etc...out of the corner of my eye, all at the same time! It is a bit distracting
I rarely record blues, rock or other amplified music anymore, but back when I played in those types of bands I knew guys who did what you are talking about. Its usually not too hard to find a younger kid or other individual who would be glad to help out while you are on stage. Assuming you are available to set things up, the helper really just needs to be a warm body keeping a watch on things. They can gradually learn to become an actual useful assistant over time. And the best part is that they will help you hump the gear before and after gigs! (and that is the best thing an assistant can provide, help schlepping gear)
I learned to play drums at a pretty young age and was always a few years ahead of most of the guys I played with, so I got into setting up our PAs. Figuring out how to make all that stuff work has served me well over the years. Anyway I got to the point where I was wanting a little more pre-production (yeah its a real thing for some people) out of my fellow musicians. So I figured a way to get our jams to a Tascam tape deck. So it was born.
Over the years I have continued to play, mostly with the older guys who taught me more than I could ever thank them for. At one point two years apart I missed major record deals with two different bands (one is still touring and has a top 20 track on the charts). After all the hard work and the let down of being in a band, I had a revelation and knew that all the time I had spent getting better at capturing our rehersals was my calling. I had also done studio work as a drummer and assisted when I could, but there is nothing like a live band.
So I made the mind-set change and started refering to myself as an engineer/ drummer not the other way around.
I built a small studio for overdubs and had (and still do) a 16ch Sunn console that I started bringing out to record local bands that I liked. Then people started asking me to come out and make them CDs.
So I did what I thought was best and went to one of those costly Audio schools and got all trained up on Pro Tools and high end consloes (API, SSL, AMEK...).
Now I'm back to my little pond feeling like a decent sized fish. I got a financial backer and built, or am still building (is it ever done) a mobile rig. I'm also running FOH three or four nights a week and have the chance to scout and Produce more than ever.
For me the only reason to remote is because it feels so great to be there on a night where something amazing happens and know, "I got all that". Plus I LOVE the pressure of knowing you only one shot.
I was "the recording guy" with my own band from 14-years-old onwards. In fact, recording pretty much predates my musical career... I commandeered one of my father's reel-to-reel machines when I was six. Was very lucky to have a hi-fi crazy dad, so a lot of gear passed thru our house... not all of it strictly hi-fi, and not all of it entirely my father's idea! (Revox A700, Portastudio, B77, PCM F1).
Although I went for a few engineering jobs after school, I knew that I'd end up wishing I was the other side of the glass if I went down that route, so took work as a session player after college. Did pretty well.
Happened to suggest to a band I was playing with that the cheapest and most fun way to do our self-financed album would be record live in front of a bunch of friends. I'd always been attracted by the "one-take" aspect of live recording... maybe influenced by the Thelma Houston direct-to-disc vinyl recording from the seventies. I remember pouring over those sleeve notes endlessly as a kid.
I only had an 8-track rig at home. Was disappointed when I discovered how difficult and expensive it was to rent the kind of gear we needed to do this live album, and it never happened as a result.
That bugged me for the next ten years. If it was difficult for us, it surely was for everyone else. Kept wittering on to friends that I had this idea... but I wasn't sure if you could make a living doing it and wasn't ready to blow all my savings and give up my job for a total hail-mary.
Then I stupidly went and suggested that I record a jazz festival that a friend of mine was promoting. Oops, now I've done it Bought some gear, and gave it a shot.
It went well. So well that I spent the next four years broke, begging for gigs and wondering if I'd made a really huge mistake. But at least I had four years figuring out what worked and what didn't.
Things have picked up nicely since then. I've never enjoyed my work so much (which is just as well, because some aspects of it are HARD), and the icing on the cake is getting to record a few artists that I've always admired. Still effectively broke because anything I make inevitably gets spent on gear. I'm still kidding myself that I can see an end to the gear-buying though.
I don't normally post audio, but for nostalgia's sake, here's a sample I found from that first jazz festival - it's trumpeter Stuart Brooks and band circa 2002.
LX3 nice stuff man! I really like the space of the recording. I like how the piano isn't right not the front of the speaker (one of my pet peeves in jazz recording) Really three dimensional mix man. The drums are pretty central too which I like as it doesn't distract from the playing with the whole HH on one side and Ride on the other. Also the soft panning of the two soloists really helps distinguish that it's two different players.