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How bands sound on late night TV (Letterman/Leno/etc.)
Old 19th February 2009
  #31
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Thread Starter
Glad to see this thread still alive.

I wonder if anyone has noticed an improvement thanks to the wider adoption of digital tv, specifically HD.

No longer can the limitations of analog broadcasting be blamed for live mixes. In fact i've noticed that on my digital channels they are usually lower in volume than their analog siblings. I hope this leads to a sort of reverse-loudness wars on TV but then again who am i kidding ?
Old 19th February 2009
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
hey benja - please do note that i said:
"house band members notwithstanding - i imagine those dudes are all total pros"

it is pretty clear that everyone in paul's band is a very experienced professional, capable of dealing with anything you can throw at them.

i will have to continue to disagree with you about nirvana, though i can respect your opinion. just because i never got them, does not mean they did not connect solidly with their audience. just like guns n roses - i thought they pretty much sucked too, but my son loved them. i can accept that. i told you it was a rant, AND i told you i was old - but all that said, i still do not see any bands around right now that have the kind of raw creativity and melodic invention of the groups i mentioned in my post. or even any individual artists. there are a few i like okay (craig david comes to mind), but where is the new joni mitchell or james taylor or sting? it sure isnt rihanna or kanye west or beyonce or john legend - they are pretty good, but ultimately not in the same league.

anyway, keep posting - it is all about ideas and opinions. mostly, i just enjoy recording, mixing, and producing anything i have the opportunity to get to do...

All good!

Sorry, didn't see that in your post. There are plenty of technically amazing bands out there doing it though. Have you ever listened to much Muse or Marsvolta? Those to bands come to mind right away. Check out the albums "The origin of symmetry" by muse and "deloused in the comertorium" by the Mars Volta. You might be plesently surprised at the degree of musicianship.





You
Old 20th February 2009
  #33
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thanks benjah - i will check out muse and marsvolta.
Old 27th November 2009
  #34
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So, Netflix just added the first season of SNL on their watch instantly list. The line ups were off the hook, lots more music than they do now. And after the first show, which wasn't so bad, the sound was very very good. Much better than the shows I've seen in the last 5 years or so. Live sound on TV shows has been very disappointing for quite some time. Seems strange that it would get worse.
Old 27th November 2009
  #35
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Bon Jovi on Conan and Richie Sambora's guitar was direct through a modeling device (Line 6?). I was suprised by that, but no point bringing in speaker stacks for a one song gig I guess (except for show?).
I'm a rank amateur and I definitely noticed.
Old 28th November 2009
  #36
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Having mixed live sound for TV going back to the Midnight Special in the 70s up to today I can assure you it's just not fun working with the broadcast side of things.

Most of the time the monitors you mix on have no relationsship to the sound that will be coming out of TV speakers. In most cases the broadcasters have the compressor/limiters set so tight there is little or no possibility of dynamics.

Some of the studios will not let the bands engineer mix the live parts but require the house "union" guy to mix the show. All you are to them is the PITA band of the week.

The transmisson bandwidth is so limited for TV you will never get a full sound.

Even guys who know how to mix and have great rigs like Ed Greene get screwed up by the broadcasting guys they are sending feeds to.

As an engineer/mixer, I'd rather mix monitors for a deaf band than mix for live broadcast.
Old 30th November 2009
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plexisys View Post
Having mixed live sound for TV going back to the Midnight Special in the 70s up to today I can assure you it's just not fun working with the broadcast side of things.

Most of the time the monitors you mix on have no relationsship to the sound that will be coming out of TV speakers. In most cases the broadcasters have the compressor/limiters set so tight there is little or no possibility of dynamics.

Some of the studios will not let the bands engineer mix the live parts but require the house "union" guy to mix the show. All you are to them is the PITA band of the week.

The transmisson bandwidth is so limited for TV you will never get a full sound.

Even guys who know how to mix and have great rigs like Ed Greene get screwed up by the broadcasting guys they are sending feeds to.

As an engineer/mixer, I'd rather mix monitors for a deaf band than mix for live broadcast.
I was hoping someone in the trenches would chime in.
The compression you mentioned is really obvious to me. I remember seeing one band on Late Night, started with just guitar and vocals. When the drums came in everything went ZIP right into the compressor. The whole sound changed drastically.

After watching a bunch of vids from the 70's I've concluded that things have gotten worse. Any comments on that? I'm I tripping?
Old 30th November 2009
  #38
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I have gone off Music on TV a few times.
Everytime i think, 'oh, lets check whats on the music channels, or Letterman.'
And i'm disappointed.

With the live shows:
It seems that a lot of the singers struggle with pitch, and the vocals don't sit well in the mix. The guitars have also been out of tune a number of times with different bands. Makes me cringe. Am i crazy or does anybody else hear this?
It seems to happen more on Live TV shows than Music festival footage.

Is the sound on stage at Letterman/Leno so different than a normal stage that the bands feel weird and go out of tune? (thats quite a crazy idea, but possible)
Old 30th November 2009
  #39
LX3
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Some observations from my limited experience:

* Broadcast specs for audio mean smaller dynamic range than most music people are happy with (although from the sound of most modern CD masters, we're down to similarly narrow dynamic ranges in recorded music too). The specs seem like a left-over from analog broadcasting days, and ignore the dynamic range possible with digital TV. Shame.

* You end up limiting quite a bit to make sure nothing goes over -10dBfs, but with an appropriate RMS level. I tend to limit the peaky instruments only so that you don't need to smash the entire mix bus. Others just bash a limiter across the whole mix.

* Dubbing mixers tend to mix the non-music portions of a show (e.g. dialog) up nice and loud... which means that unless you're happy with the music being quieter than the speech, it gets even less dynamic range to work with.

* Some TV dubbing rooms have terrible monitors and acoustics. Critical sound decisions are often made in rooms where you can't hear anything properly.

* A lot of broadcast sound people I've met know seemingly nothing about mixing bands. But production (who decide who's doing what) don't realise that someone that mixes a daytime chat show might be out of their depth presented with 30 channels of drums, guitars and vocals. Most production people are more worried how it looks, than how it sounds.

* Everyone down the chain seems to love using their limiter/compressor. (One guy once told me that my already compressed/limited mixes sounded good, and just needed a little "nicing up" with his Finaliser) I used to deliver fairly dynamic masters so that they could do whatever they needed to make it sit in the programme at their end. Nowadays I give them tracks that are already close to spec... so in theory, their limiter won't really touch the audio.

* TV often seem over-keen to hear the vocal, like they're doing Liza Minelli or something.

* TV people often rig audience mics in a way that suits a live studio audience... but not a band blasting away at 100dB. I've seen audience mics hanging directly in front of line arrays.

* Having said all this, standards in broadcast music seem to vary according to country. I don't know what happens to Letterman by the time it gets shown in the UK? Does it really sound that bad in the US? UK chat shows like Jonathan Ross generally get a fantastic mix for the live band finale. And of course, there's Jools Holland...

* Although there are exceptions, music festivals are usually mixed for broadcast by music people, "TV shows" by TV people.

* Oh, I nearly forgot... the smaller live TV shows I've seen (not mixed) have been done very quickly, with quite a small sound crew. The pressure is enormous, there's almost no time to work on the band's mix. Maybe one run-thru in rehearsal. And it's often just one song - you don't get three songs to gradually pull it all together. So really, kudos to anyone with the balls to do that job.
Old 30th November 2009
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drumzealot View Post
So, Netflix just added the first season of SNL on their watch instantly list. The line ups were off the hook, lots more music than they do now. And after the first show, which wasn't so bad, the sound was very very good. Much better than the shows I've seen in the last 5 years or so. Live sound on TV shows has been very disappointing for quite some time. Seems strange that it would get worse.
yes indeed! First season SNL sound quality was quite nice - very acoustic and dynamic IMHO - I'm recalling John Sebastion doing 'Welcome Back' with a surprising false start after some crazy acoustic guitar feedback - nice!

Old Grey Whistle Test too - great performances - Curtis Mayfield, early Judas Priest, so many more... for that matter, much of the 70s European rock bands TV performances - sound quite good. I'm thinking about prog favs: Focus, Genesis, Van Der Graff, Yes, Gentle Giant, etc.

I've had limited experience mixing bands for local TV appearances - if it were not for me bringing in a mix production, the station would have simply used some hanging studio mics (in one instance, old RCA 44s - they would not sell them to me) and a 58 for vocalist - tutt. I did find that using a crappy small speaker did help me translate better for TV, but agree with earlier posts that the transx comp/limiting completely changed my balance - now if I had been mixing post comp/limit - at least I could have mixed to it. Ce La Vei.

On late night shows: Conan's audio changed for the worse after moving to LA. SNL has gotten marginally better over the last coupla years. Most of it (generalizing) is not-so-great. Keys / hats / strings - all usually too low in the mix.
Old 30th November 2009
  #41
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Quote:
Most production people are more worried how it looks, than how it sounds.
That's the root of the problem.
That's why people who watch TV are called "viewers".
Old 1st December 2009
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raider View Post
That's the root of the problem.
That's why people who watch TV are called "viewers".
I think that's mostly true. But I also think that any live show is subject to the same potential problems whether it's on TV or not, no matter where the problems came from.
I also think that todays performers sometimes get spoiled by the recording process in the studio. 127 takes and 96 tracks then have the auto tune guy come in then cut and paste forever.
They used to just go out and do it!
Old 13th December 2009
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raider View Post
That's the root of the problem.
That's why people who watch TV are called "viewers".
My TV has a picture AND sound.
That's why people who watch TV are called an audience. Note the root word.
Old 14th December 2009
  #44
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I bought the Verucca Salt debut CD after hearing "Seather". Great band good CD, released by Minty Fresh.

I saw Verucca Salt live at Red Rocks in Denver. They Rocked.

I saw them on SNL. - That sounded so bad I was embarrassed to watch it.
You never heard much from them as a band after that. To bad too. Great drummer and bass player.
Old 14th December 2009
  #45
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No hats is just an incredible concept to me as I find that I usually have them to some extent on everything no matter what mic placement I use, I'm actually interested in how they achieve this!
If you're doing a mix that's going to get squashed down the line, find out what they're using and how they set it and strap it across your monitors and send them what's before it, shouldn't be too difficult.
Haven't been in the states since 94 so I don't know about all this, but I have a friend that has been the band's engineer (Space Hog, Phish etc..) and he said the most important thing for him was actually placing the mics and band on stage, after that it was pretty much hopeless.
All mics that don't interest the music should be closed!!!! There's no excuse for audience mics open during the tune, unless a tad will help, song starts, faders down, song about to end faders up
Here it's abysmal, almost everything in playback. There was a Yugoslavian artist who's also a filmmaker (Goran...?) who brought his Gypsy wedding/funeral band to play at San Remo (singer competition) and had to excuse himself after not being able to complete his guest appearance because they couldn't hear themselves and neither could anyone else and said he should of done it in playback like he was asked to. I've never seen such numbskullery as I've seen here. I don't know if it's nepotism or what. You probably have it much better over there.
A lot of those old programs were recordings of real concerts, bands with all of their own gear, surely taken from splits and whatnot. I can't see going on a guest spot as an artist and having someone condition the minds of other as to how I play, when I don't have usual quality of support for my performance, seems detrimental. I play Djembe, I don't need a PA, you wanna broadcast me open any mic that's close, you can hear me in the next village.
Old 15th December 2009
  #46
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Live board mix feed

Sometimes these mixes sound so bad, because they are a feed off the console board mix for the live audience. We all no that when you are balancing the PA with onstage amps and drums, it may sound right in the venue, but the board feed will be awful since its just filling in the whole of the onstage sound.
Old 15th December 2009
  #47
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"oh, and I'll add one more thing...
by FAR the nicest, most down-to-earth, normal guy was Carson Daly."

I've really come to see that myself and its cool to hear that from a firsthand experience. Carson seemed like a ****** in his early days on MTV.

Now, it seems he's a whole lot less impressed with himself, and Hollywood for that matter, and is more about....just bein' a dude, I guess. I've noticed the change myself.
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