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Building A Live Recording Rig, Need advice Audio Interfaces
Old 10th July 2018
Here for the gear

Building A Live Recording Rig, Need advice


First, here's a bit of background (a bit of a TL;DR-- skip ahead if you wish):

Over the last few years, while I've been working on learning the various ins and outs of recording (I became more serious about recording, for all intents and purposes, in 2014), I discovered that no one in my area is doing live recording (so far...), and there seems to be a modest demand for someone who can do it.

That being said, I've been practicing my techniques on a friend's band (fairly standard 5 piece rock/blues band), gathering knowledge (and building a shopping list lol) as I go, hoping to build up a small business. This I've been doing in parallel to honing my studio setup, which I spent most of last year working on.

Anyway, this year, I've decided that maybe i can also offer very basic sound/PA services *in addition to* recording, as I believe that would increase my marketability, as many performers working in the smaller venues around here tend to run their own sound. This isn't totally ideal in some cases, but it gets the job done and they get by. My thinking was that I can do this for them AND record the performance, which makes life easier for them, and give me a chance to build a reputation.

I want to primarily focus on recording, though. I won't get into any fancy aspects of live sound. Just the basics.

So, this brings me to my questions!

First, I'd like some input on my mixer situation. I just got a Phoenix 16-2RP mixer, and it appears to have at least 12 direct outs (perfect for recording!), but I cannot find the manual for some reason. Can anyone enlighten me as to what this thing's specs are?

Second, I have a Crown 800W stereo power amp that can do 400W per channel, which drives a pair of 100W speakers. I think that should be enough for most purposes, but should I upgrade? If so, to what?

Third, any other suggestions?

My basic setup thus far:
*An Odyssey(?) 12U rack box/road case thing with wheels and space on top for a rackmount mixer (the Phoenix, in this case)
*The aforementioned Crown power amp
*A pair of Behringer ADA8000 8-channel mic pres (once I get the Phoenix in place, I can probably remove one of these, as they will be redundant)
*Digidesign Digi002 Rack (I've heard that the mic pres aren't very good, but I won't be using them, and I haven't heard any negatives regarding sound quality of neither the line inputs nor the ADAT ins/outs).
*And of course, the Phoenix mixer.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that I also have a 200-foot long, 16-channel XLR snake.


Old 10th July 2018
Gear Maniac

Hi cc333,

There are two issues here:

1. Gear. Seems a slightly incongruous mix (e.g. 200ft snake for 2 x 100W PA). Even the smallest live PA I run (for a pub folk band) includes foldback monitors, which is hardly 'fancy', so are you talking just a musician or two playing in a cafe or something? Anything more, and you would need better speakers (there are plenty of powered options) and a mixer that is better suited (e.g. with different mixes for monitors and reverb). I'd be inclined to go for something much simpler than your set up, losing the separate preamps and Digi 002: could you get away with a Soundcraft MTK 12/22 or, losing the laptop, even a Livetrak 12? You don't mention mics at all or DI boxes.

2. Recording while running live sound. This is always a challenge, but with such small venues and such a limited PA it is clear that what will come through the PA will be only one part of the sound and that much will not get to the audience via the PA. For example, I assume that drums will not go through the PA, and probably the same for a guitar combo amp. This means miking/DIing everything for recording, but sending only some of the sound through to the PA, so using direct outs makes good sense: only you can tell if 12 channels is enough (mics on drums for recording live often consumes a few channels).


Old 10th July 2018
Here for the gear

It's late over in the small portion of the world I'm residing in, and I'm way past my bedtime, so I may not be making full sense here

Anyway, you have some good points!

1: You're right, it is a rather interesting Hodge-podge of "stuff" (I'm on a very small budget, so I have to get what I can afford). I have another mixer, a Behringer something or other, that I could use for monitor mixes, I suppose (it doesn't have to be *that* good for monitors, as long as everyone can hear what they need to hear, right?) and I have a smattering of sm57s and 58s I could use to mic vocals and guitar amps, but I think I'll need to get more at some point, especially if I ever want to get decent coverage of the drums. I think I got one DI box with the rack case, but I'll need a couple more of those as well (luckily, while I get this operation off the ground, I have some guitar and bass playing friends who will let me borrow such things, particularly if it is they who I am recording ).

Because of these shortcomings, I will probably concentrate primarily on recording until I can get some better equipment, especially for bigger jobs. The snake is primarily for recording at home, but I'm also going to use it to get feeds off another sound person's board from a distance, so I don't have to set up on top of him/her.

2: I will be using this primarily for small groups (my friend also plays with a couple duos), so I think this setup will be good for awhile.

For small groups who don't have their own mics (anyone other than my friend, including a few other friends who are just starting out), I suppose I'll mic what I can with what I have, and hope for the best (until I get more/better gear, of course). Luckily, everyone I've been working with so far have been easy going (they're happy to get *anything,* which means they're quite easy to please), and I'm not looking to expand my clientele until I've got better stuff.

Old 10th July 2018
Lives for gear
hbphotoav's Avatar

I've been doing what you aspire to do for the past 20 years or so... PA with live recording. Used to be a stereo bus-fed "rebalanced" live PA mix; now is "everything gets mic'd like a recording session and tracked for remix" whilst watching gains and running the actual live-show mix to the house.

My basic gear pack for that is: Midas M32 (with the Klark Technik 32-out USB tracking solution into a MacBook Pro/Logic Pro X session) for FoH and monitors (40 in x 16 out); RCF ART745A and 322A and QSC K12 powered loudspeakers (10, total, mains, sidefill/frontfill and monitors), 6x18" powered subs (RCF-built Mackie SWA1801 G1); full complement of mics (30+) and DIs (10) for 8-10x drums, guitars, bass, keys, horns, vocals, whatever... Shure, AKG, AT, BeyerDynamic, Audix, EV, Sennheiser) and Boomstands/shorties/clips for 24 inputs (20-24 mics is "usual" on a 5-piece) with spares; 4 channels of Shure wireless (Beta 87a capsules) available; capability of 8x mono IEMs feeds, with 8-ch headphone amp (with a backup) and cabling. I'm looking forward to acquiring another M32 for redundant/backup FoH (presently have a PreSonus 24.4.2 in that role).

Working your way in will be a challenge... especially if you don't have adequate gear to "cover" the PA needs. That said, your challenge will be getting familiar enough with mics and placement, gain structure into the recorder, and the dual-hat workflow to enable you to keep an eye on the tracks whilst creating a satisfactory live mix for the crowd and wedges mix for the band. Easy, right?

One old guy's opinion, based on a couple of years experience...


Here's a sample from a small club date, doing FoH, monitors and tracking with a jazz quartet fronted by my pal, bass playa Sean O. Tracked through StudioLive 24.4.2 into Logic Pro session, rough mix.
Attached Files

Come Together 128.mp3 (8.97 MB, 268 views)

Old 10th July 2018
Gear Addict

Originally Posted by cc333 View Post

Because of these shortcomings, I will probably concentrate primarily on recording until I can get some better equipment, especially for bigger jobs. The snake is primarily for recording at home, but I'm also going to use it to get feeds off another sound person's board from a distance, so I don't have to set up on top of him/her.
I know you're not in a position to buy new equipment at this point, but once you are ready to invest, you could look for a simple integrated approach such as the QSC Touchmix mixers -- they have three models, one with 8 XLR inputs, one with 16, and another with 30. They are all designed for live sound but also record isos (individual solo tracks) for mixing on a DAW. This gets around the issue discussed above where you're not going to be running drums (or possibly guitar if using an amp in small venues) through the PA but you want to capture them for your recording. They have multiple aux outs for monitors, built-in EQ and effects, can play back break music, etc. -- in short everything you'd need for a simple solution for small to medium-size venues. You can save scenes during sound checks for different groups and recall them during the show to save setup time.

The preamps are decent and quite a few bands have recorded with these; you can do searches on youtube for examples. Note that only the TM-30 can be used as a direct interface to a DAW; the smaller models record only to SSD drives and then you transfer the tracks to your DAW for mixing.

The Touchmix is far from the only small digital mixer to offer all these features, but I like it because it has analog gain knobs and a physical (touchscreen) mixer; most of the others in this price range can only be controlled over wifi by a tablet or phone and are more vulnerable during shows (because of wifi dropouts).

I'm just thinking that simple is better when you're trying to do double duty of live sound and recording: one unit does it all, no separate preamps or effects, no rack needed, and you get direct recording of ISOs during the show so you can mix and do other post processing in a DAW afterward.
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