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Post Mixing for Live Recordings - One Session or Each Song Individually? Utility Plugins
Old 23rd August 2007
  #1
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Question Post Mixing for Live Recordings - One Session or Each Song Individually?

First, sorry for my ignorance on this topic but I'm a studio cat and new to live music recordings.

When recording a live show, I would assume most peeps just record everything into one DAW session. After you take it back to the studio to mix, do you mix it as one session or do you break each song into a separate session? Then compile it later?

I keep going back and forth on this but I think it would be easier to keep it as one session so you can just roll with your settings, plugs ins, general levels etc, and then just tweak each song based on the performance. I also think it would help keep a consistent tone or feel, since you don't want each song to have it's own sound like you would in a typical studio session. Anyway, just wondering what is "standard."
Old 24th August 2007
  #2
LX3
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I create one long project, because as you say, you need to work on the sound for the whole gig - doing one song at a time will cause immense problems because every tweak you make to one session then needs to be duplicated in all the others.

My workflow is:

1) Import audio to separate tracks
2) Decide on anything that would be better bounced to a stereo track
3) Get a basic sound happening...
4) ...while you're also bussing and grouping tracks for more control, setting up FX, etc.
5) Then I get in there and edit tracks to remove audio that I won't need. Eliminates spill and saves me writing endless mutes. By this stage, if the band is good it almost mixes itself.
6) More mix tweaking, experiments, critical listening. A few rough mixes checked on other systems.
7) Then start doing automation passes. Not all tracks necessarily need automating - some you can hopefully just leave... which also makes them easy to tweak down the line. I try not to snapshot every track. Just mind which faders you move! Hide the channels you're not working on to avoid disturbing things.

8) When happy, export a 24-bit mix of entire show
9) Sample-rate-convert if necessary
10) "Mastering mode" - new session, apply eq, compression, limiting, fades, word-length reduction, dither etc.
11) Cut final mix into individual tracks and burn CD(s).

Others may work differently of course. This is just me.

Sorry, that ended up a longer post than it was meant to be. Hope it helps.

Paul
Old 24th August 2007
  #3
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Thanks Paul, I really appreciate the great information! thumbsup

The one session approach definitely seems easier and more efficient.

Cheers!
Jim aka NorthEnlight
Old 26th August 2007
  #4
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wyndrock's Avatar
do one session. make markers and note times. have whoever authors the master copy make tracks out of the songs so it will have a seamless playback.

that's what we do.

www.redroomva.com
wwwwindrockaudiopro.com
Old 26th August 2007
  #5
i did a live concert that was also shot on video for a DVD release.
i know you're not talking about that kind of thing here, but keeping
it all in one session was pretty manditory for that kind of thing.

when the editor gave me the cut back, i just matched the window
burn times of his edits to my TC locations of each song and slid
them around as big blocks of audio...easy.

yeah, i could have pre-mixed each song and then moved
the full mixes around even easier, but hey, aren't we
all a bunch of control freaks out here?

good luck,
marty.
Old 27th August 2007
  #6
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The Listener's Avatar
I mixed quite a few live albums. For audio (not DVD of the complete concert) I do the whole session mix and then start skipping to different parts of the concert and check general sound and balance of the whole thing, then I concentrate on separate songs and do the submixes for those parts. So at the end - you will end up with one general backup mix... and several submixes that you export/mixdown for the end product. Then take care about editing the applauses, speeches, etc. to make a nice concert atmosphere - I like to cut the applauses when possible and leave them when it is neccesery - long decays of music into applause or a need to show the life feeling... Mixing live performances is an art of itself.
Have fun with it.

best
Old 26th February 2011
  #7
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what about splitting the tracks live?

I'm using Reaper and record 8-12 channel mixes live of the covers bands that play in the venue I engineer for.

I usually get the mix onstage sorted fairly quickly, then switch to headphones and start mixing the live recording in reaper on the go, to the extent of mild EQ, compression and setting levels - so that at the end of the show I can render it straight away and burn it to CD within around 10 minutes of the band finishing.

One of the biggest problems I have is the band wanting to get their mix split up into seperate tracks when I give them the CD at the end of the night - but I need to avoid the problem of copying all my mix settings across each track (unless there's a simple way of applying mix settings to multiple session files)
It's also pretty tough to stop recording between tracks and open a new template to start recording with before the band launches into the next song - so is there a better way of doing this?

P.S> sorry for hijacking the thread! :P
Old 28th February 2011
  #8
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musicguitar's Avatar
 

I usually use a similar approach to that of above, one session, but I put markers for all the songs on the session so that I can reference each song quickly.

Each time I've done this, it's been for a DVD release, but the DVD was not a straight through audio concert. It had interviews that broke up the songs and what not.

However, I had full control over the mix because I am the live sound engineer for We The Kings so I just took a feed from the board.

I like this topic a lot. I'm glad it was brought up.
Old 28th February 2011
  #9
Gear Head
 

What i have done in the past is use the single session file but i start and stop recording between songs. I use cubase and you can set up a single Key command to record so it is a matter of hitting two keys and you have a break. Now this does make the export a little more cumbersome but is can save time in the editing process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BowHouse View Post
I'm using Reaper and record 8-12 channel mixes live of the covers bands that play in the venue I engineer for.

I usually get the mix onstage sorted fairly quickly, then switch to headphones and start mixing the live recording in reaper on the go, to the extent of mild EQ, compression and setting levels - so that at the end of the show I can render it straight away and burn it to CD within around 10 minutes of the band finishing.

One of the biggest problems I have is the band wanting to get their mix split up into seperate tracks when I give them the CD at the end of the night - but I need to avoid the problem of copying all my mix settings across each track (unless there's a simple way of applying mix settings to multiple session files)
It's also pretty tough to stop recording between tracks and open a new template to start recording with before the band launches into the next song - so is there a better way of doing this?

P.S> sorry for hijacking the thread! :P

Last edited by dingbass; 28th February 2011 at 02:37 AM.. Reason: i can't spell
Old 28th February 2011
  #10
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For live work I usually set up a single long session as most of you guys above do (markers are key). That's also because I use to record a single long session with no stops (yes, I run a backup ).
Usually my work habit is to find a song that lends itself well to get the basic sound of the show. Do some basic EQ, compression, reverb, pan and level settings, get a snapshot of that and go to other points in the concert to listen to how other songs sound like with those settings. If it sound good enough then I'll start editing to get the tracks in shape (e.g. unwanted noises, mistakes from the band etc...). Once I'm done with that the real fun starts.
I like to start from the beginning and set all my faders (I use a PT system with C|8 controller) in "auto touch" and let the music roll, doing my level moves on the go (kind of like "playing" the song). If I miss something I just stop, rewind a bit and go over it. I usually do 3/4 passes per song if there are no major changes in the sound (e.g. a loud rocker followed by a quiet ballad).
I also find that the audience mics play a key role in how the gig is going to suond. I usually do a separate pass (or more than one) to ride the audience mics and make them fit with the mix. Unless they arent really bad sounding I leave them open even under the songs, not only during breaks, just something like 9/12 dB quieter that the program (depending on how hot they were recorded), because they really add to the live feel (time align the audience and PA tracks to the main tracks is a good thing to do to avoid a smeared sound).

Once I'm done with the major level rides I go over each song and fine tune the automation for each passage and level/EQ/compression. How in deep I go also depends on time/budget factors and how the band/producer wants the gig to sound.

When I work for video/dvd projects I really want to mix to picture; to me some levels and panning really have a different perspective when you actually see the instrument or player on screen...I find that I don't necessarily have to push a track up in a particular spot to make it "solo" if I have it clear on the screen. So I always ask for a video file (the higher the quality the better the sync). Usually QT in H264 work well.

Sometimes (almost always) some sort of conforming to picture is necessary...I try to keep the mixes open as long as I can so that if I need to move something around I can do it easily...

In the end, to me mixing live is great fun, I wish I could do more...
Old 24th October 2015
  #11
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Thanks for the tips everyone.

I'm using Reaper for my first project "in the box" and it's 16 tracks of a live band, about an hour start to finish.

I'll be pulling out 7 songs chosen by the artist, and was debating which way to go, but you've convinced me to work entirely inside the total recording.

I need to learn a lot about navigating and snapshots and whatnot, but you've convinced me that I won't be wasting my time!
Old 27th October 2015
  #12
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Now that this old thread is reopened consider the new technology oppotunities that were not available in 2011. (A & H QU16) I have been recording live performance for more than 40 years and the primary difference between the old days when we were happy with a well recorded casset of the house mix to todays multitrack capture direct from the console pres for post production-two mix and mastering. As a studio pro you are well aware of the fact that no 2 set- ups are the same for a band doing a project: they may be simmilar but they are never the same. This is also absolutely true of capturing live performance because each segment or song will produce unique sonic shapes that deserve an appropriate application of tweaking. As a long term sound reinforcement veteran in the Bluegrass and acoustic Americana genre getting the house mix right first is job one and to this end I feed a direct mix to the video recorder to create an imbedded scratch track. These can be very good recordings however certain obvious compromises to accomodate ambient room realities are always present. The ability to capture multi track recordings of each channel directly from the pres on a 64 gig flash drive for post, mix and mastering is almost magic. If the band wants an instant mix of their concert plug in a two track recorder to the head phone amp for a quick look back at their performance. For a quality processed multi-track live recording seperate each musical offering in post and treat each as a stand alone track with intros and outros.
Old 31st October 2015
  #13
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One long session is certainly faster and easier, however, if you guys have to do drum editing and need to align everything to a click/grid, does the "one long session" still work?
With a lot of tempochanges things can become quite complicated. A click track that varies in tempo makes things even more complicated.
Old 1st November 2015
  #14
I mix analog here, the entire show done in one sitting. I don't try and edit live drums, leakage prevents that here. If a live drummer needs to be edited, you really need a better drummer. Work with quality acts and your job becomes much easier.
Old 1st November 2015
  #15
KEL
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I don't understand aligning live recorded drums to any kind of grid without having to redo nearly everything that has a mic on it. Fixing a little something here or there, like a wanky hit or fill perhaps but even that becomes pretty iffy.

On most of the live albums or TV work I've done the songs were mixed separately. One representative song is chosen and mixed then a mix template is made from that song. Each song has markers placed as to overlap with each other. Then each song's raw tracks are imported into that mix template then tweaked from there. I can't remember a live album or TV concert where the song order wasn't changed or shuffled. Having those extra handles on each mix can make it easy to blend songs that didn't go together initially
Old 5th November 2015
  #16
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by huub View Post
One long session is certainly faster and easier, however, if you guys have to do drum editing and need to align everything to a click/grid, does the "one long session" still work?
With a lot of tempochanges things can become quite complicated. A click track that varies in tempo makes things even more complicated.
I learnt a simple trick to doing this many years ago and that was to export each track to a grid/bar line, create a new session for the audio to do the mix, template the mix and re-import the final mix into the original session at the same grid/bar markers. Most of the time I will do as other say and mix in one timeline as it's generally easier, the export would give options like drum editing, though might not work for video.
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