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Help me build a mobile rig?
Old 7th September 2011
  #1
Help me build a mobile rig?

I've got a Profire 2626 that I run PT 7.4 on at home and a set of M-Audio Octane pres. I'm planning on making a simple mobile rig using these for multitracking at the live venue I mix in and for other around town stuff.

I need another set of pres to do 24 inputs and need to decide between using my Asus laptop or building a rackmount PC or Hackintosh.

Should I get another set of Octane pres or sell them off for something else?

Should I use the laptop or build a PC?

Should run Pro Tools on XP or upgrade to 8 so I can run on Windows 7? I know I'll have to use an alternate DAW for tracking over 18 inputs unless I score Pro Tools 9 which I'm seriously considering at some point.

And at the end of the night what's the easiest medium for me to give the tracks to the band on? I'm considering USB thumb drives.
Old 7th September 2011
  #2
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
This belongs in the Remote Possibilities forum.


If your live console has Direct Outs, you might think about just patching them to an HD24xr. Then (later, if you wish) add 16 stand alone preamps for the around town stuff, some mic splits and snakes, and with that 2626 you've got a 24 channel DAW with HDD backup. The only thing that will take you out of record is user error, or HD24 power supply failure (or, arguably, extremely high dB SPL). I've used a variation of this for several years now, and built my business around that rig. There's lots of great threads about mobile recording in this forum, have a look at the https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...=post+pictures thread for some ideas.


As far as delivering the stems to the band at the end of the night, they'll need to bring their own hard drive, and you can use the HD24 fireport to transfer them with your laptop, presuming you've got a FW port. If not, a dual FW800 expresscard would allow both drives to be connected at once, halving the transfer time.
Old 7th September 2011
  #3
Gear Nut
 

I run a mobile rig on a 2u rackmounted win7 x64 PC & cubase 5. I have a Mackie Onyx 1640i, a 2u drawer and a behringer headphone amp. It works great, is super stable and travels easily. I'm in the process of DIY'ing 4 neve 1073 clones and 4 API 312 clones which will take up a further 2u in the rack. I use a 30m multicore snake and have a good range of mics. the PC has 2 HD's built in. One 100GB for OS and a 500GB for project files. I bounce projects onto a portable HD to bring home to my mixdown room. Very happy with the setup apart from the Mackie pre's. Whilst they are very good for the money, they're a bit sterile and clean. Want something with some mojo, hence the 1073's and the 312's.

Everything else is ITB.
Old 7th September 2011
  #4
Registered User
Long time PC/Windows user here ... run a fkn mile from PC/Windows. In my opinion, Windows has got so bloated, and the 3rd party software that gets loaded with a typical brandname laptop is so complex and competitive/uncooperative that you are pretty much screwed for serious audio work.

The catch is - with Windows you NEED virus "protection", and that is some of the worst **** at sabotaging an audio-dedicated computer.

Get a Mac and run Logic and save yourself a world of pain.
Old 7th September 2011
  #5
Registered User
Laptop means you can run off batteries - and that saves you from another world of pain: bad AC power and grounding.

However, if you are compelled to use AC, you may as well get a sinewave inverter and batteries and carry your own groundspike. (Or take the risk and learn how to troubleshoot AC/grounding issues and carry a lot of transformers).

This looks really interesting for standalone recording to USB storage ...

RME: Fireface UFX
Old 7th September 2011
  #6
Oh yes sorry for posting in the general forum. Im using the mobile app and wasn't paying attention. :/ please move it?

A little more info about my plans... I'm investing in a cheap 32channel split next year to rent and use for various low end productions. So I'll have that already. No iron and just barrel adapters for pin 1 lifts.

The gigs I'm gonna chase aren't going to be mission critical shows. There's grammy winning guys in town that I would refer people to for big deal shows. I mix at a venue 5-7 nights a week and I'd like to create another revenue source for myself by offering the service for cash. I patch in the rig, set levels, hit record and send the muso's away with the tracks and a reference stereo rough mix at the end of the night. Simple (maybe). Other work would be tracking in other venues and my own projects wherever.

I've done this a few times already using my laptop but it's always been some what cumbersome to have to disable hardware and all that crap. Plus the hardware on it isn't the best. Firewire card, slower drives, storage space, yadda yadda. I'm thinking I'll avoid that.

My studio PC is an audio only box. Runs XP and has no wifi card at all. No dangerous internet on that box and nothing but Pro Tools and CD architect on it. I'm thinking I may just get a rack mount case and a keyboard drawer for it and use it as is for now.

I'll make the cabling myself from some multicore I already have probably for the times when I'm using a consoles pre's and bypassing the M-Audio ones.

The console at the venue is a Crest VX I recently bought and cleaned up. Good pres already and the 2626 and Octane both allow you to bypass their onboard pres by using 1/4" in's.

The backup Mackie/Alesis box is a great idea. The Mackies can be found pretty cheap these days.

So what do you guys think? XP or win 7?

Another Octane or sell them both for Octopres or something else? when I get ready for money pres I'll build some seventh circle stuff.

Btw, that new RME looks tits! No budget for that though.
Old 7th September 2011
  #7
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funk-O-Meter View Post

Simple (maybe). Other work would be tracking in other venues and my own projects wherever.
What market are you in?


As a remote guy and long time FOH engineer, I've found that artists should keep their hopes low when paying extra to the FOH guy to get him to record their set. Every time, either the live mix or the recording will suffer. You'd probably be better off flying a GOOD pair of mics in your venue somewhere in a sweet spot over the crowd and just give them a two track. With the "taper" technique, you can focus on your live mix, and the recording quality will benefit as well. Charge them $50 and burn it from a masterlink. Place your emphasis on signal chain, so it'll beat out their zoom recorder every time.

I have more clients than I can count on two hands that hired me because they felt they got ripped off by the house engineer, thinking it would be just as good as a dedicated recording crew. They get the tracks loaded up in their DAW, and levels are everywhere, there's a ton of bleed, no crowd mics, a generally sloppy recording - even though mic placement and choice was exactly what you needed live, sometimes it takes a sledgehammer to beat into shape in post.

For a FOH engineer wanting to provide an extra service, a two track system, not just the tape outs on the mixer, but a great stereo pair permanently installed, with a great preamp, placed meticulously and always at the ready, will be less expensive, less work, it will pay for itself quickly, and allow you to focus on your real job, what the paying customers are hearing when they come into the venue. That's worth more to the artist than a recording of the direct outs on a console, and if you craft an expert live mix, you will have captured the essence of that in your 2track.

Now, if you're going to go out and try to get some paying remote gigs, more power to ya! But even if you put together a good multitrack rig, with proper transformer iso splits and redundant recording devices and uninterruptible power and whatnot, I'd still recommend you install a simple taper rig. There might even be an opportunity for a multi deck burner so the band can sell copies to their fans before they leave the venue. In addition, the band will have an accurate representation of what their fans heard, and it'll speak for (and document) your abilities as a live engineer, rather than leave a bad taste in their mouth and potentially ruin your rep as both a live engineer and a recording engineer.

My .02
Old 7th September 2011
  #8
Registered User
+ 0.2
Old 7th September 2011
  #9
Lives for gear
I have a portable rig which is a 13" MBP, RME Fireface UFC, and for just in case purposes, an Octopre. The UFC actually supports a stupid amount of inputs for a 1RU device, but some are ADAT, some are line level, its got 4 mic/ line inputs, so you really need to know what it is you are trying to capture. I typically just run outs from a FOH console into the line inputs, or ADAT's, depending on the console. I never find myself needing to track more than 12 or so things at once, so this works well. Its a 3RU sleeve and a case with a laptop. Super portable!!!

(That is considering that I am going places where there is already mics and everything else)

-Rob
Old 8th September 2011
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by recordinghopkins View Post
What market are you in?


As a remote guy and long time FOH engineer, I've found that artists should keep their hopes low when paying extra to the FOH guy to get him to record their set. Every time, either the live mix or the recording will suffer. You'd probably be better off flying a GOOD pair of mics in your venue somewhere in a sweet spot over the crowd and just give them a two track. With the "taper" technique, you can focus on your live mix, and the recording quality will benefit as well. Charge them $50 and burn it from a masterlink. Place your emphasis on signal chain, so it'll beat out their zoom recorder every time.

I have more clients than I can count on two hands that hired me because they felt they got ripped off by the house engineer, thinking it would be just as good as a dedicated recording crew. They get the tracks loaded up in their DAW, and levels are everywhere, there's a ton of bleed, no crowd mics, a generally sloppy recording - even though mic placement and choice was exactly what you needed live, sometimes it takes a sledgehammer to beat into shape in post.

For a FOH engineer wanting to provide an extra service, a two track system, not just the tape outs on the mixer, but a great stereo pair permanently installed, with a great preamp, placed meticulously and always at the ready, will be less expensive, less work, it will pay for itself quickly, and allow you to focus on your real job, what the paying customers are hearing when they come into the venue. That's worth more to the artist than a recording of the direct outs on a console, and if you craft an expert live mix, you will have captured the essence of that in your 2track.

Now, if you're going to go out and try to get some paying remote gigs, more power to ya! But even if you put together a good multitrack rig, with proper transformer iso splits and redundant recording devices and uninterruptible power and whatnot, I'd still recommend you install a simple taper rig. There might even be an opportunity for a multi deck burner so the band can sell copies to their fans before they leave the venue. In addition, the band will have an accurate representation of what their fans heard, and it'll speak for (and document) your abilities as a live engineer, rather than leave a bad taste in their mouth and potentially ruin your rep as both a live engineer and a recording engineer.

My .02
Yea I hear you on that. We already have a decent taper/recording rig we use for ourselves (owner is a taper junkie) and I built a "taper feed box" that has XLR's, 1/4's and RCA's for whoever wants to record the show when it's allowed by the artists. It's not great gear but a couple times acts have used it for commercial releases. Not something I would do but hey...it's cheap. On a good night it's radio broadcast quality. That is if you mix cheat a little and mix for the recording. We don't charge for this. It's just a courtesy.

I agree it's hard to jockey a multitrack rig and run a show and the quality sometimes suffers but in this case they'd get what they paid for because I would be charging accordingly. If I wanted to do a serious professional job I'd be building mic pre's right now and building a split with iron and I would charge accordingly. As well we have a couple engineers and often acts bring their own FOH so I could focus on the tracking on some of these occasions. This is gonna be a inexpensive accessible service.

To be quite honest some of the acts I'm going to wind up tracking they're not gonna follow through with the project after the show is tracked anyway and I can't help that. As much as you try to drive home the facts of life about needing to track several shows for a live release and needing to refine stage volume and play a solid set they sometimes ruin your plans and ignore your advice. But thank you very much for the money and I'll take your money again if you want another shot. I'll make a good recording of a bad show and get paid for it

I have however tracked about a dozen shows in this venue over the years and a few have turned out quite well and I did make a release out of one. So I'll have the benefit of working with the same rig in the same room with the same console everynight which will help out.
Old 8th September 2011
  #11
So I needed help on pres still. Should I snag more Octane pres or sell mine off for something else in the pre w/ converters department?

Should I migrate to windows 7 for the OS or stick with XP?
Old 8th September 2011
  #12
LX3
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LX3's Avatar
 

If you're providing a less than professional service, and charging "appropriately" (i.e. pocket money)... it begs the question... why bother?

You don't make any money, you have to work harder, and the artist gets a so-so product which makes you look bad/cheap.

Either just do the live sound, do it well, and make artists want to come back to the venue.

Or put a proper recording rig in there, charge the right amount, and employ someone to run it (and put up the extra mics, listen critically to placement, etc) while you look after the live sound.

Beware though, I've found that 95% of bands don't want to pay ANYTHING for a live multitrack of their show, unless recording the show was their intention before they got there. If you have to go to them, offer the service, and negotiate a fee... You're better off saving your breath.

If performers are informed in advance that there's a recording facility at the venue, and you wait for THEM to ask YOU about it, then that might work.
Old 8th September 2011
  #13
LX3
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LX3's Avatar
 

My advice would be sell the Octane and buy something else. Anything else.
Old 8th September 2011
  #14
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by LX3 View Post
Beware though, I've found that 95% of bands don't want to pay ANYTHING for a live multitrack of their show, unless recording the show was their intention before they got there. If you have to go to them, offer the service, and negotiate a fee... You're better off saving your breath.

This.
Old 8th September 2011
  #15
Look if I listened to everyones advice about "don't do it" then I would have never started playing music, recording or working in pro audio professionally and probably none of you would have either. So you might understand why I'm not gonna listen to guys tell me not to do it. I've been doing this for 15 years. I know what I'm getting into. What do I have to loose? Several hundred in gear I'll use personally reguardless of the work it generates?
Old 8th September 2011
  #16
Ok what do we like vs the octane in an 8 ch ADAT pre?
Old 9th September 2011
  #17
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funk-O-Meter View Post
Look if I listened to everyones advice about "don't do it" then I would have never started playing music, recording or working in pro audio professionally and probably none of you would have either. So you might understand why I'm not gonna listen to guys tell me not to do it. I've been doing this for 15 years. I know what I'm getting into. What do I have to loose? Several hundred in gear I'll use personally reguardless of the work it generates?
You probably do, if all you're trying to do is push record on some direct outputs off your desk. This is not the same as providing an engineered live recording specifically for post mixing. Neither is it a pro level service. That's not a personal attack, I'm sure you are a fine live and studio engineer.

It may very well be a good value for the bands that don't have the money to hire a dedicated professional, but this mentality of "they'll get what they pay for" is worrisome.

Go for it, but remember to promote the locals that do it the right way if you don't wanna piss off the pros (when they hear from an artist that the guy at club X will do the "same thing" for only $50). It's not the same. You know it, we know it, and you DO have something to lose - your reputation, and repeat customers.

If you're essentially hoping to sell this gig to gig, be prepared for a LOT of no's. It's true. And you should also be prepared when they want their money back because the lead vocal was clipping while you went to grab a beer or visit the men's room. It happens. It's also REALLY embarrassing when they agree before the show to pay you to record them, and your DAW crashed during the show and you have to apologize for only getting part of the third tune. "Eh, just give me $20 less" is really unprofessional.


I don't think anyone is telling you not to do this.
I was telling you that because you are paid and expected to provide a top quality live mix, your primary obligation will suffer if you are trying to add mics that you don't really need live or watch meters and fool with a DAW during the show. Because you will get a lot of no's, I made the recommendation to focus on a two track rig, because you will have less invested and can charge far less. For $10 or $20, you will likely hear yes more often. Show them your rig, and explain that it will sound exactly like their fans heard it, and it'll be hard to pass up. Bonus: you won't have to count on them bringing a hard drive for transfers. Make a little more with a CD duplicator, and let the band sell them at their merch table.

Artists that want a pro level multitrack will hire one of those grammy winners you mentioned. Artists that just want a reference mix will not pay what you feel it is worth for the multis, almost every time.
Old 10th September 2011
  #18
Interestingly I've got a loaner multitrack rig showing up next week to live at the venue for a short while so I'll be able to get a feel for it. Helping a friend who's on the road track a show for a regional act. Big split with iron, pres and a couple of HD24's.
Old 10th September 2011
  #19
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funk-O-Meter View Post
Interestingly I've got a loaner multitrack rig showing up next week to live at the venue for a short while so I'll be able to get a feel for it. Helping a friend who's on the road track a show for a regional act. Big split with iron, pres and a couple of HD24's.
there ya go! let the good times roll!
Old 10th September 2011
  #20
LX3
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@Funk-O-Meter

I was just being honest and trying to save you some time, expense and grief. I think that you're getting great advice here from myself and others who've been there, done it, and got it wrong a bunch of times already.

You're perfectly entitled to ignore us. I can't say, maybe what hasn't worked (and still doesn't work) for us might work out for you. But you asked for our advice...

8-channel preamps with ADAT: A secondhand Octopre isn't my money-no-object choice, but would be more than acceptable if you're on a budget... they're a lot better than their Gearslutz reputation might lead you to believe.
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