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Performance Hall Installation Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 10th September 2011
Here for the gear
dan.gonko's Avatar
Performance Hall Installation

Hi all -

I am primarily a studio guy who has found himself also involved in the position of live sound engineer. I teach recording arts at a university in North Carolina and the music department has a dire need of quality live sound recording of student and faculty recitals. There is limited equipment in place, and by limited I mean almost NOTHING. The key item is a digital Yamaha mixing board that has on-board recording capabilities (I am fairly sure it's an LS9).

I have a 2.3 GHz i7 MacBook Pro w/8GB RAM to record to, as well as the Yamaha console. If I go to the computer, I'll need a reliable, HQ interface. I also need a selection of microphones for stationary hall recording. I'm torn between an ideal stereo mixing technique and a set Decca tree and the mics to use. This is a mid-sized hall that can seat ~500 people on the main floor and another 350 in the balcony.

The question I pose to you all is this:

With a rough budget of up to $10,000, what would YOU purchase for a fairly permanent recording installation?

Thanks for the help!!!

Last edited by dan.gonko; 10th September 2011 at 02:28 AM.. Reason: Change a fact in the post
Old 10th September 2011
Lives for gear
recordinghopkins's Avatar
Think about a flown stereo mic, something like the AKG C426 (now discontinued) whose pickup patterns are remotely controllable between cardioid types and fig8. Depending on the performance, it may be beneficial to go to different pickup patterns. For instance, a jazz concert would sound best in blumlein, capturing the audience's reactions to a sick solo. But an orchestral or chamber concert may sound better with cardioid or hypercard patterns for extra reach to the back of the stage.

A good two channel preamp, and a pair of masterlinks split off of the pre's line out makes for a reliable capture, in case of user error or device failure.
Run it all off of a good UPS, so if it storms and the power flickers during a concert, all is not lost. You can burn two discs at once after each concert - one for the shelf, one for the music library. The two copies would ideally be as far away from each other as possible, in case of weather or fire catastrophe.

Just have the tech monitor levels during warmup when there is no audience, and then back it off a notch for safety. Then during the concert, the new track buttons can be pressed to make track markers, and at intermission new playlists can be created so that when you try to redbook at the end it'll all fit on the CD's. CD's and Jewel cases can be had in bulk for almost nothing, and you can set them up with a basic XP machine or a mac mini and an inkjet printer to crank out a label from a template while burning the discs.

Alternatively, one of the recorders could be a DAW running on that same computer, and you can duplicate the files to a second external hard drive, and burn a disc on the masterlink. This way, you'll have it on a HDD, you'll have a week's worth (or more) on the masterlink, and you'll have a CD on a shelf in storage somewhere else. In this manner, if mastering is to be done before selling it to students and their families (normalizing, cutting silence and set changes between pieces, fading out after a few seconds of applause - just the basics), then it can be done in the daw. Save your master on the HDD, and burn it from the computer's CD drive. Print labels as necessary, and keep the master disc in the same jewel case as the unmastered backup. Now you have mastered (if done) and unedited copies filling hard drives (maybe 1 drive per semester?) and mastered and unmastered copies sharing jewel cases on the other side of the building or across campus. If nobody orders a copy of that recital, you won't have a mastered version, only the raw files on disc and raw files on a CD.

With proper archiving practice and appropriate safety backups, a student could theoretically request a copy of their senior or graduate recital 20 years later and the school will be building a unique library on which to draw from for instruction purposes, if it's indexed well. CD's can be sold for just enough to pay for a student worker's mastering time plus a little for supplies.

Sorry if this isn't written clearly, I'm working on a flow chart for ya to make my idea clear.
Old 10th September 2011
Lives for gear
recordinghopkins's Avatar
Do you have a picture of the space in question? That would help a lot.
Old 10th September 2011
Lives for gear
recordinghopkins's Avatar
Here ya go.
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Old 10th September 2011
Here for the gear
dan.gonko's Avatar
Thank you so much! You have actually pretty much confirmed my initial idea. I have an unused Masterlink that is currently rack-mounted in the studio that is going 100% unused at the moment. I am leaning heavily toward bringing a stereo microphone pair into the Yamaha console and capturing a redundant recording, one to the Masterlink and one to the console.

I'm not heading back into work until Monday, so I don't have a photo of the space on-hand. I'll try to get one and upload it by Monday, though!
Old 10th September 2011
Lives for gear
recordinghopkins's Avatar
No problem!
I did this very work for a while myself, and found this workflow to be quite effective, and easily run by any moderately trained personnel.
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