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Small Portable Rig for Live Jazz Club Recordings Condenser Microphones
Old 7th March 2013
Gear Nut
shawntp's Avatar

Thread Starter
Small Portable Rig for Live Jazz Club Recordings

Hey folks, I will try to practice some minimal technical writing here to keep this brief...

  • I live 2 blocks from a small jazz Club (live Jazz every night, ~1000 sq/ft, 20-40 patrons max)
  • I have friends there playing in various bands on various instruments
  • I play jazz guitar through an amp and sit in at times
  • I have basic "home" experience with recording and gear (Mics/Preamps/DAWs) mostly track-at-a-time singer songwriter type stuff and mixing/mastering
  • I currently have no gear and am starting over from scratch (I have experience with and have owned all sorts of mics)

  • To have a small/quick setup/versatile rig to capture gigs for my own performances and for friends (trios to quartets made up of a mix of Drum, Amped Upright Bass, Keys, Guitar, Sax, Trumpet)
  • The recording would just be for the sake of capture and casual listening/sharing/promotion
  • Not looking to commit to disc or sell - Just trying to capture the fun in high quality and have fun editing - possibly pair with some videos shot on SLR/etc

I just want to capture some of what I play and help out the local jazz scene and players. I am a software developer and I might also start helping some of these guys have better websites/etc. In general I just want do something to contribute to the music scene and help friends out.

I need a rig that sets up really quickly and that is made up of the minimal gear that would render a fun live jazz recording that people would really want to listen to.

I figure I need a SDC pair for overhead/environment, a mic each on kick/snare, and probably a couple other mics (on amps or up front for soloists). I really have no clue and have just been reading around here to get ideas. I was initially thinking something like a h4n would be nice and small but 4 tracks is probably not enough. From what I have read here it seems for live drums in a Jazz/trio/club setting I am probably going to want two dynamics (kick/snare) and a SDC overhead pair. I suppose I need to be able to capture 6-8 tracks just be be versatile and ready. I saw there is a Zoom R16 that captures 8 XLR inputs at once. Perhaps an all-in-one would not be as good as just carting a laptop also and using an 8-input interface (presonus or similar).

I am looking for basic recommendations and totally budget gear.

Maybe a pair of SM57's for drums
Russian Octava 012 for overheads
Not sure what else ...if I should have a LDC/other dynamics or perhaps something like a FatHead Pair to put on amps or soloists (used in tandem with a Cloud Lifter/etc).

What would you recommend as a minimal rig bade of budget gear for say 1000-1500.
Old 7th March 2013
Lives for gear
king2070lplaya's Avatar
I do many jazz combo gigs such as you describe. Multi-mic setup always take longer and is always more intrusive than you might first believe. However, if the acoustics in your club are anything like mine, multi-mic is usually the only way to yield a result better than "for archive/study" purposes only.

My recommendation would be this:

Use 1 omni mic for drums, in the ubiquitous "Steve Remote" knee position. Works like a charm, takes only 1 channel. Choice pics would be Line Audio OM1, or Shure KSM 141. I suppose if you have one of those Blondies, it would probably work well in this application, though I've never used one myself.

Bass is tough. The safest, easiest way to go in the club is direct, but the sound often leaves something to be desired. I personally use a fig. 8 ribbon to get some amount of isolation from the drums, which the bass is typically set up right next to. Maybe a Fathead would work in this application? Never tried it on bass myself, but I don't see why not.

Piano I almost ALWAYS do in stereo, unless I'm going for an effected/vintage sound. A pair of nice cardioids I would recommend here, but they gotta be nice. Piano through crap mics is atrocious. KSM 141 or used AKG 460b w/ ck61 caps are my recommendation, maybe with some post-help the NT5s by rode would also work well here.

Horns I almost always use my Line Audio cm3, as they are small and discrete, and they give a bit of atmosphere and room to what would with a typical cardioid be a very tight, almost anemic sound.

Guitar for me is always either sm7 or m88tg, and remember that you want some SPACE between the mic and the amp. Otherwise you will get this enormous focused sound that will notice with the rest of your acoustic instruments.

Bleed is your friend in these settings, mostly because you cannot avoid it. So position your mics carefully to minimize it, and it will help to create a very natural sort of ambience. And be careful of your amplified instruments playing too loud (bass, guitar) as these will bleed into everything horribly if you are not careful and will make your post job a whole lot harder.

Old 7th March 2013
Lives for gear

if multimicing I would def suggest focussing on the recording alone and leaving the guitar at home for at least the first few sessions until you get the hang of things. sounds fun though and looking forward to hearing what you come up with! the cloudlifter works great BTW---and shameless plug I do have one for sale (cl2).
Old 7th March 2013
Gear Nut
shawntp's Avatar

Thread Starter
Kevin, thanks for offering your experience - I really dig the minimal approach here. That hint about the single Omni mic on drums. Also between the Omni on drums and the CM3 up front you probably do not have to do much extra to grab that room ambience in a minimal setup like this (I would imaging you would grab a little room and crowd noise).

From what I have read, the trick with this setup seems to be embracing the inevitable bleed that you are going to have and just doing what you can to work with it (such as your recommendation with the null spot of the ribbon when used on bass).

Also thanks for the note Daniel - I will consider the CL2 if I end up getting a Ribbon pair (such as Fat Heads). I know they sound good on Electric guitar as I have used a single in the past. If I ended up going with a field recorder type solution with ribbons I would need something to boost their feed.

I was initially thinking I would need a laptop and that I would require 6-8 mics all the time but this thread has me thinking about something like the Tascam DR680 (4 XLR and two Line Inputs). I can say that there is acoustic upright piano on occasion but key payers tend to favor keyboards that I could line in.

Anyways thanks everyone - I like this keep-it-simple and just use a strategic 1-mic per instrument option with the single omni on drums.
Old 7th March 2013

There is an amazing sample recently posted by ajcdrum:

I think he's used SM57, RE20, some Oktavas, (and a Neumann), and produced pretty amazing results. I encourage you to take a look at the video clip and ask questions!
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