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Stereo recording rig
Old 11th May 2013
Gear Head
jesusfwrl's Avatar

Thread Starter
Stereo recording rig

If you are recording on a stereo medium, on location, which would you find more appealing?

1) A couple of decent preamps and a couple of decent mics, in a stereo configuration

2) A mixer, with several mics, and an on-the-fly mixdown for the stereo medium

For soloists, singer/songwriters, jazz, classical music, chamber music, etc, I would go for option 1 without thinking much about it.

But for rock, heavy metal, and such styles, where everything is loud, and acoustics are usually less than ideal, I tend to think option 2 is more likely to get me the results I want.

Has anyone tried to seriously record a live rock band using just a pair of good quality microphones? If so, what kind of results did you get? If you were to get the rock band in a space with good acoustics, and spend a long time getting everything to sound right, would just two mics be able to offer enough detail and "reinforcement" of the different instruments, or would a muddy recording, lacking in detail, be unavoidable?

I'm really getting very interested in this idea.
Old 12th May 2013
Gear Head
Go here:

Free Music : Download & Streaming : Live Music Archive : Internet Archive

You'll find tens of thousands of live recordings of all kinds of music--with a lot of rock & roll--mostly by amateurs with two microphones, and gear from super-cheap to super-expensive. Expensive equipment won't make up for poor technique, and, most importantly, where you set up your mics. Location, location, location.
Old 12th May 2013
Lives for gear
Pohaku's Avatar

Not only that but information on equipment and processing is typically provided for each recording, so you get quite a bit of info on how the recording was made. Some contributors will also provide notes on microphone location, stand height, etc. For example, see this entry for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals:

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals Live at UW Memorial Union Terrace on 2007-06-14 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

See also my post in this forum regarding gear for this kind of recording:

You might also check in over at taperssection, where a whole lot of people do precisely what you are interested in.
Old 12th May 2013
Lives for gear
If you like recording a Rock gig with noisy audience and crappy PA to get the vibe, then a couple of mics by the FOH mixer might sound bearable .(like those Free Music clips)
If you are not live with an audience, then a more considered sound can be done with two mics on even Rock bands, but they must be enthusiastic of your vision and you must know what it will sound like before you begin.
It is better with a mixer,in case a spot has to flown in, to augment the main array,just like classical.
I like it ,bands like it too.
We do 3 songs in 3 hrs,inc reg/derig.
Old 12th May 2013
Gear Head
jesusfwrl's Avatar

Thread Starter
Thanks for the replies and links guys! I wasn't referring to concerts, my idea was a more controllable environment. Instead of doing normal multitrack recordings in the studio, to just get the band in a concert hall or something, get them to sound awesome, and then just put up a pair of microphones and capture it.

The "problem" I am thinking about is the combination of acoustic and electric instruments in a rock band. You normally have an acoustic drumkit, vocals, and then everything else electric. You would need to use some form of amplification for the vocals, and then think of something for the drumkit. But if you're going to be throwing microphones there anyway, you might as well record these directly, instead of recording what is coming out of the PA with a stereo pair.

In instrumental music (no vocals) it is much easier to position the drums and amplifiers in a way so as to not require drum microphones for reinforcement. I guess I just need to find a way to try it out, with a willing band, and a suitable space, before suggesting it to any customers.

Rolo, do you have any clips of such recordings you have done, anywhere where I can listen?
Old 12th May 2013
Lives for gear
It is possible to balance vocals and electrics
Inverse square law is the answer ,as always
Vocalists ,string bass, strings, close to the array, drums and gtr amps within the critical distance but spaced accordingly.
Everybody must be able to hear one another,a good acoustic is essential.

However,this sample was recorded in a gymnasium...with no strings,but you get the idea ..
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Old 12th May 2013
Originally Posted by jesusfwrl View Post
... just get the band in a concert hall or something, get them to sound awesome, and then just put up a pair of microphones and capture it...
I'd tend to favor this approach, for the beauty of its simplicity... here's an example of exactly what you're talking about:

Old 12th May 2013
Lives for gear
Pohaku's Avatar

My post (and i believe the prior post) wasn't meant to suggest that you do concert recordings, but simply to indicate that it was entirely possible to do good two mic recordings of rock (and other kinds of) bands. The Archive recordings are merely exemplary of this and provide some information about equipment used and mic positioning.

Certainly you could do it in a controlled environment as well. Crappy PAs aside, some of the Archive recordings are quite good and are made by folks who have been doing them for years and with very good equipment. Many of the Archive recordings were openly recorded (the band permits or encourages audience recording) so the person recording may have had quite a bit of control over mic placement (stage lip placement, flown in mics, true ORTF placement, etc.). The OP asked about good mics, and Schoeps, Neumann, Gefell and AKG mics (among other high end mics) are quite commonly used for a number of the Archive recordings. The Grace V2 and V3, Sonosax and Sound Devices pres are also quite commonly used. In a controlled environment, if you have access to external power, you would obviously have expanded choices for pres and other gear. Mic location is, of course, hugely important for this kind of recording and you would have more flexibility for that in a controlled environment. In a controlled environment, you also have greater opportunity to arrange the musos so as to balance the sound. You could also consider doing 4 channel matrix recording with a two channel soundboard feed in addition to the two mics. When you have a mix of electric and acoustic instruments, as well as a PA being used, a pair of well placed room mics can often give you a better recording than just a soundboard feed. Sometimes mixing the two is even better.
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