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Why does everyone feel obliged to offer their opinions?
Old 6th February 2007
  #1
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roonsbane's Avatar
Talking Why does everyone feel obliged to offer their opinions?

Seriously, this must be one of a very few carreers in which your average musician or "joe" feels they have a right to tell you how to do your job. I have witnessed this many times, sometimes with myself, and other times with others. Would these people walk into their surgeons office and tell them what kind of stitches to use on them during surgury? I think not.

One example: This past week I am recording a fairly well known jazz trumpet player with three different ensembles. As the guy walks on stage for rehearsal/soundcheck the FOH guy and myself, (recording guy) are ready to go. Everything is wired up and all we need is some players. Now, I have recorded well over a thousand performances in this room and I have recorded everyone in these three ensembles except said trumpet player many times. Yet this trumpet player immediately tells me to remove the kick and a snare mics that I should not need (I also have two overheads up) since the drummer is so well ballanced. I am thinking dude, you are going to have to trust me with a lot of musical decisions before this day is through. You should drop this right now. Luckily he got distracted and I just did what I wanted anyway so everything worked out great on my end.

The other one is when I take Bass DI along with mic. I rarely use it, but sometime it may just save your ass. Do I reallly have to justify this? I understand Bass DI's mostly suck, though every once in a while I end up impressed.

Another example: I have seen Jonatha Brook live on several occations. I recommend seeing her highly to all slutz who appreciate incredible songs played really well! One performance at the Sommerville theater was the single best sounding show that I have ever heard and I have seen many live concerts. This was a gorgeous sound. Then I saw her at the Berklee performance center. Again, great sounding show though not quite as incredible due to the acoustics not being as nice. Later I am on the Jonatha Brook web forum and I read some dumb ass saying how the sound wasn't so good where he was sitting (A reasonable statement) this person goes on to say that they should have been using several smaller speakers or Blah Blah Blah Yada Yada Yada I don't remember exactly what he was spouting on about. Who the F%$# do you think you are. What makes you think that you are qualified to give advise on speaker placement to an engineer that is probably among the very best in the very difficult field of live sound you will find on this planet. As a pretty experienced recording guy I recognize live sound as a very specialized artform.

Now, I am not above asking a player where a mic has sounded good on their instrument, especially if I have never seen some crazy instrument, or if it's too loud to put my ear where the mic might go, but this is over the top!

Am I the only slut who has a problem with this sort of crap? It really bums me out sometimes.

Cameron

Last edited by roonsbane; 6th February 2007 at 06:59 AM.. Reason: I missed my name.
Old 6th February 2007
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

no, i've had the same stuff happen. i do a lot of classical recitals and i once had a student's teacher inform me that they got really good recordings by putting the mics at the back of the hall... seriously like a good 50 feet back from the stage. i had to politely inform her that i didn't think i'd be putting my mics there. it does seem like everyone becomes a damn expert when it comes to recording.
Old 6th February 2007
  #3
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d_fu's Avatar
 

The conductor of a well known classical choir from Hamburg decided to tell me off because he didn't like the way my pair of omnis (!) was pointed at the choir... It was a bit closer up than I had intended, because I had to set up with zero sound check and the choir decided to move forward from the position I hade been told... Anyhow, I still wish I had asked him whether he had the first idea of microphones...

Earlier, he had ranted and raved because he didn't know the performance (at a festival) was going to be recorded at all (he simply hadn't read the contract saying that archival recordings were to be made). After his wife and manager had told him everything was alright, one might have expected him to apologize, but no way, not him... fuuck

The recording turned out quite ok, IIRC. Never any feedback from them, of course.

And I've had plenty of discussions on the right choice of microphone with musicians from India. One told me the best mic for his Santoor was the SM57, that's what he knew, that's what he wanted.
And a particular Sitar player had this flattering, though not very helpful habit of saying "Daniel's here, we don't need soundcheck..." But soundcheck with indian musicians is useless anyhow, they always play far louder during the concert....

Daniel
Old 6th February 2007
  #4
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SixAndChange's Avatar
 

You mean like when I get hired to record a David Carradine Live In NYC at the Palladium CD and upon releasing the master he complains that its an music release and not the 10 minutes of spoken word he thought it would be.
Old 6th February 2007
  #5
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pkautzsch's Avatar
 

This has happened to me too: trumpet player telling me the violins sounded too sharp. "That's not what I hear!" This could also be in the Stupidest Things You've Heard thread. What I also think is really great: setting up a close double bass spot mic, telling the three bass players NOT TO MOVE IT after they asked if they could help me, and of course they DO move it when changing their position in the interval of the live concert I'm recording.
Old 6th February 2007
  #6
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ajfarber's Avatar
 

I've seen it too often. A musician telling the sound-man, FOH engineer or recording engineer what to do. And said musician is usually quite gruff and officious. With that said, I admit do micro-managing FOH guys myself. As a jazz musician, I often perform at venues where there are professional FOH guys. Sometimes, however, you get these "kids" that have never heard jazz before and just assume It's supposed to sound like rock & roll. They mix the rhythm section too loud and up front, and the horns are just a rumour.

I've seen FOH guys try to cut a hole an a jazz drummers bassdrum.

Drummer:"Hey! That was a $80 calf-skin drumhead!"

FOH guy: "Not anymore!"

It is NOT a kick drum with a pillow inside it. A jazz bassdrum should sound like a drum and ring a bit. No need to cut a hole and insert an AKG d112.

No bass DI needed. It's an acoustic instrument. Put a mic on it, you'll be fine.

If jazz musicians a rude to you FOH guys, It's only because they've been burned by the inexperienced guys too often. Make nice with them, discuss your favourite jazz albums and players. That will assure them that you are competent, or at least not clueless. And for the FOH guys that don't listen to jazz, do a little bit of homework. It will pay off later.

A few tips. Jazz musicians generally do not like:

bass DI
pillow in bassdrum
"power toms"
anything touching their instrument.


The less amplification, the better. Make it sound they way it does acoustically, just loud enough to fill the venue.


There are exceptions, of course. There are some bass players that use amplifiers and like bass DI. You can't have it too loud for their taste. These bass players are easily identified because they play on a stool, and when they solo, it's only high up on the g-string with fast vibrato.

Good luck, and don't let the mean ol' trumpet player bother you.
Old 6th February 2007
  #7
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roonsbane's Avatar
Thanks for the replies.

There is a very large element of facitiousness in my post. That being said.

Andy said:
Quote:
No bass DI needed. It's an acoustic instrument. Put a mic on it, you'll be fine
Wrong! Sometimes it's just about ratio's. Specifically the ratio of the bass to the drummer that is right next to him/her. I believe that I have worked very hard at my upright bass tones for over fifteen years. Many pro bass players I have recorded (John Lockwood, Ron Carter, Cecil McBee, Bruno Raberg, and many others) have appreciated my efforts in this department. And I have played enough gigs as a trumpet player and guitarist so I can appreciate that end of it as well. But I tend to listen to what the engineer comes up with before I comment on it.

As I stated: I most often will always choose to use the mic, but sometimes it's just not possible if even for a few bars on the loudest passages.

Also I am not talking amplification, only recording.

It is clear that some engineer has burned this guy bad. But again, I am really in control (Both Horizontal and Verticle) of his whole recording, so the first 10 seconds of meeting someone should not so confrontational. Do ya think!

Cameron
Old 6th February 2007
  #8
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roonsbane's Avatar
Oh Yea,

The other thing is that I know that you can't determine the ballance or tones being put out in the house system by listening to the monitoring system. They are two completely different things. Especially in a large venue.

Cameron.
Old 6th February 2007
  #9
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A wise man once told me that only the ignorant can be totally sure. Real experts generally answers "it depends" on questions. Sometimes I remember this in time.

Gunnar
Old 6th February 2007
  #10
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roonsbane's Avatar
Lets get away from the specifics of my examples since obviously there is more than one way to skin a cat. Can we deal with the bigger issue of how we can avoid these kind of responses or perhaps what our reply could be in times such as those. There are a few posts recently related to this subject. It can be a difficult thing to deal with, especially when you are tight on time. This is very much a people management kind of issue especially when people so easily offer their unneeded advise and criticism at the wrong time. I have witnessed this over and over to so many great and not so great engineers.

I love this earlier post from the "Superbowl reality check" thread from click track:
Quote:
Until you've sat in that chair and do the best you absolutely can with very little to work with in terms of "ideal" conditions, I suggest some of the backseaters curtail their criticisms.

Its easy to sit back in your comfy armchair while stuffing your face with chilli and nachos and comment to your friends on what the dude wearing the red shirt should and should not have done. Until you DO wear the red shirt, and until you DO have a PSM yelling in com about time, and until you DO have something go not-quite right in the feed...in the rain...until you DO have to worry about what the others are doing to your audio downstream in the station...and until you DO have to work a gig like this where the A1 was probably in teh middle of a 20 hour production day...until you have done all of this...
I do have some suggestions on the matter. Untill a house engineer stops looking like they are busy trying to correct whatever issue they may be dealing with, save your suggestions. You may be worried about the horn ballance and they are trouble shooting a bad buzz on the guitar. Don't offer advise until your opinion is asked for. Give them some time. I would say about one quarter of the allotted soundcheck time or until the engineer looks bored.

If you want to suggest something, try and be cognisant of where in the project timeline you are. How much work would it take to switch or do what you are asking. Often we bring out the smallest FOH console for the job to save our back. Obviously, we try and be ready for another mic or two. Sometimes more than that will require a change in consoles. This is rarely feasible at a certain point.

Maybe you you could even ask how many shows have you recorded or done FOH at the venue before you offer your 2 cents.

Especially when it comes to FOH mixing (Which I try and avoid like the plague). Its so much more than moving the sliders until the balance is right.


You can always say " This bass sounds killing when the mic is here" That will always be appreciated. But don't expect that they won't move the mic later if that doesn't work for them.

Cameron
Old 8th February 2007
  #11
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ajfarber's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by roonsbane View Post
Thanks for the replies.

There is a very large element of facitiousness in my post. That being said.

Andy said:

Wrong! Sometimes it's just about ratio's. Specifically the ratio of the bass to the drummer that is right next to him/her. I believe that I have worked very hard at my upright bass tones for over fifteen years. Many pro bass players I have recorded (John Lockwood, Ron Carter, Cecil McBee, Bruno Raberg, and many others) have appreciated my efforts in this department. And I have played enough gigs as a trumpet player and guitarist so I can appreciate that end of it as well. But I tend to listen to what the engineer comes up with before I comment on it.




Cameron
Yes sir, in the case here with the bassists you mentioned, the amp is part of their sound. They keep low string action and play light.

I was speaking about the acoustic purist types, many of whom don't even own a pick-up. Ben Wolfe, Ari Roland, Reggie Veal etc...

They don't use, or own amps, and they put out enough sound that you can mic them even when standing next to a drummer. All my favourite records were recorded without bass direct or isolation of any kind.

Even Ron Carter had a big acoustic sound in the 1960s. When pick-ups and amps came in, some guys lowered their strings and changed the way they played.
Old 8th February 2007
  #12
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d_fu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by roonsbane View Post
Don't offer advise until your opinion is asked for.
While I agree in principle, it's sometimes necessary to intervene and insist, if a problem is simply not noticed by the FOH engineer.
Like a delay of some milliseconds in the signal path during the soundcheck for a concert with Indian Music. Very noticeable on the Tabla. The FOH guy didn't hear it and didn't even acknowledge it at first. Only after I (and also the Tabla player) insisted for a while did he look for and track down the problem... It was some speaker delay that had been left on from an earlier show.

Daniel
Old 8th February 2007
  #13
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neurosound's Avatar
 

House Sound dudes

That's a really good point d_fu, stuff left on from previous shows (or not even checked properly in the first place). It always pays to check out (interrogate) the house system before sound check.
An example of this was a theatre show I was touring last year. In one particular venue, I played the first cue of the show and instantly noticed the whole image pulling to the left. I expressed my concern to the house engineer who just shrugged at me and said it was fine on the gig the previous week.
This particular theatre uses a dbx drive rack of the pc controlled variety to manage the speaker system, so I asked to see the system on the laptop. Would you believe the entire left side (ie main FOH left, plus circle and gallery delays) are all down 3db on the output stage.
After picking myself up from the floor, the dude says "that's how the contractor who installed it set it". Several questions later, it's revealed that the system has apparently been like that for nearly two years!
Always check things out and ask the questions. Especially if you know your gear is in A1 condition. Sure, your gear could have decided to fail on you, but in my experience, most of the time it's the house sruff that's causing the grief.

J.
Old 8th February 2007
  #14
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d_fu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by neurosound View Post
That's a really good point d_fu, stuff left on from previous shows
Previous show or not, he main probem was the twirp didn't even hear it... Even when it was pointed out to him... "Look, the sound comes after the finger hits the drum..." fuuck
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