Live Music recording

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    • #85816

      Hi all,

      I am in the market for a video and audio recorder for live music situations.  My son plays guitar and I am missing out on his performances due to poor equipment (smartphone).  Great guitar playing that I am ruining with poor video capture


      Check out the video and you will see what I mean by ruining


      I am interested in easy setup since I have to help him with his equipment and plan on publishing the videos on social media.  I will have low light situations so I am concerned with that.  Zoom in and out is also a requirement I would like to have.


      I have a budget like everyone but I am looking for advice on a good audio and video matchup for my needs.  



    • #212494

      First advice is to use the phone the right way around – tall and thin is rarely of much use, as screens are in portrait mode. The sound your phone captured is actually not bad at all – the real problem is that electric bands with a PA system are rarely able to be recorded with any form of distant mic placement. A good and capable recorder just captures what it hears. To do the job properly, as in to get a CD style sound means a lot of equipment. In this recording you have the sound of the crowd, the sound of the lads amp, plus the rest of the band's amps and the PA sound, whioch may be just vocals or might have a few instruments in it too.


      There really is no half-way house, and what the phone captured is pretty close to how it really sounded. Swap the phone for an expensive mic and recorder and it would sound very, very similar. Perhaps, for that style, it's a mic per instrument, with maybe 4 on the drums, plus the individual mics for singers and it's going to be expensive and complex. The usual advice to take a feed from the mixer only works when everything is going through it, and the mix is balanced. Smaller bands like this often have just vocals and maybe a guitar going through it – so recoding the output doesn't include every source. Bigger bands now have digital mixers that can plug  into a laptop and record every sound source separately – but in smaller venues you really want a fader marked 'make quieter', not 'make louder'.


      Please though – rotate the camera 90 degrees!

    • #212495

      Thanks Paulears!!!!  I appreciate the advice!!!!

    • #212497

      The subject is pretty complex, and loads of people who have decent kit are really stuck in a typical small venue situation. Totally acoustic sets mean if it sounds good where you are standing, it will record ok. Add electric instruments and it goes pear shaped quickly, especially if the band are louder and uncontrolled. I'm actually in a touring band, and we usually play bigger events and take our own systems for best sound, but if we play smaller multi-band venues, or festivals, you have to use their systems, and it's always a compromise. Very often they get the drummer to play, or the ultra loud distorted guitar and then they build the missing sounds around them because you can't make these quieter. Adding extra everything is easy, but frequently turning the PA off still has the drums too loud! 

    • #212500

      Hi mjf22 – the new $400 Zoom Q8 music video recorder may be the solution.  This camera combines a high quality audio recorder with a high resolution video camera (with digital zoom).


      Here is an example of what this camera can do in a live music environment:





      As with other high end recorders from Zoom, the microphone capsule is interchangeable, allowing you to mount several mic types to improve the quality of your recordings, as seen here:





      To my ears, the $130 SGH-6 shotgun capsule sounds best.



      And here is the digital zoom, which allows you to avoid the "fisheye" wide angle effect:





      Hope this is helps you get better recordings of your son!



      Hybrid Camera Revolution

    • #212511

      Sadly, the zoom clips explain only too well why on camera mics just don't work for live music.


      In the first rocky clip, the drums frequently wipe out the guitar – the auto level crushes the overall level, and the guitar gets lost. In the less strident bits, it actually manages to have a sense of stereo placement, then it just gets lost – then at the end, the drums allow a bit of clarity again. At the end, you hear the vocalist's voice through the PA – a dull, muffled indistinct (and very, very typical) sound.


      In the Tears in Heaven clip, the guitar is simply too loud, and the voice can't keep up. Swapping the mics changes the tonal characteristics, brightening up the guitar a bit, but the voice always comes second because without separate miking, the balance between voice and guitar remains the same. The variable polar patterns certainly control acceptance angle, but as the clarity went up, the sense of realism goes down as the room ambience went away. Ultimately the clarity of the vocals never got out of the bargain basement. 


      Throwing money at a single point microphone, in situations where the sound balance is impossible to control rarely justifies the outlay.


      One of the reason the Behringer X32 range has become such a best seller for small PA systems is that it can operate as a multichannel interface AND a PA mixer. So the bands mic everything up, and even if only the mics for vocals are going through the PA, plugging in a laptop lets your record every single one separately. Until you can do this, live recordings are a risk – beca.use you just cannot do it properly. The zoom did a good job, within the limits of a mic trying to capture the sound at a distance

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