# recording options

#### putney

##### Member
In my school's theatre we are trying to setup a way to record concerts. We already have a mixing board that I'm assuming wil work with a recording system. Does anyone have any reccomendations on what system would work best. I guess we only need one track since we can do all the mixing on our board. Also does anyone have any suggestions on what kind of overhead mic to get. We would like to keep the cost as low as possible while stil using a high quality board.
Thanks

#### audioslavematt

##### Active Member
What are you wanting to record to?

#### Footer

##### Senior Team
Senior Team
More specific would be good... i.e. do you want to be able to hand whoever a cd directly after the concert?.... also are you going to be recording singers, orchestras, band, or speakers?....

#### saxman0317

##### Active Member
In our school, we just record onto video in our booth with a recording system. If its just sound though, adobe audition works great with the computer routed right from the board and adobe recording it and changing formats. From there, you can edit directly and everything to. Great setup, but alittle pricy.

#### MircleWorker

##### Member
If you are trying to record a band or an Orchestra, I would suggest you have two mics. You will want to hang them if possible, or just put them on a very tall stand 16' to 18' above the stage or as high as you can go if low ceiling.

You will want to set the mics to cross each other, Left mic is pointed to the right side and the right mic pointed to the left side, XY Pattern.

I would use good mics AKG 414's, about $800.00 each. You can select between Cardiod, Omni, Hyper, and Figure 8 pickup patterns. If those are too much money then go with good Condenser Mic Shure SM81s are a good start. OK to record them go right into a CD Recorder. I would suggest a compressor on the system. #### putney ##### Member Thanks for the replies. We're mainly recording orchestra and choir. It would be nice to be able to record using a seprate console because our computer is kind of slow and doesn't have much memory. Also mircleworker what exactly does the compresser do and do you have any suggetions on where to find a cd recorder or compresser. Last edited: #### fosstech ##### Active Member MircleWorker said: If you are trying to record a band or an Orchestra, I would suggest you have two mics. You will want to hang them if possible, or just put them on a very tall stand 16' to 18' above the stage or as high as you can go if low ceiling. You will want to set the mics to cross each other, Left mic is pointed to the right side and the right mic pointed to the left side, XY Pattern. I would use good mics AKG 414's, about$800.00 each. You can select between Cardiod, Omni, Hyper, and Figure 8 pickup patterns. If those are too much money then go with good Condenser Mic Shure SM81s are a good start.

OK to record them go right into a CD Recorder. I would suggest a compressor on the system.

That's pretty much what I do. For orchestra, I don't even turn on the FOH amps, so all my energy is focused toward recording. I have a Tascam CD burner, which works pretty well, but is a little slower at mounting/recognizing discs than I'd like. Anyway, I run my overheads pretty much like that, but since I don't have a way to get my overheads hung over the orchestra (they go way out over the pit that is never used, no pipes or anything above it), I use floor mics on the apron for the front coverage. The parts of the orchestra that make it back past the arch and under the first electric get covered by the overheads permanently hung on the first electric. I take the left and right overhead and floor mics and pan them over to their respective channels. That gets mixed down to aux 7-8, which is what I have set up as our recording auxes. 1-2 are monitors, 9-12 are effects sends, the rest are free. Each individual channel gets compressed (really limited, the ratio is infinity to one or darn near close to it) so the full compression happens when the recorder is a little under 0dBfs. I also put a compressor over the aux send as a safety if the mix level ever gets too high. Only the loudest parts of the concert put this compressor into action. Clipping a digital device sounds like complete crap, it's not forgiving like tape is. As soon as you go over 0dBfs, you're toast, so it's very important to limit your signal so it will never clip your digital recorder. That's why these compressors are so important, since orchestral music has probably the largest dynamic range of all genres. You'll get carried away with the quieter parts, boosting your gain to make the meters twitch, until they hit a particualrly vibrant part of the piece, and that's where you'll go into the red.

It's quite a bit more difficult to get a good recording at a choir concert if you're also running FOH. I'm pretty sure all of us here in the non professional world don't have the equipment or human resources to have two separate mix engineers on two separate consoles. So the FOH engineer is usually stuck doing the recording mix as well. I mainly concentrate on the FOH mix first, since that's what people are hearing in the house. I run the canned music as a post fader send to the aux 7-8, in stereo. I run the choir mics pre fader, so their level will be the same in the mix. I also run that in stereo as well, panning the stage right mics a little to the left, and the stage left mics a little to the right to give the FOH and recording mixes a little depth. I don't compress the individual channels on the choir's overhead mics. I just put a compressor on the aux sends and call it good. However, I do put a compressor on the soloist's mic, since that's almost always a necessity if you don't want them blowing peoples' ears off with their bad mic technique.

It's quite a job trying to get a timid choir heard over the music, getting them to sound good, getting the recording mix right, and making sure you're getting a reasonable level on the recorder without clipping.

Last edited:

#### Peter

##### Well-Known Member
If you are just going to be recording choir / orchestra type things, you can probably get away with a good quality 2 channel recorder, but if you want to record other types of shows you will probably want to go with a multi-channel recorder. [I started out just doing 2 channel recording like you are talking about, but soon found myself wanting more channel capabilty and the abilty to edit things after the fact (especially useful for "bands" with vocals and guitars and drums and such), you may want to think if this is going to be something you want to do down the line, because it may influence what you want to buy now]

A compressor takes incoming sound and measures how loud it is, if it is below a certain threshold it lets it out the other end at the same volume, if it is above a certain threshold it lowers the outgoing volume by some factor. So if your volume is 2 db over the threshold, it lets it out at 1 db over the threshold, if it's 4 db over, it goes out at 2db... and so on. you can ajust this ratio and the threshold level to make it so that you never have a signal going into your recording device that is louder then it can handle. It is also good for things like clapping, so when it goes from being fairly soft in the room to being loud, it doesnt just clip and sound horrable. I personaly do not own any compressors (no ) but I just have high quality recording equipment and I record at a very low volume and then increase the volume later on, and use computerized compressors in my recording software. Although, if you are not going to have a computer (and editing) in the process, you are probably better off buying a physical compressor unit.

As far as actually setting this stuff up, if your board has extra Aux outputs, it is fairly easy to take two channels on your existing board, and turn on one channel in each of two free auxes (so one channel and one aux for right, and one each for left) then take these aux outputs and send them into a compressor and then into your recording device.

Now as far as the actual devices are concerned, alot of it comes down to how much money you want to spend. I started out with an Audigy 2nx USB sound card tied into my laptop. \$100 and it worked fine. My High School band bought a small Minidisc recorder and that worked well too. There are tons of devices out there for recording. Really the best thing you can do is go and browse lots and lots of websites selling these kind of things, compare them and get a feel for ones that you think may work. If you come down to a choice between a few of them, please feel free to post here and we'll try to give you hand pointing out the pros and cons of each.

#### Peter

##### Well-Known Member
When your trying to do all that complecated of a recording like the chorus example above, and run FOH at the same time is where I LOVE my multi-track recorder. I just tie it into 8 direct outs and hit record (or 6 and a right and left mix). I then am free to focus on the live mix, and I can go back later and make a good recording mix. The recording on my device is clean enough that I basicly turn it all the way down to its lowest setting and dont have to worry about things getting loud enough to clip (which is good b/c I dont have any compressors), and I can always amplify it again on the computer to make it loud enough again.

If you think you are going to want this level of control over everything, you may be wise to invest in a multi-track recorder, then you have the power of "the undo" button when you are editing it later on!

#### kingfisher1

##### Active Member
fosstech said:
since orchestral music has probably the largest dynamic range of all genres. You'll get carried away with the quieter parts, boosting your gain to make the meters twitch, until they hit a particualrly vibrant part of the piece, and that's where you'll go into the red.

QUOTE]

Amen to that. Us orchestral people can be very snobbish about our sound.
while this topics up, i've have a quick question
first, Howmuch do you end up playing with you levels? do you let the orchestra do the dynamics for themselves?

Secondly, is there any thing special to know about specific sections of the orchestra, and where to place mics.

i ask because i just recieved teh recording for my last concert and the low end is about half as loud as the screach violins/flutes, etc. understanding the principals of sound are resposible for this, what is the best way to acheive balance of orchestra sound ?

#### Peter

##### Well-Known Member
My approach is usualy hands off the level once recording has started unless something really criticaly needs to be ajusted. Like I said before though, I usualy have the benifit of editing later on the computer.

About the balance... some of it is EQ, some of it is good mics, some of it is mic placement. I guess if you were really luckly and had alot of money, and had alot of time, you could mic EVERYONE and go back and mix it all together later ... but... for the rest of us meer mortals... Alot of it comes down to placement.

I have found that if you are too far out infront of the orchestra (over the audience too much) you can get alot of Flutes / upper woodwinds simply because they are closest to the mic and the bass gets lost in their backs. The best results I have gotten have been by putting two mics in an x-y patern about 18 ft above the conductors head, aiming at the back row. This seemed to pick up the bass in the back well, while shoving the bright (and loud) upper woodwinds off center and slightly dulling their sound.

However, this worked well for me largely because of the room I was in (a large box room with HIGH cielings, with sound shells behind the orchesra). You are probably really going to have to play with mic placement to find a sweet spot for your room. If you can, ask the director if you can come to one of their rehersals in that room and go in and move mics arround while they are playing and keep listening to the sound and see if you can find a sweet spot.

#### MircleWorker

##### Member
putney said:
Thanks for the replies. We're mainly recording orchestra and choir. It would be nice to be able to record using a separate console because our computer is kind of slow and doesn't have much memory. Also mircleworker what exactly does the compressor do and do you have any suggestions on where to find a CD recorder or compressor.

This is the CD Recorder Tacam CD-RW2000 that I use. this is also a good one Tascam cd-RW900

compressers/ Limiter in a nut shell is a device that takes the audio input signal and briefly turns the signal level down when it gets too loud.

OK you have a an orchestra that plays real soft and then gets real loud, peaking the input of your recording device, computer, Cd recorder, DVD recorder, Tape, and so on.

Anyways so what you want to do is put a compressor in line of the input signal, this could be from the mics to the mixer, or from the mixer into the recorder. When you setup the compressor you can have it take off the top of that signal ( the part that is peaking and fade the level a little.

Operating the Compressor, first you set the threshold (when you want the device to start compressing the signal) second is the ratio, how much to compress (2:1,4:1) You don't want too much compression, it sounds bad. Third is how fast you want it to attack the signal. Do you want the level to fade down slowly or the level to jump down fast. Fourth is fade up time of the compression.

I hope this helped and didn't confuse you.

#### mbandgeek

##### Active Member
through experience, if you have mics directly over the stage, have them far away from instruments or else you will get distortion. what i have done last week to record a show is have two mics up in the booth. it works well if you booth is 100' away from the preformers

#### soundlight

##### Well-Known Member
How I record the band concerts:
Four overheads: two forward, two rear. the same ones that we use for our plays/musicals, because they are there, and we just turn the gain down alot.
Two mics on stands that sit in the pit: to pick up the front rows in front of the valance that the overheads are behind.
Two or three mics over the major areas of the percussion, on HIGH boom stands.
Works pretty well. I let the director pull up the balance betweent he mics that he likes, and then i just hit record.

If you are going to run in stereo, just use two mics going in and the two direct outs on the channels. Set the gain right, and then you can just hit record.

If you're really on a budget, and you're not going to run the mics through the speakers at all, then you can easily get by with some A-T PRO-37's (about a hundred dollars each) if the recording isn't "mission critical" and won't be for sale, but just for the purpose of archiving.

Run the mics in to the channels, the direct outs to the compressor/limiter inputs, the compressor/limiter outputs to the cd-recorder inputs, and then press record.

#### kingfisher1

##### Active Member
Peter said:
If you can, ask the director if you can come to one of their rehersals in that room and go in and move mics arround while they are playing and keep listening to the sound and see if you can find a sweet spot.
my problem is i'm playing while we rehearse, and becuase of this i get accostumed to hearing the cellos and the instruments around me, so when i try and listen objectively i end up having i bias to the cellos/basson.

#### Peter

##### Well-Known Member
Haha! for me it's bias towards the Clarinets! I'm often in the same situation! Maybe you can come in when some other band is in there (Middle School or something...) If not, well, it might be worth it to miss one rehersal, or just stick to tweaking things abit each concert until you hit it right.

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