First Attempt at Live Recording

Dec. 7, 2009, 5:06 a.m.

So I’ve been recording myself and small groups and bands for a while, but just last night I finally got up the nerve to drag out all my recording gear to record a Christmas service performed by our worship band for the Wesley Foundation on UofL's Campus. It was pretty fun and the results were much more successful than I imagined so I thought I would share some experiences. First off, I should have made a checklist of cables and gear. I relied on my memory, but that resulted in an extra trip back to the apartment for firewire cables, a powerstrip, and an xlr cable. The band consisted of a grand piano, two vocalists, a flute player, bass, and drums.

The room the service is held in is acoustically miserable. Large room, high metal ceiling, all concrete walls. It's basically a concrete bomb shelter with the band shoved in the corner. I tried to close mic everything and minimize bleed over. Each of the vocalists sung into a shure pg-58 which then went into a small behringer mixer(basically used for it's preamps and routing), one panned hard left, one right, to separate tracks into the Digi 003. A summed vocal mix went to the FX out(which then went to a powered mixer to speakers).

The bass was mic'd with a '57, flute with an MXL 990, and the piano had a 990 just inside (played around with the placement for a while to get the best sound. The drums had a cheap dynamic on the kick, and an MXL991 overhead. I had one free channel on my Digi 003 I should have used for snare and hi hat, but I was out of stands and decent mics by this point. I set some levels, made sure there wasn't clipping, hit record, and hoped for the best. When I got everything back home, I expected the recording to sound like mush, but I was pleasantly surprised.

While the performance wasn't the best, the sound quality was much higher than I expected. There was great separation in the vocals. The bass cab through the '57 was easily the best sounding track. The piano sounded surprisingly good, and the drums could use a bit of work, but the 991 made the (very cheap)cymbals sound really passable. It was fun and hectic to use all my gear to capture a live performance, and hopefully as I learn more I can make the process simpler and get better results.