Canadian Musician - September/October 2017 - Page 60

LIVE SOUND Travis Stoddart is an audio engineer, live sound tech, and system design consultant based in Hamilton, ON. He runs his own business, Alleyway Productions, as well as authoring the blog The Home Studio Archive. He can be reached at alleywayprod@gmail.com. By Travis Stoddart Recording Live Performances from FOH A t some point in your career as an FOH engineer, you will prob- ably be asked to record a live performance. Whether you’re working with a dedicated recordist or recording the show yourself, some prior planning and careful consideration can make for both a great-sounding concert and clean, usable recordings. Analog Consoles There are generally two approaches to splitting signals when recording live from an analog console. The first and easiest is to use a direct output. Most professional live sound consoles have an output immediately following the preamp stage that is usually labelled “direct out” and in the form of a balanced TRS jack. This can then be run into a line-level input on an audio interface to get the signal into a computer and the recording software of your choice. This is usually the least complicated way of splitting the signal and has the advantage that the recording rig can be operated easily from the FOH position without a significant increase in cabling or set-up time; however, it’s important to consult the owner’s manual for the console and ensure that the direct outputs are in fact pre-EQ/dynamics/fader, as you want to avoid recording through the processing on the console for maximum flexibility in post-production. The second approach is to split the signal prior to it reaching the con- sole. This can be achieved using a purpose-built splitter that is designed to operate at mic levels and uses transformers to prevent ground loops and provide electrical isolation. When working with consoles that don’t have a direct output on each channel, this is the only way to properly split an analog signal for recording. In this application, the quality of the splitter will have a significant effect on the quality of the recording, so I recommend renting or purchasing something that is well designed. Digital Consoles In recent years, the proliferation of digital live sound consoles has made recording performances much easier. Many digital consoles can be connected directly to a computer via a USB cable and configured to split the signal to the computer prior to any EQ or dynamics process- ing. Splitting a digital signal is generally much easier than splitting an analog signal, as many of the problems common to analog splitting (like ground loops) rarely occur in the digital domain. 60 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N Some digital consoles also feature Audinate’s Dante audio network- ing technology, which allows digital audio signals to be sent over Cat-5e Ethernet cable. Using the Dante Virtual Soundcard and Dante Controller applications installed on a computer, this audio can easily be split or routed to any destination on the network. This not only makes it easy to record a live performance (as any computer with an Ethernet port can be connected to the network and used for recording), but also elimi- nates costly and bulky snake cables and makes splitting to a separate monitor console easy. In my experience, the Dante platform is quite robust and is currently one of the best options available for large-scale live sound systems where recording is a consideration. Microphones Every instrument must be picked up by a microphone or a DI to be recorded, so some prior planning should be undertaken to ensure that there are enough mics and DI boxes for every sound source. This can be a challenge in smaller venues as often the ambient sound of louder sources, like guitar amps, is enough to fill the room. In this case, microphones should still be placed and routed to the console as per normal, but the fader should remain in the off position. Provided that the direct outputs are pre-fader, the signal will still be sent to the recording rig without being sent to the mains. Another important consideration is the usage of mics to capture the sound of the audience and the ambient sound in the venue. The person mixing the concert recording will use these to make the concert sound “live” and bring out the sound of the audience clapping and cheering. These microphones need to be placed somewhere where they will not interfere with the musicians, but also where they are not at risk of damage from the audience. Hanging these from the ceiling or placing them near FOH can be a good option if it can be done safely. These mics should be run directly to the recording rig. Capturing a live pe əɵͻeЁٔѼձи хѡ)ѥѼɥ锁͕ݥѠѡͽ܁ԁݥ)ѡͥͥȁɽаԁЁɕ)ɕɑ́ݥѠմЁȁٔ