Old 04-24-2012, 12:27 PM   #1
Jimjamban
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Default Zoom H2n used to record live band

I want to share my recent experience in recording a live band and then editing to a CD of tracks.
I could only set and forget the recorder, no break between songs, but I could stop and start it on breaks.
I used MS+XY after I didn't like a straight stereo recording. The next improvement came from proper placement, and the use of auto-gain control.
The very best recordings came from having auto-gain, MS + XY Raw, and hanging the recorder about 5 feet directly in front of the main speaker. there was a bar above head, and I made a hanger, so the recorder hung from the bar, at a downward angle toward the speaker. The band was using Sure 58's, and the audio was very nice.
Once I got the very large files to a computer, I used Audacity to cut them into tracks, then edit the leading a trailing edges for proper start, and fade. Sometimes fading into the song when it was a lead-in with talking from the band, and/or patrons yelling out songs they wanted to hear.
I then used Normalize on both tracks, and raised the level so they were still offset by the usual levels of MS + XY, but raised equally. It gave a nice, bright, and stereophonic sound. I'm still waiting for feedback from the band. I made them 4 CD's of most of a nights performance, with a custom label that included contact information. They will use it to get new gigs.

I'm now moving on to a ZOOM R16, and going to try my hand at editing, enhancing, and mastering a CD for them.
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:20 PM   #2
Fran Guidry
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You didn't mention decoding the MS-Raw. I was under the impression that MS-Raw was not available in four-channel surround.

Fran
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Old 04-24-2012, 05:33 PM   #3
Jimjamban
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I just read your statement again, and realized that you assumed I was using surround, or 4 channel mode. I was using MS + XY, in 2 channel mode. One side is the front facing microphone, and the two side microphones are combined for the other channel. But I realized that when I open the files in Audacity, instead of Reaper with the correct plugin, I must have lost something.
I will open the original files in Reaper tonight, and see if I get anything better than what I have now. If I see other files, I should be able to mix it back to stereo, and keep only what I want in the process.

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Originally Posted by Fran Guidry View Post
You didn't mention decoding the MS-Raw. I was under the impression that MS-Raw was not available in four-channel surround.

Fran

Last edited by Jimjamban; 04-25-2012 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 04-25-2012, 03:33 PM   #4
DVDdoug
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Congratulations on getting a good recording! This can be VERY difficult, depending on the genre/style, and the PA setup. With a "simple" 2-channel recording, mic location is "everything".

Often, the PA is only used for vocals and acoustic instruments, and you don't get a good-mix with the mic in front of the speaker. You can end-up choosing between (relatively) close-micing with a poor mix, or more-distant micing with a good mix, but too much room-sound.

Usually what sounds good 'hitting your ears' live doesn't sound that good when the same sound 'hits the microphone' and is played back later on a smaller system in a smaller room...

It can be very hard to find the best mic location, and sometimes the best mic location still isn't that good...

Quote:
...and the use of auto-gain control.
If it works, I can't say that's wrong... But, usually with music, auto-gain really fouls things up! The gain gets cranked way-up during the quiet parts (or between songs), which just boosts the noise. Then, when the music kicks-in, you've got full-gain for a moment and you get a burst of distortion 'till the auto-gain settles-down again. That can be really nasty and impossible to fix.

And even when it works right, auto-gain is a type of slow-compression that takes the dynamics out of the music. You'll probably want to use some compression i post-production, but there you can tweek it or un-do it. You can't easily un-do whatever auto-gain the Zoom is applying. (I don't have a Zoom, and I don't know how well it's auto-gain works... So, like I said, if you are getting good results, I can't say you're doing anything wrong.)


Quote:
I could only set and forget the recorder, no break between songs, but I could stop and start it on breaks.
Good! That's why we have editing! The more you have to work with the better... You can copy crowd noise/applause from one song use it in another spot, if that helps.

Quote:
...then edit the leading a trailing edges for proper start, and fade. Sometimes fading into the song when it was a lead-in with talking from the band, and/or patrons yelling out songs they wanted to hear.
Those are artistic decisions. Usually, you'll want to "tighten it up a bit" (less time between songs than the actual performance). Nobody wants to listen to a minute and a half of crowd noise between songs. When I'm making individual tracks, I usually like a short crowd/audiance fade-in of about 2 seconds before the song starts (or before the song introduction). I like the fade-out to more like 15 or 20 seconds. 20 seconds is probably too long, but to me a longer fade-out sounds slightly more natural.

If I only have a few seconds between songs, or for some reason I don't want to use whatever follows the song, I'll "steal" some applause from somewhere else and cross-fade it in. You can usually get-by with using the same applause on more than one song, especially if you blend it with whatever's already there, and vary the fade-envelope.

FYI - Most "live" CDs don't fade-out completely between songs. But, if you are distributing individual tracks, you'll need to fade.

Last edited by DVDdoug; 04-25-2012 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 04-27-2012, 05:28 PM   #5
Jimjamban
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Doug, thanks for the great reply. I am a novice at live band recording, and far more a novice at the editing using tools like Reaper, and the Zoom R16 I interfaced to it. I got most of it to work, but the test I did, did not play back through my computers sound system, I heard nothing. It has to be the settings in Reaper that I have wrong. The controls in Reaper do mimic the controls on the R16, so I got it mostly right

On your comment about the Auto gain control. It was the only way I could assure to not get any clipping or distortion. The one thing I didn't count on was the gain that kicked in to make customer chatter loud at low music passages.

Maybe the H2n is behind me now, and the R16 will soon take over. First I have to study it a bit more. I hope to test some of the configuration, and initial settings with the band.

Maybe someone could comment on why I could not find this setting when I followed the R16 configuration from the Reaper Wiki forum.

" For playback via R16 turn the Master Poti to "DAW "

I did not find any reference to this statement while looking through the options in Reaper. I also get no sound on my Pc in playback.


Joe

Quote:
Originally Posted by DVDdoug View Post
Congratulations on getting a good recording! This can be VERY difficult, depending on the genre/style, and the PA setup. With a "simple" 2-channel recording, mic location is "everything".
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:11 PM   #6
shemp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimjamban View Post
On your comment about the Auto gain control. It was the only way I could assure to not get any clipping or distortion.
Use the built in limiter to control clipping.

Quote:
The one thing I didn't count on was the gain that kicked in to make customer chatter loud at low music passages.
This is what autogain does. but like DVDoug said, usually autogain fouls it up. Stay away from it for a live band situation. You can always gain adjust later in the DAW if necessary.
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Old 04-28-2012, 04:50 AM   #7
Jimjamban
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I will give it another try tonight, and use the limiter. Thanks for the reply..

Joe


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Originally Posted by shemp View Post
Use the built in limiter to control clipping.
This is what autogain does. but like DVDoug said, usually autogain fouls it up. Stay away from it for a live band situation. You can always gain adjust later in the DAW if necessary.
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Old 04-30-2012, 01:33 PM   #8
Jimjamban
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Sucess.. Thanks for the suggestions on the recorder settings. The Compress/Limiter setting did a great job. I think that it was the best yet. One thing that continues to annoy me, is the XY picking up customer chatter.
Has anyone used the MS +XY and connected an external microphone to XY for better placement? It won't be exactly what MS +XY was meant for, but it would give me more options for placement of the XY microphone.
Do I need a stereo microphone as the external? I have several, and one or two are condenser, needing the phantom power turned on, but will I get better results with a dynamic SM58?

There is no substitute for experience, even if it is somebody else's experience. It's the fast track.

Thanks, Joe
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