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Improving Live Concert Recording Sound

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I've lurked on the forums for the past two weeks. It gave me time to read everything and order a RH10 along with a battery box, attenuator, and low sensitivity SP-TFB-2 mic. I got them just in time for Queen's concert in Hyde Park, London.

So I'd like to thank you all as the recording came out pretty good. Still, it could probably be enhanced. I've played around with Adobe Audition and used a custom treble boost as it sounded like it had been recorded in a box. It sounds much better now, but I'd love to get some advice on how to get the best sound possible out of that concert recording.

For example, and I'm not sure if that's possible but I'd love to be able to remove the sound of people chatting right in the middle of a slow song. I've searched the forums but found nothing. Any advice on improving the sound is most welcome!

Thank you!


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Sounds like you're already doing what that recording needs: changing the EQ to improve it. Try some tweaking in the midrange, too, where most of the music is.

People chatting is not removable: if you applied a filter to the frequencies of their voices (which you could do) you would also be removing the music at those same frequencies.

Where were your mics placed to sound like it was "in a box"? Were they low on your body, where people around you muffled the sound? Mic placement makes a lot of difference.

Also, I hope you were using either battery box to line-in or attenuator to mic-in--not both at once.

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Thanks for your answer!

The binaurals were first placed in my ears, but it got uncomfortable so I hooked them to my shirt's buttons. Since I'm fairly tall, I don't think the sound was blocked by other people, but the mics might have turned around and faced my chest rather than the band.

Thanks for confirming that removing people's voices would remove music as well. Not a thing to do then.

About the battery box/attenuator, I actually used <a href="http://www.soundprofessionals.com/cgi-bin/gold/item/SP-SPSB-9" target="_blank">SP-SPSB-9</a> which is a battery box with in-line level control. That's what I called the "attenuator". It was pretty helpful to control the recording volume.

Any other advice regarding sound improvement? I'll soon post one of the songs to the gallery so you guys can tell me what you think about my first recording.



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Thanks for the tip. Any post recording tips?

If you're interested, I just posted a song of the Queen concert I went to last week: <a href="http://forums.minidisc.org/index.php?act=module&module=gallery&cmd=user&user=12475&op=view_album&album=93">http://forums.minidisc.org/index.php?act=module&module=gallery&cmd=user&user=12475&op=view_album&album=93</a>

Edited by bresso
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About the chatting:

If you feel like experimenting, Cool Edit probably has filters that you can define widely or narrowly as you wish. Are your chatters a monotone? Maybe you could find the frequency of their voices and narrowly filter that frequency. I have no idea how it would sound, but I would be curious.

Men's voices are probably between about 150-300 hz. Women, an octave higher, 300-800 Hz, unless you've got a shrieker or an opera singer next to you, perhaps 1000 Hz.

Make sure you save a copy of your original file, but then try a narrow filter in Cool Edit and see if you can nab just the talkers. If they're in the same frequency range as the vocals, though, you're out of luck.

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There's a simple coherence that you should realize: You can have the qualitative best, perfectly calibrated and set up equipment, but if you don't have a good source to begin with, you'll never get to exhaust your equipment. If you're recording from a stack of speakers, the best you can get is the original sound of these. If they don't sound good, your recording won't either. Don't expect miracles. Try to record unamplified acoustic instruments to compare, and you'll see what i'm talking about. You'll be amazed about the potential of your new equipment. Don't expect to easily improve a mediocre recording with post processing. Instead try to get it as good as possible to the recording medium prior. Post processing should be only some kind of fine tuning, if needed at all.

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Hi everyone – 1st time poster, I've been reading alot from here over the last few days. I have question about what is the best location to record a concert from! I do understand that it's highly dependent on what mic you're using, however I still can’t decide! Some people seem to be suggesting looking for a “sweet spot” in the audience – which is likely to be around the soundboard where the sound is being calibrated from. Yet prior reading suggests that you should stand as close to the source as possible..i.e. right in front of the stack! So what is it? If I had a pair of omni – ear bud mics…soundboard or stack? My MD hasn’t even arrived yet I haven't had a chance to experiment yet!

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Well, that's a tough question. It depends on how you want the sound to be. Close miking will give you a pretty dry, direct, often rather monotonic sound, while far miking involves lots of room acoustics, reverberations, gives you a sense for being there. I'd go for close miking if you plan to use your recordings for playback through loudspeakers primarily, while far miking should be more enjoyable for listening with headphones. Anything in between as a compromise if you can't decide. You need to experiment what suits you best.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It depends how the concert is being amplified. If it's a stereo mix, you'll only get one channel from recording the stack. Most concerts are more or less mono, however.

It also depends if the stack is giving you the instrumental balance you want. Is some sound also coming from the amps on stage?

Last, right up next to the stack may just be too loud: not only for your MD, but for your ears.

I'm a big fan of the soundboard spot, especially with omnis. But as greenmachine says, experiment. In clubs, and even in some outdoor shows, moving just a short distance in any direction can make the mix suddenly clearer. Close your eyes and trust your ears.

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  • 10 months later...

MODS - please feel free to move this post as desired or to make it a new topic, etc....

I've been recording concerts off and on since 1994 (first using a Sony D6-C casette recorder, then an MP3 recorder, now a NH-700. I've never used Binaurals, as I prefer cardoids or hyper cardoids. My first mice were large AT cardoid vocal mics, and I curently use a pair of AT 853s from Sound Profesisonals (SP-CMC-4). These are fitted with the hypercardoid capsules, and fed into their battery box (SP-SPSB-1 --(with bass roll-off filter, but not level controls - I usually do NOT use the bass roll off feature unless there is a real problem - only used it once for a band where the bass player was playing at a sound level of 10 and everyone else was at about a 4). These are then fed into the line-in. I elevate these about 8 feet from the ground on a lighting stand with adapter and the SP mic duo-mount (SP-GNA-3 24" model with stand adapter - SP-TMA-1). I always record from the Sound Board position and have NEVER been disappointed. The crowd noise is not that audible except for some VERY quiet passages in the music where you can barely hear ANYTHING, or when the crowd is yelling when the band copmes on stage, and there is NO music, etc.

Think of it this way.. most often, the sound person at the show, (be it a house guy or the incomparable Dan Healy), mixes to HIS OR HER EARS where they are. They are trained to listen for the best possible sound, so the best sound is usually at this mix position. I plan to record the upcoming String Cheese/Ratsog show on 6/26, and although the venue is VERY small (Viejas Concerts In the Park .. at a small aprk in the middle of an outlet mall of all things :P ) and I will recording from the mix position as always.

I've recorded in venues as small as a bar (for a duo that wanted a master to make their own demo tape) to a small club (4th & B, for those that are familair with it), to Sam Boyud Silverbowl, to Coors and Irvine Meadows Ampitheatres. The only time I ever had a problem with crowd noise was at a show where no mic stands were allowed and I had to improvise and use a table-top tripod that was loaned to me and this one drunk patron kept coming up and yelling "WHOOOOOO" right into the mics.

My main advice is : get get decent mics, locate them where the crowd noise is minimal, and point them JUST OUTSIDE THE STACKS onm each side. This is usually about a 110 degree angle with most mic-mounts, and MOST IMPORTANTLY - do NOT muck about with the record levels once you have actually started recording the desired contents- i.e. when the band actually starts. Avoid the temptation to 'ride gain' and keep everything at the same level the entire time.

My ultimate recording, of course, would be to get a good matrix mix... my mics mixed with a soundboard feed THEN fed to line in, but.. :P

I've recorded about 17 or 18 shows in the time I've been recording, and admit I am less experienced than some, but am offering my advice based on experience I've gained as well as tips I've been given from others.

all of my current equipment except the MD recorder and lighting stand is from Sound Professionals... great guys and excellt service, prices. I can also highly recomment Planet Minidisc.. just got my NH700 and gonna break it in 'for real' soon (test recorded a friend's band at a birthday party to get a feel for it..works like most other equipment I have used in the past, VERY intuitive and so much better than MP3s.. even using Hi-SP).

I also recommend HI-SP if recording a concert rather than PCM, since the loss of 'quality' is so slight and much less objectionable than having a big gap in the music right in the middle of a great jam.. :P

If you are interested in who I've recorded, it's been a bit of a variety... Grateful Dead, Ratdog, DMB, Dave Matthews COVER Band, Standing Wave, Jazz Mandolin Project, Hot Tuna, Rusted Root, The Other Ones, Agent 22, Dark Star Orchestra (soundboard recordings) and a few friend's bands for their use. There are probably some I've forgotten, but you get the idea :)

Anyway, peace to all and if you have any questions or advice for ME to improve my ideas, I am always open to discussions :)

(edited for model #'s, typos, etc.. hope I found them all.. at midnight, I am not all that careful.. heh... insomnia is FUN though)

Edited by DrDann
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