setting recording levels with metering only

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I run FOH for a band that sometimes wants their performances
recorded, usually when they're playing newer or first-time
material. Two guitars, two keys, full drum kit, bass, two lead
vocals, two background vocals. The material ranges from ballads
with one vocal and one acoustic, to DMB and Pearl Jam covers.
What I usually do is take a couple of unused Aux lines and send
them to the Left and Right inputs on a DAT recorder. I also add
an ambience mic if I can.

When listening to the tape output, the volume level in the room
during a typical show makes it almost impossible to determine if
the mix in the recording is balanced, even with headphones that
provide good isolation (they claim 30+ dB). When I have time
during soundcheck, I just kill the house and have them play a
tune while I listen to the tape output and I can usually balance
things fairly well that way, especially with a bit of panning.
But sometimes soundchecks are rather hasty, especially if two or
more acts are involved, and I only have a few minutes to complete
soundcheck and keep things moving. This usually makes for a
lousy recording, terribly unbalanced (often with too much vocal
and way insufficient drums).

I'm looking for a way to get a decently-balanced recording using
only the DAT's VU meter (or whatever the peak level meter display
thing is called on a Sony M-1) during soundcheck. Is there a
documented way to do this, on the www somewhere? Or has someone
here got a system that's fairly reliable?

I'd like to be able to eventually come up with a chart that gives
the expected/desired peak values on the DAT's VU meter for
several instruments, that could be used in a pinch in order to
have a chance at a decent recording when the only thing available
to set recording levels is the DAT's metering. Kick, snare,
toms, etc., plus an acoustic being strummed, power chords on an
electric, Hammond and Rhodes settings on keys, soft vocals,
compressed/loud vocals, harmonica, etc. Has anyone attempted
this? The next time I'm able, I'll try to make note of what
gives a good mix, but if our next couple of shows happen to be of
the hasty-soundcheck type, I won't have any data to go on. Any
advice/tips appreciated.

Fred
 
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Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Fredbob Jackson <audiowannabe@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>I'm looking for a way to get a decently-balanced recording using
>only the DAT's VU meter (or whatever the peak level meter display
>thing is called on a Sony M-1) during soundcheck. Is there a
>documented way to do this, on the www somewhere? Or has someone
>here got a system that's fairly reliable?

No. Record the FOH feed to one channel and one ambient mike to the
other channel. Then mix the two down in post when you can hear what
you are doing.

Properly balanced mono beats badly balanced stereo any day.

>I'd like to be able to eventually come up with a chart that gives
>the expected/desired peak values on the DAT's VU meter for
>several instruments, that could be used in a pinch in order to
>have a chance at a decent recording when the only thing available
>to set recording levels is the DAT's metering. Kick, snare,
>toms, etc., plus an acoustic being strummed, power chords on an
>electric, Hammond and Rhodes settings on keys, soft vocals,
>compressed/loud vocals, harmonica, etc. Has anyone attempted
>this? The next time I'm able, I'll try to make note of what
>gives a good mix, but if our next couple of shows happen to be of
>the hasty-soundcheck type, I won't have any data to go on. Any
>advice/tips appreciated.

Don't even think of trying to mix by meters. If you absolutely have to
mix under these circumstances, try the Etymotic Research in-ear phones
with earmolds, combined with over-ear hearing protectors.
--scott

--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
 
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