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Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

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Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby LeftyGoldblatt on Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:20 am

My band is looking for engineers to record us, but what we're finding are a lot of live sound people. They have a lot of microphones and mixer boards and experience primarily in the live sound arena, but my question is: is there any reason to believe that a very good live sound engineer would not necessarily be a good studio engineer? Is it possible to assess a live sound engineer's abilities in studio engineering based on live sound recordings?
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby TylerSavage on Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:31 am

Often what constitutes a “good” live sound engineer might not be “this is what I want my album to sound like” engineer. You’ll be able to know that they’ve got a good ear, but otherwise unless they have some previous recordings you can check out you are rolling the dice. They could have a bad studio room, bad preamps, bad monitors, no mixdown ability ..

Case in point, you would be happy for me to mix your band live in most given venues.

You would be disappointed if you paid me money to record an album.
Last edited by TylerSavage on Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby bishopdante on Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:00 pm

They are significantly different jobs, but I'd rather have a capable live sound engineer in a studio than a capable studio engineer in a venue.

However, knowing how to use the computer isn't necessarily a skill that live engineers have.

I would not doubt that there are a bunch of general purpose sound engineers who have done mostly live work who can and should be recording, and have all the requisite skills.

Absolutely if an engineer has managed to record and mix a live show in multitrack to a computer system so that the finished mix sounds as good as a commercial studio album, they should be absolutely fine in the more forgiving studio situation.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby eliya on Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:00 pm

I don't think I ever heard a live recording that sounded anywhere as good as a studio recording. I don't think it's the engineers' fault, though.

I think it comes down to this: has this person recorded a band in a studio before? If the answer is yes, seek out these recordings and see what it sounds like. If the answer is no and this is the engineer's first studio session then their fee should be minimal.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby endofanera on Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:06 pm

LeftyGoldblatt wrote:Is it possible to assess a live sound engineer's abilities in studio engineering based on live sound recordings?

Not really for reasons already stated. That said, live sound work trains the ear in ways that can be applied to studio recording. The ability to hear detail is present in both, but the context of any detail and the options available to correct or enhance it will likely be different. Still, they're in the same basic ballpark.

I'd be more concerned about how much you like and trust the person than what their studio chops may be. Attitude and comfort always come through. If you are uneasy, it will matter less how capable the person behind the desk is. In contrast if you are enjoying the experience and playing well as a result, then a good live sound engineer is almost certainly capable of capturing that.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby japmn on Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:59 pm

Live sound is a lot about dealing with problems, and studio work is a lot about looking for perfection. There can be some overlap, but to me, they are really two different head spaces. I would never assume someone good at one was going to be good at the other, but that can work the other way as well, could be great.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby Anitrak on Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:26 pm

Interesting that you're coming up empty handed. It seems like it's more affordable than ever for Studio engineers fresh out can buy an intermediate setup and just start recording/mixing. Where are you based?
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby LeftyGoldblatt on Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:31 pm

Anitrak wrote:Where are you based?


Madison, WI. It's not that we can't find studios per se, we're actually wanting to record in a place with good natural reverb-- like a church or hall or something. I think that's why it's getting a little harder to find people.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby eliya on Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:03 pm

LeftyGoldblatt wrote:
Anitrak wrote:Where are you based?


Madison, WI. It's not that we can't find studios per se, we're actually wanting to record in a place with good natural reverb-- like a church or hall or something. I think that's why it's getting a little harder to find people.


Just drive to Chicago and record at Electrical. Studio B's live room has that "church sound". FM Kyle Motor has a nice studio in his basement. Has a multitrack tape machine and he's in Madison.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby TylerSavage on Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:55 pm

I don't know if you are rich in time, but one of my biggest regrets is not taking on recording earlier.
At the very least my own listenable band demos, or tracking and then sending for mixing/mastering. For the amount of money I spent in recording I could've made plenty of gear buying mistakes and still been ahead.

Would +1 on going to electrical; I've never been but I imagine the experience/education alone is worth it.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby numberthirty on Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:08 pm

One thing I think I would take into account is this...

"What exactly is it that your band does?"

To me, that could largely dictate if the approach could work and if a live sound engineer might be able to do a solid job.

The first Danzig record probably would have worked even with a live sound engineer and recording in a space like you are discussing. The My Bloody Valentine album Loveless? Probably not.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby LeftyGoldblatt on Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:58 am

Post-rock
numberthirty wrote:One thing I think I would take into account is this...

"What exactly is it that your band does?"

To me, that could largely dictate if the approach could work and if a live sound engineer might be able to do a solid job.


Basically, the intersection of post-rock/math-rock/shoegaze/post-hardcore. There are a lot of points in the album where I would think the reverb of the room would be important to capture, which is why I'm thinking that a church might be a good venue.... but I guess I'm not sure whether a live sound engineer would be good or bad for this kind of music.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby Anitrak on Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:09 am

I would talk to local studio engineers who's sound and work you like. When talking to them about the project express your desire to record certain aspects in a large reverberant room like a Church or a Hall. As an engineer myself, I do my best work using the gear and spaces I'm familiar with. And if need be, I could call in a favor and go track a day in a church or an auditorium. But I wouldn't have multiple day/full time access to that room nor really know the quirks of getting the best result there. A live sound guy might but I don't think you'll really need it to achieve what you want. Talk to a recording engineer and I think he can get you a solid game plan.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby Bubber on Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:47 am

Man, totally run around town and check out rooms. Sounds like a fun opportunity. If I were recording live in a large reverberant room in Madison I do know a live sound engineer I'd get in touch with. Do you know Scott Watson? Pick his brain. He's been in and out of that town forever.

Remember, this final track (at 27:42) was recorded in a church in Madison. Right?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqWwg7NXE1Y
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby bishopdante on Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:28 am

japmn wrote:Live sound is a lot about dealing with problems, and studio work is a lot about looking for perfection. There can be some overlap, but to me, they are really two different head spaces. I would never assume someone good at one was going to be good at the other, but that can work the other way as well, could be great.


eliya wrote:I don't think I ever heard a live recording that sounded anywhere as good as a studio recording.


Venues don't necessarily sound that great, the gear isn't necessarily that great, and the timescale of a show is much less forgiving than a studio. There is no take two. It's definitely harder.

However, in the current era I'm a huge believer in fitting venues out with broadcast-grade audio networking gear to enable recording and streaming, and also getting the acoustics and connectivity up to recording studio standards. There is nothing to prevent live recordings from sounding as good as studio recordings. (Eg: stuff I worked on at London's Royal Festival Hall sounded as good as anything you'd get out of a studio).

However, I'd also suggest that using a soundproof purpose built recording facility with a well stocked mic cupboard and seasoned in house engineers... it's going to be far more efficient than trying to repurpose a temporary building.
Last edited by bishopdante on Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby Bubber on Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:33 am

bishopdante wrote:
eliya wrote:I don't think I ever heard a live recording that sounded anywhere as good as a studio recording.


Venues don't necessarily sound that great, the gear isn't necessarily that great, and the timescale of a show is much less forgiving than a studio. There is no take two. It's definitely harder.


Independent of all this, let's not forget the bananas factor. As such:
Document+Eyewitness > all other Wire records combined
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby bishopdante on Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:38 am

Exactly. It's worth the effort to capture the energy of a show.

One method is just to get a nice big studio which isn't obsessed about keeping stuff too clean, and put on a show in front of an audience. That works pretty well.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby Bubber on Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:53 am

japmn wrote:Live sound is a lot about dealing with problems, and studio work is a lot about looking for perfection.


Huh. I thought music was about making new problems for other people to have to deal with.

Also:

engineer I mentioned upthread just wrote:In fact, I just discovered a fantastic place near Madison to record. I'm pretty sure it was a recording studio in the 70's/80's. Someone would have to haul gear in but it would be worth it. And it's for rent on a daily basis.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby TylerSavage on Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:04 pm

off topic // the horseshoe always sounds amazing

https://www.amazon.com/Live-Horseshoe-T ... B003P93I1G
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby numberthirty on Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:38 pm

LeftyGoldblatt wrote:Basically, the intersection of post-rock/math-rock/shoegaze/post-hardcore. There are a lot of points in the album where I would think the reverb of the room would be important to capture, which is why I'm thinking that a church might be a good venue.... but I guess I'm not sure whether a live sound engineer would be good or bad for this kind of music.


Factoring this in...

- I would at the very least consider what some of the folks have already mentioned about recording at Electrical. This sort of material has certainly been successfully recorded there.

- I'd second guess a live sound engineer. Just how much does effects usage play into what the band does? It seems like the specifics of that aspect might present a particular issue for a live sound guy who is not of a particular mindset.
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