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Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby LeftyGoldblatt on Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:49 pm

I appreciate the responses so far... It seems like the consensus is that we should record at Electrical? :smt001
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby eliya on Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:52 pm

LeftyGoldblatt wrote:I appreciate the responses so far... It seems like the consensus is that we should record at Electrical? :smt001


Yes.

(And hire me to record you?)
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby numberthirty on Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:43 am

LeftyGoldblatt wrote:I appreciate the responses so far... It seems like the consensus is that we should record at Electrical? :smt001


It's not so much that you "Should". It's more like...

Let's say you find a really well meaning live sound guy who gets where you are coming from. Once you have that sorted...

- Will the equipment he has do a solid job of getting what you both envision onto tape/hard drive?
- Will the sound of a space you all think will work actually work once you start working?
- Will there be any wrinkles with the deal to get the space you want?
- Will there be any technical issues with said space?
- Will the schedule you can stick to work for someone who also has a live sound job?

It's more like "None of those things will really be a huge issue at a studio."

That doesn't mean "Should". It's just that the other way of doing it will require more work and a bit of luck.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby motorbike guy on Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:42 am

no offense to the live sound guys and gals here, but in my experience, the "good" live sound guys were very experienced and knew how to get their system to sound good in the room where it was installed. This is a very specific set of skills, and it only applies to one system in one room. Oh, and they were mostly deaf from mixing loud rock bands 3-4 nights a week.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby projectMalamute on Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:53 am

motorbike guy wrote:no offense to the live sound guys and gals here, but in my experience, the "good" live sound guys were very experienced and knew how to get their system to sound good in the room where it was installed. This is a very specific set of skills, and it only applies to one system in one room. Oh, and they were mostly deaf from mixing loud rock bands 3-4 nights a week.


I'm not sure what kind of sound guys you interact with, but any that are still doing a house gig mixing rock bands in the same room every night are probably not all that great. Certain rare and exceptional venues aside, house gig in a rock club is the entry level job of the live sound world. I say this as someone who did that job for a time and has no intention of ever doing it again.

Being able to get consistently solid results with a different room and system every night is a huge chunk of what makes a live sound engineer 'good'. Or at least employable.

A good live sound guy can figure out a new room quickly, juggle 7 or 8 mixes at the same time, keep the routing of an unfamiliar system straight in their head after only a glance, and get things set up and running very, very fast. In terms of the workflow of a tracking session all of these things can be helpful.

If I was trying to do a guerrilla remote session I'd be more worried about a studio engineer being out of their depth. Maybe use a studio guy to mix it.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby bishopdante on Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:06 am

numberthirty wrote:It's more like "None of those things will really be a huge issue at a studio."

That doesn't mean "Should". It's just that the other way of doing it will require more work and a bit of luck.


In all honesty there is simply no way that anybody is dragging around the sort of gear that you will find installed at electrical for a temporary job.

Doing a mobile / guerilla session involves a lot of compromises - from climate control to getting coffee... without talking about audio equipment there are key benefits to using a proper facility. A freezing cold building is tricky for musicians to perform in - their fingers don't work.

Another parallel is it's much easier to use a venue with a permanently installed PA than it is to drag a PA in and set it up, then drag it all back out... but actually the PA bit is easier to do than a lot of other stuff that will need attention / can go wrong in an improvised "squat party" venue space.

Where it comes to audio equipment, nobody in their right mind is dragging 2" tape machines and big consoles in and out of temporary-hire buildings... and if they are it's expensive.

It's not that one can't get impeccable results using location-style recording and contemporary highly-miniaturised computer systems, but the contents of a proper facility are simply not portable or temporarily installed.

It's certainly much easier to bring a band to a studio than to bring a studio to a band.

It's perfectly possible to bring a recording system into a rehearsal room, but that's more advisable for demos than for making records [although many people these days just turn their rehearsal room into a recording studio], and many rehearsal studio complexes are set up as recording studios with multicore links around the building these days.

I still think that venues should be built and equipped more like studios and be able to record shows without dragging racks of gear in and out the door every time - for the same reasons that a recording studio makes life easier.

The main problem is that most venues are managed and specced by non-technical people who focus on box office and bar cashflow.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby Bubber on Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:47 am

It's interesting, to me anyway, seeing the different sensibilities brought to the front here. I guess it's the tech room, not the aesthetics room or the composition room. Risk aversion in writing, risk aversion in recording—there's nothing wrong with it, but man. You can shoot all your outdoor and driving scenes right on the lot at Universal! Perfect lighting, no interruptions! You can take the same route between home and work every day! Why mess with success?

Whose songs are so incredible that they need to be impeccably recorded? Some people's, I guess. Maybe the Numero box set says otherwise, but are the songs on Land Speed Record completely awesome? They're OK, but the sound is something else, man. Stupid excessive ideas give us Pauline Oliveros's Deep Listening in an underground cistern with 45-second decay, and that's so fantastic. Several of the worst shows I've seen in my life were the late great Scissor Girls of Chicago, along with a couple of the very best, worth it every time, a total pleasure to see experimentation which risks colossal failure.

Totally possible that OP's band isn't the one that's going to go hog wild anyway, but I suppose when someone shows up half-heartedly saying, I was thinking of recording in big reverberant rooms in another city, the tech room could instead say, let's help you pick and place some mics. But whatever, carry on.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby eliya on Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:09 pm

I think if a band wants to record in a church, gymnasium, subway station, car garage, etc. then by all means they should do that. That's part of their artistic vision, or whatever you want to call it. Even if a band is just open for experimentation, then yeah, go wild in an unorthodox space. However, if a band says they're looking for live sound engineers to record them in a church because there are no studios with big rooms near them, then it makes more sense to direct them to the nearest awesome studio.

I'm all for DIY recording, but it only makes sense if the bands wants to do that. If the OP said s/he is interested in learning how to record, and that also coincides with their band wanting to make a record, then yeah I would recommend they do it themselves. But if they have no interest in that, then why send them down that rabbit hole? Not to mention that they would get better results in a studio with an experienced engineer.

There are all kinds of things that can go wrong in a session, even more so in a location recording. At a place like Electrical, a bad microphone, bad preamp, bad cable, bad headphones, broken drum head, broken guitar strings, etc. wouldn't halt the session. But any of these things could easily end a location recording. Monitoring isn't an easy task either when you do a location recording - it's either speakers in an untreated and unfamiliar room, or everyone listens back to takes on headphones.

To the OP, if you're going with a live sound engineer and that's their first studio session, then they should cut you a deal because they will definitely spend a lot of time figuring out some kinks.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby bishopdante on Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:11 pm

Bubber wrote:It's interesting, to me anyway, seeing the different sensibilities brought to the front here. I guess it's the tech room, not the aesthetics room or the composition room. Risk aversion in writing, risk aversion in recording—there's nothing wrong with it, but man. You can shoot all your outdoor and driving scenes right on the lot at Universal! Perfect lighting, no interruptions! You can take the same route between home and work every day! Why mess with success?


The amount of lighting, costume, etc etc that gets carted around for location work is severe. It can be just as expensive if not more expensive than using a studio and sets.

Kubrick's Napoleon never got made... because of the prohibitive cost of the location work. It had cost plenty money... but had to be scrapped.

If you want to record your songs, a studio is a perfectly good place to do it. Just like a tennis court is a perfectly good place to play tennis.

The analogy of location vs studio+sets is also rather false... the majority of the sound on a record is the instruments and musicians. Yes, you get a room's character, and the musicians will behave differently, but location is nowhere near as much information or content as the visual backdrop and lighting conditions in a film.

Doing a radio play on complex locations... to get that authentic atmosphere..?

Not really necessary.

_______

Risk is good... risk is dramatic... let's go shoot that movie about the gulf war in Afghanistan and Iraq! With a bunch of real militia guys! With live ammunition! It'll be really authentic when X crew member gets shot Y crew member gets kidnapped and Z crew member dies in a roadside bombing. And let's use real heroin in that scene where the orphan kids under the bridge are all getting high...

________

Much as I love S.T.A.L.K.E.R. by tarkovsky...

the production designer, Rashit Safiullin, recalled that Tarkovsky spent a year shooting a version of the outdoor scenes of Stalker. However, when the crew returned to Moscow, they found that all of the film had been improperly developed and their footage was unusable. The film had been shot on new Kodak 5247 stock with which Soviet laboratories were not very familiar. Even before the film stock problem was discovered, relations between Tarkovsky and Stalker's first cinematographer, Georgy Rerberg, had deteriorated. After seeing the poorly developed material, Tarkovsky fired Rerberg. By the time the film stock defect was discovered, Tarkovsky had shot all the outdoor scenes and had to abandon them. Safiullin contends that Tarkovsky was so despondent that he wanted to abandon further work on the film.

After the loss of the film stock, Tarkovsky came up with a solution: he decided to make a two-part film, which meant additional deadlines and more funds. Tarkovsky ended up reshooting almost all of the film with a new cinematographer, Aleksandr Knyazhinsky. According to Safiullin, the finished version of Stalker is completely different from the one Tarkovsky originally shot.

Several people involved in the film production, including Tarkovsky, died from causes that some crew members attributed to the film's long shooting schedule in toxic locations. Sound designer Vladimir Sharun recalled:

"We were shooting near Tallinn in the area around the small river Jägala with a half-functioning hydroelectric station. Up the river was a chemical plant and it poured out poisonous liquids downstream. There is even this shot in Stalker: snow falling in the summer and white foam floating down the river. In fact it was some horrible poison. Many women in our crew got allergic reactions on their faces. Tarkovsky died from cancer of the right bronchial tube. And Tolya Solonitsyn too. That it was all connected to the location shooting for Stalker became clear to me when Larisa Tarkovskaya died from the same illness in Paris."


Just sayin'...

Location work is not the easy or cheap road. It can be a rewarding road, but it's *way* harder.

________

A good friend of mine was doing one-take captures of performances staged in weird locations, multi-camera filming and recording the audio, did it for a few years as a sort of Internet radio station thing.

That made sense, and the visual information was worth the effort - especially since the playing synced up properly with the video.

Was technically challenging to not screw it up, though.
Last edited by bishopdante on Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby Bubber on Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:04 am

bishopdante wrote:The amount of lighting, costume, etc etc that gets carted around for location work is severe. It can be just as expensive if not more expensive than using a studio and sets.

Aware and agreed. (The closer you draw to the axis, the less I'm interested in your post; reductio ad absurdum demeans us all.) Neither did I uphold the idea of not driving to Electrical as a cost-saving measure, per se.

Also, poor Tarkovsky's crew. We're about five years out from that in the US, doomed to repeat it.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby Justin Foley on Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:58 pm

Relevant to the thread's title, if not the OP's intention -

If you want to start recording bands a lot, I highly recommend spending some time doing live sound, especially for the type of music that you'd likely end up recording. Live sound forces you to deal with lots of different types of people in time-constrained situations and be adept at solving problems on the fly. You should be able to quickly learn from your mistakes and develop good work habits - keeping gear and work areas clean, setting expectations for those arriving and leaving on how things will run well, developing an intuition for where problems will arise.

I mean, don't blow your ears out sitting in front of blaring JBLs for half a decade or anything. But lots of bands have limited time and money to commit their music to tape. The skills you'll learn doing some time in the trenches of regular live sound will be more helpful to that band than the gear that you can afford.

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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby LeftyGoldblatt on Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:07 pm

Lots of great, thoughtful responses here. The one comment that stands out to me as a matter that I do need to understand better, though, is this:

bishopdante wrote:The analogy of location vs studio+sets is also rather false... the majority of the sound on a record is the instruments and musicians. Yes, you get a room's character, and the musicians will behave differently, but location is nowhere near as much information or content as the visual backdrop and lighting conditions in a film.


If I am to believe this, then it kind of renders the question itself moot. You're kind of saying there's no point in recording in an unusual location because it's going to mostly be a psychological thing, not a sound quality/sonics thing. Is this the consensus of the group? I find this kind of hard to believe.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby numberthirty on Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:25 pm

LeftyGoldblatt wrote:If I am to believe this, then it kind of renders the question itself moot. You're kind of saying there's no point in recording in an unusual location because it's going to mostly be a psychological thing, not a sound quality/sonics thing. Is this the consensus of the group? I find this kind of hard to believe.


On that...

A closely placed directional microphone pointing at a speaker will tune out much of the room it is in. As it moves away from the speaker, the room will come into play more.

So, i think it's BD sort of has a point even if I don't fully agree with him. In addition, I'd factor in how much reverb/modulation/delay/pitch shifting/synthesis effects play into guitar/bass sounds being recorded. Microphones a short distance out from the speaker when they are being used are going to pick up something different in a church than in a smaller space. That might be a "Con" depending on what you are going for.

I guess it also depends on what you are going for on a drum kit. If a more "Room" based sound doesn't really work for what you are doing, a space like a church may very well exaggerate that reality.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby numberthirty on Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:36 pm

One other thing...

Have you tried a "Dry Run" at anything like this?

It does seem like doing some homework prior to actually being on the clock might help do be able to sort out if the reverb you believe might be important will be workable in practice.

Not saying it's a bad idea. Just that the reality might be a bit different from what it seems like should work.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby bishopdante on Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:09 am

LeftyGoldblatt wrote:
bishopdante wrote:The analogy of location vs studio+sets is also rather false... the majority of the sound on a record is the instruments and musicians. Yes, you get a room's character, and the musicians will behave differently, but location is nowhere near as much information or content as the visual backdrop and lighting conditions in a film.


If I am to believe this, then it kind of renders the question itself moot. You're kind of saying there's no point in recording in an unusual location because it's going to mostly be a psychological thing, not a sound quality/sonics thing. Is this the consensus of the group? I find this kind of hard to believe.


In film terms there is a much stronger argument for using a location rather than a studio. There are benefits.

There are some sound recording arguments, also, particularly for sound effects eg: go record + film a steam train rather than trying to simulate one in a recording studio / shoot various scale models and get it all to sync.

For capturing a rock band, unless you are looking for a really unusual room acoustic, a recording studio vs a rented hall... in practical terms the quality difference will be extremely minimal, so I'd say it's fairly moot from an end product perspective, yes. The consideration is more about how tricky the production process will be.

Have to say, I don't like the sound of extremely dead / sterile recording rooms with no natural reverb at all, but most good live rooms tend to be designed to have some character.

It is perfectly possible to use a warehouse or hall and drag in a few racks of gear and get good results which are basically similar or equivalent to what a listener would hear from a recording studio... it's also perfectly possible that all sorts of unforeseen hassles will occur while doing so, and there is no avoiding that it's going to take some time on both load-in and load-out.

Having worked in all sorts of squats and temporary spaces... it's always extra work and setup time, and unanticipated hitches compared to just walking into a facility with everything ready to go.

There is a guerilla method of recording on locations, but it's extra challenging, and combines the difficulties of both live sound and studio disciplines, with a bunch of extra problems that are familiar to movie / documentary location sound recordists.

If you have a warehouse/deserted building and already own a bunch of recoding gear... it might well be much cheaper to use that. The extra challenges / unusual acoustic qualities of a space can add something, but it won't be easier, quicker or more reliable than using a dedicated studio. Generally to make a place work well for recording a band you have to spend time kitting it out & setting it up... basically rigging it into a studio... which will be an extra overhead and risk, and a considerable source of compromise and potential frustration, a set of costs and risks which are unlikely to significantly better the final quality of the record, which should sound basically like your band [rather than in a movie, where in a shot you may see 15% actor and 85% location].

The acoustic quality of the reverberation of any particular space does make a qualitative difference, particularly for drums, but it isn't directly representational and a form of content in the way that a movie location is.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby JohnnySomersett on Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:55 pm

My 'studio' is a mobile one. It's a pain in the arse/ass to be honest. Sure, it's nothing fancy - a rack PC, monitor/keyboard and two 8 channel interfaces chained together, plus a heavy couple of boxes of mics, a heavy box of cables and a REALLY heavy bag of mic stands - but it gets the job done. I've recorded in a good few locations: mostly rehearsal rooms, a large 'hanger'-shaped hall with wooden flooring and crazy reverb and a couple of front rooms in houses. None of them have sounded all that great in all honesty. But I'm getting reasonably good at making the best of bad situations / polishing turds.

I am a capable live engineer, and a mediocre studio engineer - so, pinch of salt that as you please.

Looking forward to buying a house with a large back yard to build a permanent studio in (non-commercial, just for hobbying and friends bands).
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby endofanera on Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:32 pm

JohnnySomersett wrote:My 'studio' is a mobile one. It's a pain in the arse/ass to be honest. Sure, it's nothing fancy - a rack PC, monitor/keyboard and two 8 channel interfaces chained together, plus a heavy couple of boxes of mics, a heavy box of cables and a REALLY heavy bag of mic stands - but it gets the job done. I've recorded in a good few locations: mostly rehearsal rooms, a large 'hanger'-shaped hall with wooden flooring and crazy reverb and a couple of front rooms in houses. None of them have sounded all that great in all honesty. But I'm getting reasonably good at making the best of bad situations / polishing turds.

I am a capable live engineer, and a mediocre studio engineer - so, pinch of salt that as you please.

Looking forward to buying a house with a large back yard to build a permanent studio in (non-commercial, just for hobbying and friends bands).

When my wife and I got priced out of our awesome downtown studio space several years back, we spent a few years doing exactly what FM JohnnySomersett is talking about here. Rack or two in the back of a Honda with a mic case, snake, and a collection of mic stands. We recorded where bands played and we got some awesome performances that we could mess with and make sound like what folks wanted.

I am quite certain my decades of tour and random live work helped in some regard in that case, both in terms of problem solving on the fly when we had to get everything to align in a limited time frame with limited resources, and also figure out how to get a space that we had only been in for an hour or two to work for the band in question.

Back to the thread at hand, if I lived in Madison and was looking to record, and my band sounded like what you describe, Electrical would at least be on the short list. In addition to being a top flight studio, they make it exceptionally easy to figure out your budget right on the site. Nothing against live sound engineers (in fact, quite the opposite), but in geographic comparison I would likely book Inner Ear if I was looking to do a serious project in the near future, even with having an outfitted studio space right here at home. That booking may only be for basic tracks, but I would take advantage of what is easily available.

That said, I do like our new studio space, and certainly better than being 100% mobile. I hope you can find a similar situation, FM JohnnySomersett.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby Facundo on Thu Nov 23, 2017 4:03 pm

I've heard live engineers make a little event sound like a stadium concert without doing any measure in a small square which in other hands would sounded like a cricket jail or that My Bloody Valentine performance of noise popularly called "the holocaust". Also I've seen big fishes of renown in stadiums doing my bloody's "holocaust" and without even controlling the delays of the lines in array.

So now I'm going to generalize by caricaturing.

First kind technicians made men from stepping on the street and bounce their sound against walls and windows are usually worse in a recording studio. They abuse of the compressors, noise gates and difficulties to find moderation with reverbs and alcohol.

The second kind of stadium octopus with gold identification card and the walkie talkie tends to find in the studio the cure for all the stress of being in the middle of that large amount of human mass. With a castle sized social hangover they went out in a safari of pleasant classy sounds with their fluted Royer Labs pencils and their surgical material made by Schoeps GmbH... all through a mixer that has never been photographed because it contains diamonds scratched from the ground by African children, elephant poles and other prohibitive and forbidden materials... his dealer has been instructed to cut his cocaine only with intranasal moisturizer.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby JohnnySomersett on Thu Nov 23, 2017 4:14 pm

endofanera wrote:I am quite certain my decades of tour and random live work helped in some regard in that case, both in terms of problem solving on the fly when we had to get everything to align in a limited time frame with limited resources, and also figure out how to get a space that we had only been in for an hour or two to work for the band in question.



^---this.

I'm getting very quick at walking around an unfamiliar room with a snare drum and finding the sweet spot. And at making impromptu gobos from couch cushions, office partitions, filing cabinets, whateverislyingaroundandmovable. I have also learnt a LOT about the null-points in my microphones!
Touring & live sound experience definitely helps a lot - hones the 'problem-solving' part of your brain.
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Re: Good live sound engineer = Good studio engineer?

Postby tmoneygetpaid on Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:00 pm

+1 come record at Electrical. We'll take care of you, and we have the best-sounding rooms for just what it seems like you're after. And you're here on our forum, so it seems there already some sort of kinship, be it sonic or philosophical or otherwise.

Happy to give a tour if you can make it down some day.
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