Old 10-23-2018, 11:30 AM   #1
MerlinWilliams
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Default Anyone else recording large ensembles?

I do big band recordings with Reaper, a Presonus 1818 and a Behringer ADA8000. Main stereo pickup is with a Crown SASS-P Mk II boundary mic, piano with a pair of SDC, bass with a LDD, horn soloists have ribbons for the brass, and LDC for the saxes. I take a split from the house vocal mic if there are vox.
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Old 10-23-2018, 11:35 AM   #2
Dr Bob
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I used 5 across the sax section, mixed to stereo. 2 on trumpets, 2 on trombones, one on bass and DI, one on piano and DI, room mics, spots for solos and vox. Mix of condensers and dynamics. Lots of careful volume automation on the 8 tracks back in reaper.

The drums (sorry drummers) were picked up and processed by one of the trumpet mics and one of the trombone mics. Kick was mixed live into the bass with a compressor duck.

As you say, Big Bands are pretty good at playing together. We didn't have a director that day. I was also having to record in the wing of a modern chapel, with a whole stained glass wall behind the band!

Took longer to get set up than recording! Hard work as it had to be right as they wanted it for publicity stuff. In the end it came out OK. I had to get the female Vox overdubbed back at home as she was not too happy about her performance on the day (had a cold!).

My daughter plays alto sax 1 and clarinet solos in the band.

dB
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Old 10-23-2018, 11:59 AM   #3
Jason Lyon
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Good-oh and here we jolly few are.

Merlin, I have a few big band arrangements knocking about in the archives. They've had a couple of outings here and there, been well received, but are just gathering dust at the moment.

Mostly in a Nelson Riddle kind of vein, based around a vocal with drop-in horn solos. I think they'd be good cruise material, so if you're interested you're welcome to have them. PM me if you're interested.
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Old 10-23-2018, 12:46 PM   #4
martifingers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Bob View Post
. I had to get the female Vox overdubbed back at home as she was not too happy about her performance on the day (had a cold!).

dB
Did you have much of an issue with bleed of the original vocal into the mix? I do a lot of live sound although not typically recording them and I am often aware of bleed but as long as it sounds OK and is causing no feedback problems I am happy. Seems hard to avoid to be honest.
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Old 10-23-2018, 01:05 PM   #5
Jason Lyon
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Erm... cans?

I'm sorry if this sounds weird of me, but why should a vocalist (or anyone else) need their own previously recorded part in their monitor? Surely they either know the tune or they don't? No particular take is that precious and it's just going to sound worse if they're trying to follow themselves.

Different for overdubbing harmonies of course, but then... cans...
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Old 10-23-2018, 01:19 PM   #6
Dr Bob
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Not overdubbed - sorry wrong terminology. Re-take of the vocal. No problems all as the vox had their own dedicated track. Getting the new vocals to sound "live" was the hard part - singing to a "backing track" (with cans of course and a touch of reverb on the monitor vox) is not always a comfortable experience for live only artists. But, we got their after a few takes. At least we had time vs the one-offs of the full set!

Great experience though, and I did enjoy that, especially when I played back the finished CD to the band leader, and her jaw dropped and said, "is that really us?". I had only played them a rough mix off the recorder as they were clearing up after the session.

Good old Reaper.

dB
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Old 10-24-2018, 03:45 AM   #7
Jason Lyon
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Bob,

I'm old fashioned. I prefer to practice and rehearse like hell (helps if the band is a gig-hot lineup that really know each other) then go in and get two or three takes and maybe a safety. Then rest for a day or so and pick the best take and do a bit of stitching here and there. I've recorded entire albums in a day like that - the way they used to.

You have to be fair-minded though. You pick the best overall performance, not the one where you shine and there were dodgy bits from the others. Warts and all - or at least the warts should be evenly distributed. Objectivity is very difficult in these circs. You listen to opinions but you can't afford full democracy - on most occasions everyone will pick the take where they sounded best... Someone has to be the guvnor.

I've done sessions where the sound guy wanted the rhythm section to record our takes, then got the singer and horn soloist in to record their parts on top. In some cases, on a different day in a different place - but that can be massaged in a DAW.

And if you're a rhythm player you have to get your solos right on the day. No overdub luxury for you, sunshine!

A method borrowed from pop production, and I can understand that it might be more efficient - you don't have to junk a good take because of one bad fluff. But I don't like doing it. Jazz is about give and take, not give and custom backing track.

I honestly can tell jazz recordings that have been done this way - some of the musical communication and sense of live immediacy is missing.

It's an interesting subject though - I might blog about it.
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Old 10-24-2018, 05:04 AM   #8
Jason Lyon
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Sorry, has anyone else noticed that these forums sometimes chop bits of comments off?

In case it's just a problem at my end and for clarity, that first par should have read:

I'm old fashioned. I prefer to practice and rehearse like hell (helps if the band is a gig-hot lineup that really know each other) then go in and get two or three takes and maybe a safety. Then rest for a day or so and pick the best take and do a bit of stitching here and there. I've recorded entire albums in a day like that - the way they used to.
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:36 AM   #9
Dr Bob
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Luckily the band rehearse once a week. Are always gig ready - most are professional musicians in their own right anyway.

I agree that with jazz you can easily lose the spontaneity (if you add tracks later) which is so important to this genre - click perfect is just not jazz! As you say, you can usually tell if something's been added.

If you listen crtically to some of the best recordings (even in classical) you will hear the odd fluff and bum note! But, the overall performance was outstanding, so it simply stands as is.

We actually tracked 20 different tracks that day. Plenty of retakes, stop start for things going awry. But overall, probably only me who was stressed!

dB
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:54 AM   #10
Jason Lyon
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Ayup Bob. Yorkshire, I see.

Er yeah. It does help if the musicians know what they're doing. And hey if you're the desk jockey, stress is part of the job. In fact taking the stress off them is part of the job. You're a stress-absorber. If you ever feel brave try being both. Lying down with cold flannel on face for the next day. And ignore the bloody phone - "yeah yeah, look the rough sounds great sunshine, and I'll get down to mixing it tomorrow..."
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Old 10-24-2018, 07:16 AM   #11
Dr Bob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Lyon View Post
Ayup Bob. Yorkshire, I see.
Yup!

A good band does help. The members also play non-jazz as well. My daughter (alto/clarinet) also plays flute and clarinet in classical orchestras. She's such a good sight reader she gets asked to stand in on big rehearsals when someone can't make it. Went to Leeds College of Music, studied classical saxophone of all things! Now a private music teacher with 75 pupils. A busy girl - lots of her pupils have go their grade 8's in flute, piano, clarinet and sax and some have gone to Uni/conservatoires to study music - so she must be doing something right!
I think her grades pass success tally is now closing in on the 750 or more, mainly ABRSM, some Trinity, some Guidhall (before they amalgamated).

dB


PS As a proud dad - here she is at 16 (recorded and mixed on a Tascam 244, well before reaper!!!)

https://soundcloud.com/doctorbob/decorating-blues
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Old 10-24-2018, 08:27 AM   #12
MerlinWilliams
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Here's the band I co-lead playing Jazznochracy by Will Hudson. It's the arrangement that the Lunceford band played.

This is straight to two tracks - the Crown SASS-P is picking up everything you hear. No solo mics, no DI, and NO compression.

https://soundcloud.com/user-51358469/jazznochracy
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Old 10-24-2018, 10:16 AM   #13
Thonex
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Hi there,

I record orchestral ensembles. I use Reaper for editing, but have not found a reliable workaround for pre-record during count-in.

Because of that, I have not really had the opportunity to dig deep into Reaper's Takes system in a real-life situation. I use Nuendo for Recording (have for the last few decades), but would love to integrate everything into Reaper.

I would love to know how you guys handle punching in with click at odd meters and tempos? Just use Pre-Roll with the previous measure's tempo and hope all players recalibrate to the new tempo perfectly? That's my primary issue.

To give you a better explanation of what I'm talking about, here is how I described it on another thread:

Quote:
One critical feature missing from Reaper for anyone doing orchestral (or any recordings where there are tempo changes) is the ability to pre-record during the Count-Off (NOT to be confused with Pre-Roll).

Currently, there is no way to record during the Count-Off to capture players who may come in early… or who may be playing a lead-in note or an anticipation. In reaper, you would have to have pre-roll engaged. The problem with pre-roll is if there is a different tempo in the previous measure, all the players will coming at the wrong tempo on the downbeat of the punch-in measure.

Nuendo/Cubase have a simple record buffer in seconds and using it in conjunction with a count-in solves all these issues.

Having done this for 20+ years… it’s clear to me this count-off pre-record amount should be in seconds or ms, NOT tempo based. The benefits are that each recording will have the same amount of pre-record no matter what meter or tempo and makes comping and editing in other DAWs as well as Reaper MUCH easier since all the recordings have the exact same amount of pre-record.
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Last edited by Thonex; 10-24-2018 at 10:29 AM.
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