Studio/Remote Recording Gear

Behringer X32 Digital Rack Mixer

When we decided to rework our studio gear, we had two objectives in mind. 1. How to bring our studio into the age of digital recording. 2. How to use this same equipment to record audio with the same quality, outside of our studio settings. After weeks of dedicated research, we chose the Midas X32 rack system. With 32 Midas-designed, fully gain-programmable mic preamps that deliver 70dbs of ultra clean gain, coupled with a 40-bit floating-point DSP that delivers virtually unlimited dynamic range with no internal overload and vanishingly low latency, the X32 Rack delivers impeccable sound quality to 40 channels, while providing 16 outputs. This allows us to become extremely creative when providing sound reinforcement for your event as well as meet the needs of today’s Artist concerning studio recording.

Behringer S16 Digital Snake

Combine these two units to our 4 Mackie 1300 watt Power Thump Speakers and we can deliver crystal clear sound, for any event you may have. All the band has to do is show up with their instruments, favorite mic, mic stands and ear buds, and simply plugin to our system! We use the Behringer Ultra-DI Pro DI800v2 8-channel Active Instrument Direct Box pictured below, to take any line in instrument and adjust it to produce the ultra clean signals needed for recording as well as producing Professional Audio.

Behringer Ultra-DI Pro DI800v2 8-channel Active Instrument Direct Box

For those who may not understand what all of this means, it would take pages upon pages to explain our process. For those of you who have worked with Professional Sound Engineers, right about now you should be smiling from ear to ear. Lets look at a typical way of doing things the old fashion way.

As a 5 member band, you would load up your extension cords, instruments, monitors, mics, stands, speakers, cables, electrical squids, DI boxes, snakes as well as any other audio gear you may have. Next you would show up to the event, lug your gear in, set up your analog snake, monitors, mics, speakers and subs. Then you would spend the time checking connections, placing monitors to avoid feedback and start doing your sound checks. After that is done you would run back and forth adjusting your inputs so all the vocals as well as the instruments were blended to produce the sound you are looking for. If your band was lucky enough to have a dedicated “sound guy”, you may save yourself some time running back and forth from the stage to your sound board/mixer, but everything else would be the same. If you had the means to record your event, 9 times out of 10, you would simply use the RCA jacks coming out of your mixer into a tape machine or digital recorder, giving you a left and right channel master mix. Two channels with very little leeway to do any dedicated mixing or mastering. I know this was done this way, as I used to do this all the time! I was that “dedicated sound guy“.

Now On To The New Digital Process!

This is what I do, step by step. I bring in my digital S-16 snake and place it on the stage. My 300′ Cat 5 cable weighs approximately 12 pounds. A typical 300′ analog snake with 16 input and 8 outs, weighs approximately 167 pounds and will deliver a lower quality signal, then what you will receive using Cat 5 cable. (Cat 5 cable is used for networking routers with computers as well as providing intranet connections throughout office/home connections). Then I hook up two Macki 1300 watt speakers to act as the L/R FOH speakers. The other two Macki 1300 watt speakers are routed through the X32 mixer to only produce sound that is under 100Hz. The Bass Guitar, Key Boards, Kick Drum and Floor Toms are usually the only instruments that will use this signal path. This allows the two FOH speakers to produce crystal clear sound using the full 1300 watts and the two subs to produce bottom end heart thumping bass. Then I will set up my dedicated HP laptop and link it to the X32 mixer via the USB 3 input. Then I will link my iPhone as well as my iPad to the X32 mixer via the dedicated 5Gh two band router. (I will explain more about using my iPhone and iPad a little later on).

Now my job is done. This takes me about 25 to 35 minuets to be completely set up. So what does this mean for the band/bands that will be doing their performance? Hang on, it’s going to be an E Ticket Ride! Once you arrive, you pick your spot on stage. If you have an acoustic guitar with electronic pickups, it gets plugged into our DI Pro 800 featured above using our 1/4 inch to 1/4 inch cable. If you do not have an electric pick up, we will mic it using our ATR Pro-70. This miniature condenser microphone achieves full-sounding pickup and is known for outstanding consistency and it excels in pickup of acoustic guitars, without getting in your way or forcing you to remain in the same spot. Its cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of the desired sound source, your guitar. If you also sing lead vocals, we will mic you using your own mic, or provide one of our high quality house mics such as the Shure SM7b dynamic microphone.

We do this with every member of the band. After everyone is plugged in, you will then take your own ear buds and plug them into our IEM, (In Ear Monitoring) system. This removes the possible feedback that occurs with most stage monitoring systems, while at the same time, allowing us to provide you with your own personal mix that you want to listen to, as you are preforming. The next thing we do is adjust your input levels that will be fed to our 40 track digital recorder. Remember when the old way mostly allowed for the main left and right channels to be recorded? We now can record, mix, add effects and blend each input, to achieve the professional results we style our standards to!

The next step is to setup each musician with their own personal monitor mix. Lets use the lead singer who also plays the guitar as an example. As the band is playing, I will point to each member of the band. At this time, the lead singer will tell me thumbs up to hear more of another member singing or their instrument, or thumbs down to hear less, including their own voice or guitar. This process is done with each member. Now, this is where we get to that “E Ticket Ride and my iPhone and iPad” I was talking about earlier. For those reading this that may be a bit younger, this is where that saying comes from. An E ticket ride (officially an E coupon) was a kind of admission ticket used at the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom theme parks before 1982, where it admitted the bearer to the newest, most advanced, or popular rides and attractions. If you knew you were going to these parks and you would get an E Ticket, you knew you were in for a fantastic time!

  1. During the entire process of setting up the mics, 1/4 inputs, IEMs, input levels for recording and preforming sound check levels, I never leave the stage. I do this via my iPhone or iPad that is connected to the X32 via the 5Gh router.
  2. When checking the sound levels the audience will be hearing, I will be walking the grounds/room when the sound will actually be transmitting to. Again, I will be adjusting levels using my iPhone or iPad.
  3. By having the advantage of moving from spot to spot, I can effortlessly adjust each band member to produce the finial mix to the audience, WITHOUT effecting the proper input levels needed for recording each track.
  4. I can be anywhere within a 300 foot radius of the stage and adjust anything from input levels, to IEMs and FOH speaker levels, simply by using direction from the band as well as my 45+ years of experience recording audio.

If all of this technology sounds expensive, it is! HOWEVER, our prices are extremely competitive and it is impossible to give a set price via our website just as it would be impossible for a mechanic to give you a price for fixing your car, without knowing all the details concerning your event. While we can tell you that for a standard event, we charge from $500.00 to $800.00 per day, there are added cost for mixing and mastering services if you want to create a demo of your live performance. Please contact us today to answer any questions you may have, concerning your event or booking studio time. Thanks & God Bless. Liz & Dana.