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Capturing The Moment: Microphone Techniques For Live Recording
Ways to capture the performance so it can be brought back alive
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Perhaps the most exciting type of recording comes in the live realm, whether it be in a club or concert hall or stadium.

Many musicians and bands want to record live because they feel that’s when they play best. The goal, then, is to capture the performance so it can be brought back alive.

Remote recording is exhilarating. The musicians - excited by the audience - often put on a stellar performance. Usually you only get one chance to get it recorded, and it must be done right. It’s on the edge, but by the end of the night, especially if everything has gone as planned - what a great feeling!

Challenges abound. The monitors can feed back and/or leak into the vocal microphones, coloring the sound. The bass sound can leak into the drum mics, and the drums can leak into the piano mics.

Then there are other mic-related gremlins - breath pops, lighting buzzes, wireless system glitches, and even electric shocks.

How to get around the potential problems? Let’s have a look at some effective mic techniques that work well when recording in the live realm. And note that these are tailored more to “pop” music performances.

- When using directional mics, position them close to the source. Close mic’ing increases the sound level at the mic, so less gain is needed, which in turn cuts background noise and leakage.

Unidirectional mics (cardioid, supercardioid, hypercardioid) do the same thing by attenuating off-axis sounds. Also, their proximity effect boosts the bass up close, without boosting the bass of distant sounds.

- Use direct boxes and guitar pickups to eliminate leakage. Or use pickups mixed with mics.

- Consider using headworn noise-canceling mics on vocals. A noise-canceling or differential mic is designed to cancel sounds at a distance, such as instruments on stage or monitor loudspeakers. Such a mic provides outstanding gain-before-feedback and isolation. The mic must be used with lips touching the foam windscreen; otherwise the voice is cancelled.


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