This is a simple post with information on things to remember/do both in the Studio and Live Sound. This is geared more towards Studio however. First of all keep tidy both in the Studio Floor and Engineering Room. Its useful to get Mic’s on stands, get them near where the Instruments are going, if the band isn’t in yet, and then get the boxes and containers for the Mic’s out the way. Studio 1’s cupboard is useful. Make sure when you’re setting up that the performers can actually move around somewhat, without knocking or moving Mic stands, tripping over cables or their own gear. They say its cleanliness but really its tidiness thats next to godliness. Run the XLR’s from the wall box, take a longer route around the room and then to the Mic stand, coiling up the excess in an eternal loop at the bottom of the stand. Its easier to just run cables straight to the stand but you want to limit tripping hazards as much as possible, especially in a live sound performance where you’re in a small pub and the toilets next to the stage but you’re working with a band so big that the people have to squeeze past the keyboard to go to the toilet. Always run from the wall box so that there is no excess there, plug the XLR in to the appropriate channel and then let it run down the wall to the floor and then along the floor. That will leave enough slack but in an organised fashion that if you’re chasing a cable, you can pull it and see it raise.
Scheduling and creating a channel list is useful so you know how long you have until you need to be set up so whether you can carry on the way you are or need to get a shift on. Writing up the input list before setting up makes sense so you’re not just leaving XLR’s next to the wall box ready to plug in then chasing them again to find out which is which or writing on tape which you later have to remove leaving the plugs all sticky and horrible. Remember to do things as standard that make it more obvious if you are chasing cables or things that make it easier to operate the desk. For example Left on odd numbers, Right on even numbers works great for overheads. When you’re panning on the desk if its the other way around its really confusing. Similarly with Vocal Mic’s on stage, going left, middle and right with channels 13, 14 and 15 makes so much more sense than going 15, 14 and 13 so the faders as you look at them are reversed to the Mic’s, as you look at them, on stage. The Drum kit is the largest instrument, usually with the most Microphones so start there. Usually start with Kick and end with Overheads but sometimes you might chop and change.
If I were Micing the whole Kit this is the sort of thing I’d do, it makes sense to start from the Kick, then to Snare, then Hat, then Toms, then Overheads. If I only had 2 Toms however then I’d move the over heads and not have a unused channel in-between so id make it either look like this:
Or id even start with the Overheads first but the above keeps ever couple of mic’s together (2 Mic’s per Kick, 2 Mic’s per Snare, 2 Overheads). Another thing to note is Phantom but first you should always remember to 0 the desk when you take control of the Studio. I bet you 9 times out of 10 you will not have a completely zeroed desk because the people who used it before you couldn’t be bothered to do so because it was more important for them to get down the pub after their session. It’s a simple thing but its you’re responsibility to leave the studio better than you found it because part if your job in life is to show other people up for not doing it properly first. I do this at my other job on the bar too, the managers have given me more responsibility because I’m picking up on the things that others, including the managers, aren’t doing. Anyway. Some desks have Global Phantom (almost an oxymoron I think) so its one button to make sure its off, but the TLAudio M4 in Studio 1 has Phantom per channel which is really more useful. Make sure its off on every 1 of the 32 channels, which in this case is a pain because they thought it would be a fantastic idea to put it on the back below the XLR input. Genius. If you start plugging and unplugging Microphones whilst Phantom is on then you are hot plugging the microphones which can cause damage to Dynamics, Condensers and Ribbons. This is called hot plugging and it works similarly to adding/removing components within a computer whilst the system is still powered up.
When you set Gain the best way is to bring the Channels fader to unity, then increase the Gain until you hit an appropriate level to hear the Mic, then as you continue to increase it bring down the Channel Fader so it remains at that volume. Push it over the limit driving the Signal into distortion, then bring it back so you know the signal is as high as possible before hitting distortion. This will give you a good Signal to Noise Ratio. we know that you have headroom on the Analog part of the system so if 1 beat in 100 distorts the desk can handle that peak as it works in dBvu (Decibels relative to Volume Unit, measurement of a Voltage.). However PT works with dBfs (Full Scale, Digital measurement) and thus has no headroom so you need to make sure that your highest peaks are within the confines of the gain settings.
Headphone mixes are such an integral part of the studio in most cases unless you’re recording a live band just to capture them playing off each other as they are all in the same room together as if its a practice or performance. In Studio 1 there are 3 methods of getting a headphone mix to the Performers. The first is the Main out from the desk which feeds into the Headphone Amplifier and so what you do on the faders is what the live room can hear. Its good to start from here then if you need something tweaking for 1 or 2 but not the rest you move on to the first 2 Auxiliaries which can switch to Pre Fade and make 2 more separate headphone mixes independent of the Main Mix. The Aux outputs are on the Patchbay and you can patch them into the individual channels on the Headphone amp then crossfade between the main input and the Auxiliary input. The third is by creating Auxiliaries on PT setting their outputs to outputs on the Interface which are present on the Patchbay and then feeding them into the separate channels of the Headphone amp. This is done by using sends from each individual channel in Pro Tools to the Auxiliary Headphone mix but this is my least favourite as its not as easy to locate the channel that they want turning up/down as quickly as when you have a desk full of auxiliaries in front of you. unless you have multiple screens at home in which case you can use the red button at the top right of the faders that appear from the sends, create an auxiliary mixer from there on a separate screen and you can adjust quickly and easily. GENIUS! Studio 2 however I prefer for headphone mixes as you have multiple Auxiliary’s that you can put in Pre fade and just grab some jacks to plug into the front of the headphone amp. That gives you the freedom to have 4 independent headphone mixes all on the same board.
Thats all folks.