Shredstock, live to 2-track

Saturday, July 26th, 2008 | by

I spent the first half of the EssenEss set at Shredstock at stage right, close enough so that Steve and Steve’s fingers were not completely blurred (although Ron Redeen’s sticks still were). Wandering back to join friends at a table near the mixing desk, I noticed Steve Smyth‘s laptop, set up to record the show via two room mics into an Mbox. The screen showed a Pro Tools error message. Argh! So much for the live CD.

I pointed it out to the soundman, but he just shrugged his shoulders, the universal sign for “somebody else’s problem.”

Normally I would never presume to touch someone else’s gear, but the bassist Steve is a friend of a friend (who I’ll be jamming with in a couple weeks acutally), and I figured the band would rather have a recording of the second half of the set than stress out about having my hands on the keyboard. I cleared the Pro Tools error, double-checked the CPU and buffer allocation, adjusted the gain on the second channel — which had clipped — and restarted the recording.

The gain on the two inputs of the Mbox had been carefully matched, but the mics were not! The first looked like an MXL large-diaphragm. The second looked like a Neumann, curiously. But there’s not much point gain-matching mismatched mics. The takeaway advice — turn on a metering plug-in and have a friend set the gain during soundcheck.

Anyway, Steve Smyth seemed grateful; even moreso when I offered a matched pair of LDCs (CAD M179 — would have been interesting for a mid-side setup, which would have been more likely to capture an in-phase stereo image than would a spaced pair) for the next night’s show. He didn’t end up taking me up on it, but I was happy to have offered. It was a small payback for an outstanding performance.

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