Taper's guide part 3: Get in, record & share
Part 1: Your target and the recorder
Part 2: Microphones
Part 3: various stuff
Once you have your recorder, your microphones and a power supply for them, there's a few other things you might need before packing it up and going to the venue. First of all: don't forget your batteries. And the extra batteries. Always, always, always, do carry many batteries for your recorder and your preamp/battery box. It might sound silly, but there have been plenty of recordings which could have been great, that were eventually ruined by a battery that ran out quicker than the taper had thought (or even worse, by forgetting the batteries at home!). Batteries are cheap and small, it won't hurt to carry a few spares. Also do carry an extra jack cable (the cable that will go from your power supply to the recorder's line-in input) as they use to wear out in the worst moment and screw your recording.
If you're taping in outdoor venues (not the case for the upcoming U2 tour, but it will happen eventually), you also wish to avoid the ocassional wind sound becoming too prominent in your recording: the windscreens (also called "dead rats" or windshields) are your friends. These are small covers that prevent your mics from picking up the wind noise and, to a lesser extent, protect the mics too. There are generic windscreens that will fit many different mics, and also microphone-specific windscreens, made by the same or a different company than the mics' manufacturer. Most handheld recorders also feature a wind noise reducing filter, although its use is not widely recommended as it actually fliters out some frequencies that might contain part of the music. In the case of rain or storms, our first advice is: do not tape, as your gear might and probably would result damaged - humidity affects microphones and electronic gear in a very bad way. If you decide to tape anyway, do use an umbrella (preferibly, a sound-transparent one, to avoid affecting the recording quality).
Also, you will probably need some adhesive tape and/or clips in order to fix your microphones wherever you choose... Which leads us to the next part of the articles!
Part 1: getting ready & getting in
Once you pack up all your stuff and you get to the venue... Let the nerves start! Most venues have no-taping policies even for bands that allow taping (like U2), and most attendants get frisked to one or other extent. If your taping gear gets spotted by the guards, you might or might not get into trouble; they won't listen to your reasons and it would probably be worse if you tried to convince them that the band allows taping. Nevertheless, two factors are on the tapers' side: first, they frisk attendants basically looking for bottles, food (in no-food-allowed venues), weapons or other dangerous things; second, many guards will fail to recognise what a digital recorder is (most will think it's a phone, a camera or a music player of some kind), not to mention that preamps or battery boxes look nothing like something they should be searching for, and microphones can pass as earphones of some kind. So our advice to get in with your equipment is: first of all, be calm as there is a good chance that you won't have any problems at all. Try to hide your recorder (which is probably the biggest piece of your gear) in some place where guards won't probably frisk you, and carry a bottle of water or soda can -pretending you didn't know they aren't allowed- so they focus on that and ignore the rest of what you're carrying. It works If you have a GA ticket, watch out for your gear while you run your heart out to get a good spot - you wouldn't be the first who has his recorder or microphones crushed during a crazy GA race!
Part 2: setting up & recording
Now you're inside the venue, it's time to choose your location (in case you don't have a concrete seat) and set your gear up. Once you get used to it you will be able to do quickly, but you might need some good few minutes during your first runs - so don't let U2 come onstage without having your gear ready! If you're at the GA, you need to decide where to position yourself. As we said on the second article of this series, the first few rows usually don't get the best sound of the venue; the optimal taping location is usually in the middle of a straight line between Larry's drumkit and the venue's mixing desk (also called soundboard). People's also more laid back when you go further from the first rows, and that means less chance for you to get bumped and have your recording damaged or ruined! Of course, there's always the chance to move around the GA to avoid an undersirable crowd surrounding you, or in search of a better sound.
Once you're at your chosen location, start setting your gear up. The better you do it, the better the recording will be. Most important thing is microphone positioning: mics need to face the PA speakers in order to properly pick up their sound. If the mics face the ground, the ceiling or your body, the recording won't be crisp and many music details (specially the vocals and the guitar) will be lost; the higher they are, the better they will sound. You can use a baseball cap or hat of some sort to mount the mics, or maybe a pair of glasses. Most mics used for taping are small enough to become invisible in a dark venue full of jumping people. There's a lot of ways to mount your mics but we won't go into much detail here - every taper always finds by their own
(Yes, those tiny little things are a pair of omnidirectional CAFS microphones)
When the mics are mounted, you can set up the rest of the gear. Connect the mics' jack plug to your battery box/preamp's input, and connect the battery box/preamp's output cable to your recorder's LINE IN input - important: NOT to the MICROPHONE input. The microphone input of your recorder might supply the plug-in power we spoke about in our second article, but you don't need that power since the preamp or the battery box are providing the precise voltage your mics need, so go for the line-in input instead. The final diagram will be like this: microphones > input of your power supply > line-in input of your recorder. Turn on the recorder, turn on the power supply (if needed) and select the recorder's input gain as "low" or "mid". Make sure your recorder is set to record in lossless (probably WAV encoding at 44kHz and 16 bits). Press the red "REC" button; your recorder should start showing a pair of gain meters. Get used to them, as they indicate if your recording is having good sound levels. The meters should *never* reach the end of the bar, as that means there's too much volume coming in that the recorder can't accept, and the recording will become saturated or distorted. You might have to play around with the gain setting on your recording (the support band is a good moment for doing this, as the volume will be similar to U2's concert), and the meters should hit around -6dB maximum. When you get there, put on fresh batteries on the recorder and the power supply, turn them on, monitor the gain levels again, turn them off and enjoy the rest of the support act. U2 will come onstage shortly, you will press the REC button, enjoy the show and get a fantastic recording which you will be able to share with the whole world
Part 3: transferring, editing & sharing
So you lost your voice during With Or Without You last night and got home totally wasted... After recording the show, right? Fantastic, now it's time to transfer it to your computer and share it with the world. Most recorders store the files on a SD or microSD card, so you will either need a SD card reader or a USB cable to connect your recorder to your computer. Once you transfer that big *.WAV file to a folder of your choice, it's time to start playing around with it. You might or might not have previous audio editing knowledge; you might or might not want to edit (equalizing, mastering, etc) your recording. Nevertheless, what you surely need to do is convert the big WAV file into FLAC (lossless), MP3 (lossy) or another convenient filetype in order to share it. Of course, you could share the original WAV file, but it would be too big to upload, and unconvenient to listen to. Free software like Audacity and Trader's Little Helper will help you through this proccess. For your first recordings, our advice is to keep the post-processing as minimum as possible. Just remove the extra crowd noise before and after the show, add fade-in and fade-out to the start and end of the recording, and split the tracks conveniently - then pack it all on a RAR file and upload it to a hosting server of your choice. When you got the download link, share it with the world and get the one and only reward you will get after this whole process: the heartfelt thanks and gratitude from thousands of fans around the world including many of your concert's attendant mates. CONGRATULATIONS
Share URL: http://u2.tc/UN
The article Taper's guide part 3: Get in, record & share was first published on U2start.com by LikeASong.
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Thanks for the kind comment, coggster Glad that you like the guide!
Some great advice. Yes, carrying water into a venue really does work...they forget to check you for the other stuff then! ;-)