As many of you know, LP’s management haven’t released any DSP’s since South Africa 2012. As frustrating and disappointing as this is, with your help we can still get high quality recordings for everyone to share and enjoy! Most people reading this would have visited the Live Audio and Video downloads section at some stage and enjoyed the recordings posted here. I wanted to create a thread to explain how people can easily get into the taping scene and make their own quality recordings, regardless of your budget.
Here in Australia I ran my own site called BNE Live for a few years. Whilst I have now stopped posting to it, I still record bands on occasion. I’ve gotten an indescribable amount of joy from making my own recordings over the years, I’ve met some great people and I’ve got to record some killer shows which people can listen to at any time!
Below I am going to post a basic rundown of what you need to get started. I will focus more specifically on ‘stealth’ or body mounted rigs, rather than open taping rigs.
Your rig can include any number of components however generally it will consist of the following: Microphones > Microphone Power > Recording Device
To provide an example, here is the rig I usually use:
Audio Technica AT831 (Microphones) > SP-SPSB-10 (Microphone Power) > Olympus LS-10 (Recording Device)
I picked up the microphones and the battery box from The Sound Professionals and I got the Olympus LS-10 when I was in Osaka a few years back. All in all, I paid roughly US$380 for this rig. This is by no means the best rig in the world but it certainly produces quality recordings, good enough that one of my recordings was played on national radio a few years back.
The microphones are responsible for 90% of the sound quality of a recording. You can have an amazing preamp and recording device but if you have rubbish microphones, your recordings will sound like rubbish. There are various options when it comes to microphones but they can be broken down into two main categories: omnidirectional and cardioid. In the simplest of explanations, omni microphones record sound from every direction, whilst cardioid are directional. Each microphone has their own advantages and disadvantages.
Omni microphones are great for smaller venues or taping right near a speaker stack. They produce an excellent reproduction of what you are hearing. Omnis however are not ideal for taping when you are far away from the sound source (such as a stadium show). Omnis also pick up noise from around you (think loud crowd and drunks). Some people like this, as it captures the atmosphere of the show and contributes to the recording. I personally don’t like it, as the crowds here tend to be full of drunks and idiots and I don’t like that coming up in my recordings - each to their own however. Omnis are considered to be great beginner microphones as they are very forgiving.
Cardioids are great for mid to large sized venues, festivals and stadium shows. Since cardioids are directional, they pick up the sound from the direction they are pointed. At a festival show for example, you can be stuck halfway back in the crowd and still pick up a great recording if your mics are positioned towards the speaker stacks. Cardioid mics also have different patterns, such as subcardioid and hypers, which change how focused the directional recording is.
Now for some microphone recommendations:
Church Audio CA-10 (Omni)
Church Audio CA-11 (Cardioid) Church Audio CAFS (Omni)
People swear by Church Audio gear. Chris Church operates primarily out of the Tapers Section forums and makes quality handmade gear. He often has sales on his gear and also sells package deals. I used some Church Audio CA-1’s back when I started out, they were great microphones but I don’t believe Chris makes them anymore. I broke my set and ended up buying something else though.
Audio Technica AT831 (Cardioid)
These are the microphones I use now and I love them. They have changeable microphone capsules, however I think they are a bit harder to find now. I know I was able to make some capsules from some AT853’s work with them though.
Sound Professionals BMC-1 (Omni)
This is a budget microphone but don’t let it fool you. I bought a set of these for shows when I need to be super stealthy, or I’m worried about ruining microphones (bad weather, rough crowds etc). I’ve made some great recordings with them (including the 24.02.2013 LP show) and I recommend them to people on a limited budget.
To make quality recordings, your microphones need power to operate optimally. Many recording devices don’t provide power to your microphones, and the ones that do don’t provide enough power to fully power your microphones. Whilst operating without a power supply can work in a pinch, 9 times out of 10 it will just leave you with dull sounding and distorted recordings.
There are two main options when it comes to microphone power: battery boxes and pre-amps.
The majority of tapers I’ve met and spoken to use pre-amps. Pre-amps supply the power required for your microphones and allow you to increase gain. This is often beneficial in quiet venues or acoustic shows where you need a bit of a boost to pick up the sound.
I personally use a battery box as I am rarely ever in a situation that requires a pre-amp. Battery boxes simply supply the power to your microphones and as a result are much cheaper.
Church Audio Ugly (Pre-amp) Church Audio 9100 (Pre-amp)
Sound Professionals SPSB-10 (Battery Box)
Most people use Church’s pre-amps and for good reason. They are great quality, well made and with all the necessary features. If you’ve got the money, get one.
If you are on more of a budget, a battery box will do you just fine and the SPSB-10 is a great choice. It’s the battery box I use, it’s tiny and its cheap!
This is the final piece to your rig. A recording device takes the signal from your microphones/preamp and stores it on the device. Back in the day, tapers used to use mini-disc recorders, which required you to carry multiple discs, change discs mid-set and were just awful to use. Thankfully technology has come a long way and you can store everything digitally on tiny devices.
There are literally tons of options when it comes to recording devices, however you want to look for three main features: Line In, Lossless recording (such as WAV) and storage space.
Line in is important as it means your recorder will store whatever is sent to it, without altering the signal. Many recorders have a Microphone In port that will send the signal through the recording devices own pre-amp. Whilst this can work, often it introduces noise and/or distortion and is better to just be avoided.
Lossless recording is important to ensure your recording isn’t compressed. If your recording device records to 192k MP3 only for example, you will lose a lot of the dynamics of the recording and have next to no noise floor to work with, leading to distortion in most cases. In other words, an ugly recording. My LS-10 allows me to record in 24/48 .wav - some people consider this to be overkill but it is always better to record higher quality and downsample, then it is to try and improve something that was recorded at a low quality to begin with.
Storage space is essential. On average most shows I record are around 2 hours in length and result in a 2gb file. File size is going to vary depending on the quality and file format you record in, but use those figures as a benchmark. You will want to have enough storage to record what you want. For example 4gb will be plenty in most cases to record a support band and headliner. If you are recording a whole day festival, you will want more.
I personally haven't used anything other than my Olympus LS-10 (which is great) but all these options are well regarded in the taping community. Find a store near that that stocks recording devices and go play around.
The Tapers Section forum has a thread dedicated to what gear to get with what budget, however here are a few suggestions of my own:
Super Budget Rig
SP-BMC-1 > SP-SPSB-11 > Tascam DR07MK2 (TOTAL: US$239)
CA 11 > CA 9100 > Tascam DR07MK2 (TOTAL: US$407)
Money to Spare Rig CA 14 (omni/card set) > CA 9100 > Tascam DR40 (TOTAL: US$528)
These are obviously just suggestions. Audio is a very subjective topic, each person has their own preferences, budgets and ideas. Look around and find something that suits your budget and situation.
My next suggestion if you're just starting, buy used! Who cares if a microphone is missing a bit of paint, or the case of a pre-amp has a scratch or whatever, if it works, use it!. If you can save a bucket load of money, then go for it. Try places like eBay, manufacturer refurbished gear or second hand sales on the Tapers Section forums.
Take all of the above for what it is, a very basic overview of live music taping. There are literally thousands of options when it comes to gear. Everything I’ve covered has really only been about ‘stealth’ taping and not open taping. Lots of bands allow open taping, where you can bring in your own stands, large microphones, recording rigs and more. If bands you want to tape allow open taping, great! Look into it because you can get incredible recordings this way.
Taping seems overwhelming and confusing at first, everyone who tapes now has been in your position before. My advice is to research! Read everything you can, ask questions when talking to other tapers, experiment with gear and find out what you like. There is no right or wrong when it comes to developing your rig. I spent a solid 6 months researching before I even made my first recording. I even did some music production classes at my university. Obviously this isn’t necessary but the point I'm making is that knowledge is power. The more you know, the more you can do and your recordings will benefit from it.
Once you have a rig, get out there and tape some shows. Spend a few weekends at local bars and record whatever band is playing. Experiment with venue sizes, setting your levels on your gear, learn how your position affects the sound of your recording. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, in fact your first recording will more than likely be a distorted mess. Every taper has been where you are now.
The best place to learn in my opinion is The Tapers Section forums. Like any forum, look around first and read the threads that are already there before asking any questions, chances are your question has been answered before. Don’t worry though, the TTS community on a whole are patient, friendly and happy to help other tapers. They also have a buy/sell section where you can pick up great gear!
LEGAL STUFF I won't go in depth about this, because every state and country has different laws on taping. My advice is to be sensible though, if a band/venue is specifically anti-taping either don’t record or don’t complain if you get caught. In my experience, most bands are more than happy to let you record if you ask them. This works much better with smaller bands, who might want the exposure, or a copy of your recording or you can even swing them all a beer each in exchange for permission. The worst they can say is no!
Larger bands are more difficult to get permission, but you can often google around and find out what their policy is. Dave Matthews Band is a classic example of a band with a totally open taping policy. When it comes to Linkin Park, I think the general consensus is the band is ok with it. I’m not going to bother finding the sources for this, but I can’t remember one recording which has caused drama with the band. With larger artists, I’ve often had success finding out who their manager/label is and sending them an email explaining what I want to do. Again, the worst they can say is no.
If you do get in trouble with a band or at a venue, the best approach is to apologise straight away. There is no point fighting it and being an idiot, because you’ll just dig your hole deeper. Apologise, offer to delete the recording and do so in front of them and then just walk away. Find out your local laws and know your rights, but generally without permission you don’t have much of a legal leg to stand on.
My other advice is to keep copies of any interactions with a band regarding permission. This might seem excessive but it’s saved my ass before. I was taping a few years back for an artist I regularly record. The support band approached me before the show and asked me to record their set for them, which I happily did. We exchanged email addresses and I sent them the show a few days later. I kept the various emails exchanged between us. A few weeks later I got a message from their manager who was threatening legal action. I explained I had permission but he said no such permission was ever given. Things got heated but he eventually backed down when I showed him the emails and told him I’d gladly go to court if he wanted to. Long story short, the band had taken my recording and wanted to release it but were trying to cut me out of the loop, attempting to take recording credit as their own and screw me over in the process. If they had simply said they wanted me to record for a commercial release, that would have been fine, there was no need to be malicious about it.
This was one bad experience out of the hundreds of recordings I’ve made, so don’t let it scare you. Just be mindful of your local laws, keep records and get permission wherever possible or print out a bands taping policy and keep it with you.
FINAL NOTES This is a very basic overview to give people an insight into what's involved and a rough cost. I know people will post here and say that I’ve missed discussing certain things like post-production or that I haven’t covered open taping or that my recommendations aren’t what they’d recommend. That’s honestly ok, but I want to go back to my key point, which is to research. This guide is simply a rough overview to get fellow Linkin Park fans inspired to get out there and make some recordings now that we don’t have DSP’s anymore.
Don’t get overwhelmed or scared with taping, as I said before it can be a load of fun and you meet some great people but most importantly, you’ve got a fantastic recording that people can listen to for years to come!
I'd love to see more people get out there and record Linkin Park shows.
NOTE TO THE MODS: I know this isn't specifically a Request or a Download thread but I hope that you don't delete it or maybe you could even pin it. With the DSP situation how it is, fan recordings are our best chance at hearing the shows and even if this thread only gets one more person taping, it's one more tape we didn't have and I'd consider it a success.
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