Monday, September 15, 2008

It's not how much stuff you log around...

A while back I arrived to record a choral concert with three choirs and >100 singers in one of Hamburg's churches. I carried my bag (a Crumpler "Very busy man") on my back, a mic stand bag with two stands and 6 lengths of 10m mic-cable over my shoulder. My bike was parked outside.

A collegue of mine was just tearing down. He had recorded a girl's choir in the morning and was now lugging three huge trunks into his van. He seemed a bit unnerved my appearance and asked me if I was doing a stereo recording. I said no. I would be setting up a six-channel recording. That's why I was so loaded...

On my website I advertise my enterprise as an "environmentally friendly studio (traveling by bike, train and bus)", and this is what I do for most events, the sole exception currently being my biannual trips to London, although I have meanwhile discovered a way to comfortably get there and back by train, which I will soon put into practice.

The reason it is possible to work lightweight is the availability of mature digital audio solutions. I am using very high end interfaces by Metric Halo as mic-pre's and AD's, I verify my headphone-based sonic evaluation by running SpectraFoo, and microphones don't take up much space. What's left to lug around?

Tip: You can save on mic-stands by using the K&M 240/5 microphone holder's whenever you can clamp a mic (or pair of mic's) to a rail or so. I also like using the DPA 4060 that can be employed as a boundary layer mic, taped to walls, easily flown by it's cable or placed as an inconspicuous spot.

In the end the measure of how much stuff you have to lug around depends on the type of music, the venue, the proposed use of the recording and the recordist's expertise. A good selection of gear, a lot of experience with your mobile setup and meticulous planning help you optimize your rig, minimize setup and tear down time and maximize the quality of your work. Go for it!

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