Over the weekend my band had the pleasure of recording some live promo videos for our upcoming album. Now don’t worry this isn’t a shameless plug to get you to listen to my own music but rather to tell you about the Tascam DR-100 portable digital recorder.
The setup of the video shoot was quite simple. A single camera for the video footage and the DR-100 picking up all the sound. The band is a two piece acoustic duo consisting of two guitars and vocals but we also had a percussionist (Fellow EAV man David) helping out on a Cajon drum, shakey egg and Djembe. The recordings were being made outside and there was a little wind in the air that could have caused some problems.
Now, we debated how best to record the audio for a few weeks before. Obviously, the ideal way would have been to close mic everything, record it and mix it afterward. Another route would have been to dot a few mics around that go into a mixer and then go straight into a digital recorder. Or the final route would be to go with the cameraman’s DR100 placed in front of the band and made sure our levels were all correct on stage (or on the garden if you will). Now we didn’t want to have a completely polished sound as we really wanted to capture a live feel to the recordings and due to needing the finished product rather quickly, we opted for just the DR100 placed in front of the band.
To get a mixed sound on stage we placed David and his drums a few feet back from the guitars and the lead acoustic guitar went through a powered monitor to bring his level up to blend with my rhythm guitar. My rhythm guitar didn’t need any amplification as 1) I hit it very hard and 2) it is a large dreadnought Taylor guitar. My voice is quite powerful so I didn’t need to mic that either. Once the levels were sorted we did a few recording tests with the DR100 placed just two or three foot back from us and listened back. I was amazed at the quality of audio pickup and how detailed it was. Each instrument was clearly heard and a full stereo sound was produced from its on-built mics. There were a few changes of instruments throughout the day included a Banjo that we mic’ed up with a SM58 (not necessarily the first choice of mics to do this but it was all we had on hand) and that came out great and also an electro Ukulele that just went through the powered monitor. Both instruments were picked up great by the DR100 and we were extremely pleased with the end result.
After we recorded the live session we did a short Q&A session again using the Tascam DR100 to pick up the audio and like before, we simply placed it about 2 foot from ourselves and talked away. All was picked up clearly.
Now the Tascam DR100 has many different features but I must admit we didn’t get to see them all in action. If you want to know exactly what they are then visit our page here or go to the Tascam Audio website for downloads and extra info. A few of the features we did see were the obvious recording quality which we did as WAV files that went straight onto the SD card that was inserted into the unit. We nearly got to see how it screws onto a mic stand if one of us had bought a spare one. We saw the ease of transfer from the devise to the computer (take SD card out and insert into computer) and we saw that it was a very simple to use unit and extremely portable.
To conclude, it is obvious that we would have got a far more polished recording if we had mic'd every instrument up separately and mixed it afterward but that isn't always an option for some people as it wasn't for us this time around. What we did get is a recording that sounded great and professional but with a definite feel of it being live and on location. I would say the DR100 is a great unit for any band to have if they like recording live songs in random places and want a quality 1000 times better than a mobile phone recorder to upload to their fans.
Now as I said, this isn’t a shameless plug for my band so telling you to check out www.barricadesrise.co.uk where you can listen to all our music and see where we are playing next would be pointless. In all seriousness, the videos should be being posted on that website in a few days so go and take a listen for yourself.