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11-03-15

Last month, I recorded a taiko show at Athenaeum theatre. Ho Etsu Taiko were collaborating with OnEnsemble from L.A. (Shoji from OnEnsemble had given me a few recording/mix tips for my first session with Ho Etsu) for a spectacular and very diverse show. This song, Little Man, was my favourite, having a great groove, an ear-worm melody played on dueling flutes, and the loudest moments of the concert.
My main concern about recording the show was not to get in the way. Taiko is a very visual art, and having the stage littered with mic stands would kill the vibe, so I set up a stereo pair in the pit, and four close mics, on short stands to grab the attack of the first row of drums.
I scoped out the venue in advance and was relieved to see that they had an Allen & Heath MixWizard, so I was safe on the preamp front, and conveniently presented with Direct Outs on every channel. But on the day, once we’d loaded in (one of the drums was so big it wouldn’t fit through any of the doors) and set up all the mics, I discovered that the Direct Outs were configured POST fader, making them pretty useless. We pulled up the manual pdf, and opened up the board to see if we could switch them back to the presumably factory default of PRE fader, but couldn’t even find the tiny jumper. So I came out on the channel inserts instead, essentially adding my interface to the signal chain/gain staging. I was using two MOTU firewire units (an 828 for 8 ins, and an 896HD for the next 8 as ADAT optical) and since the thru is a digital connection, and CueMix can’t control the ADAT unit’s outputs, I couldn’t return the signal on the second eight channels, and had to rely on the mixer’s direct outs – at the mercy of Karl, the live sound guy, and whatever sounded good out front.
But by carefully selecting which channels I was stealing on the inserts, and which I was getting post fader (which meant repatching in between numbers), I managed to get enough usable audio to mix a half decent live recording with. It meant me and Karl were busier on the night (and the matinee) than we would have liked, but the show must go on…

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