The importance of correct specification

technology

Ever since forming the recording business in 2004, I have always gone down the route of everything being somewhat over engineered.   On occasion this has lead to much teasing from colleagues.   You may assume that the over engineering department was specifically set up for our choir recordings. However, in fact it is far more relevant to the school business than you might believe.

What are we doing?

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Yes, that old chestnut. But it’s true.  We plan carefully for every recording. But the footnote to every single plan always says; ‘and once you have done this, plan for there to be something else which will come along at the last minute and change everything’.

When we are recording in Schools, the biggest challenge is usually integrating into the school sound system.  Some of them are nice and easy and they have a stereo connection which says Audio out.  This is always the most pleasing thing we can find and makes everything terribly easy.  However, increasingly school systems are becoming more focussed towards just being able to plug an iPod into a system which has no other output other than its own speakers.

For our purposes, this is hopeless as to properly record with a backing track we need a direct feed into our recording rig.  Luckily, however, there is always a solution.

Take more use less

Another old chestnut for you. ‘If you haven’t got it, you can’t use it’.  Therefore, for every recording session we always bring every piece of kit which we have.  Otherwise, there’s not much point in having it.   Perhaps the only exception to this is our drum mic kit when we know the job in hand is recording an unaccompanied chamber choir.  However, when we are visiting a primary school, we usually get treated to all sorts of music which involves all manner of musicians and singers.  Therefore, we take everything.   More often than not, an electric guitar will spring out of nowhere and probably won’t have thought to bring an amplifier or jack cable. And almost certainly won’t have a DI box.  Luckily we have a solution for all of these issues.

Today, for example, I was providing a live sound (PA system) for a wedding.  It’s not technically our core business but uses a lot of similar kit and so it’s a thing to be done.   Asking all the right questions I was told the requirement was a stereo set of speakers, loud enough to fill a church with 3 microphones to be used by singers who were going to be singing to backing tracks. The backing tracks would be supplied on an iPod.

What actually happened was that we had 2 singers. One of the singers was also playing an electric guitar.  The third mic had to be a roving mic to be used by the Priest. Then to present the final challenge the backing track was presented on an iPhone 7 which didn’t have an audio jack and only provided us with a bluetooth connection.

Fortunately when the PA system was specced we went with the option which had bluetooth connection. This was on the basis that one day, someone would come along and present us with a backing track on a device which could not connect via a cable.

Summary

In the recording industry sometimes with the best will in the world you cannot always predict what you will be faced with. Our job whether we are providing live sound or recording live sound is to always have a solution to the problem.  The best planning we can do is make sure we thought of every possible option when we specified our recording set up.  That said, we are always learning and whilst nothing has foiled us yet, there are sometimes occasions where we learn from a particular set up and then find a tidier solution for next time.


To put us to the test and see the value of preparation, why not talk to us about recording a CD at your school. You can phone us on 01225 302143 or click here to email us

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