A few weeks ago I told you about a live concert recording I did for a friend of mine.

It was a simple show, just her and a piano in an old church. She sang half of the songs with a handheld mic; the rest were classical/musical theater pieces performed without a microphone.

My plan was to simply use two mics on her vocals (one for the handheld stuff, one farther away to capture the classical tunes) and a pair of small-diaphragm condenser mics in an XY pattern on the piano (a nice old baby grand).

That was the plan. Four mics.

Just to be safe, I brought two extra microphones. I’m really glad I did.

I knew it would be helpful to capture some of the crowd noise, applause, etc., but I wasn’t sure if I would have time (or the space) to set up a room mic or two.

After sound check, I had a few spare minutes before the concert began. People were filing in, filling up the pews, but a nagging little voice kept whispering in my ear…”Room mics…roooooooooom mics…”

So I grabbed the two extra (non-matched) condenser mics I had brought with me, threw ’em up in the choir loft, aimed one left, one right, and BAM! Room mics.

This simple move completely saved the recording.

Not that the recording was going to be bad, but these room mics were a life-saver.

Why? Two reasons.

First, they captured the crowd noise. As it turns out (I didn’t know this beforehand), the concert involved a fair amount of audience participation. Sure, the piano mics might have picked up the crowd, but the lid was closed, and it would have sounded amateur at best.

Secondly, the room mics captured the natural reverb of the church. This was a fairly big church with high ceilings and great acoustics.

If I had only recorded with the spot mics on vocals and guitar, I would have missed out on capturing the sound of the room itself.

Did I end up using the room mic tracks in the mix? Yes and no.

I used the room mics for the applause and crowd interaction. However, the room was fairly noisy (AC noise, old people coughing, etc.), so I didn’t use them for the actual performances.

Instead, I set up a reverb and matched the sound of the reverb to the sound of the room mics.

It turned out very nicely.

Tomorrow night I’ll be sharing with my VIP members exactly how I went about recording, editing, and mixing this project. I’ll pull up the session live on the screen and let you hear for yourself.

If you ever see yourself doing any live recording, this will be valuable information for you.

If you want to check it out, go here and join:

www.homestudiocorner.com/vip

If you’re reading this after Thursday (January 26), you can still join and have full access to the recordings of this VIP session (and all previous sessions).

  • Andrew

    Funny that you wrote this, for I was just contemplating on whether I should use a room mic to capture my acoustic guitar (I never done this and that’s because my room sucks because of the lame noise outside my window.. those lawn mowers and birds chirping can really ruin my tracks). Now I see you can use room mics as a blueprint to show you how you should recreate the space inside your DAW with digital reverbs (never thought of that until I read your article. Good Idea!). So I am going to try some room mic techniques (Maybe I’ll get lucky and there won’t be any lawn mowers or birds chirping to hurt my recording).

    Thanks Joe! =)