This post is part of the series Multitrack Equipment, your guide to creating the best multitrack recording setup for your budget.
If you have a one-time live event that you want to record, like a gig at a particular venue or event, then buying equipment may not really be cost-effective. Anything much longer than a day or two can start getting expensive despite reduced prices for a week’s rental in most places, then it’s probably worth thinking about getting your own equipment.
The perfect solution would be a complete rig that you can use once, take along to the gig and run off the back of the PA desk, or monitor mix desk if there is one. You will want to end up with wavs at the end of the gig that you can take away with you to mix, or have mixed professionally.
Any equipment that you can borrow from friends, can be a huge help. If someone you know has got a multitrack interface or some extra SM58s you can make use of, this will really help to cut the cost down (I found that the promise of a pint and a curry can be very persuasive!). Even if it means recording onto something of average standard, that’s probably your best bet because there is a lot that can be done afterwards in post-production to help achieve a good solid sound, so if it’s a choice between spending money on one or the other, then get it mixed properly.
Failing that, there are plenty of companies around who have stacks of professional audio equipment available for hire. Sorting through to find exactly what you want can be the tricky bit, so let’s start at the beginning…
You will need an interface, mic amps probably are unnecessary if taking outputs from a desk, and a recording machine capable of recording 24 channels.
Your first instinct may leap straight to a Pro Tools rig, however I would suggest that this is likely to be an expensive option as a pro tools rig for over 16 channels is likely to set you back around £400 – $500 a day which is pretty steep. I would recommend trying to go for an all-in-one box that you can just hit record and leave running, it’s by far the simplest option and easiest to set up with an existing PA rig.
Most rental places will have something along these lines, in particular I would look for an Alesis HD24, a Fostex D2424LV or a Mackie HDR24. All of those will run very nicely alongside a mixer, off the direct outputs for each channel, and will record wavs which you can then copy off to a computer afterwards (beware that this may take a while, the Mackie HDR24 for instance only has USB 1.0). When you ring up and ask about hiring, make sure that they come with looms and a mains extension if they can spare one!
[image via comedy_nose]