The latest CD from indie favorites Box Set, "One Night Live", was recorded at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley by Wildplum's Paul Tumolo. The CD is available from CDBaby; downloads are on both CDBaby and iTunes. Listen to a sample YouTube
"One of the best sounding live recordings that I've heard in a long time."- Rosalie Howarth, KFOG Acoustic Sunrise
NO DEPRESSION review says: "One Night Live" offers a splendid set of seventeen songs."
Wildplum offers a remote, on-location, professional recording service dedicated to capturing the sound you want anywhere you want it. We bring the highest quality studio equipment to the remote location, together with a sound understanding of how to go about recording on location. Whether you are a singer/songwriter, a symphony orchestra, a jazz trio, a rock band, or a classical chamber ensemble; you can make a recording anywhere you feel comfortable- at a concert or other gig, in a church, in a rented cabin at Tahoe, in a great sounding room in a home, even in an open field!
Remote recordings of exceptionally high quality are achieved by knowledgeable techs using only top equipment, meticulously maintained. Our equipment selections, as well as our approach to recording, where developed specifically with remote recording as the primary focus of our recording activities.
In reviewing Sourdough Slim's Swingin' at the Palms , the Western Music Advocate had this to say: "The fact that it was recorded at the Palms in California, before a 'live' audience, gives listeners the feeling of being there. 'Live' recordings are hard to engineer, but this one is done with exceptional skill. A tip of the old sombrero to [Wildplum] engineer Paul Tumolo!"
Want to see what a music video sounds like? Check out Jonathan Coulton's "Best. Concert. Ever." (on YouTube (music starts about 4:40 in with Jonathan solo and later adds guests; "Code Monkey" begins at 52 minutes). Wildplum did the audio recording for this concert at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
Recognizing that it is the performance that is the most important part of any recording, we know how to record unobtrusively. We seek to make the musicians as comfortable as possible during the recording process. Our client-centered service goes the extra mile, leaving you free to do your thing. Revel in the excitement and spontaneity that only a live audience can provide, or simply take the studio drudgery out of your next record and do it somewhere where you can kick back and be free to create your music, your way. Be it in front of a fireplace or a live audience, Wildplum can capture the magic that sets your music apart.
Our large equipment list allows us to match the right gear to the recording requirements. Microphones from DPA, Bruel and Kjaer, Neumann, Soundelux, AKG, etc.; Mellennia, API, Neve and Demeter pre amps; Apogee and Mytek converters; redundant recording systems; Pro Tools; UPS power; fully transformer isolated splitter; intercom system; and time code generator. It's a real system operated by real engineers who know about microphone placement and crowd-micing.
|Santa Rosa Symphony||Symphony||Wells Fargo CPA|
|California Bach Society||Choral, Early Music||St. Marks|
|Eric Andersen||Singer/Songwriter||Freight and Salvage|
|Box Set||Folk Duo||Noe Valley Ministry|
|Jemimah Puddleduck||Blues Rock||Great American Music Hall|
|Dave Nachmanoff||Celtic Guitar||The Palms|
|Invisible Ensemble||Film Score (extract)||8 piece Orchestra|
|Miles Trio||Dvorak (extract)||Strings|
|W.D. Amaradeva||Sri Lankan Sinhala||San Mateo PAC|
|Celtic Elvis||Folk Satire||Strings|
|Molly Axtmann||Solo Piano||Molly's Living Room|
|Reilly and Maloney||Folk Duo||Freight and Salvage|
|Sourdough Slim||Cowboy Jazz||The Palms|
|Tom Rigney||Cajun Blues||Ashkenaz|
|Lorin Rowan Trio||Violin Guitar Cello||Living Room|
|Viva La Musica during rehearsal at St. Peter's in Redwood City. The main stereo pair was DPA 4006's positioned behind the conductor, about 5 feet above her head. The choir was spot miced Left, Right, Center with DPA 4011's about 11 feet high on three stands. The two solo positions were spot miced with Neumann KM 184's and the piano spot was a Neumann KM 150. The signal path used Millennia Media preamps and Apogee converters and the concert was recorded simultaneously to Pro Tools and redundant DA-78.|
Reilly & Maloney at the Freight & Salvage during the recording of the CD Brighter Light
Sourdough Slim in Davis, CA, Swingin' at the Palms
The Wildplum remote rig configured to record legendary folksinger Eric Andersen at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley, CA
Jonathan Coulton (center stage in white t-shirt) during sound check for his video recording at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall. The DVD is available at jonathancoulton.com
Reliability and experience
That is what you should look for in a remote recording service. In both the live recording and broadcast worlds, you do not have a second chance to get a great sound but you have plenty of chances to screw up. Just having a computer, some software and a few microphones does not mean you are going to get a usable recording- let alone a great recording. You need proper experience to be able to select the right equipment for the job; you also need to know how to use it- and you need to know how to get the job done.
It's an old joke that sound is always the last consideration when it comes to producing films or television, but when you are shooting a concert for DVD and/or TV, sound is just as important as the visual. When New York based television producer Michelle Caputo (ArtAndIndustryInc.com) comes to the Bay Area to shoot her Comedy Central specials (e.g. Greg Behrendt at the Improve in San Jose; Bill Burr at San Francisco's Fillmore), she brings Wildplum on board to do the audio recording. Why? Reliability and experience. We bring quality assurance to producers like Ms Caputo, whose jobs not only hinge on fiscal responsibility but also depend on quality product at the end of the day. She may have 6 or 8 cameras to capture the video, but there is only one audio set up. If audio screws up, she has nothing to deliver to the network. With tens of thousands of dollars on the line, reliability is the name of the game.
Whether you are doing audio for video for a DVD release or recording a concert for a CD release, you want an experienced audio crew dedicated solely to capturing the event. Live recording is a pressure-filled situation where the complexity of the show and the systems involved make the potential for failure very real. Only the seen-it-all experience of the engineering team can prevent catastrophe.
Many recordists do not realize that there is a difference between recording classical and recording pop. First, of course, you are dealing with many varied instruments. Mic placement for orchestral music is very different than that for rock, pop, or folk. With the later, you go after a more direct, focused sound with maybe some nice warm room to it, rather than the richly ambient, huge orchestral sound. Differences exist not only in the placement of microphones, but also in the selection of equipment- much of the stuff we'd use on a power pop band, for example, would be inappropriate for a classical date and vice versa. Our large selection of equipment allows us to match the right gear to the gig. We know what equipment to use, when to use it, and how to use it.
We know how important pre-production is- and we do a lot of it. We put much effort into deciding which mics to use, which preamps, do we need compressors or other outboard gear, how the room is going to be set up, and where to we need to place mics. The idea is to get as much of the "sound" as possible before the recording even starts.
We also know that live recording is a team effort (something many inexperienced recordists do no realize) and the house sound crew is part of that team. Therefore, pre-production also includes contacting the venue people ahead of time. Site visits and pre-production meetings are often needed. Information exchange between the recording team, the artist, and the venue staff is necessary to insure no "bumps" occur during the show. We want to ensure that all the crews are working together to accomplish mutual goals. Our guiding principle is: do everything in our power to get the finest, complete recording possible without messing with the musicians on stage.
Throwing together some kind of temporary system to save money often ends up costing more as many do not realize how much knowledge and effort is involved until they wind up with nothing on the hard drive. There are many things the inexperienced recordist does not think of until it is too late. The following are two actual posts from an internet recoding forum.
"Hi, I recorded a concert last night and someone there shut down the power at the end of the concert not allowing me enough time for me to press stop. I can not read the files, and I tried utilities on the machine and in ADATFST, with no results, I can not access the files. Anyone here with successful repair on their lost tracks due to the power failure?"
"My recording just stopped after about 40 minutes of recording. I assume it was power failure. I don't see any other reason it would stop. I have lost about twenty minutes of material. Will never go again without UPS... I was only using what I was given that day. I actually knew that it might happen, but didn't think it would happen on my gig..."
We won't let this kind of thing happen to you. Digital recording can be finicky. That's why we employ redundant recording systems. If one fails, we still have a complete recoding on the second system. And we always use an Uninterruptable Power Supply. A UPS is an AC power device. If a power failure occurs, the UPS kicks in and provides power to the recording system, allowing us to safely shut down the digital recorders without losing any "data" (i.e., your music).
The FOH option
Some people try to save some money by plugging a laptop into the soundboard. Seems simple enough. But comparing a dedicated recording system to a laptop fed from the Front Of House mixer is like apples and oranges- and it is fraught many possible pitfalls. Both the house and monitor engineers have many tasks and neither has enough time to properly look after your recording as it should be done (and if you are performing, neither do you). Their first priority is providing good sound in the house. Many things can happen while they are attending to other matters. You don't want to realize halfway through the first set that there's no signal (or a bad signal) getting recorded.
A dedicated crew also brings other advantages. We advance the show- part of our pre-production- interfacing with the house crew to insure that all goes smoothly at the event. During sound check and also during the event, we devote all out attention to the recording, making sure that there are no problems with what is being recorded- and promptly taking whatever action is called for. And, of course, we know how to mic the room so that it sounds like a live recording. Finally, for television or DVD, grabbing something from FOH is not an option because you have to make sure your interface is with time code and word clock. You need someone that is paying attention to the recording and only the recording.
Also, the equipment the house uses will likely not be nearly the best available and will not be chosen specifically for your show. You'll be stuck with whatever mics, mic-preamps, compressors, etc., that house has on hand. All run through a less than ideal mixer before being recorded. With a dedicated Wildplum recording, we use only world class gear selected to best meet the requirements of your recording, including using additional microphones beyond those needed to provide house sound. Our isolated signal splitter ensure that the recording systems is electronically isolated from the house system, eliminating the possibility of such things has 60-cycle hum from contaminating the recording.
Hire a quality crew to capture your show. Relying on a makeshift rig off the board seems foolhardy in a one-night only situation.
Finally, remote recording can also involve working in non-traditional spaces, such as a nice sounding living room, a church, a Lake Tahoe cabin, or an "art space". Such spaces can be inspiring to the artist and can be more comfortable than a sterile, dry studio. Non-traditional spaces can often promote more relaxed, creative musical expression from the players. Of course, you need a remote recording service that understands these types of space. For example, such things as the unusual acoustics which are often present in non-traditional rooms, or selecting the right equipment for the demands of both the music and the space.
Anyone can buy a bunch of gear, but it's the people who run it and their attitudes that can make or break an event. Live recording is high pressure, often with many financial demands built into it, so you really don't want to blow it. If the product is audio, do not compromise when it comes to the recording. You want an experienced team dedicated to just your recording. Find other ways to save money. Remember, if it is live, you only get on shot. You want as much of a safety net as possible- and that's what you get with Wildplum.
I would be more than happy to discuss your project with you. Please feel free to drop me an email (click on the "About" button) or give me a call (510 654-6507).