How is best way to do live recording?

Guitars, vocals, drums, mics

I have been experimenting for several years now, since n-2.2 with live recording of my own bands and some others.
I started with a single stereo mic. Results varied but were actually very good in some rooms. Panning gave me two seperate tracks.
Now I have a Delta 1010 for 8 tracks at once.
Most amps now have direct outs on them.
1.) Is the sound going to be as good as I could get with a close mic?
I know the direct is isolated, but can it get the box ambiance and all the actual sound?
2.) What is the best way to get the vocals and drums?
My delta 1010 has 8 in and 8 out. Should I run vocals / drums into computer and then out to the PA or record with a mic on the mains, or ???
3.) What about volume levels for the band / dynamics?
When recording musicians seem to think louder is better and things tend to get muttled. Some songs seem more prone to this.
The guys I work with are really great players but seem to be allergic to studio work and I am hoping to build a live CD to sell at our shows.
Any advice would be great and could save me lots of time.

Concerning 1, the only way to know if you like it is to try, but mostly I have not liked any direct outs from amps as much as a mic. Bass included. :)

Mike the guitar amplifier. If you have enough channels to also use the amp’s direct out, that can be handy. (But with only 8 channels, you won’t.)

For bass, sometimes you get a better sound going direct; other times it sounds better miking. (And as before, getting both gives you more flexibility later). It really depens on the sound the bass player wants. Some bass players don’t have a preference. When they don’t, going direct is a lot easier and gives you a crisper, deeper bass tone. But you don’t get the sound of the power amp and speaker.

If you’re serious about recording bands live, and they’re more than 3-piece with one vocalist, seriously consider getting the ADAT upgrade for the 1010 (or are they built-in now?) and find an inexpensive audio-ADAT converter or a used ADAT recorder to use for that purpose. Your 1010 can record up to 16 channels at once, if 8 of them come in on ADAT.

The main reason for wanting more channels is that it allows you to use more mikes, and record each mike on its own channel. This means that you can make MUCH better mixes with FAR less engineering expertise during recording.

With plenty of channels, the hardest part then becomes miking the drums, which is still quite a ball of wax.

For now, though, let’s consider limiting to 8 tracks, with a 3-piece band and two vocalists.

1 - vocals
2 - vocals
3 - guitar amp mike
4 - bass (amp mike, or direct)
5 - drums
6 - drums
7 - drums
8 - house mike

You can decide yourself whether you want a house mike or to use that channel for another drum mike. With live recordings, it often sounds odd at the ends of songs if you don’t have a house mike – it’ll sound like not much audience and not very friendly, which is usually the opposite of what you want.

However, when I feel I really need that extra mike, I omit the house mike, and trim the song ends so close that there’s no time for much audience response. This is tricky and doesn’t work for all endings.

This leaves you with how to mike a drum kit with 3 or 4 mikes. Lots has been written about this subject, and that’s where you need to spend quite a bit of thought, time, and effort.

Another option is to use more mikes on the drums, but do a submix of the drum mikes (or some of them – nice to have the kick and snare separate from the others). It’s also best if the submix is stereo – which means taking 4 channels – so you see why 8 is pretty tight. The hard part about doing a submix is that you generally have to adjust this mix while the drummer (or worse, whole band) is playing, and it’s hard to block out the sound from the room to get a good submix.

See John Bartons’s thread on live recording here too, because lots of stuff posted there probably pertain to your situation. For example, is there already a house mix? You need to really know about the sound system and sound guy wherever you’re recording.

BTW, there’s another way to record 2 channels and get a surprisingly good mix, for “friendly” purposes rather than a polished product. Record one side from the mono house mix. Record the other side from a mike that’s focused on the stage, to pick up the sound of the amps and drums.

We used to do this in the bad old days of stereo cassette decks. On playback, no mixing is needed: simply adjust the stereo’s pan knob to nicely blend the house mix with the stage mike. The result is a surprisingly lively and pleasing stereo image. Another benefit is you can really tell what the sound guy is doing!

rhythm matey’’‘try me triangle method o’ recordin live’’’‘
draw a triangle’’’‘drums a back’’‘two gitter amps at 2 other points’’’‘mics on each gitter amp’ wich also pick up drummys’’’‘
den coupla mics fer micin room’’’‘yer gotta try lotsa placements’’’‘bass run direct’’‘no kik drum’’‘yer trigger a kik sample wiv a kik trigger pedal’’’‘good fer old style bed traks matey’’’‘yer can as well trigger snare sample usin a sampler’’’‘
blinkin great synergies yer can get if yer do it rite’’‘record ta stereo trak in big N’’’‘den do yer overdubs o’ lead vocs n bakup n any other lead instrments’’’‘if yer usin keys add em in live in original in middle o’ triangle center or overdub’’’‘mebe 10 traks n yer done da song’’’‘room makes big diff’’‘try a kinks song sometime or old rock song as a try out n if yer mix it rite yerll see effect’’’‘bonus is yer dont need a hokin power gillion ghz computer ta do da job cos fewer tracks’’‘once yer get a good live sound yer can try a coupla drum ohds in xy ta see if bed trak is better’’’‘make sureyer tune yer blinkin drums rite’’‘
da toms is crucial n try n tune em around da song key n chords’’’‘yer dont want em soundin like cardboard’’’‘once yer got bed track in stereo yer can av drummer doin a drum overdub second pass track fer splashes n fills n stuff n maybe accents wiv an electronic drum kit can snd gonzo’’’‘nuver fing yer can do wiv cranked amps is face em into da corner o’ a room n mic da corner but still keepin da triangle intact’’’‘da spaces tween da 3 points in triangle r kinda crucial n yer need ta try lotsa diff lengths o’ sides o’ triangle’’‘but keepin yer stereo image oer monitors intact’’’‘best bet is ta av a junior asst movin amps around while yer lissen oer monitors till ya get da golden sound oer monitors’’’’ if yer recordin live vocs at same time once yer got da bed trak right add in yer live voc mics’’‘fink of a pyramid now triangle fingy wiv mics at front base o’ triangle n drums aback n layers between o’ others like back up vocals n stuff n yer mate wiv da likkle triangle’’’‘n trik is makin da likkle triangle n hand percussion come thru da mix’’’’:D :D