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15 channels to be recorded and only 8 direct outs - impossible, I hear them say.
Plus monitor mixes and front of house - must be a joke.
And four of the audio interface channels are high-Z or have a preamp - doesn't sound like it makes things easier.
Of course with enough experience, knowledge of signal paths and converter cables you can jury-rig pretty much anything, so I took this as a challenge. What follows is a pithy explanation of things your shouldn't do with PA equipment, but that can get you out of a hole.
The master plan, representing an evening's beard-stroking
The event was a live recording session, combined with other forms of artful worship, the results of which can be foundon Soundcloud
, or for photos try Facebook
Eight channels could hook straight into the direct outs on the Soundcraft Spirit Folio
we were using, two of which(vocals) I felt could safely go through the preamps. The Spirit's gain stage was quite harsh, so I ended up putting in the pad on the interface, but there were times where it was still a little hot for my liking.
A small assortment of mixers plugged into a large assortment of cables
My first normal trick would be using AUX sends with only one channel in. However we needed both pre-fade auxes for the monitor mixes, so these were out.
So the next trick is using the sub-masters, which works fine as long as the channel fader remains at +0dB. My panningtwo channels completely left/right you end up with two mono sends - I put the "sounds" (generic term for musical noise made by a Mac) in in this way, although they ended up getting dropped.
What seemed like a stroke of genius at the time was putting the acoustic and bass into DIs, to balance the signal for the distance to the desk, and then use a backwards DI to unbalance it and split the signal between a high impedance input of the interface and the mixer for monitors and FOH. What I hadn't considered was that the DI boxes were active, and the passive DI isolated them from the phantom power - took a while to figure that one out! I made some quick plans involving cludging some cables to add in phantom power, but we ended up just putting batteries in the DIs (which easily lasted the few hours we recorded for).
Cables were, naturally, gaffered nicely, with the rat's nest hidden somewhere...
So this left me with the drums - four channels to record, and no outputs left on the Spirit. Thankfully our drummer owns a Behringer 1204FX
which has a whole collection of outputs on the back, including a stereo subgroup. This meant I could use the sub-group trick again to get two recording outputs. I also used the mix bus to get the other two recording outputs, though I routed them to the control room output, as this was on balJacks. For the FOH and monitors I used a pre-fade aux output to go to the Spirit, as a submix - this let me mix the drums on the aux pots, not ideal, but adequate. The other aux want back to the drum room for the drummer's monitor.
This gave me all the outputs to the recording interface I needed - win!
The stack, mac and rack, with new patch panel.
Then there were the monitors. One wedge for the vocalists, one for the band and headphones for the drummer. I routed the wedges through my digital graphic to help keep feedback at bay. The aux output was used to feed the drummer's monitor, which was mixed and amplified in my modified Behringer 1002B
Of course this wasn't complicated enough, so on the night we had to run a link output from the bass the the drum monitor mixer to give them some extra bass. And then the electric guitarists wanted to hear the vocals, so I ran an aux output from the drum monitor mixer (which was the easiest way of getting hold of the combined monitor mix) to a little active monitor.
And with that we started recording...