All entries for Wednesday 02 August 2006

August 02, 2006

The Trials and Travails of Mixing a Rev Concert

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Before Warwick Revelation Rock–Gospel choir’s recent concert Shine!, I’d agreed to be responsible for mixing the recording. I thought I’d record some of the interesting things about this recording

I knew before the concert that I was going to be moving from Coventry to Macclesfield the week before the concert. Therefore I was going to have to get the data sent up to me. Estimating the amount of data we would have came out at ~35GB. It was clear transfers were going to have to be by DVD–R.

On the day of the concert I finally discovered what machine we were recording on, an Alesis HD–24.

We were able to use the direct outs on the WSAF sound–desk to take our recording points from. Unfortunately we came up one balanced jack to female XLR lead short (out of the 24) so a quick run to the chaplaincy for a jack to jack cable and a DI–box, and a XLR gender bender in the WSAF mixer case(female to female coupler) quickly solved that problem.

I sang in the concert, leaving the job of operating the recorder to Richard Pope, though it was a simple task of hitting record at the start of the concert, and stop at the end. After the concert I left the transferring of the data off the hard disk in the recorder and onto a computer so it could be burnt to DVD to transfer to me, to Amalia. This apparently went smoothly and the disk and recorder all made it back to the hire company in time.

With the transfer of files via DVD from Amalia to me is where the fun started. After a while a set of DVDs, 8 to be precise, arrived at my house in Macclesfield. I quickly made space on my hard drives for the ~35GB of data and plopped the first of the DVDs into my DVD±RW drive to copy the data. To my considerable surprise, the drive disappeared in windows. Bemused I swapped the disk into my DVD–ROM drive and proceeded to copy the data across. However, more than 50% of the tracks, 13 to be precise, failed to copy, giving CRC check errors.

Annoyed, I got the tracks that failed to copy re–sent to be. However again most of the tracks gave CRC check errors. Copying from the other drive just wasn’t possible as it disappeared from my computer once the disk was put in it, only reappearing after a reboot with the disk removed. So a third set of DVDs was sent to me.

This set all gave CRC check errors, but in all the time that had past since the first set of disks had arrived I’d had a idea. What if the CRC check errors were the fault of windows and/or the drive. To test this out I remembered that I had long ago installed Agnula (Linux optimised for Audio Work) and Mandriva 2006. Hit by a flash of inspiration I booted Mandriva, plopped the problem DVDs into the RW drive and low and behold, the disks appeared and the data was copied, with no errors.

The lessons;

  1. When recording a concert, don’t settle for anything less than doing the transfer of data onto your own machine. It’s just not worth the hassle doing it any other way.
  2. Windows doesn’t like DVD–Rs in a DVD±RW drive, at least on my computer.
  3. Windows file transfer dialogue box sucks. Linux gave me a decent time remaining estimate instead of the completely random estimate Windows XP gives. It also showed how many of how many files it had transferred, how much data had been copied (in actual MB) and how much was remaining.
  4. When something don’t work in Windows, try it in the Linux you’ve got on your PC before getting lots of stuff sent to you.

Next: Lessons and Observations on the actual mixing.

August 2006

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