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Live Backing Tracks
Old 30th January 2013
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Live Backing Tracks

Hey Sluts,

I'm playing a medium sized venue (about the size of a movie theater) next friday, but as a solo artist, I need to play along to the backing tracks of my songs. I'm playing acoustic guitar and singing live. I want the backing tracks include everything else (drums, synths, piano, etc.). I can easily go into my Logic projects and bounce stems of these parts to tailor to the venue during soundcheck... or I could mute my vocals + guitar parts and bounce the output bus. The PA is in stereo, so I can have stereo backing tracks.

My question is which do you think is better?
-Have one track with my live parts muted (less chance for crashing)
-Have a few stems which I can mix during soundcheck (tailored to the room a bit)

I could eq the first option for minor frequency things, but I won't have control over the balance. Either option is coming out of my Duet II, so I can only send out the L/R mix to the sound guy. If I had more outputs, the person mixing could control all stems individually, but I have to work with what I have.

Also, I've been reading that a lot of bands split stereo using L-mono R-click which (correct me if I'm wrong) I think is unnecessary in my case since it's just me playing along to some music. I don't have to keep a whole band together, just me.

Any advice is appreciated!
Old 30th January 2013
are there any bits of your songs where nothing would be playing in the backing track? like where it breaks down to just your acoustic guitar and voice? if so then you may need a click track so you dont drift in these gaps. if you feel that you can keep time with the backing track as it is then you dont need a click

regarding multiple stems vs stereo mix. if you are just mixing it in your daw and only have stereo out at the gig then you probably wont get to soundcheck each song which you would need to do if you want to do live stem mixes. theres no reason you cant bring both options with you and talk to the house engineer when you get there, maybe trying one way out and seeing how it goes in soundcheck

also keep in mind that the worst site on stage at a gig is someone staring at their laptop with a confused expression on their face. dont overeach!

hope this helps and good luck!
Old 30th January 2013
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Yeah, vinvanda, I'm trying to keep things simple because I don't want to set myself up for embarrassment. I'll bring the stems and the mixed versions. I'll have more time than usual for soundcheck, but you're probably right that I won't be able to mix each song.

As for the click, I hadn't thought about those gaps, so thanks for bringing it up. I'm not playing any songs with that situation though. I'll run through the set a few times this weekend with the backing tracks to make sure everything's good on my end.
Old 30th January 2013
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 5 years
I'd keep it as simple as possible if you can. For yourself and the engineer that probably doesn't know your sound or style. Just give him some simple things to mix.

What program do you use? ableton live, etc.?
Old 31st January 2013
Lives for gear
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Give the FOH engineer 2 lines from stage: a click track (something musical that goes with your genre) and a mono backing track (ensure as you bounce to mono that you don't have phase issues). An Ipod or digital recorder (Zoom, etc.) with a stereo file going through a dual channel DI will work great. I'd have the backing tracks be everything but what you're going to play/sing live, or a stripped down version that sounds good with your voice and guitar.

EQ - don't bother adjusting the EQ - let FOH do this as it will vary by venue.
Gaps - be sure to leave a few minutes of silence at the end of songs so that it doesn't just start the next track without you physically advancing it.
Mono - mono is just fine through a stereo PA, and avoids having heavily panned parts not being heard by one side of the venue or the other.
Worst case - be ready to sing and play the guitar unaccompanied if all else fails. Even iPods crash.

A more expensive option would be to either bring a laptop and audio I/O to have multiple output stems or a JoeCo Black box with multitrack outputs.

But for simplicity and crash-proofness, hard to beat a Zoom/iPod through a DI with a click and a mono backing track.
Old 31st January 2013
Lives for gear
Andy Hamm's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I frequently mix bands with trax, and this can go either way.

If the trax are mixed well, and you have monitors that let you hear what is happening down to 34Hz then go ahead and mix it. I get all kinds of trax that have crazy, speaker blowing out of control sub-sonics on them that the band never heard on their little 6 inch monitors in their home studio. Having this all mixed down to a 2 track means that the HPF is getting turned on the whole track mix at the first sign of trouble.

Don't do crazy things that people always seem to think are great ideas, like over emphasize certain parts to give it a 'live' feel - make it all smooth and tight. If there are backing vocals, don't have them mixed really loud above the music or it will come out like that live, loud vocals mixed just under yours leaving all of the instruments mixed too far back.

If you use multiple trax, make sure the FOH guy knows whats coming up where, and don't do things like use channel 2 for Saxophone, female backing vocals and a saw tooth synth - in random order in different songs. Each output should be limited to one instrument, or say a rhythm section so when things pop up in the mix, the FOH tech has an idea where to find them, instead of flailing on faders.
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