Professional Sound - Indepth

Remote Recording by Steve Baisley

A remote recording is a recording done outside the traditional recording studio setting. Recording equipment is either permanently installed in a truck known as a remote truck (or audio mobile), or the equipment is pieced together inside the venue of choice.

A remote truck:

  • provides a stable, known system that works
  • drastically reduces set up time
  • provides a known and constant listening environment
  • provides separation from the concert venue
  • comes with an operator who knows his or her equipment intimately and can
  • troubleshoot in a live setting

A remote truck is essentially the same as a regular recording studio except that it is located in a vehicle. This gives it the ability to move from place to place to record events where they happen. Remote trucks are used for recordings of concerts, theatrical productions and sporting events, and for radio and TV broadcasts. Recordings can be multitrack, stereo mix to tape or both. MTV’s Unplugged, MuchMusic’s Intimate and Interactive, the Grammy’s, the Junos, The Academy Awards, and MTV Music Video Awards all use remote trucks for their music mix and recording. A remote truck may also be used for a remote studio session, when an artist wants to record in a specific space but it is not a live event. In this case, recordings may go on for days, even weeks.

These basic principles apply to almost all remote projects:

A microphone splitter is used to allow the sharing of microphone signals between several audio systems. A two or three-way splitter is typical. For every microphone input on the splitter there are two or three outputs. This avoids having to set up multiple microphones for each instrument. Each split goes to a separate audio system: the house PA, the monitor system and the remote truck. Each system has individual control over the microphone signals it receives; gain, EQ, FX, dynamics processing etc. are set independently in each system without effecting the others. In many cases microphones are added for use in the recording but are not needed in the PA or monitor systems. Once the signals leave the splitter they are carried via multi-pair snake cables to their various consoles, often hundreds of feet outside to the recording mobile.

At this point the process of multitrack recording in the remote truck is virtually identical to that of a traditional recording studio … except that you only have one chance to get it right!

Steve Baisley owns and operates Squash Sound Mobile Recording Facility in Toronto, ON.

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About Andrew King
Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief at Professional Sound. He is also a co-host of Canadian Musician Radio and NWC Webinars’ series of free music and entertainment industry webinars.
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