Bread & Circus SNAFU

[soundcloud width="100%" height="81" params="" url="http://soundcloud.com/user6193556/binaural-crowded-room"] Binaural Crowded Room by airick On Saturday night I got the chance to set up my mobile dummyhead rig in a music venue in Toronto's Kensington Market. The Bread & Circus is a live music venue that hosts theater, jazz, alternative and indie rock shows every week. The aim of the evening was to experiment with capturing the large volume dynamics of the performing rock bands. There were three acts throughout the night; Mosh Pit Orchestra, Amaura & Speed of Service, all of which shared the usual rock characteristics of guitar, bass & drums at a substantial volume considering the size of the space they were performing in.

In addition to recording with the dummyhead, a room mic and board line-out were captured using a secondary laptop/logic system. My partner in crime and I were hoping to blend the three channels (binaural, board and room) into one cohesive mix. Here's the rub: there was a point where I could not longer control the clipping and distortion introduced by the intensity of volume in the room, and so a majority of my recordings are horrible. This is what went down...

I set up at the back of the room with my dummyhead, I/O box and laptop. All the usual pieces were in place; dummyhead patched through a 9V in-line power supply, split from stereo-to-two mono channels into a Firewire 410 interface, leading into my laptop. The stereo-to-mono cable was plugged into the front preamps of my soundcard and I believe this is where I ran into trouble. In loud environments, while using SP-TFB-2 mics and the 9V power supply, the line inputs on my soundcard should be used. I only discovered this information at the end of the night, scrolling through minute fonts on my iPhone, all the while horrified by the fidelity of what I was capturing. Attempts to pad the signal were fruitless during the performances. Even with the gain completely zeroed, clipping and distortion were prevalent. Moving forward I will try using the line inputs in loud recording environments, as well as try to understand how I can more effectively control input signals on the software side. I found it frustrating and strange that I had no control over the incoming signal through my audio interfaces hardware control panel. Moving sliders in the M-Audio control panel had no affect. Perhaps driver updates will correct this issue, but more investigation is necessary.
The night was not completely fruitless; I did manage to capture some clean room noise, filled with a flood of conversations, bangs and cracks of musicians shuffling about on stage between sets, clinking glasses and a constant din of room reflections. As mentioned, two other mono lines were captured but won't appear here as they are not binaural recordings.