Streaming Live Vibes
A couple of seasoned live pros, underwhelmed by audio quality of artist's online ‘shows’, set out to provide ‘in the room’ experiences for punters.
Having sat through one too many tin-pot live performances during lockdown, a group of live event professionals have got together to create audio and video production service, AfterLive Music. Inspired to help bands, performers, record labels and promoters to present live performances in a way that provides audiences with an authentic and captivating ‘in the room’ viewing experience (whilst keeping within Covid-19 guidelines) performances are recorded, mixed and mastered with the help of Audient gear.
“It was our love of live music that brought us together, and drives us and this project forward,” says Adam Bonner, who along with Jamie Tinsley looks after all things audio. “We didn’t feel that early lockdown live performances were representing the artist in a good way at all. Poor audio quality was my biggest issue.” Not surprising when he has spent his last five years as FOH/PM for prog rock act, Haken and taking on high-end corporate work. Jamie, who has toured and mixed monitors for Rag’N’Bone Man, Sam Smith and Will Young was also keen to get back to ‘live’ work, as well as spend more time honing his studio recording techniques.
Handpicking his team, Adam set up at Subfrantic Production Services in Bromley, where AfterLive Music hires a purpose-built studio comprising three spaces: live room, green room and control/mix room. The audio is captured in the live room and recorded via Dante into two machines running Logic (main and backup), providing up to 64 channels of multitrack recording.
All of the post-production (audio and video) is produced in-house by AfterLive Music, which is where Audient’s iD44 audio interface and the 8-channel mic pre, ASP800 come in. “During the recording process the Audient gear is used if we need to overdub/comp any vocals or guitars afterwards. Then in post-production the iD44 acts as an output device to feed the monitors for the mix and master. The difference that the clarity and transparency of the output stage made to our monitors was mind-blowing!”
Adam is really pleased with the way the Audient gear has proved itself so far. “It’s great value for money, it sounds amazing, has fantastic AD/DA converters and it’s super stable. It’s the first brand we’ve used that’s never fallen over and connects first time, every time.”
They also picked up a couple of EVO 4 audio interfaces, the smallest of the new range launched by Audient this year. “We got these predominantly as output devices for our video editing suites. But also so Tom our Director of Photography can smash out some riffs into neural DSP on his Mac whilst taking a break from editing!” he laughs. “The EVO 4s are seriously great little units. When live events start up again, I’ll be using mine as I/O for my Smaart rig for tuning and time aligning PA systems also.”
The pandemic has decimated the live events industry this year, forcing Adam and his colleagues to find a way to use the skills that they’ve developed over the years in new ways. “The creation of AfterLive Music has kept us grounded and focussed. Having a project to throw yourself at has generated some much needed income in an environment where traditional revenue streams are non-existent, kept our spirits high and had a positive impact on our mental health.”
Providing a memorable experience for the performers is just as important as it is for their audience. Different members of the team look after video, lighting, venue, hospitality and all the necessary government issue Covid-19 safety measures, and freelancers are brought in as required for shoot days. “We’re unique as we provide everything in-house. That even includes our fantastic hospitality and catering. For us it’s more than just a recording session/video shoot, it’s making a client feel special from the minute they arrive to the minute they leave.”
Has it been an easy transition to this ‘new normal’? “Honestly? No. But just because something turns out to be difficult, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t persevere. The reward comes from adapting and making a success of something that is outside of your comfort zone or core area of expertise. We’ve learnt so much already and it’s been super rewarding, as the feedback from clients has been fantastic!”
It’s not only about survival in the present, however. Adam is planning for the longer term. “We bought the iD44 and ASP800 to also give us a compact 12-channel recording interface, should we need to travel to a client to capture a performance or overdub/comp extra material for a bigger project already recorded in the live room,” he continues. “Post-Covid our plan is to be able to provide cost effective and high quality, on-location based recording services for live shows across the country.”
Adam is already thinking about how things will evolve over the next months – and years. “Personally I see the future as a hybrid of live gigs and online live ‘experiences’. The success of these is largely going to be down to being able to offer the consumer something that would be impossible in a real-life environment. For example, VR, immersive audio, multi-cam feeds that you can choose which angle you want to watch. Giving fans the chance to get closer than would be possible in a live show. If this kind of product can be offered alongside traditional live shows, then not only is it good for the fans, but it also opens up new revenue streams for artists and labels.
“Once widespread 5G is available the possibilities are huge, as we’ll have a network capable of far faster and larger data transfers than can currently be dreamt of with our wired fibre network. I think the next 5 years are going to be very interesting indeed…”