Part of my creative practice involves capturing my live recordings. Here are some of the things I’ve learned re: mixing and mastering live recordings for release:

  1. Do whatever repair work you need to do first—coughs, chair squeaks, heating/AC units etc. Izotope Rx is your friend.
  2. If you have multiple mics do not be afraid of abandoning some if they don’t work. My latest live album (Upstairs at Viteks, bandcamp) I had a stereo recorder but someone sat right next to it and on that side it was going to be a nightmare to soap out the sound of them breathing/moving etc. Mono recordings sound great too! You can use some tricks, stereo verbs etc, to make it more dimensional if you like.
  3. The order of songs on the album does not have to be the same order as in the performance. Pick the order for the album that works for the entire flow of the album listening experience.
  4. Make a decision about whether you are creating an “accurate” document of the live event (which might negate the item above) or an idealized version of a live show or if you’re trying to hide the fact that it’s live and pretending it’s a studio album. These will have an impact on how much of the audience noises you leave in, whether you bring in creative processing and reverbs, edits etc. Be mindful of the source recording when you make this decision: transforming a live recording with lots of audience noise into a studio recording is laborious.

audio production documentation practices