Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #137972  by SethD
 Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:38 pm
Does anyone here know the details of how the Dead's engineers captured Phil's live sound in the early to mid 1970s? One or more microphones on a speaker cabinet? Was there a direct signal from his rig to the board as well?

The recording that got me curious is the soundboard from 12/6/1973. Around the 30 minute mark of Dark Star, Phil begins playing with feedback and possibly the filters on his bass. It must have been a challenge to capture his performance without distorting the mic, overloading the board, clipping the tape, etc.

Europe '72 is another recording that makes me wonder about the engineering (I realize the individual tracks have been EQ'ed, compressed and the recordings mastered for release). Phil sounds amazing of course, but the fidelity of the recording is equally amazing IMHO.
 #137980  by Rusty the Scoob
 Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:18 am
By the end of '73 they had most of the Wall of Sound setup together, so Phil's amp and the PA were one and the same. So I guess you could say he ran direct, although it doesn't really mean the same thing as it does today.
 #137982  by SethD
 Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:01 am
Thanks. I didn't realize they were using the Wall of Sound by that time. In pictures there does seem to be at least one mic on Phil's stack of cabinets as well.

I see you're in Concord, Mass. I'm next door in Lincoln.
 #137997  by Rusty the Scoob
 Wed Apr 02, 2014 6:26 am
The Wall kind of evolved over time before getting solidified with the two finalized touring setups in '74, with parts and concepts coming into use as early as '72ish. I wouldn't be surprised if they did mic his cabs for reference or recording, if we're really lucky maybe somebody who was there will chime in.

And welcome, man! Awesome to meet a neighbor! :cool:
 #137999  by TI4-1009
 Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:46 am
12/6 is five months after Watkins Glen (closest show I was at). Not too much of a wall there, but is that a mic on Phil's stack(s)? (you might have to go to the pic source to view the right side of the stage).

Also, this show might have been a "one-off" due to the venue and sharing the stage with the two other bands?

Image ... 0dfe_o.jpg
 #138000  by waldo041
 Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:28 am
mic's were used for recording backstage.

 #138002  by SethD
 Wed Apr 02, 2014 8:54 am
Thanks to you both. Great picture, and it definitely looks like there is a mic on Phil's cabinet.

I've been a casual Dead fan since I was a kid but only recently started listening to the live shows in a serious way. The quality and consistency of Phil's bass on the '70s soundboard recordings blows my mind, especially considering the era and the challenges inherent in reproducing and recording bass in a live performance situation.
 #138034  by Rusty the Scoob
 Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:25 am
Those definitely look like WOS-spec cabs, JBL D140 speakers in about the right size of cabinets. The stack behind Bobby with the 15" speakers should also be for Phil, and there's a mic on that too. I'm not sure if that's all the cabs they had built at the time or if they did a mini stage-sound-only setup for Watkins Glen with a larger shared PA. It's cool to see the Wall evolve over the years as they add more cabs, more Macs, the phase-cancelling mics, etc.

I was thinking along the lines of the cabinet mics being for recording before Waldo confirmed it. On some of the better 1974 recordings you can hear Phil activate his quad setup with one half of each speaker stack per string, and it's real crisp and distinct. He definitely gets an amazing tone!
 #138294  by zambiland
 Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:00 pm
I'm pretty sure that all of the recordings we hear up until the later 70s are all from mics on the cabinets. On a lot of those Wall of Sound recordings, you can hear the speaker bottoming out on some of the big notes and on a few, you can hear voice coil rubbing. The tones all sound like what you hear out of a speaker, not very much like the direct tone. I could be wrong.