My Big Fat Greek 4-Track Setup

OK, so I’m sitting in a hotel room in Nashville, waiting for the client to arrive. It’s 8:51 PM local time. Their plane lands at 9:30, and they possibly want to shoot some tonight… depending on the party that the band has scheduled.

The client is Record Collection Productions from California, and the subject is a band called Jeff The Brotherhood for Red Bull’s Sound And Vision.

It started out simply enough… they requested two lav mics, a boom, and a 4-channel mixer. A straightforward, normal production setup that I’ve done many times before. But yesterday I was told that the post house HAD to have iso tracks, and they HAD to be timecoded. No problem, I’ve got an Edirol R4Pro timecode-capable 4-track. I’ll just bring my cart, and… no, you’ve gotta be very portable and run everything from a bag.

Naturally I thought I could rent my way out of this problem with help from my pals at Trew Audio. But no, their 788 was already out, and their Zaxcom Deva was parked in Glen’s rack for a movie he’s working on. So it’s back to the drawing board. And by the way, they need a wireless timecode slate, too.

The R4 is a great recorder, but it doesn’t handle mixing duties well at all. In fact, about all you can do to monitor is listen to tracks 1 and 3 in the left side of your headphones, and tracks 2 and 4 on the right… no mix outs, no solo monitoring… it’s a recorder, not a mixer.

The solution that I came up with was rather simple. Since the primary deliverables are the iso tracks, I’m running two Lectro receivers into tracks 3 and 4. The boom mic is hardwired to a splitter, with one output going to track 1 of the recorder, and the other output going to a Lectro transmitter. The receiver goes to the camera, so they’ll have a wireless link with the shotgun on one track.

The 4-track capture setup. Sennheiser ME66 shotgun, wireless timecode slate, R4Pro in a Portabrace with a second bag attached to the top containing 2 transmitters and 2 receivers, a Lectro 195 receiver for the camera, and a run bag with batteries, grip tape, extra cables, etc

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t use a setup like this, since a mono mix to camera goes against my grain a little, but this is about the best solution that can be had with the equipment that is available. We’ll see how it actually shakes out.

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