CREATED AND MAINTAINED BY: John Etter
CONTRIBUTORS: Chris Hickman
LAST UPDATED: October 12, 2000
Before I say anything, if you need more and better advice/ideas/whatever, check out the DAT Head's mailing list at http://www.eklektix.com/dat-heads/ because although I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about taping, theres still a lot I don't know so consider this guide only a brief outline. Also if you have any suggestions you'd like me to include, please email me at email@example.com
Like with anything else, usually the more you spend the more you get (but not all the time). For audio recording, nothing beats a portable DAT recorder. You can get a Sony D7 or D8 for $300-$500 if you shop around. Try ebay for a good deal there. Even better are the Sony D100's and PCM-M1's which are a lot smaller and use less batteries but from what I've seen they run $500-$600 on ebay. I don't recommend anything less than a Sony TCD-D7. Take the Sony TCD-D3 for example- it's huge and would be a bitch smuggling into a concert. One note on DAT recorders- you can get better quality by using an outboard analog-to-digital converter plugged into your deck versus just using mics plugged directly into the deck. Pro analog recorders do ok if you don't have anything better, but they are really obsolete for recording live music. I've never used one myself but from what I've read and heard, the Sony WM-D3 is one of the best you can get. But what do you do if you've got a concert to go to in 30 minutes, don't have anything to record with, and don't have much money? I was in this situation once so I went to Wal-Mart and bought a $20 GE portable tape recorder with a built in mic and speaker. Of course the sound quality left much to be desired but it was still pretty good considering the equipment used. The 09/10/92 Nirvana show was recorded this way. But if you do use any kind of analog tape recorder-
!!!!!!!DO NOT FORGET TO FLIP THE TAPE WHEN ONE SIDE FILLS UP!!!!!!!!!!
Ever noticed all of the bleach-era shows that are only about 45 minutes? A lot of times this is because some absent minded bootlegger was too into the show or too stupid to realize the tape ran out. Ideally you should flip the tape between songs a few minutes before one side is over. One more thing, use a decent type II bias tape.
A lot of experienced tapers don't recommend minidiscs because they use an mp3-like compression to fit 74 for minutes of audio on, if memory serves me correctly, a disc with a capacity of 149mb's. I personally don't recommend them simply because of that but the good thing about them is that they extremely small compared to other recorders so they're easier to smuggle in and of course they still have better quality than an analog recorder.
As far as video camera's go, go for a Hi-8 camera. Much better quality then 8mm cameras and they seem to be smaller too. Digital camcorders aren't the greatest for video taping concerts because the tapes only hold 60 minutes.
Taking spare batteries not matter what your recorder is, is always a good idea.
I'm not an expert at mics but I'll give some advice. Sadly, mics for taping concerts are quite expensive. I use Core Sound Binaurals (CSB's) and they work very well. They run $260 new from Core Sound. Core Sound also has some cheaper mics that run $70 or so and will work fine if you're too broke, but the sound quality won't be as good. And if you have a lot of money, I've heard (never seen though) that you can spend a few thousand dollars on top of the line mics. I don't know of anyone who has that kind of money to waste on mics, so just use CSB's if you can afford them.
Ah yes, the section everyone's been waiting for- how to get your stuff in. I have heard many people say the place way to smuggle your gear in is to wear baggy pants and put it down your pants near your crotch (where a few extra pairs of underwear to make it bulge less. I mean the tape recorder :-)). Other methods to try are putting the recorder in a jock strap, putting it in your bra (if you're a girl), putting it inside a change purse, or putting it behind your wallet in your back pocket in really baggy jeans (the last two are pretty much for minidisk recorders). If you try to tape a show a large venue, a good way to get your stuff in to stuff the recorder down your pants and take in a backpack chuck full of crap like CDs, clothes, books, etc to distract the door security. A lot of places will feel they've checked you enough after they've gone thru your backpack and just let you on in without a pat down, but if they do one it's usually pretty brief and not thorough. BUT NOT ALWAYS. If you have any doubts at all, stand around and casually watch the door security before you take your stuff in and see what they do. And what if they have metal detectors? I have no idea, so you might as well be fucked. Maybe you could borrow a wheelchair and pretend to be crippled? But if anyone has any advice or hints about getting thru metal detectors with equipment, please let me know. I did hear a story somewhere about a guy who got a fake cast on his leg and put all of his equipment in that somehow.
I got caught once trying to video tape a B.B. King concert and the guard took me into the lobby, pointed at all the "no recording" signs all around, took my tape and said he would take my recorder if I started taping again. I wanted to laugh in that dumb bastard's face. Did he think I was stupid enough to hand him my $1,000 camcorder and not just leave? That's one thing I want everyone to know- NO ONE CAN LEGALLY TAKE YOUR RECORDER OR YOUR TAPE UNLESS YOU GIVE IT TO THEM; and don't let them intimidate you or tell you any different because if they take anything from you that you do not give to them, IT'S THEFT in the eyes of them law. But if you don't give up your tape (or recorder for that matter), they have every right to eject you from the venue. So its up to you if you want to go home with a partial recording of a show and miss the rest of it or give up your tape and go back in. A good idea you should always do is take one or two blank tapes with you. If you see guards approaching you and you know that they ARE coming after you, eject the tape and put it in your pocket. When they tell you to give them your tape, reach in and give them one of your blank ones.