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Soundboards began to be disallowed in the summer of 1990, after some careless/greedy taper unplugged crucial equipment (most of the PA) during "Horn" at 6/16/90 Townsend. More problems came in Spring 1991, as the number and frequency of requests to patch in had very much expanded, and the size of venues and crowds also picked up, as did the amount of equipment. There have been selective (and sometimes inadvertent) release of soundboards since, as well as excellent audience tapes. The last official release was 5/7/94 Bomb Factory (though that was sbd>cas>dat, not direct digital. BTW, the first digital soundboard tape was 4/22/90; others are sbd>cass>dat.) Some disreputable tapers managed to Patch into Paul's DAT when he wasn't looking (e.g. 11-13-94 II, 12/8/94), and others have traded tapes shared with them by band members and crew; these tapes circulate against the band's (and perhaps Elektra's and/or lawyers') wishes, but they do circulate -- nonetheless, many went through an analog generation (SBD>DAT>Analog>DAT) before circulating, such that frequently there are better-sounding audience tapes cirulating of the same show. (Charlie Dirksen
Sbd/Aud mixes: The following shows were recorded to DAT from a separate recording board at the shows. They are some of the highest quality Phish tapes in existence: 4/22/90, 10/30/90, 10/31/90, 11/2/90, 11/3/90, 11/4/90, 3/13/91, 3/15/91, 3/16/91, 3/17/91, 3/22/91, 3/23/91, 4/5/92. Except for the 4/5/92 tape, they have all been fairly widely circulated. They were done on a large recording console (not EQ) and mixed completely separately from the board mix, rumoredly done in a truck outside the venue. The engineer used 2 audience mics to mix in crowd/hall ambience (on most of them). See also, PA info.
Front of Board (or FOB) tapes are those recorded with microphones forward of the soundboard, closer to the stage. Such taping is not only disapproved of by the band and its management (and venues and security, and other patrons), but actively discouraged. As well, there is an impression at least that the band and Dionysian would prefer that such tapes not be seeded or treed, although there is no official clarification of that impression.
Although "some swear by them," as Charlie Dirksen
"usually catch a lot more audience noise than tapes from the taper's ("Hey pass that bowl, man..." [or] "Ssssssshhhh!!! He'S taping!!!!!!"). FOB tapes are usually made from mics in disguise ([e.g. inside a hat,] shades, whatever). ...FOB tapes can be amazing (see Tempe), or hideous (see numerous Dead Show FOB tapes). You take a chance when you tape 'em and a chance when you trade for 'em. FOB tapes when really good, though, are in-fucking-credible. Amazing. Fuck soundboards. Who needs 'em. ;) That's how good FOBs can be."
"...we jam a lot and we play for, you know, long hours. But listening to a record is different from being at a concert. If you're cleaning your house or driving in your car, even with a longer attention span, there's just a certain amount of time that's kind of nice."
-- Mike to The Onion 10/15/98"
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