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$100 Piano Mic Suggestions

Discussion in 'Piano' started by SammyD, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. SammyD

    SammyD Guest

    I am an AV tech with a dillema. I am tired of using my company's cheapo mics to mic pianos when they come through. I was wondering what would be a good general purpose microphone that is pretty good sounding on pianos for under $100. any suggestions? I would be buying this, not the company so 100 is all I can justify spending for something that really won't monetarily benefit me. thanks in advance.
  2. ThirdBird

    ThirdBird Active Member

    $100 still might be considered cheap, not that I would want to spend my own money either though.

    Maybe an SM57? It might not be the best for a piano, but it could be used on almost anything else. Would be could for you to have anyway.

    Hope I could help a bit.
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Nothing for $100 will ever be good on piano. What you really need is a pair of NT55's.

    If you are a good sound engineer you might get by with a pair of MXL 604's.

    The 57 is a great overall mic but not one for pianos.

    Good and great microphones are investments that don't go bad provided you don't get reamed on the initial price. I guarantee I can get all my money and a little more out of every quality mic I've ever purchased-same with preamps. The cheap Chinese mic's on the other hand don't have any resale value even if (certain ones) in the right hands they can make passable recordings.

    Save your pennies until you can buy something for real.
  4. SammyD

    SammyD Guest

    No matter how much I wish I could I could never afford $700+ for a set of mics my boss would refuse to cross rent to use for a show that the client really couldn't care less about the sonic qualities of the amplified piano. I am however interested in the theory behind using a pair of omnidirectionals rather than just two cardiods. also what is the benefit of using small diaphragm mics rather than large I assume this has something to do with pick up of ambient noise. is this the case?
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    SDCs tend to be more accurate - giving a better "warts and all" picture of the performance from top to bottom. LDCs tend to have more color - hopefully in a good sense. In particular, SDCs usually have better bass response. (Counter intuitive, I agree.) Moreover, omnis often have better bass response than cardioids. So SDC omni stereo arrangements like AB and Deca tree are often used for full orchestra. They can also be used for piano, but a lot of the more common piano arrangements use cardioids.

    Unless you have some recording interests outside of work that would justify spending more money, I don't see this working out. The SM57 is at least a quality mic in your price range, but I don't see a single 57 making that big a difference in the sound of your recordings. (It might, or a single NT5 might ($200). But it's a gamble, and I (and it seems most everyone else) am reluctant to tell you to spend your money on the gamble.)
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If you're only talking a small piano amp and since you don't care about tone, the SM57 will function much like you would mike up a guitar cab. Maybe a little more distance.
  7. SammyD

    SammyD Guest

    By amplified piano I actually meant a piano through a PA. Generally the piano would be some type of Baby Grand. For mic'ing a piano amp I generally just DI out of the amp. Would a 57 be better than this? Also, the NT5 pair looks like a pretty good set of SDC's that I could probably get good use out of for a number of things. I saw that I could get a set of factory refurbs for less than 400 with the warranty so hey, maybe I'll just do that at some point. Thanks guys.
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If you have a direct out on a piano amp that is the preferred method unless you have a Rhodes 88 or Hammond B3.

    For a grand or vertical you're screwed unless you can get decent mic's. In a live sound situation you will probably want different options than in a studio. Again, none of the good solutions are remotely cheap or in your price range. For live sound there are options like Helpenstill and similar. Also, some folks have taped PZM mics to the lid and closed the lid (usually 2). Some folks find a way to stick two SDC under the closed lid too. Mic's under a grand suck oestrich eggs. Half of the big name piano rock performers today have electric guts (expensive guts) in a normal piano shell/case. Names that might surprise you.

    For a studio situation the minimum you are going to want are the NT55 pair (these are very versatile mics BTW). If you can afford them maybe a pair of AKG 414s. There are more options for studio but they just get more expensive.
  9. TheFraz

    TheFraz Active Member

    Don't knock the 57/58's so fast.

    Just recently, my self and another sound tech spent a few hours going through our rather extensive mic cases trying to find the best fit for a mini grand in a jazz bar. We tried just about every mic under the 2 grand range that we had, in every concievable micing technique that was practical for a mono closed lid micing. Guess what we both concluded was the hands down winner. A lonesome beat up 58 that smelt of old beer and whiskey.

    It was an afternoon of laughing at our selves, since that was our last choice for a mic.
  10. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    I know a guy in Oklahoma City who had used speakers (drivers) as microphones for piano. It was wild and it sounded killer. The speakers were mounted on a baffle that laid across the piano with the lid removed. So, it is ok to think outside of the box. We have to use what we have sometimes. The piano is one of the hardest instruments to mic and reproduce honestly.

    If you want a jazz sound, you want to mic closer to the hammers and keyboard, and not above the resonator holes.
  11. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    This is not unusual in a live sound situation. The limitations of your room and PA often mean that trying to go for a Hi-Fi reproduction of the piano is counterproductive. Recording is a different animal. Unless the piano is low in the mix, I'd generally like a larger, flatter frequency response for piano than the 57 provides - We are talking about 7 octaves here. Still, whatever works. It never hurts to try a 57.
  12. TheFraz

    TheFraz Active Member

    Well, that was exactly it. The stage is very small. Baby grand on one side, little drum kit on the other and JUST enough room for a double bass between the two. The gain before feedback is terribly low, so it did not leave much room for high fedelity. We had a few very close moments with a bi directional C414, but it was simply not flat enough.

    It was a fun afternoon though. It can be nice working with another sound tech. If nothing else, to dive into their mic colection.
  13. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    I'll jump in before Remy does, You may want to try PZMs (Radio Shack has some $40 ones or at least used to) taped to the lid. I could never get them to work well enough until I tried 3 of them on Remy's suggestion. It worked for me in certain circumstances. Great sound - no, but really quite passable.

    If it sounds good it is good.

  14. drumster

    drumster Active Member

    I've recorded piano's with everything from classic vintage tube condensors, through to $2.50 electrets and everything in between.
    still to this day, the richest, warm, natural sounding piano recordings I've done was with an AKG D88 dynamic vocal mic, placed on a tea towel on top of the piano near the bass end (lid fully open), pointing diagonally across towards the high end. It may seem unconventional, but this setup has worked for me countless times, in a variety of rooms.

    Phil, you're 100% correct.
    Sounds good is good.
  15. FLZapped

    FLZapped Active Member

    A used KSM27 would work pretty well. Can be had for a little more than the $100 you're quoting. Beyond that, you'll need to spend much more. The best sound I ever achieved was with an SM91 PZM taped under the hinge side of the lid, with the lid closed.

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