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Earthworks PM40 substitute?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by rBennich, Oct 9, 2010.

  1. rBennich

    rBennich Active Member

    Hi! I'm new here. I just bought a bad-ass bechstein grand, and planning on recording trio sessions at home.
    The problem is that I have cars go by all the time outside my house, so it's a little noisy.

    Then i saw (and heard) the pm40 and i was stunned by the sound you can get even with the lid closed. I want That, i thought. The problem is that its super-expensive.

    So my first thought was to get a pair of good omni mics in my pricerange, and place them exactly like the pm40:s are placed.
    The AUDIX TM-1 comes to mind. I have heard good things about it, and it's also pretty cheap.

    Any Ideas on how good this would work. Will it approximate the sound of the pm40, or will it sond like crap?


    Cheers/Robin
     
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    It will not sound like the PM40. I'm not saying there isn't padding of prices in high end audio, but there is a reason the cost is so disparate between high end and mid level.

    If I were using omni's or cardioid's inside the piano I would not close the lid all the way. You're only going to use those mic's for definition and detail anyway not for the main sound source in a trio recording. Your main sound will be from some sort of coincident stereo pair in front of the trio.

    In a city, sometimes a classical recording session even if in a "hall" is done in the wee small hours of the morning to minimize the street and general city soundscape-or used to be. Even in a small town like Billings, I try to record on Sunday at particular locations for that reason. I played in several orchestral sessions in Chicago that started at 02:00 because they were not in a recording studio but in a church or similar and we had to avoid the El.

    The best option of course is to find a studio or university hall or church space that acoustically sounds good that avoids the city/street noise all together.
     
  3. rBennich

    rBennich Active Member

    Hi! First of all. Thank you for your answer. Second, i disagree with you. I would Never take the main sound from a stereo pair in front of the trio. Maby you mean a trio in form of a piano, cello and violin or something equivilent. Then, it's understandable. I'm talking a jazz trio setup. Piano, double bass and drums.

    The style I'm playing is kind of a mixture of Brad Mehldau and Esbjörn Svensson. Therefore i want the punch-in-your-face sound. It should feel as close as possible. That's the sound i like.

    I am not that picky about the mics sounding super natural or whatever. I believe that most can be done in the mix. What i liked with th PM40 was that it didn't sound like a speaker in a bucket with the lid down. I guess that's because It's so closely placed to the strings. And because it's omni, It wont favor the strings that are closest that much. Now will the audix behave similar?
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Welcome to RO,

    Isn't the TM-1 a test/ measurement mic? I can't imagine it for piano.
    I have a pair of Audix SCX25-A that work great for piano but I've not thought about closing the lid.

    interesting thread.
     
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Reading the Earthworks site, I had know idea how these were designed. Pretty cool, but yikes... my first impression would be the fear of sounding so bright and uneven with such attack over powering everything. Much like a bridge pickup system installed in a beautiful acoustic guitar like my Taylor? Wish I never wasted my money investing in that system.

    I see why you are interested though and your reasoning behind the hope the TM-1 might work. I'd buy one of those and try it. The TM-1 is a mic we should all get IMO anyway, especially for people recording acoustic instruments like piano's in rooms that need room treatment.


    How does the PM40 sound?
     
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    rBennch:
    You're correct, I thought you meant classical trio. Close micing piano is difficult in the best of circumstances. I still stand by the fact you aren't going to get the Audix to sound like the Earthworks. However, as Chris states, it can't hurt to try out the Audix mic line although a test mic isn't really what you're going to want. A pair of omni's isn't a bad idea. I'd also consider a pair of PZM mic's affixed to the lid.

    It's really interesting to me that you like your Bechstein for jazz. It has so much clarity and balance to the sound as opposed to a Steinway that I love to use Bechsteins for classical chamber music. When I think jazz though, I think of a heavier more dense sound and of course when electrified, the Rhodes 73 and 88. Let us know what you finally work out.
     
  7. rBennich

    rBennich Active Member

    This is for all you who don't believe in the sound of the pm40. For me, it's one of the best piano mic setups I ever heard. Lisen in the end when he plays with the lid down. You will be convinced...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7HTqlXcZRI

    It would have to be omni if i would to mic that closely. Otherwise it would sound too stringy...

    There are several reasons for me to like this bechstein. Fist of all: It hasn't got that metallic plonky sound that seinway often has. Second: It was pretty cheap. Third: It's not that heavy in the touch, so it's much easier to play fast, and control dynamics. Fourth: It's not so much a question about witch brand you choose. It's more about individual instruments. I've heard steinways in the same pricerange that sound like crap. Others sound fantastic. One thing i do know is that the soundbord is at it's best when it has dried for circa 100 years. That's why most yamahas (especially the c3) sound like crap (imo). They don't use aged wood. And most of them are pretty new, since yamaha is quite new on the market, compared to bechstein and steinway.

    To get a grand piano that match your sound preferences is just pure luck, since the variables for adjusting it is endless. Literally.

    I got lucky with this bechstein... :D
     
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Well, first I agree that a Bechstein has a lighter touch and a completely different sound than a Steinway. I already stated that I like it for lots of things. Second, not to be argumentative but there isn't a soundboard made today that's been aged for 100 years. You may find some that were made with old growth trees but the soundboard is certainly not aged at all. If you have a good piano technician and you start with something reasonably like the sound you appreciate it can be tailored to your needs all you want. That doesn't mean you can make a Yamaha into a Steinway or vice versa. It's just like anything though, you have to be willing to pay for the skills. By same token, you can't make a $4500 microphone out of a $300 microphone.
     
  9. rBennich

    rBennich Active Member

    I didn't mean that a new soundborad isn't new. I only meant that and old soundborad sounds best. And as i said, I'm not that picky about the eq curve or whatever in the recording. I have been able to get a good piano sound from the worst recordings. I believe in my mixing skills... ;)
    The only thing I want is something like the pm40 that is a little cheaper, that you can use with the lid closed to get a decent result. I don't need the best sound in the world. Just decentness with the lid closed. A closed lid i also better for mix separation. It's more isolated. And as soon you get an isolated sound, anything can be done in the mix...

    Edit:

    Bottom line: The thing I need is something that will behave like the pm40 in the sense that it can be placed so close to the strings, and still sound quite natural. It doesen't have to sound as good as the pm40.
    That's why i brought up the Audix TM-1, because it's a similar kind of mic...

    By the way: My bechstein were made in 1915. Essentially, soundboards age like wine, if they are taken care of properly... :D Here is a picture of my new found love:
    Might need to replace that ugly note stand, though... :p
     

    Attached Files:

  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Nice piano. I don't know if you noticed in my signature, but I'm not only a professional french horn player but also a piano technician. I regularly get to work on Bechsteins even in Montana! That whole soundboard vs age is debate can get pretty heated in the piano tech world. My viewpoint on the subject comes down to the board's ability to generate sufficient sustain and tone across the breadth of the harp. If you have good tone and great sustain then the board is still good.

    Off topic:
    By the way, how is the tuning stability on your particular C Bechstein? I have one here that is mediocre even though it sounds great for about three days after it's tuned. The same university owns two others and they are both rock solid.
     
  11. rBennich

    rBennich Active Member

    The tuning screws/nails are newly changed, so it's pretty solid... :)
     

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