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Favorite piano mics?

Discussion in 'Piano' started by jonyoung, Jan 14, 2004.

  1. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Hi All, I recently had the good fortune to work out a deal for a friend's grand to live at my studio in exchange for free studio time. It's been a while since I had the opportunity to record any real piano tracks and I intend to beef up my mic arsenal. It's a vintage 6' Knabe in a large, live room with cathedral ceiling. Let the opinions rip!
     
  2. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    If it's classical, two Earthworks QTC1s in OSS configuration and you're there.
     
  3. bap

    bap Member

    Not able to give real mic advice, but one place where I play a bit uses the Earthworks a few feet directly above a Yamaha C7 [lid removed]. I think it sounds pretty good, but this guy generally records reality without sound manipulation or coloration.
    I haven't seen a Knabe for about 20 years, and never played one in really good condition. They can be pretty good instruments. You might have it checked out by a competent piano tech - a beat up instrument won't sound good no matter what mics are being used.
     
  4. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    coats, First thing I did was have a tech come over (after the appropriate adjustment period of two weeks). It's a 1903 made of rosewood, killer sounding piano (pix on my webpage, see profile if you want a peek). The tuner was drooling :D . Seems like the Earthworks are stacking up the votes, thanks guys, and keep those votes rolling in.
     
  5. bap

    bap Member

    Looks cool! I used to have a 7 ft. Mason & Hamlin from around that era. Had an old Chickering once that was very nice. Knabes are pretty rare and ones that are in fine playing order even more so.

    Congratulations and best of luck!
     
  6. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member

    I have never used the Earthworks, though I know they're good mics; personally I recorded several times with a pair of the standard AKG 414 B-ULS, right over the hammers, on the treble side, and on the bass strings, about 2'over them; Neumann KM 184 are real good and bright; my favourite approach (when available) is to use a stereo pair (XY or ORTF)about 7' outside of the curve, then place two AKG boundary mics (but I belive other Boundary mics could be good too), with little rubber suspensions, directly inside the piano, laying over the harp, one on the treble side, the other on the beass strings; then you mix the two boundary with the stereo pair to taste for added definition, the sound is killer.
    B&K 4011 seem to be one of the most used by some top engineers.

    Hope this helps

    L.G.
     
  7. henryrobinett

    henryrobinett Active Member

    I recorded that piano last year. A 6 foot Knabe. I used two 414BULS as well. They went into two Dakings. The recording was problematic though for several reasons. It was a jazz trio with vocalist. Upright bass and drums in the same room. So isolation was a problem. Only the songer was isolated. Also the piano was too small for what we really needed/wanted. We needed a 9 foot grand. The bass response was a little shallow.

    All came out fine I think. Were I a better engineer maybe it would have been better. But you can't turn a 6' into a 9'.
     
  8. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    hr, I know what you mean, I used to work at a studio in Boston that had a 9' Bosendorfer, the Titanic of pianos. Still, I'm pleasantly surprised at the low end sound on this piece, balances well with the rest of the range and nice definition. I look forward to getting some tracks in the can and putting a clip on my site. BTW, I recently had a friends jazz quintet in as a guinae pig session to iron out the wrinkles with my new setup....he's the vocalist and upright bassist, refuses to OD vocals. Talk about iso problems! Thanks for the kind words, coats!
     
  9. henryrobinett

    henryrobinett Active Member

    Yes, but let me say this as well - I would LOVE to have a 6' Knabe at my studio!! I think the Knabe's have a better and rounder lower end than most other pianos of their size.

    It's just that for this session and this pianist (a phenomenal player!) we required a richer sound.
     
  10. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    I do count myself lucky to have a fine instrument here, and a room to do it justice. Now it's up to me not to screw it up :s:
     
  11. bap

    bap Member

    I'd love it if you'd post something done with this piano. I'm learning to record and, though I have a couple of fine instruments at home [a new Sauter and a 1928 Steinway] my room leaves much to be desired. The church where I play is a nice room and has a 7' Schimmel which, though not as nice as a Sauter or Bosendorfer, is a fine instrument. I have no omni's but may have to get some.

    I am interested in hearing piano and room, not so much gear [coloration and fx]. Studios where I play that use close mic technique are usually doing pop, commercial, jingles, etc..

    I know when I like a piano or a room [hall], but a recorded sound seems somewhat elusive.
     
  12. Paladyne

    Paladyne Guest

    dpa/b&k 4077
     
  13. henryrobinett

    henryrobinett Active Member

    What do you guys think of a couple of AT4050s on piano? For my personal mic cabinet for my jazz group I was either going to use my AT4050s (I only have one the other's on order) on piano and the Oktava MK012s as overheads or the Oktavas on piano and the AT4050s on overheads. My other choice is to pick up a couple of those MXLV69s (I have a line on a deal). I haven't had a chance to use any of these mics in this context. Anyone have an opinion about these options?

    At the studio I normally record at it's not a problem. Got mics and pres for days. No piano though! But this is a more mobile rig I'm putting together.
     
  14. Marik

    Marik Guest

    I know Coats, it's painfull. My former professor Robert Hamilton was telling me about this kind of engineer. On the recording he put the mics inside of the piano, and during the mastering presisely counted 4 seconds rests between variations in Schumann's Symphonic Etudes. :s: :s: :s:
    When I was recording him, he was quite surprised when I spent 6 hours for micing and trying different mics. It was in Katzin hall at ASU. Wonderfull acoustics, and two Steinways--Hamburg and New York. Interesting thing--Hamburg sounds much better in the hall, and has much better regulation and voicing, but finally, we decided that New York sounded better on the recording. We tried some mics including U87, borrowed B&K 4007 with Jecklin disk, and ribbons. Finally, he choosed ribbons in MS setup. The decision was made also considering the type of music--Ravel and Rachmaninov. Ravel's Mirroire sounded nicely with B&K's, but Rachmaninov sounded awfull. The recording is gonna be issued on Summit label next year.
    So, what was my point?... Oh yeah--don't buy mics until you actually tried them in particular situation.
     
  15. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    coats, I'll send you a message when I get something uploaded. I was taught old school, track with no EQ or effects (I track on a Mackie SDR2496, will probably mic through a tube pre. It certainly will sound different than 2" tape.) Get the sound you want up front and the rest is a snap. I doubt my room has a long enough decay to do any serious classical justice, but certainly jazz. Marik, it sounds as if that engineer comes from a strictly pop & rock background. That's mostly what I do here, but I'm fortunate to have worked on some classical projects as a naive assistant years ago. I count on getting some spillover work from other indie project studios in town who need piano, strings or horns on something. Live rooms are great!
     
  16. Marik

    Marik Guest

    Riversedge,

    I woud also suggest to play with positioning of the piano in the room, but I am sure you know that.
    As said before, the biggest challenge would probably be getting a nice bass out of the 6' instrument. But pianos this old have nice and dried with time sound boards, so it might be not as big of the issue.
     
  17. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Marik, the layout of my room dictates where the piano is living, but I think it works well as far as taking best advantage with a couple of room mics. Even when doing pop stuff, I'll probably throw a room mic up for extra flavoring :) The bass quality of this instrument is surpassing my expectations, but then again, I'm not a pianist!
     
  18. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Back in the old studio. we had a very similar setup.Large vaulted room with a sunken living room next to it(all open)and a 6' Hardman from about 1924.A very nice sounding piano.Anyway, there were four channels ran out to this location from the main room and four phones lines.We recorded a LOT of tracks this way. Mostly what we wound up using was a pair of Neumann U87i's and an occasional SM81 buried in the sound holes in the harp.Sometimes I would put a piece of plexiglass under the piano and stick a Crown PZM on it with a U87 above and a SM81 tight in the upper areas. Good luck and what a nice piece to compliment a room.The only people who're gonna want the extra 3' are the classicos.
     
  19. Marik

    Marik Guest

    Making fun of us, Davedog? :( :p

    Have you ever heard CD "Saturday Night At The Blue Note" with Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, and Bobby Durham released on Telarc? IMO, it is one of the best Jazz piano, and piano at all recordings ever made, apart of performance. 9' Bosendorfer and B&K 4011... :w:
     
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Naw....I love that stuff...real Jazz....classical....love it really.....

    I used to do some live sound.Got to do a BIG piano once.Ronnie Milsap on the Oral Roberts Yamaha.9'......beautiful.
     

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