Microphone for Grand Piano Recording

Discussion in 'Acoustic Keyboards' started by bf2008, Apr 12, 2009.

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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. bf2008

    bf2008 Guest

    Hi. I made a post earlier but it seems it didn´t work.
    To ahavill, I agree with what you say, but at least i'll just get an idea of the capabilities (or bottom end capabilities) of a mic with the sample.
    Before I was recording with a cassette walkman with built in mic, so you can image there's not much to beat, but I don't wanna be disapointed either. If the cheapest condenser mic is good enough I'll be happy, that's why I ask for the samples. I'm beginning to realise that it'll actually be good enough.
     
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

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    I have heard that Zoom recorder. It was actually pretty decent. I have also heard the Panasonic, the Marantz and some other brand I never did catch. These were all at blues jams with a single mic stand and the little stereo mic pointed at the band. One had a cable and could be used a bit more remotely. They all sounded really good considering the lack of apparent gear involved. In one case , one fella simply brought his laptop and an interface, used a stereo mic and voila....done recording. Nice.

    When you think about doing these recordings, even with cheap mics, realize all that will be involved. Theres cables.....one per mic and well as the cables to the recorder/interface. Mic stands.. Either with booms or without but there'll be one per mic unless you use an x/y bar....

    Seems to me that if you've decided that cheap is alright you owe it to yourself to consider the mini recording set-up that has been mentioned.

    I find these mics that are part of these devices to be much more neutral in their effect on the tone and the sound than a cheap condenser mic...especially some of those B**&^#@#$ger ones.
     
  3. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

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    Feb 21, 2009
    Listen to Mr. Dog. I refer to Behringer as the "brand that shall not be named" for good reason. I have bought three behringer products which have all failed unexpectedly. Spend your money on cheap behringer stuff, but remember that it was probably wired by a 3 yr old chinese kid and will most likely fail in the near future. Save up and make one purchase that will last. It will pay for itself in the long run.
     
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

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    Let me put in another vote for a flash recorder like the Zoom h4. I have an Edirol R09 that I got a couple of years ago before many of the new models came out. It gets used all the time for recording practice sessions and small gigs. I used it frequently to record my daughter's HS symphonic band concerts, and I often got a better recording than the "professionals" recording the concert. You can do better with, say a pair of Rode NT55s and all of the things that go with them. But the flash recorders set the bar very high and they are inexpensive and dead easy to use. And, like I say, I find mine very useful even though I have a studio full of equipment. This is probably a very good way to start.

    In addition to the flash recorder you will want a stand and adapter if needed, a card reader for transferring the recorded files to your computer (not absolutely necessary, but easier that attaching cables to the recorder), and a program for editing the recorded tracks. You don't really need a full featured DAW program, but if you want to get into this you can start learning one.
     
  5. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

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    Zoom may be the way to go. It comes bundled with Cubase LE which is a complete DAW software package. It does have USB connectivity or you can read the card directly. These units mount on a camera tripod which is a little unusual. There are two models of H4 and H4n. The latter is the new release and allows simultaneous 4 track recording if you add two external mics, the original records 4 tracks but only two at time. Built in mics sound remarkably good. Fits in an overcoat pocket, so take it on the road!
     
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    You have to spend a lot extra to get a more versatile pair of mics than the Rode NT55MP. For the money, I have not found anything as good on classical piano as the NT55s fitted with their omni capsules in A-B configuration. The cardioid capsules simply do not capture the deep bass of a full concert grand, but to do this as well as retain the sweetness in the treble needs some (a lot of) experimentation with microphone positioning.
     
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

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    And of course the NT55's could be used with the H4n too since he'll still need a field recorder. Getting a good piano sound recorded is just plain tough. From what I've read, the gain control is better on the H4n than the older H4.
     
  8. bf2008

    bf2008 Guest

    Hi Guys, any new recommendations?
    As a starting point, would I do with the Behringer C2, or you think I'll really be very dissapointed and would be useless?
     
  9. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

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    Let's revisit page one, and see my reply.

    Samson stuff is reliable but still cheap while Behringer is made of fail and plastic.
     
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

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    You will be very disappointed with the Behringer. There really is a bottom point past which you shouldn't go.

    The built in mic's on pretty much any of the standard flash recorders will do a better job than the Behringer C2.

    Get the H4n and a stand and be done with it. That is the simplest easiest route to usable good recordings and allows for you to expand into the NT55's when you can afford them.
     
  11. bf2008

    bf2008 Guest

    Hi guys, thanks for your suggestions but the Edirol R-09HR for example costs £280 in the UK. For that money I can get a stereo matched pair of Rode NT5 and a two channel mixer with phantom power (£320 total) and connect to my computer.
    Are you saying the Edirol will sound better? I can't believe it!
     
  12. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

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    I guess it depends on the mixer. You dont really NEED a matched pair of mics. So that may drop the price a little.

    Those flash recorders have become pretty sophisticated these days and sound surprisingly good.
     
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

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    You can't get a mixer worth buying for cheaper. And yes, the newest generation of flash recorders make good and decent basic recordings. Also, if you know nothing about mic positioning then it will definitely sound better on the portable flash recorder provided it's pointed at the piano and the general levels are good. Hint: don't use the automatic leveling feature. You'll end up with zero dynamics. Well quite wacky ones at any rate.

    Can I make a better recording with my gear? Yup. Did my gear cost considerbly more than 320 Quid? Yup. Have I spent many years trying to figure out where to put a mic to get the results I do? Yup. Do I still have more to learn about mic positioning? Most definitely.

    But recording sciences are quite addictive!!!
     
  14. bf2008

    bf2008 Guest

    Hi. Would be great if you posted that link. I found this video on youtube which apparently uses the Zoom H2 to record a grand piano, and I'm certainly very dissappointed with it. This is NOT the kind of sound quality I'm expecting. The bass sounds completely distorted and the overall sound is very cheap similar to those you obtain from the built in mics in video cameras.


    [youtube:7109b0e3f7]http://www.youtube.com/v/UmJ3e-78x64[/youtube:7109b0e3f7]
     
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

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    Somewhere on RO you'll find some ranting on youtube compressing audio. I wouldn't base my equipment purchases on it anyway.

    As a piano tech the tenor bichord unisons are out and sound pretty typical quality wise for a baby grand. It didn't sound like a Kawai RX3 or a Bosie. Of those two instruments, I'd be recording contest demos on the Bosie in a nice hall. And honestly I'd probably be hiring someone to record it that had gear and know how and a pro result. A demo recorded in a home even with the best equipment will sound like a demo recorded in a home. For taking to your teacher-now that's another story. The only thing required for that is a well prepped piano and a well prepped student.

    If you notice at the end of the video, the boy had the H2 inside the piano laying on the plate. Not where I'd have placed it for optimum sound quality. There are three things you need to know about good classical recordings. Mic placement, mic placement, quality of the room itself, and mic placement. Wait that's four! Of course a fifth is quality of the instrument in question, or what you have when the instrument isn't quality.

    Surely someone you know has one of these little beasties that you can try out. Because if you want simple demo type recordings it isn't going to get easier than this.

    (back to the holy hand grenade of antioch)
     
  16. Didier

    Didier Active Member

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    Sep 8, 2008
    You may listen to several different mics (0ktava, Rode, Avenson, Audio-Technica, Beyerdynamic, DPA, Schoeps, FLEA, Manley, Nevaton, Coles, Josephson, AKG) on a grand piano at Microphones shootout eSnips Folder.
     
  17. OE1FEU

    OE1FEU Active Member

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    I assume that replies to old threads still get pushed up and that there is no need to create a new thread.

    I have a matched pair of of both cardioid and omnis for the Rode NT5 on a Tascam DR44-WL and am playing around with recording myself on a grand piano in my apartment. It's a super old (1887) Steinway B in really good condition.

    Have played around with recording myself and am not happy the results. Actually, the Soundman OKMs on a Tascam DR05 give really better results.

    My gripe is with the dynamics: The piano is a massive beast and produces an incredible sound with a really stunning dynamic range. I record it - and it sounds nice, but with the dynamic range of a toy piano. What I hear when I play is completely different from what I hear on a recording. I played around with all kinds of microphone positioning and even build a device that lets me use both Rodes as boundary microphone: Boundary1..jpg

    Here are recordings of the microphone set ups without the boundary plate:

    Alexander Scriabin, Prélude Op.11 No. 1 C major (~55 sec)

    1. Røde NT5 omnidirectional: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1QLYVv9os8rdntPfDWBcWgNjGXVPh8v49

    2. Røde NT5 cardioids: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Khv6-c72vtC4Q2tFIDkGwKS9YwZtAfST

    3. OKM II Classic: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1xaJ6FemlZu83s53fCBSQKgdHIcmvZUQa

    Please let me know what you think about the different set ups and their sound and what your suggestions might be to make the sound a lot more dynamic in the forte and fortissimo passages.
     
  18. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    The problem here is NOT the microphone choice. Personally, in that space I preferred the Rode with the omni getting my vote of choice with the cardioid second, and the OKM I hated. The boundary plate to my mind is not a good choice in a room with so many unpleasant wide open hard surfaces. it brings the room size down, as it's acting as one of the walls, so makes the sound closer. Some like them, I don't unless it's in a big space where the acoustics are too lively.

    However, something has squashed the dynamics totally, the range in all of them is about the same - very limited. the quieter sections peaking around -12dB with the VERY loud passages only a few dB above. Something is compressing the dynamic range - what is the recording chain? Could something in there be compressing? Certainly sounds like it. I'd have expected the quiet passages to be much less than -12dB on the meters, to give plenty of space above. Have you tried recording at a much lower level to see if the dynamics are retained better? If you set the fortissimo passages to go no higher than ¾ scale, do the quieter ones show visible extension to the dynamics? You've got at best ff to fff as the whole range. What happens if you just play some fff against ppp? Can this actually be recorded or is the ppp in the noise? Something weird is happening? Some 'secret' parameter in software left on, or a real compressor in the loop somewhere? It has to be something really silly.
     
  19. OE1FEU

    OE1FEU Active Member

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    Thank you for looking into this!

    The recording chain is as simple as it gets: The two Rødes are directly connected to the Tascam DR44-WL and the OKM goes directly into a Tascam DR-05. I am confident that there are no limiters or compressors active in any of the two recording devices.

    In ppp the set up records fine, every tiny bit of ambient noise can easily be heard, such as passing cars in the street or the cat scratching its claws. So, I wouldn't even know where to start looking if extremely quiet playing is reproduced faithfully, but the crashing fortissimi sound like a small breeze and not like a mighty Steinway. Also, the dynamic range pretty much sounds the same even if recorded at considerably lower level, i.e. like 12 or more dB headroom in the loudest passages.

    Any suggestions where I could start and document steps to find the culprit of it?
     
  20. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I think the first step to work this one out is to not worry about the piano, but produce a series of full bandwidth test recordings - I'm thinking about Pink Noise recording at different levels - so say each one increasing by 10dB. Then replay this in reverse, starting at the loudest, at what you consider to be equivalent-is to the fff level of the piano, and set the mic and interface gain to record at a specific level - I think I'd choose 0dB. Then as you play the next one 10dB down, you should see this level reduction, then the next etc etc. This should produce a series of defined steps of equal height - 10dB per step. If compression is taking place the steps will not be even sized. This should produce some evidence that may help.

    Please don't take offence at the next question, but I've found pianists, especially the better ones to be quite unaware of 'real' volume. Listening to the omni Reccording, the quieter section does have a percussive element that makes me wonder if to get that tone, you are still playing more loudly than you think? So I'm thinking is there any possibility you think you are playing f, but are really playing ff, and then for the fff section you are actually playing louder than that and the piano mechanics are soaking up the extra finger effort - making the instrument incapable of having the range you feel it has. My thoughts go to my colleague who can play French material at the very bottom end of the dynamics range on his Yamaha C3, but cannot do the same on a Steinway he has access to? His 'gentleness' (sorry for the lack of a proper pianist term) simply produces no sound at all on the Steinway, so he has to play that one louder. Clearly the maximum this piano can produce is limited by the design, so that Steinway might have a limited dynamic range, compared to the more recent vintage Yamaha. Is there any chance this could just be a piano issue.I guess you'll say no - of course not, because you'd notice it when playing, but as our hearing always has a built in compressor, is it possible this is not a recording issue, but a hearing one? The stepped recording test should show how the mics respond, but I have never found a mic that had a dynamics reduction by design? Interesting this one.
     
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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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