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miking a Bosendorfer grand...pendelum MDP1 or Grace 201?

Discussion in 'Piano' started by soundscore, Jan 18, 2006.


what is the best mic pre and stereo mics to record grand piano

  1. for around 4K investment give or take

  2. intimate, warm bill evans style soft ballad player

    0 vote(s)
  1. soundscore

    soundscore Guest

    I am a prosumer recordist sticking my toe in the sacred waters of real deal gear. I want to upgrade my fathers recording setup. He is a quite successful artist producing solo piano cds. cocktailpiano.com

    records his elegant playing on a bosendorfer 7 ft grand with a rode nt1 a senny 421 through about a 350 ART preamp.

    obviously time for a step up.

    have posted before and talked with the folks at ATLAS. Good experiences buying? in the price range of 2K for a pre and 2K for 2 matched mikes he is recommending a

    pendelum MDP-1 or a Buzz audio MA2.2 (both slightly over but within range of 2K)

    mike recommend is: Gefell M300's or Charter Oak S600's

    sweetwater recommends a grace 201 and either Neumann KM194's or the earthworks QTC30's or 40's.

    Atlas says grace is too sterile - not warm and that the pendelum gefell or pendelum chandler would blow it away.

    tough because dad is in hawaii and the real way to do this is a/b stuff. No mike rental co there.

    input? thx in advance,

  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Ahhh, Nathan just bashes the Grace cuz he doesn't sell it...(Just kidding Nate).

    No, in reality - the Grace 201 is a great piece - should sound beautiful on piano. In fact, it would likely be my first choice for a Bosendorfer. I don't think of them as sterile at all - Millennia - yes, Grace, no. The Grace is transparent, but very liquid and sweet sounding.

    I'm trying the DAV BG2 right now too, and it is a highly regarded pre. I'll report back once I've done some real work on it.

    The pendulum would also sound great, but very different than the Grace. In fact, it would also be a good match, but would get you a totally different tone than the Grace. Both are very open and fast pres, the Pendulum, however, will have a slightly more present low midrange.

    As for the mics - If the room is good, Schoeps CMC6 MK2 H or S and you can't go wrong. Other favorites for piano are DPA 4006 or 4003.

    Out of your mics listed, I would definitely go with the M300's. They're simply amazing mics and will sound great in almost any situation. As for the Charter Oaks, I'm dying to get my hands on a pair of the S600s but haven't yet. (Nathan, care to hook me up with your contact at Charter Oak, I could do an RO review on them - I am the new review editor...)

    Overall, Nathan won't stear you wrong, even if I do disagree with his tastes on the Grace. He can do both the Gefell and the Charter Oak - since you can't get them for trial, I would trust his judgement. In either case, you're likely to wind up with a good set up - sure it might be caramel vs chocolate, but both are great...yum!

    J. :cool:
  3. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    Clarification, I recommended the Schoeps CMC MK4 Cardiod as my top choice for piano recording to Jud.

    soundscore wrote:

    That is 2 seperate brands I recommended Pendulum not Chandler (although I think the Chandler would sound quite nice with the right microphone, but I think it may be a bit too much in this instance for solo applications).

    No doubt that any set of mics and pres will do the job...right? But, I wouldn't use what Sweetwater recommended to Jud in this instance in lieu of something better (better to my ears specifically). They recommended Earthworks (which I do sell) and Grace, this combo is too CLEAN (or whatever adjective you want to use) in my opinion.

    I couldn't make that recommendation. He asked about Millennia and in that instance, I recommended the M2-B not the HV-3, maybe some will see what I'm getting at? A piano recorded to digital should have a small amount of euphonic coloration, not too much, i.e. Vintech, Portico, Chandler, etc.; not too little, i.e. Grace, Millennia solid state, GML, etc.
    There are a few special pieces on the market that are in between both extremes of 'color' vs. 'clean', with a fast transient response and good detail.

    I'll give you a real world example of what I'm talking about. Coloration in my sense of the word, comes from 3 places electronically, audio transformers, tape, and tubes (other than from the source of course). Specifically in that order, from most noticible to most subtle. I record everything from metal to rock to bluegrass, to various forms of retro based rock with lots of acoustic instruments in it. The musicians and the producers want a "big clean" sound, I end up recording for instance, an acoustic guitar, through a signal path that is normally considered highly colored. Vintech 473, through the Chandler TG Channel, to an Ampex MM1200 2" tape machine, with tube Soundelux mics.

    My acoustic guitar sound generally passes through at least 10 transformers, 2-3 tubes and 2x tape before it ends up on CD. It is still considered to be "detailed, big, and hi-fi". We are not talking about obvious amounts of distortion here. If I took away even half of my signal path and replaced it with only transformerless or only digital, I think I myself and my recording studio customers would feel unhappy with the end result. I know it may sound egotistical, but I really feel that I am right. If you look at some of the best piano recordings of the 50s, 60s, 70s, all were done with similar signal paths to what I am using and described above.

    Listen to the piano on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon it's absolutely gorgeous. If you took away the multitrack tape and mixdown tape and made it digital, it would probably be 50% as colored. So why kill it completely and take away fat mics and preamps in today's recording? Digital recording has been only been really prevalent in the last 10 years, maybe up to 15 years. If superclean no coloration is what you want, then go for it. I know what I want to hear, and the reasons why both pragmatically and logically.

    Just my 2 cents.
  4. AB2

    AB2 Guest

    While there are many good suggestions here, I do not think the Millennia is at all a bad choice. I have it with two DPA 4011s on a piano that has a Bosendorfer type sound character and I like the Millennia. I also have a Forssell Fetcode (4 tubes per channel) which is excellent on it. Mic placement, tuning, the room, etc. are all critical. I guess it depends too whether it is solo piano or in a mix. So while I support the other posts to a large extent, my only exception is in any insinuating that the Millennia cannot do a great job on this recording IMHO. I have the HV3C (the latest version with a beefed up power supply if that makes any different).
    I do not find the Millennia to be sterile - I find it to be natural.
    BUT each are entitled to their own opinion.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    You know I was just joshin with you, right Nathan?

    In general, I like adding color in the signal chain. Heck, one of my favorite sets of pres on classical stuff is Summit. It's warm and full - a far cry from the sterility common in a lot of setups. Ben likes to use colorful gear too - such as the A Designs pacifica and VacRac stuff. Of course, I'll let him speak for himself.

    I agree - Earthworks through Grace 201 would not just be sterile, it would be lifeless and boring. I chalk that up more to the mics though, then the preamp. Schoeps or KM84s through the Grace are friggin beautiful. (Who is your sweetwater engineer? If it's Craig and he recommended that, I'll call him and give him a verbal bitch-slap!)

    Also, re: the millennia - this would be THE millennia pre to choose in this situation - very much agreed.

    I figured you simply said Pendulum - I was thinking that they were introducing an homage product to the Chandler stuff, but that just wouldn't make too much sense - different worlds all together.

    So, hows about that contact at Charter Oak?! I wanna try those and review them REAL bad.

    Contact me offline if it's a possibility.

  6. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    I didn't call the solid state Millennia 'sterile' at all. Taking what I said and gleaning that 'the Millennia is sterile' completely misses my point. I love Millennia product (I hate justifying what I say because of misunderstanding, but I suppose it should be clarified so there are no hurt feelings), I have owned a pair of Millennia Origins for years, they have the tube and solid state paths in each unit....but what you are saying is like saying that white sugar instead of brown natural sugar in the cake I baked is not as tasty because I used synthetic flour. We all know white sugar tastes great, but there is no harm in trying to use the richer tasting brown sugar, something more esoteric.

    It's the sum of all the little parts, it's about the specific combination of the source, the room, the mic, the preamp, the recording medium. As you already know they all affect each other greatly. If he was using 2" 16 track tape and U47's to record the piano, I'd probably say go for the Millennia HV3 or the Grace 201, might be a good coupling because of everything else involved. I recommended the M2B, which is essentially a tube based Fred Forssell design, so you simultaneously agreed with me and disagreed with me (which goes back to the whole point about subjectivity and what you want to hear out of the recording). Jud has admitted that he's not an engineer, and he doesn't have experience with any of this gear. He's using a Rode NT-1 and a ART preamp, considering that I think anything would be an improvement. And like I said 'any preamp and any microphone will do the job, right?'. I don't like gear just because it's 'great', it goes beyond that. It's like comparing a Mercedes to a BMW or a Gibson to a Fender, they are very different and depending on what's going on I'm going to have a very strong opinion about it.
    audiokid likes this.
  7. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    I know, it's all good, usually when I write something this long it's more for the lurkers reading it in the present and future. I don't want there to be misunderstandings by them.

    All I have is their main number on their website


    Talk to Mike or Jen (that's the entire company). They owe me a ton of mics right now, so it may be a bit of a wait for them to get something to give for review (unless they have dedicated demos).
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I see we were typing at the same time...

    Don't worry dude - your points are spot on.


    (PS - I really was just joshing you about not selling the Grace. :D )
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Damnit! Stop typing while I'm typing! :lol:

    Do you have anyone at their shop I should speak with?
  10. AB2

    AB2 Guest

    Sorry for any misunderstanding. I do understand your point. Perhaps my point could be better expressed as follows: Sometimes when I piano is so euphonic to begin with, the Millennia HV3C may be a preferred pre if you do not want to add even a touch more. I assume what we say on these boards though is not intended as absolute rules, but guidelines, and that is probably what you mean. I hope I am still not misinterpreting.

    As we all know, there is an interaction of all the equipment, the source the room, and the desired audio character. As each of these variables change, certain equipment may be preferred over other equipment.

    It is fair enough to say, as you have, that the Forssell design tube pre is likely to make just about any piano sound good, even one that is heavily euphoric to begin with, since it is not a heavy dose of "euphonics." (Is that a word?)

    In any event, I do not take offense at your posts, and I know that you are doing your best (with more knowledge than me, I may add) to assist people with their inquiries. Many of your posts have helped me a lot.


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