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More piano madness

Discussion in 'Piano' started by David French, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Hey guys, it's me again... back for more.

    So, I've made several piano recordings since last time, and I feel that I've moved far beyond my early efforts, which were pretty poor in retrospect.

    Here's the latest, an excerpt from the Rondo from Mozart's Sonata in D, K. 311.

    The recording was made with a single Blumlein pair of R-122. The pair was on the piano's center line, 135 cm out from the closest part of the piano, and 170 cm high. The pair was also slightly rotated to the left in order to balance the image.

    I also printed a 70 cm omni pair of splayed 4006, placed in the same distance and vertical planes, solely for later comparison. From experimentation, it seems that these mics on this piano in this hall are never right becuase they are always too bottom heavy and 'woofly' as David likes to say. I tried mixing the pairs together in various proportions, but it never really did anything positive in my opinion.

    I'd like to hear some harsh criticism based on how you think this should have ideally turned out. I personally think it's pretty successful, and fairly appropriate for the piece. My complaints are that it may be a hair too ambient, a hair too wide, not enough oomph in the low end, not quite enough sparkle, and the tone in the high bass-low mid region is a little funny. Agree with any of that? Disagree?

    Id' also love to hear suggestions on where I should go with piano recording in the near future. I feel like I'm running out of ideas to improve the sound, yet I'm not totally pleased. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
  2. drumist69

    drumist69 Active Member

    I've got no opinion worth a damn on this...just thought I'd say thanks! Its worth a lot just to see the pics of the mic setup and the room...man what a nice sounding room! I need to look up what the Blumlein pair config is again! Man, would it be possible to get a more "panoramic" pic of the room? But, oh yeah...the recording! I don't listen to classical music except once a week for an hour or two, and I'm only experienced in guitar, drums, bass, you know. But I enjoyed the recording, and it sounded quite nice and warm, very real, even on my crappy PC speakers. Was that an MP3? Why do mine sound harsh? Nice job, for what its worth...ANDY
    Ok, I found it! Sursa Hall...pretty sweet to be recording there I imagine! How's that pipe organ sound?
  3. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the compliments.

    Yeah, that was an mp3. The LAME encoder is just great.

    I don't care for the organ, or most organs for that matter, but that's just a matter of taste.
  4. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    David, this is a fine recording. I feel the array is too close though, another 300mm further back and probably 300mm higher as well would have been ideal. I would also add some HF eq to this sample as well, just a tad. Then you will be very happy. The tonality and the hall in this sample sound wonderful. Moving back a bit will make the image more mono than it is now, something that the omni outriggers would widen nicely. Don't put them on the same stand, get them 4m apart, another 2m back and 4m in the air. :)
  5. GuySonic

    GuySonic Guest

    David your recording is fairly good sounding, and I feel you're on the right track using a stereo array mic technic, but like most good piano recordings, it sounds less than how the piano sounds live at the mic position. This maybe why you'd like to improve on the results.

    Only mic technique I've found most represents exact sound as heard live is a true HRTF mic array using very small < 0.5 inch dia. precision matched 10-40,000 cycle wide-bandwidth omni capsules mounted on acoustically accurate HRTF baffle.

    EDIT: We really don't need the spam here- sorry Guy, buy an ad.
  6. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    While a lot of music is listened to on headphones from iPods these days, I think David French is wanting to record the piano to sound good on stereo loudspeakers. Correct me if wrong, David. Binaural techniques do not sound good on loudspeakers in my experience.
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I'll listen later today...but one quick question.

    Is it my imagination or are those AT shockmounts getting in the way of the capsules?
  8. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Yes, David is right that I'm not interested in binaural recording, but thanks for the input anyway Mr. GuySonic.

    David, you really think it's too close? Surely you just mean this based on stereo width and not ambience levels, right? To me, for Mozart, this sounds just a bit too wet. In this hall, a Royer Blumlein seems to get unfocused very quickly, even faster than the omnis for some reason, and perhaps it would be better to control stereo spread with MS processing of the Blumlein signal or using MS Blumlein in the first place. What say you? Too wide or too wet? Of course with a fixed Blumlein you can't count on getting both perfect.

    About height: I tried about 10 cm higher (and several other even lower placements - I have clips), but the high end sounded much better at this height, and only at this height. What specifically do you think higher would have done for me?

    Thanks so much again for your continued guidance!
  9. David French

    David French Well-Known Member


    It can clearly be seen from the photo how they are placed, so you must be saying that you hear something? I sure don't. Based on the physical size of those things, we could only be talking about interference in the pretty high end, so it always looked pretty open to me.

    Good eye recognizing that they were AT. :)
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Nope...haven't listened yet. I just don't ever trust photos to be exactly what I think I see. My wife's a photographer and we've both intentionally taken photos which distort perception. Therefore, unless I see it with my own eyes in real life, I don't trust the photo.
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I find this to be the case in a LOT of situations. Blumlein fits in certain situations and in others, it just doesn't work.

    I know some people that SWEAR by it and will only use it and many of their recordings are nice, but some, I just don't like.

    In many cases, especially in some American, overly-dry halls, I find that the reversed image on the rear is actually quite distracting. Not to mention the balance of direct vs reflected and blumleins absolute specific placement necessity to maintain stable image.

    I like blumlein on small chamber orchestras and ensembles. But, on piano, I almost always prefer AB.
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    David - Just listened through my cheap PC speakers here at work, but I liked what I heard. I may be just my taste that leans more toward jazz and various pop styles, but I'd keep the distance about where it is. Maybe a slightly narrower image would be more realistic (though I wonder if it would have occurred to me if you had not mentioned it), but I would rather not add more room in order to narrow the image.

    Not worth making any critical assessment of eq on these speakers, but for what it's worth I was listening to Bill Evans when I saw your post and the tone of your recording didn't suffer by comparison. (Yes, crappy speakers - the great leveler.)
  13. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Exactly what I was thinking.

    David, a few more questions:

    Why so wide on the outriggers? What exactly does such a huge spacing, almost twice as wide as the piano itself, do for the sound? Why is it better than something closer together? I'm not being critical at all, in fact it sounds like fun, but I'm just trying to learn about the theory behind it. Also, the height? What is it about being roughly in the plane of the lid that is good for these outriggers? How is it different and better that something lower like the Blumlein?

    I tried a little HF EQ (Waves LinEQ), +1-3 dB with both shelving and broad Q at 4-6 kHz, and nothing sounded real to me. Perhaps I'm doing it wrong? Could you tell me what you might do?

    Then there's the bass. EQ (boost, of course) didn't do it for me there, either. This is where omni outriggers come in. It seems to me that perhaps this Blumlein R-122 can't quite cut it by itself if you want a truly full spectrum concert piano sound. Hmm...
  14. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Mr. GuySonic... I was going to write this offlist, but seeing that you chose not to put an email in your profile, I'm forced to write here (and no, I'm not going to wade through your website to try to find it).

    You are bringing information into this thread that has nothing to do with what was asked that has a direct benefit to you as you sell a product that happens to do what you are recommending. In addition, you have been saying the same stuff (again off topic) word for word on other forums here.

    Notice your posts have magically disappeared. You are welcome to participate here, but keep answers on topic and spam free. I haven't touched your posts in the other thread as you were basically requested by name for information.

  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    David -

    One other quick question.

    Your 4006s seem a bit spread for what you were doing. What was the motivation for a >90degree spread?

    Given the ambience level of that hall, the width of the actual instrument and your distance, a near-parallel arrangement would have probably suited it quite well.

    (Sorry...still haven't listened yet. Will try to within the next few hours)
  16. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Really it was just to place them at the same distance from the piano as the Royers; with my setup, this was impossible without angling the mics. Really I shoudn't have done this since I never really planned on combining them anyway. I used this setup as an educational exercise: to compare and contrast the omnis vs. the Blumlein.

    FWIW, I don't know if I'll ever get the 4006 alone to work perfectly on this piano in this hall. I've tried many different things, and they always sound too 'woofly' in the low end. Low, high, narrow, wide, splayed, not splayed, to the right, to the left, whatever; it's always the same. If you have any ideas for fighting this, I'd love to hear them.

    Here's just the omnis from the Mozart. Should be the exact same clip as in the Blumlein.
  17. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Yes, just a tad.
    No the width would be smaller moving back more, I am basing it on how the piano sounds particularly on the loud percussive sections in the sonata, it sounds like you're standing right next to the instrument, its needs a little more distance.
    Yes I agree a little bit with this, there is significant reverb tail, due to the hall being empty?, but then maybe another technique is required. It doesn't bother me that much to be honest. I think moving back 300mm would not make it that much wetter. MS (Card, fig 8) might have been a good second choice for the middle array, based on the early listening during the sound check, if the hall was disturbing. Its a nice hall though.
    I am not sure it gets "unfocussed", the front quadrants will still give an accurate sound stage, and its a small adjustment to be made. I would not adjust the MS Blumlein gains, as you lose the linear imaging, if you want to adjust MS gains, use a cardioid mid.
    I find that lid reflections upset the image and give a clanginess to the sound. I only mentioned higher because I suggested going back a bit, this was to maintain the same angle of incidence that you had, as it sounded good tonally.
    No the outriggers suppliment the Blumlein pair, not replace them. High and wide omnis, give width to the somewhat mono'y Blumlein focus, and they give bloom, bass and just a glorious cover for everything. You only need a bit of them.
    See this thread for guidance. NaturalStudio puts some AlgoRed on a ribbon recording, its perfect and there's a picture of the EQ shape on page 3.
    Leave the bass alone. If you go too far back with the ribbons, you lose bass, so that's the other compromise. Recording is about compromise to state the bleeding obvious. But listening and adjusting is the art of it all. Hope this helps. I may post a recent piano recording where I used the Coles 4040's as outriggers in Faulkener, as the room was so bad. Its excellent.
  18. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    David, just listened to the omni track and it has slightly better perspective. The ribbons have more directivity so they need to be a bit further back, but the omnis are better. Listen to the difference in the louder sections. The omnis are not balanced well, left to right, but they are better for distance, tiny bit still too close as well perhaps.
  19. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Real newbie question here (never recorded with omnis). How much does this matter? Or maybe a better question: how directional are omnis in practice as opposed to theory?
  20. aracu

    aracu Active Member

    Listened to the ribbon version. Really nice, refined sound
    and interesting mic selection. It wouldn't hurt to try adding
    a touch of high quality convolution reverb, to make the
    piano sound further away and the hall ambience
    sound more spacious.

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