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Need feedback on my piano recording

Discussion in 'Piano' started by Edahall, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    What do you think about the following recording? I've been trying different mic positions and so far, this sounds the best to my ears. I put the mics inside the piano right next to the hammer line and shut the lid. The mics are Earthworks SR30's. I used an Emu 0404 USB preamp and A/D converter. The recording is hot off the mic with no sound processing.

    View: http://youtu.be/kSkDN9FUNtM
  2. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    It sounds very isolated, and you've not captured the whole sound. It sounds a nice piano, but not special, and the left hand is weak. The sustained notes also start to ring metalically which you don't hear from a distance, but are often audible in the box. Worst bit for me is the constant mechanical noise from the dampers and pedal mechanism. Left right separation was minimal. As the piano is decent, I'd get the kid up on full stick, and do another recording with a bit more distance. What is the room sounding like? Helpful or destructive. The piano sounds like it responds well to close miking, so maybe just giving it a bit more distance will do the trick? My concert pianist friend constantly talks about homogenised sound on his own instrument, which means the distance when all the sound producing elements mix together into the characteristic sound - strings, the frame the upper and lower sound board and lid. He was trying to get someone to make him an extra stick for adjusting lid height, convinced that short and full stick were not enough! I'm actually surprised the inside, lid closed position worked as well as this, as most pianos I record clank and thump like mad. Maybe your pianist was very gentle footed! All this said, I did think the tone was nice.
  3. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    Thanks for the feedback. Recording this instrument has been frustrating. If I move the mics away from the piano, it ends up sounding thin or harpsichordish. So far, it seems to sound best with the mics inside the piano and with the lid fully closed. Of course then I get mechanical noise. I can deal with metallic ring from the strings by softening the hammers.

    That said, here's the same recording with some reverb added using AudioEase.

    View: http://youtu.be/7ekL95lbSZw

    I also went back and re-recorded it with the lid open (with the mics in the same position) but I don't think it sounds as good.

    View: http://youtu.be/am-1O4HflI8
  4. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I liked it better, although the mechanical noise was actually more?? The metallic sustain was better, but was there a little more hiss? Difficult to tell if YouTube as messed with it. How about a more distant version. So we get some room sound too? Interesting this! Edit the pedalling at the end was quite Clancy, did you do it a bit more energetically?
  5. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    For comparison purposes, here's something similar I did - and the picture shows the mic positions used - sorry it's a bit low res. three edited together clips in different styles - no processing, eq or effects - just the mics. Ignore the stereo mic in the shot, in this room - which was not really suited to recording, this mic - what I usually would use didn't work well at all - the room sound predominated. The close mics were used and with just a touch of reverb in the finished product. The piano, in this case was a Yamaha.

  6. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    Thanks for mixtest video. I decided to try a bunch of different mic positions and hear the results. Of the bunch, I liked the first link the best. It's the closest to how the piano actually sounds. The piano is a Baldwin about the same size as yours.

    View: http://youtu.be/-lU1-evkW0s

    View: http://youtu.be/JLmtMq07Fdg

    View: http://youtu.be/peBnBBWM-s0

    View: http://youtu.be/TEVdZee_pbQ
  7. Edahall

    Edahall Active Member

    View: http://youtu.be/az_gJfxu76s

    View: http://youtu.be/NyL0QG-fYIQ

    View: http://youtu.be/X3XPTJrodog
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    You're doing good... you're teaching yourself how to be an engineer.
  9. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    Baldwin 7 is my preference for a natural sound with few be 3ft 2 second. The last one the x/y picks up a lot of the action noise, which is a bit odd. It's subjective I guess but maybe it depends on the purpose. ℗ the one I put up was designed to be played in a dance studio, so the close mic sound works when played in a live room. The more pleasing to my ears more distant position failed miserably In the live dance studio. All the articulation got lost in the short fluttery reverb returns form the parallel surfaces. Good topic this - your variations will help people understand how small difference in placement make big differences.
  10. bamballo

    bamballo Active Member

    Baldwin XY. I like XY also because the image is compensated here. I think the chords are essential in this music and XY version is consistent with this purpose.
  11. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    What does any of this have to do with MASTERING? Wrong forum...
  12. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    We're talking about a track, it's called track talk, so as much is to do with the 'sound' the various techniques produce, it kind of fits, doesn't it. Plus, the mods haven't been upset after nearly a month.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hey Paul, Thomas,
    I should mention, after seeing Thomas' post, I moved it to the Track Talk forum this morning.

    BUT, you'd think for once, a mastering engineer might respond about the sound and help / advise better than this. This is exactly what irritates me so much about mastering engineers.
    Don't Mastering engineers have the ability to respond to the sound of recordings, offer suggestions to their current sound and what might help them get closer to your expectations?
    I mean, you guys are supposed to have Golden Ears, yet never help one user get their sound closer to excellent. I don't think one ME has ever offered to help one user here in over a decade. Blows my mind.


    I'm now curious why the OP originally posted it in the mastering forum? Was posting it in the Mastering Forum a mistake or were you hoping a mastering engineer would help you as I suggested?
  14. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I tend to read posts in ALL forums or topic areas just in case my meagre attempts can help. Often people disagree, and I always think thats pretty heathy, because we all get stuck into our ways of working and finding people do things differently is pretty useful. I never even noticed Admin moved it - because it's the content I pay attention to, and recording pianos is a rare subject - and I've found that many of the historic practices work great in fine sounding rooms, but sadly, most spaces I record in need some assistance.

    I have two coming up and one will be easy and one hard - and the hired in pianos will be quite different. If the hire company deliver me one I'm not familiar with then any extra tricks will be very useful.

    Mastering Engineers are very much like colourists in the video world - I'm rarely able to detect the subtle differences their efforts produce. My ears, no doubt!
    bigtree likes this.
  15. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Lots of recording or mixing engineers, in my experience, don't want their stuff critiqued by a mastering engineer. They just want you to master it and don't want a lot questions asked or their mix or recording techniques questioned. Lots of mixing engineers don't want a mastering engineer to touch their mixes since what they have done is the best they can do and no one should touch it afterwards. Maybe things are different in Canada...

  16. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    If you look at the name of this forum it is called MASTERING ENGINEERS FORUM and not TRACK TALK so it really does not belong on this forum FWIW.
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    True enough Thomas, thank you for pointing that out, we tend to all miss the categories which I sometimes think we should all go back to one forum, inline like the old R.A.P. days.
    never the less,
    I still wish the ME's would comment and say more than what we see (nothing).
    If I were you, I would be engaging and doing what everyone else does but the ME's. Paul said it "true blue". :love:
    Surely you hear things in a mix that you could offer some opinions?

    Is this not conceivable?
  18. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I actually appreciate the work the MEs do (and of course the colourists in my comparison), but while I'm old enough to remember them stopping styli popping out of grooves, nowadays are they actually adding their own opinions to the music somebody worked on? If it's a 'fix errors' role, then fine, but adding something of themselves worries me. Especially as we never hear the real big name's before work, only the polished product. We are suspicious because we have no idea what value they added - did they turn something truly awful into amazing material, or did they polish the proverbial turd? You see and hear all sorts of stuff on youtube, but MEs set themselves up to be above this kind of thing, keeping their practices close to their chests. This is understandable, and perhaps why they rarely join in with suggestions or advice - perhaps worried people would pinch their systems and processes.
  19. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think it's important for a recording/mix engineer to listen to what the ME says.

    I've learned a lot over the years by keeping an open mind and listening to what ME's have to say....(of course, it's important that the ME is in fact a real ME and not just some 5 minute "drive thru" service with a copy of PT and a Waves L1 plug...)

    A couple years ago, I worked with a great mastering engineer - Cass Anwaty from Sunbreak Music - on a single that I had recorded and mixed. He gave me some very valuable advice during the process - one thing he pointed out to me was that I had some timing problems between the bass guitar and the kick, and that it was causing some attack/release issues with the GR he was using... sometimes the bass guitar would be dead on the beat, other times it would be a little behind the kick, or a bit early, and the result was that the gain reduction he was using (OB stuff, I don't recall now the specifics) didn't "know" which transient to grab onto.

    I spent about a half hour going back through the tracks, and getting the bass to line up more consistently with the kick, ( He was right, by the way... there were indeed timing problems I hadn't picked up on) and it made a huge difference in the overall sound of the mix. Everything tightened up nicely. At that time, I was working in a room that was "less than good" acoustically, and he also informed me of which frequencies needed sculpting on my end to compensate.

    He could have just done the best with what I had to give him, but instead he took an interest and wanted the final release to sound as good as it possibly could.

    If I had shut down or ignored his suggestions with an arrogant or closed-minded attitude - or - if he had decided to not mention these things and just do the best he could with what I initially gave him, the track would NOT have come out sounding as good as it did.

    I was very happy that he cared enough to mention the things he did, to give me a few hints and a direction to go, to get the final pre-mastered mix sounding as good as it possibly could before he ran it through his chain.

    The final mastered version exceeded all my expectations. It sounded professional, full, smooth, warm, silky, and... he respected the dynamic range, which to me is paramount.
    He did a great job, and I told him so. His response to my compliment was this: "No... we did a great job".

    There's no reason why a good mix engineer and a good mastering engineer shouldn't be able to work together on projects, and offer suggestions between them.

    IMHO of course.

  20. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I've had a similar experience to Donny when you find an ME you can work with. I have also found that coming in to an ME with the right attitude can make a huge difference.

    I've always taken the position and made clear that I am not an ME, so I will mix (occasionally stem-mix) and present 24-bit files with no mix bus compression and peaking at around -12dBFS. Once the ME knows that he is a designated part of the production process and is not having to rescue a failed mastering effort, he can contribute to the art of the production and not just carry out the necessary back-end engineering.

    My experience is that good MEs enjoy feeding back about mixes to recording/mixing engineers, partly because it makes the ME feel a real part of the process and not just an add-on, but also because they know that the next mix from that engineer should be even better because of what they have communicated.

    As recording and/or mixing engineers, we represent only some of the steps in the sequence from performance to released material. We should value the ME as much as the performer.

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