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piano bleed into choir mics

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by balsampillow, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. balsampillow

    balsampillow Active Member

    I recorded a children's choir concert today. The space was a large church with a lot of ambience (4 sec. reverb) Two suspended overhead mics were used to capture the choir sound. Unfortunately the piano was in close proximity to these mics, underneath and in front of the conductor and choir. The lid was closed. Even so, in many situations the piano player was playing to loudly and the sound is at the same level as the choir. At other times the level of bleed is acceptable.

    It's probably impossible, but if anyone has any suggestions I would really appreciate it.


    Ray Lyon
    Balsam Pillow | Ray Lyon, Christian Jazz + Ambient
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Ray, good to see you here. I enjoyed your bio!

    Sounds like you need a blanket / over that piano lol. When a pianist is playing too strong for the choir, or the choir is too soft lets say, maybe the pianist need to hear the performance in a not threatening way via the recording :)

    I feel for you. What mics were used? Maybe a different pattern and position facing the choir is a better solution?
    This sounds like a thread for TheJackAttack and company and some creative thinking or some careful words with the pianist.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    We were having a discussion in another thread about parallel compression. I think I'd try it here. Duplicate the track, high pass to cut out the low end of the piano, then aggressively compress. Add this back to the more natural sounding track. Can't say I'm sure it will work, but I think I'd give it a try.

    Is the piano actually too loud when listening in the church? Or is it a problem of position of the sources and mic placement? Is this a regular assignment?
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    This is always a difficult situation. It's quite likely that the pianist is playing at the correct level in the balance of sound that is reaching the audience, although this will not be easy for the player to judge, especially with the piano lid closed. The point is that you are recording what is effectively a public performance; this is not a studio recording session where you can to a large extent dictate what happens. It's your job to choose the type and position of the microphones to get the best recorded sound within the constraints of a performance.

    It may be that the almost invisible type of miniature choir mics on tall, thin floor stands would be the best to use in this situation, with a separate pair of mics on the piano, maybe even underneath if the lid is kept closed.

    What's your recording equipment? What selection of microphones have you got to choose from? How much freedom do you have to move the suspension wire front-to-back? Do you have a budget for additions to your gear?
  5. balsampillow

    balsampillow Active Member

    Hello audiokid, thanks for your response. The pianist was indeed "carefully" instructed several times to play softer but she was unable to comply for whatever reason. (She did have a cold which didn't help her hearing) I had not recorded in this space before and did not know the intricacies of the pick up pattern on the mics. I'll get the model #, but they were a pair of tiny condensers that hang almost invisibly from the ceiling. About 10 ft. up from the hard surface (slate) floor with a mini gooseneck that pointed the mics directly into the general area of the choir space.

    Sound check time was extremely limited... only had time for a brief soundcheck before the concert began. In hindsight a blanket might have helped but it was too late.

    I do not know who The JackAttack is (yet) but would certainly love to hear anything he has to say! Glad you enjoyed the bio, its nice to be here and get a few responses with morning coffee.
  6. balsampillow

    balsampillow Active Member

    This sounds like a very good tip... will try and report back later.

    The piano volume was OK in the church. It is not a regular assignment... I was hired to come in for the afternoon and just record it. Mic placement could have been better... but there was no way I could alter the height of the suspended mics... it was also a children's choir, at a semi-pro level and they held back at places where they should have sung louder. In retrospect I should have used a pair of small condensors on boom stands pointed closer to the choir, but trusted the overheads would be OK. They were not!

    Thanks for your suggestion... and reply!
  7. balsampillow

    balsampillow Active Member

    Yes, the pianist's volume was OK in the house. The lid being closed, and no piano mic going to the house. (A KM184 was inside the piano on a mini clamp bolted to the side for recording purposes only) You are absolutely correct that it is a "public performance" and I could not control the circumstances as I was only there there for the afternoon.

    The gear was a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 (8 mic pres) Firewire interface going into a MacBook Pro running Pro Tools 9.0.5. I have yet to find out the model # on the overhead mics... but they were tiny and almost invisible. I could not go stereo on the piano due to my 8 track limitation. (Other solo instruments, percussion, lecturn mic (for narration) and solo vocal was involved on the other tracks).

    In hindsight I would have not used the overheads and placed a pair of Shure KM 137's more directly in front of the choir on boom stands. But time constraints and limited options on inputs at the front of the stage would have made that impossible. It was set up and record, smash... grab... and run.

    Thanks for your reply!

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