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Piano micing question

Discussion in 'Piano' started by BobRogers, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Well this was a sudden decision. A guy who I am recording has a new song he wants to do on my piano. I've never seriously recorded the Steinway in the living room, so this will be an adventure. (Running cables from the basement studio should be fun.) It's a ballad. Slow chords. Not much activity.

    Piano is a 1911 Steinway grand. Holds tune pretty well, but is due for a tuning. (Wish Jose had told me about this two weeks ago.) I'll move it toward the center of the room and try to find a sweet spot. (It's on those "sliding" casters, but rarely gets moved.) Put some gobos in the corners. The room is about 14 X 20 with the ceiling 12 ft in the center sloping to 8 ft on the sides.

    Basic plan right now is to go with Beyer 160/130 as a MS pair 3-6 ft from the body of the piano. That's probably enough, but I might as well throw some other mics up an see what sticks. Here's my list of condensers.

    AKG C414 (2)
    Shure SM 81 (2)
    Rode NT 55 (2)
    Rode K2 (1)

    Suggestions on selection and placement are welcome.
  2. Zoro

    Zoro Guest

    I have never miked a piano for recording only live (different scenarios) and I have just a quik question, would you be considering a room mike? Just wanted to see your thoughts and if you do let us know how did it work for you.

    Thanks in advance,
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    One of the non standard ways I've mic'd up a Steinway have been to put a 414 in fig8 just above the first treble strut. One diaphragm facing the lid and one facing the treble strings. Lid on big stick though depending on the short stick "shortness" that might work for p to mf-ish playing. That time I combined it with a 414 in omni room mic. I've also done the same basic thing where instead of fig8 in the piano I had the 414 in omni.

    Usually though I use some form of spaced pair for solo piano. I am a fan of the M/S and I'm quite curious how those Beyers will sound.
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I don't think I'm going to use a room mic. I have the M/S pair set up and this gives me a pretty good room sound. I've just positioned the SM81s about 8 inches over the strings and that adds a bit more definition. I'll try to post some pictures.
  5. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    For the kind of recording you are talking about, I'd probably go with a slightly different approach- there are several that can work well, it is just a matter of deciding what sound works best for you.

    1. Top and tail- Probably use your 414s. Place one at the top/mid range about 6-8 inches out from the hammers. Place the second at the tail facing straight down into the instrument to fill out the sound over the bass strings.

    2. Stereo pair at curve- I usually go ORTF with my MG M930s but I could see your M-S pair doing ok or the 414's.

    3. Stereo pair looking over the hammers with a 3rd mic at the tail "looking" back towards the hammers.

    All are very different sounds and all would probably work well for what you are trying to accomplish. Just a matter of deciding what sound you want.

  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    For ballad (assuming rock-ish) -
    I've had pretty good success with the Audix piano mics, but the 414s work well for this too:

    I'm assuming you have the standard 4 long braces inside the piano? The left (bass) one runs pretty much the length of the instrument, the 2nd one (coming from the left) splits into 2 or 3 smaller braces at the first junction and then the 3rd and 4th ones run to different points in the bow?

    If so, try mounting one of the 414s just past the hammers between the 3rd and 4th brace. Place the other one between the 2nd and 3rd knuckle of the split 2nd brace - roughly just below middle C but pas the hammers.

    Vary the height a little to make sure you're getting a good representation of all frequencies.

    Bear in mind - for this application - the lid either needs to be on full stick or off.

  7. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    in your case, with a room that size, you may be better off going with close-mic's, and then adding reverb/room-sim in post. The room probably isn't going to help you too much. The SM81's may be good for the close-mics.

    The higher ceiling may have possibilties, though..... Would be interested in hearing what happens. Good luck with it!
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I'm with Joe on this one. My feelings exactly. Do the math. I know you know how.

    Math failure
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Thanks for help everyone. I ended up with the Beyers in M/S about a foot out and up from the curve and the SM81s over the hammers. I'll probably end up using more of the Beyers in the mix if we don't take another shot at this. With the gobos in all the corners the room recorded surprisingly well. I definitely want to experiment with the close mic techniques in the future.

    Unfortunately, every new recording experience inspires me to spend money. Have to get wheel dollies on the piano now so it's easier to do this again.

    Jose is not really a piano player, but he wanted to get this recorded. It's kind of a lullaby for his son who should arrive any day now - Sarah is ready to pop.
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    If that's a hardwood floor - be sure to get the right piano casters! The wrong ones will make short work of destroying your floor!


    PS -
    Post samples if you can...
  11. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    You know, having red walls gives it more attack.
    Blue and white walls hold a little more sustain.
    Black makes the reverb heavier and darker.
    Pink makes your male singers seem higher pitched (like most borderline-effeminate boybands).

    Real acoustic treatment is where you paint stripes and spots on your walls.
  12. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    You should see the den. Attack coming out the whazoo!
  13. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    It's unusual to see someone apologize for quality. I've seen one apologize for the lack thereof...
    It kind of reminds me of a joke by the late great Mitch Hedberg -

    "Why do you ever see an escalator with a sign that says "temporarily out of service, sorry for the inconvenience" when it should read "Temporarily stairs, sorry for the convenience.""

    Back on subject...and removing the tongue from the cheek -
    That's a pretty similar setup to one that I've used with great success in the past. I do typically try to come out a little more than that, but if the results work, then 'nuff said. That's the great thing about M/S - you do get a lot of latitude with placement - much moreso than with other patterns.

  14. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Pianos always sound better with a bust of Mozart or Beethoven in the room.
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Usually if there is a significant bust in the room I can't hear the piano..... :oops:
  16. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Just imagine if that was the page-turner!!!
    (as opposed to a head-turner).

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