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Recording Piano in my Home

Discussion in 'Piano' started by audiokid, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Working on my chops to record a piano in a small room with not the best acoustics. I'd love your opinion.
    I grabbed my daughter while practicing a lesson just now, put up the DPA 4011 in ORTF and hit play. Please, How does this sound to you, am I getting close to good?

    StudyCMaj by audiokid on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    On a side topic, for pop or rock, would you want less spread and therefore go with XY?
  3. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Damn, BT, your daughter plays pretty nicely! Sounded pretty good, and, yes, X/Y might be a little better for a "pop" sound with less "space" around it.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yeppers, shes gonna be really really good soon. I'm hearing a little low-mid mud and it sounds like its coming from the room itself. Maybe fill the corners of your room or get some portable bass traps. The Auralex Lenrds really do work for corners. Maybe even a nice cloud over the piano position and you're there. The piano sounds like its a decent one. Better hurry Dad, she's gonna be killer very soon!!! I kinda liked the spacing with this array.
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Firstly... She's fantastic!!

    Secondly, the piano recording is definitely within range, but a shade on the dark side. That could just be personal preference on your part (or mine). That's why they make Bosendorfers, Steinways, Yamahas, etc., they all have certain tonal signatures.

    Your left/right image sounds like I'm sitting on the piano bench, not in a seat in a concert hall. And piano is one of those instruments (like someone's violin thread yesterday), the perspective of the musician playing it and the audience is different. Not saying that's a bad thing, but it's tricky sometimes how to present some instruments. [player's perspective or observer] So don't take that as a critique, I'm asking, is that the common way to track and present a solo classical piano in the stereo field?

    I'm woefully unschooled on classical recording, because it just never comes up for me. Be that as it may, I'm always eager to be educated.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Thanks guys. She was only practising too ( and is worried you guys think its her best :)) . We're all so proud.

    Davedog, spot on. The room has no acoustic treatment in it so I'm glad you hear this but still thought is was pretty fair. I wanted to see what people thought raw as possible, so I'm assuming the room will sound much better once I do add a cloud or two and some corner traps. I guess it shows how great those 4011 are.
    Thanks for the suggestions on the Auralex. I've got some RealTraps in my control room that I hate to take out but may if I can't come up with more $.
    There is a BIG window on the left side of the piano that I don't know what to do with. I can't start blocking it off but I'm thinking diffusion or what ?

    dvdhawk, I follow your commons for sure. I have an Royer SF24 that is sooooo nice, I may use that to add slight ambience but worry it will unfold the rooms small space.
    Yes, I am going for the players POV, thank you for mentioning this. The mic's were pointed 17" from the stick facing towards the bridge. I'm planning to add music to some of these recordings so the less room I think is better, yes? Its why I'm debating XY too.

    Thanks for chiming in guys, I really appreciate all your help and encouragement here.
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I was going to chime in earlier but got sidetracked. First, a big shoutout to the daughter. Great job. I'd definitely like to hear the Royer. I've had good luck for pop recording with a pair of SM81s just behind the hammers about 5-6" from the strings with one just inside the cross brace and the other about 18-24" to the treble side. (I've got notes somewhere.) The old (1911) Steinway is pretty reverberant all on its own. Doesn't need much of the room for pop.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Thanks Bob, do you want to hear the Royers on their own or as ambiences?
    I've not found a way to make a Figure 8 sound good in this room or any small room on its own for that matter. Has anyone?
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    In classical recording we pretty much always shoot for audience perspective. That doesn't stop me from using a pair of SDC omni's in the curve of the shell pointed at the treble strut/hammers and pointed obliquely past the overstrung area of the harp.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Thanks for chiming in John.

    So this method would be unacceptable for classical but very acceptable for modern music, pop, jazz etc?
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Bob, Here's something we did last year using the Royer 122's , Millennia M-2b micpre and Fireface 800. I believe this was set Blumlein but not not sure. I never made notes on that.
    This year I have RME ADI-8 QS converters which sound much better. I'll have to post the same song so you can here the difference. Well, on second thought I guess it wouldn't be a good comparison since everything is changed.

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  12. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I have used your method but only very rarely. Once I even set up some U67's on either side of the pianist's head. That experiment only worked for that particular individual. No one else liked the recording. Of course I don't do much if any pop recording anymore and even in jazz it's usually with the whole band on stage so I have the lid down pretty much and everone gobo'd. Spot mic's just reinforce the main pairs for me.

    Your method isn't so very different from a Helpenstill FYI. As main mic's, I guess I don't feel I get enough of the soundboard and too much of the hammers when I'm in that close to the pin block.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I do like further away for more wood ( soloists) but this room really sucks for that. 18 x 12 x 8. Close micing is the only way I can tolerate it.

    Interesting you mention the one either side. I was just going to try this. See figure E

    Is this what you mean? Two Omnis pointed directly at each other, 4 ft above the keys One mic over High C and the other over Low A ?

    Figure B is what I did for the Study in CMaj
  14. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The picture on the cover of the brochure is closest to my normal spots though I put the stand much lower and less obvious when possible. I have used ORTF, XY, and spaced omni's as well as the SF12 in Blumlein over the piano with lid removed. When I go MS I usually place the SF12 (or whatever pair) in the bow of the curve, 1-3 feet back and at whatever height my ears say sounds best.

    When I did that recording with the 67's, we did a take in omni and one in cardioid. The mic's themselves were literally beside the pianists ears and pointed at the strut bar that crosses the harp above the hammer line. I didn't like the sound at all but maybe there were other contributing factors on that session-like the room, the a-hole pianist, just having returned from a CAX and rifle qual, and probably not enough coffee. Gibb's Rule #23.
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I didn't think you were old enough to have a daughter who could play as maturely and refined as she did? She's quite wonderful. Meanwhile, you made a very nice rock 'n roll piano recording of classical music. XY? ORTF? It really wouldn't matter if you are as close as you were in either respect when it comes to fine arts recording as it's too close. Fine for the pop idiom, in the way in which you presented it. Let's face it, most studios that are sane and reasonably priced, don't have much in the way of acoustics. The design criteria is more or less that of an amphitheater than Carnegie Hall. The sound goes up and out and generally disappears without much R 60 to hang around much. And that's why we have these fabulous hardware & software chamber, hall & reverb programs & hardware for. So you can probably get away miking that close when judicious amounts of software is applied. But you already knew that. Yeah, in a small room, I never would use figure 8 patterned microphones much and never have except in MS usage, unless I really wanted to accentuate the acoustics of the environment I was recording in. In that respect, that usage, they function more like Omni-directional microphones in what they pick up. Especially when you have Mr. Blum leaning all over the place. Hey, you guys know how much I love ribbon microphones but I've never had much success getting out of a piano what I want to hear with ribbons on it. Except for perhaps flying a couple in MS for a piano concert recording. While DPA microphones are fabulous sounding, I did find it a bit too brittle, without warmth, without soul. It made her piano playing almost mechanical sounding. But then this was just a test recording after all. Could we still call ourselves audio engineers if we didn't experiment? I think not.

    And that stereo perspective of whether it should be from the performers POV or, from the audience POV is always a great one to discuss. Back in my early days, in the 1970s, it always seemed more exciting to presented from the performers POV. But after working in television starting in the early 1980s, my perspective changed radically. And so began my days mixing from the audience & TV POV . Except of course, when the drummer is in the left-hand or right-hand side of the screen, I use my poetic license.

    Honest officer, I thought he was in the center of the screen...
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Remy, thanks for your ears on this too. I have a 9 year old that is following her footsteps and a 4 year old singing Katy Perry and jumping around the house with a Walmat cardboard Fender lol.

    John, I'd like to try a suggestion from you. Knowing what I have here, what do you suggest for this room?

    There is quite a difference between ORTF and XY even this close.
  17. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Oh! I forgot to tell you this little George Massenburg story. So a couple of very close friends of our family were the principal bass player & principal harpsichordist for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. One day, Shirley Mathews wanted to make a "Professional" recording and inquired who the best music engineer in Baltimore was. She was referred to George Massenburg who had recently opened his ITI studios with his custom-built console with his famous parametric equalizer's and superb microphone preamps. Shirley didn't want to record it with me at the time as I was only 15, working in broadcasting and only had a TEAC 7030 and a couple of Electro-Voice 636 omnidirectional dynamic microphones. When she got through working with George, she was quite despondent & depressed over the outcome. I was excited that she had worked with George. I asked her what was wrong with her recording of her Dowd harpsichord? She said "it sounds awful...". So she gave me the tape and I loaded it up on the 7030. Hum...I said "well Shirley, George made a great rock 'n roll recording of you playing baroque music on your harpsichord. That Dowd is bad ass sounding...". LMAO she said that she thought that he'd put the microphones much too close inside of the harpsichord. But then George's studio was also all pink in color since he had all of this exposed raw pink fiberglass covering 99% of his walls. Great for disco, Linda Ronstadt, Little Feat or Earth Wind & Fire. But hey, that was 1971. We've all breathed our fair share of fiberglass fibers through the years.

    Hey don't Bogart that fiberglass...
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  18. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I think I'd start with a spaced cardioid pair maybe 20cm apart. Use some of that reverb VST action to stick her in Carnegie or the Sydney Opera House. ORTF is another good option but again in the bow of the piano and not at the keyboard end. Your room is I think not conducive at all to what you ultimately want. One of the local churches with a grand or the local Uni might be the ticket for serious recording. It might cost you a tuning for favor swap or it might be completely gratis. That would get you a better acoustic and without an audience you have the advantage of setting up however you feel.

    On a side not, the playing is quite nice. I know this is just a practice skirmish but the "lyric" of the melody could be nuanced more. It is hard as the dickens on piano to do this but the idea is to think/play like an opera singer phrases. Circling the target emPHAsis syLAble can be just the ticket and something I recommend to horn students as well. This is just a small suggestion as the playing really is quite nice. My poor son has to put up with my commentary all the time! I look forward to more recordings of this type to be sure.
  19. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Keep the stories coming, Remy!
  20. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Oh I know there is a huge difference between XY & ORTF. That's why I rarely use either one. I really don't MS them much. Hey what's wrong with a little phase shift anyhow? I don't know about you but I frequently pull a pillow over my head. Especially when I'm mixing... dreams.

    OMG its 4:15 AM!
    Remy Ann David doesn't snore

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