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Shostakovich Piano Trio #2

Discussion in 'Piano' started by David French, Jul 9, 2005.

  1. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Here's my latest recording for your listening pleasure. :D

    Piano Trio #2 in e minor, Op. 67 by Dmitri Shostakovich

    Here's the setup:

    Main Pair:
    Schoeps CMC6/MK4 (2) in near coincident, 25 cm, 70 degrees
    11' high, 14' liear to piano
    violin anc cello 4' in front of piano

    Piano Spot:
    Sennheiser MKH-80 (2) in M-S
    peeking over the rim between 2nd and 3rd soundhole
    S -12 dB relative to M

    Post Production:
    A bit of low end boost to compensate for being in the diffuse field with cardioids.
    Piano sopt time aligned and -7 dB relative to main pair

    Recorded in 24 bit

    I'll say i'm pretty happy with this one, but I'm eager to hear what's actually wrong with it... i'm sure there's plenty.

    Boy, it's hard to cut a snippit out of this work... so many memorable and important parts... an amazing work. The part at 1:20 in this snippet just kills me.

    Have fun, and thanks in advance for listening.
  2. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I particularly like your piano sound. It's rather different from your other recordings (which I also like). I've seen the MKH80 advertised everywhere, but I don't think I've ever come across anybody using a pair on this forum. All I've seen elsewhere is that some people don't like the fact that they are not as linear as the other MKH mics. Whether they are or not I don't know but they sure sound nice here!
    Yes, that bit at 1:20 is cool. That reminds me, I've always wanted to record the Prokofiev sonatas :D

  3. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the comments. I thought no one would bite!

    Yes, the piano sound is better than my other crappy sounds. That thing, a USA Steinway 9', is nothing but trouble. It always has this wonky, modrangy quality no matter where I mic it. Any suggestions for minimizing this? I'd like to post a sample of just the piano spot. It has a petty nice dry, upfront, studio sound to it. Unfortunately, I couldn't use it too much in the mix as it began to overpower. I may have used a hair too much as it is.

    I used the MKH-80s in M-S becuase, for one, I wanted to use M-S due to its nice rejection of cello and violin and its flexibility (I was multitracking), and for two, This is the closest match soundwise that I have for mid and side. You'r enot hearing too much of them... just enough to get the definition up.
  4. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    OK, here we go.

    Piano spot demo

    First four chords, spot pair only.
    Next four, main pair only.
    Last four, both, time aligned.

    All are presented at the same volumes as used in the final mix.
  5. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    There's something up with my Internet connection so I can't listen to the second snippet. That's such a pain, as I was going to ask you to post a little bit of the MKHs :(

    I've always promised myself that I'd look into a pair of MKH800s if I was given five grand to play with, and I'm very curious about them.

    I'll have to try again later.

    BTW I didn't hear any crappy sounds :wink:

  6. freaky

    freaky Guest

    Sounds great to me David!
  7. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks, my fellow Sebatron Gladiator! ;)
  8. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    I simply love the music. The recording sounds good in my ears. Not sure what I would have done differently.

    It does make me think of a typical problem with todays classical recordings -- close micing or ambient micing. The piano sound is rather close, more like a pop recording than a tradional classical major lable recording. What sound ideal to aim for is definitely one of the question I as a beginning recorder is fighting with.


    PS: sort of envious. Here you are recording all these acoustic musicians using all these mics. Every day as well judging from the stream of postings.
  9. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the comments, Gunnar. To me it sounds fairly good as well, but I know that if Jeremy, Ben, or Joe had recorded the concert as well, we'd all be saying something quite different!

    Well, please don't feel bad, because things are easy when you're supported by the university system; in the real world, i'd probably be working with a single pair of Studio Projects C4s and getting about one gig a year. The hall owns the mics, the players are students and faculty, and I get $5.50 an hour (the minimum wage allowed by US law) to record the concerts. And, most of the players don't give a flying $*^t about the recording. Of couse i'm thrilled to be doing it, so no complaints here, but I thought it might make you feel better to know the truth. One more thing. Two words. Undergraduate recitals. :shock:
  10. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I managed to listen to the piano snippets. I can hear that mid-rangey quality you're talking about, but not up close with the Sennheisers. When I was in college, there were two Steinways that always sounded like this in the recital hall, but not in other halls.

    Those Sennheisers sound really nice, and I'd really like a pair. Great sound and flexibility -a no brainer as far as I'm concerned! The Schoeps also sound great. I like the way the Schoeps pick up lots of harmonics from a distance -maybe that says a lot about the LDCs I'm used to using :wink:

    BTW I wouldn't hesitate to use the Sennhiesers the way you have done in a solo piano recording. I don't see why Classical music should always be recorded with a very roomy sound. While this is the currently accepted way to do things, I have some fairly old recordings that sound quite 'close'. Anton Rubenstein springs to mind.

    Anyhow, I think the recording is cool :wink:

  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Okay, so I've finally gotten the chance to give this a good listen and taken the time to collect some thoughts.

    First of - VERY nice recording. Kudos to the musicians too for handling this piece with such grace and power.

    A couple things - I'll start with the positives and move on from there.

    1 - Good width and imaging. I'm glad that you didn't over-widen the image. For this type of chamber piece, an image bigger than you presented might have been perceived as unnatural.

    With that being said though, occassionally, it felt as though the cellist came closer to the center and then back out. They weren't huge shifts, but they were there. I have no idea what could have caused this. (My first inclination would be level changes, but I don't know that you did any).

    2. Great dynamics. With a chamber piece like this, it's often tempting to compress a little whether it be by manual gain-riding or by physically applying a compressor. It often seems as though people are afraid of the quiet.

    3. Excellent tonal perception. The instruments sound as they should, not hyped, not rolled off. I will discuss a little bit later about some minor changes or issues with the sound.

    4. The concept of "spot mic'ing" the piano mixed with the overall is a sound one. Keep up this concept and you will find that it's usually safe and beneficial.

    Now, for the "other" issues.

    In the beginning of the piece, it feels as though the piano and the strings are jockeying for position in the mix. I don't know if there was some kind of level changing going on or if it was in the performance. If it was the performance, then shame on the musicians otherwise, just be cautious with level changes between microphones.

    Also, the midrange tends to bunch up a tad around 280Hz to around 420 Hz. This is a relatively small band, but it seems to be where much of the tone of the piece is coming from. Perhaps a slight cut in a good parametric EQ in this range could help this. I'm thinking - Q-1.2, Freq Center - 340 Hz, Gain: -1 dB give or take a half a decibel. To have fixed this without EQ, you would want to revisit placement. You'll often find that midrange frequencies bunch up quite easily but within a confined space within the performance arena. Perhaps raising the mics yet 1 more foot would have helped this.

    The piano sounds a bit percussive. Good. Don't change that. I personally believe that if he could have gotten away with it, Shostakovich would have written the piano part for pitched percussion. As a matter of fact, he is generally regarded as thinking of the piano as a pitched percussion instrument.

    Note the way the pianist played this piece - it was quite agressive. She (or he) attacked the keys in many cases really bringing out some of the gutteral nature of the instrument. This is a case where the spots *really* helped.

    In general, I love this recording and if you don't mind, I will be burning it to disc for my future enjoyment. (Though, if you have an original, I would love more than just a couple minute snippet.)


  12. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much for the comments! I've been dying to hear what you had to say. Allow me to comment on your comments.

    1) I paid very careful attention to the width. I started out with something that had them even more width compressed, but decided it was too boring. I came up with that 70 degrees, 25 cm position becuase that kept them within about 75% of the total field, which I thought sounded appropriate.

    I have no idea what's going on with the cellist, but you're right. The damn thing was exactly as far right as the violin was left, my mics were very well aligned, and my gains were equal and fixed the whole time. Also, the bleed into the piano spot wasn't nearly enough to make a difference; The cello was directly in the nulls of the bidirectional and the cardioid.

    2) Thank you. I'll tell you a secret. There is the tiniest bit of digital overage on the spot occasionally (like 4 or 5 samples), but I could never hear it, so I didn't worry. Often my meters for the main pair were kissing 0 dBFS. It's a hot one! Using a compressor never crossed my mind.

    3) Thanks again. I have heard better tone from other players of course, but that's what they sounded like in the room. The cellist is the same guy that did the Brahms in my last recording. I prefer smoother strings for such small groups, but that's what was there. I am amazed by anyone who can make a truly soothing sound come out of a violin. I really like this trick i've come up with (probably not new) of using EQ to get back what is lost by cardioids in the diffuse field. I used Waves LinEQ lowband and created an inverse curve to the rolloff published by Schoeps for the MK4 caps. It really puts the oomph back in nicely, at least to my ears.

    On a side note, I chose cardioids for two reasons. First, the precise imaging, but second, and more importantly, the distance I was required to work from would have, I thought, given too much ambience with omnis. They didn't want mics on the stage, so I used a big photo light stand and flew them in from in front of the stage. When the cellist came out and saw my setup, he said in a thick Russian accent, "It looks like you are fishing for trout!" I love thick Russian accents! Anyway, is all of this correct thinking in this situation?

    I agree wholeheartedly with the rest of your comments, and thanks for the EQ advice. I will try that.

    I'd be happy to give you a copy. If you have some FTP space, I copuld upload it ( I only have 25 MB), or there's always the post.

    Thanks so much for the comments. You are a great mentor.
  13. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Yo Jeremy, you there?
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    hey David-

    sorry for the delay - i've been swamped.

    I'm in the process of setting up a public ftp for ya.

  15. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

  16. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest


    I liked this very much-- your learning curve is going well. As I listened (twice) a few things did occur to me, which are mainly a matter of personal taste:

    Are you happy with the amount of "air" around the sound? While not really dry, there did not seem to be much "bloom" to match the heroic character of the music.

    Upon closer analysis I believe that this is due to what Jeremy heard that is a side effect of using cardioids at less than a 90 degree angle but with a bit of separation between the capsules. Perhaps a little good old fashioned phase cancellation as a side effect of violation the 3-1 rule. When trying to limit soundstage width in chamber music with cardioids I would try true X-Y, a setup I normally avoid. I would definitely add a pair of widely spaced omnis to open the sound up.

    Also, to me the piano sound, while quite good, is a bit too forward and close. The strings seemed at times literally behind the piano. You might experiment with adding another 10ms delay to the piano and pulling the level down at least 2dB.

    Thanks to the magic of post production you can probably polish this a bit more, especially if you have Altiverb. Wooden church, S2S omnis, mix to taste.

    OTOH this is SO much better than what they deserve at $5.50 an hour!

  17. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks a bunch for the valuable input.

    You're right, it could be more spacious.
  18. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member


    I have zero valuable input because I'm clueless as to how to record/mix classical music, BUT I must say that the recording sounded very natural and very beautiful!

    Awesome job!
  19. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Thanks Art!
  20. supercharry

    supercharry Guest

    Hey David, sounds great to me, very pleasing.

    I would like to ask you for a favour, could you review a song I recorded few weeks ago? I would be pleased.

    Its the first song. its called "Mi madre hara un millon."


    PS: Im not at your level but some advice might help for future recordings......

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