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Looking for a mentor, any takers? (classical piano)

I am new to these forums as a poster, but I have read them hours a day along with other sites such as gearslutz. These forums definitely have the most talented recording engineers on them, and I would love if someone could take me in, and help me. I do alot better learning if I can actively talk to people, rather then posting online, so if anyone wouldn't mind IM me on AIM, sn is Jakromm, I would definitely appreciate it :)

The recordings I have been making arn't turning out how I would like, I want to blame my cheap equpiment but I KNOW my technique is probably the main issue. is a sample recording, ignore the playing its just my girlfriend practicing while I fiddle with mic placement.

Here is a sketch of the mic placement I used, at the time I didn't have a mic cable for my 4th mic.
The blue mic is the ADK a51s, and the red are the ADK sc-t mics in a ortf format. I am thinking about keeping the sc-t in ortf but have the a51s and the perception100 back maybe a meter or 2 in an AB setup.

Location is a stone cathedral style hall, fairly tall ceilings, but small in size, maybe 100-150 seats.

The piano is a 9 foot steinway, it is out of tune at the moment, but will be tuned shortly.

My equipment (bad cause im poor):

Adobe Audition
PreSonus bluetube preamp
PreSonus firebox preamp
2 ADK SC-T small condensor mics (cardioid)
1 ADK a51s cardioid mic
1 AKG perception 100 cardioid mic

I currently use the tube preamp with 0 drive to function as a normal preamp.

Let me know any suggestions you have they will help me alot, if you think I should sell off a preamp / mic or mics and replace them with others etc. I have a very limited budget but I will still try my best. And of course any one on one help via AIM would be VERY appreciated.

Edit: Could you also let me know what you think is the weakest link in my equipment? (Besides me)

This is the best I could do with that recording


Member Sat, 09/16/2006 - 14:37
Figured I would post a new recording I did in a veyr small room, using close micing on a 9 foot baldwin. I did not know how to properly pan the mics (used 4 mics) And I didn't know how to EQ it properly. All I did was boost high and cut low on high side, and boost low and cut high on low side. Here is the link.

Still looking for someone willing to have a one on one conversation with me and be my mentor. I know it would help me greatly. My contacts are still the same, and I can use alternative means if you rather use a different messenger. Thanks

Cucco Fri, 08/11/2006 - 16:53
Hey Jakrom -

Welcome to RO!
I can't listen to the recording b/c I am only using a laptop for internet right now. However, I can make some comments on your approach.

The ORTF pair should suffice in many cases. However, if it doesn't (and if you're finding the low end lacking a bit), you might try the A51 on the tail of the piano with the pencils as the main in ORTF.

I wouldn't try AB with the two disparate mics - AB really works best with a matched pair and phasing (especially with a source such as piano) will be a huge issue.

Also, the perception is not in the same league as your ADKs, which are not bad mics in their own right. I don't see any need for the perception in the setup.

I'm not sure of the height at which you placed your mics, but the tendancy of many younger engineers is to place them too low. Try bringing them up to 2 or even 3 meters off the ground.

Keep us posted on your progress.


Member Sat, 08/19/2006 - 09:22
So, it turns out I am forgetfull, and I had to improvise on a few things. I left one of my 1/4" cables at home, and my headhpone to 1/4" converter at home. This meant I had no real time monitoring, I had to mix everythign down and then listen to it, making adjustments very time consuming and hard. As for the 1/4" cable, I had to use a mic cable to connect one of my mics from the one amp to interface, this meant going through one of my mic inputs and setting gain to 0, which in turn was causing unbalanced gain in my ORTF setup, I guess because of the cable size difference, (3 foot vs 25 foot) I matched best as I could. Thats all for the problems I caused, the other problem I ran into was alot of background noise, everything from alot of white noise, from AC to someone singing opera in the background. This was only for testing so I dealt with it.

Let me first post the recording so you can have a listen.

Now what you are hearing is the results of this setup

The only "mastering" I did to the recording was a 60% noise reduction on all 3 tracks to get rid of the harsh white noise, although the sound is still badly colored from it. I panned the ORTF -100, 100, and on this mixdown I have the far right cardioid panned to center. I did have it panned to around 70, but I thought it sounded to uneven. Then again I know nothing about panning, EQ, etc. So if you have proper panning settings please let me know. I also cut the right cardioid by 3db.

Now I want to talk about the room, here are 2 bad pictures to give you an idea.

All brick and stone, on the stage where the lights are the ceiling extends pretty high, and I am afraid of sound going up there and getting lost, so I pushed the piano just past that front piece of wood on top. The side wood panels can be swivled, I wasn't sure how to position them but instinct told me to try and make walls with them as best as I could to avoid sound from getting behind them and bouncing around. Again any suggestions on how to utilize these?

One good thing that happend was the piano was tuned just minutes before we recorded :) too bad I wasn't making any real recordings. In summary, I like the piano, the room is OK, its just all the noise that makes the room a problem. I hope that at night or in winter (no AC) the room will work better. I am going to scout out another location, it's a church with carpeted floors, brick walls, and high wooding ceilings. Has decent volume, only thing is the piano is a yamaha baby grand, and one of the keys on it has had issues.

Thank you for reading my lengthy post, and even more thanks to anyone who answers any or all my questions. I really need help with everything, but any suggestions with maybe panning and EQ would be nice.

JoeH Sat, 08/19/2006 - 10:38
Hello Jakromm; and welcome to the wild world of location recording. It sounds like you're making some progress, little by little. (And your attitude is certainly positive!)

I'd make a few mechanical suggestions for what you're doing early you're quickly finding out, missing equipment and forgetting stuff really sucks, and the only question you have to ask yourself is: How long do you want to put up with it?

If you're going to be doing this professionally/full time, at some point, you'll build up what could be called your "remote" kit vs. your studio rig. They should stay separate and apart, so you're not stealing from one to work on the other. This will save your butt someday. Repacking gear over and over again every time you go out is a recipe for trouble. Unless you have a no-exceptions "pick-list" for packing up, you'll always be forgetting something, not to mention just plain sick of the drill, over and over again every time you go out on a remote.

No doubt, $$ is a factor when buying stuff you'll need when first starting out, but if you're patient and stick to it, all the little things will fall into place, if you're frugal. (There's another thread in this forum about affordable tips and tricks for this sort of thing...some good stuff there.)

I'm not sure what I'm seeing with the pictures you have posted - can't quite make out what's going on with the mic placement.

As for the sound of your recording, perhaps all the gain adjustment and noise reduction you're describing accounts for what I'm hearing...or not hearing. At first glance, it sounds like more room than direct sound, but that could be my little extension speakers for my laptop here.

Assuming the room sounds as spongy/dry as it seems to here, perhaps getting in a little closer (Lower?) and adding a little reverb after the fact may be a better solution, at least in this case? I don't hear any brilliance/sparkle on the top end, for example, and that seems to be lost from getting too far away from the instrument. Just a guess, but that's my 1st impression....

Member Thu, 08/17/2006 - 12:59
I planned on doing some recording last friday before my vacation but turned out I was unable to. Now that I am back from my vacation I plan on going back to the location tomorrow and trying your suggestions. This time I will be using actuall measurements and taking pictures for future reference. I also plan on trying my small condensors on the bluetube with 0 drive, because the bluetube offers more gain then the firebox, and I found the firebox was barely offering enough gain, and I think (might not be right) the closer you get the max, the faster the noise ratio grows? I will probably run a quick noise test on the 2 setups to see if its worth doing. Enough rambling, I will fill you in tomorrow night I suppose.