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I need your opinion. Various studios here record classical grand piano using 6 dpa mics inside the piano through mls eq, Gordon,preamps and Apogeead. However the sound is unearthly. I,have used 2 oktavas from 1 feet distance from the end of the grand via RMEbabyface and I have achieved much fuller lifelike sound. Your opinions?

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audiokid Sun, 11/09/2014 - 11:35

I've looked at those DPA minatures and actually have all the attachments for them but like you, thats not my sound. I think people get confused with DPA sometimes. Those might me choice for live recording chained through a Bricasti.
I use DPA 4011a and just love them. I also love the SF-24 overhead.

I think the first place I would be investing is the room where the piano is. My daughter is an amazing pianist that I am looking forward to the day we actually can record her in a hall of choice. None of my world class mics sound good in the room our grand is in.

Boswell Sun, 11/09/2014 - 11:41

The theory behind doing it the close-miked way is: when you sit in your living room and listen to a piano recording, what you listen to is loudspeakers, so if the loudspeakers reproduce an accurate copy of the close sound of the piano, when you listen to the recording it would sound as though the piano were there in your room.

I don't buy that theory, at least, not for the average living room. What I like to hear in a recording (from an acoustic point of view) is a first-rate piano recorded in great acoustics. Domestic environments generally do not have great acoustics, so as well as buying the recording of a particular pianist performing on a particular instrument, you buy the acoustic that prevailed at that moment in time. Great performers work with the acoustic they are playing in, and it can affect how they play. You need these clues captured in the recording.

I have had to resort to close-miking a piano and then apply some reverb in post-processing, solely for the reason that the piano was in a poor-sounding room. I know of other recordists who have used close miking on a grand piano in an attempt to exclude traffic noise, underground trains and the like. The bottom octave in particular is not easy to record cleanly.

These comments all apply to solo piano, of course. When you have other instruments or singers performing at the same time, you have to modify your approach.

paulears Sun, 11/09/2014 - 12:47

I've always had the opinion that for many instruments, piano included, the musician is the least aware of the sound of their instrument. Worst, I think are brass players with a point ahead bell - because they have NEVER heard what they sound like. They just get slapback and reflections, and when they hear the studio recording they hate it. Pianists have the same issue - the physical size of the instrument puts a lot of the sound producing areas the wrong side of a load of wood! As a consequence, they too really don't have a clue what they sound like. Put them in a wonderful room, and this influences everything so a more distant mic position sounds more like they hear at the keyboard. The internal sounds can work wonderfully on a pop recording where the piano needs to be dry. The old BBC technique where the mic would be to the pianist's right, in the curve space sounded really natural even in the dryish studios, with the lid on full stick. In a concert hall it needs moving further away again - or perhaps blended with some extra room sound (even though I never had much luck with this myself). Close miking with either small condensers, the earthworks or the Helpinstill give a very close perspective sound, but it's not the complete sound of the piano. I'm always amazed by how different each piano sounds in a showroom - even identical models are subtly different, and different models can be radically different. I like how Kosmas is unhappy with his tone, not the piano's! This is an interesting phenomena - the sound a piano produces changes because of the playing style. Think about it - what is it in the pianists control that can impact on tone? They can control the speed they depress the key, they can control the pressure they apply to the key, they can release a key quickly, or slowly. They can apply momentary pressure and release it, allowing the action to sound the note and release almost immediately - that's about it really. MIDI decided that the speed the key moved at would be used for the 'volume' of the note, and they called it velocity - that's a bit limiting for a real player, because they can control the speed the key moves - stead speed, accelerating or decelerating. I guess this is the player contribution to the sound of the instrument Kosmas mentioned - and maybe this combination is what gave him the harshness? His own style of triggering the sound. Interesting this!

I once worked with a classically trained pianist - who put his wife in charge of the sound, and although rather tiresome, her suggestions as to small mic movements were actually right, and the sound she achieved was close to the sound she needed, on his behalf. He was actually the one who told me that although he hated the sound, his wife knew best how he sounded to the audience.