Skip to main content

Recording a Yamaha C3E Grand Piano

Member for

7 years 1 month

My audio interface is Sound Devices Mix Pre 6 and it records straight to SD. I want to record my Yamaha C3E grand piano in a way that I won't ever need to go to a studio. I currently use Zoom H2n. I want to record 4-8 hours per day. Solo, duets, four hands etc. I have a list of microphones in matched pairs (many of them are stereo too). Which one will give me super professional results? Keep in my mind that my room is not treated so I need something to cancel the room as much as possible.

  • AKG C 451 B Stereo Set
  • AKG C314 Stereo Set
  • AKG C414 XLII Stereo Set
  • Antelope Edge Go
  • Antelope Edge Quadro Stereo Set
  • Audio-Technica AT4050 SM
  • Audio-Technica AT5045P
  • Audio-Technica BP4025
  • Audix SCX25A-PS Set
  • Austrian Audio OC18 Set
  • Austrian Audio OC818 Set
  • Avantone CK-40
  • Beyerdynamic MC-930 Stereo Set
  • Coles 4038 Studio Ribbon Pair
  • DPA d:vote Core 4099
  • DPA ST2011C
  • DPA ST4006A
  • Earthworks Audio PM40
  • Earthworks Audio SR-25 MP
  • Golden Age Project R1 ST
  • Haun MBC660 L Set
  • JZ Microphones BT-201/3S Set
  • Lauten Audio Atlantis FC-387
  • Lauten Audio Clarion FC-357
  • Miktek CV3
  • Miktek CV4R
  • Neumann KM184 Set
  • Neumann TLM 103 Stereo Set
  • Neumann U87 Ai Set
  • Oktava Mk 102 MSP2 Silver Stereo Pair
  • Oktava MK 220 Set
  • Oktava MK 319 MSP Set
  • Oktava ML 52-02 Set
  • RØDE TF-5 Set
  • Royer Labs R-10 MP
  • Royer Labs R-121 MP
  • Royer Labs R-122 MKII Set
  • Royer Labs SF-24
  • Schoeps MSTC 64 Ug Stereo Set (ortf)
  • Schoeps Stereo-Set MK 2s
  • Schoeps Stereo-Set MK 4
  • Schoeps Stereo-Set MK 5
  • SE Electronics SE 4400A Stereo Set
  • Sennheiser E 914 Set
  • Sennheiser MK 8
  • Sennheiser MKH 800 Twin Nx
  • Sennheiser MKH 8020 Stereo Set
  • Shure KSM 137 Stereo set
  • Shure KSM 141 ST Stereo set
  • Shure VP 88
  • Sontronics Apollo 2
  • Telefunken M60 FET Stereo-Set
  • Warm Audio WA-84 Black Stereo-Set

Comments

Member for

12 years 1 month

thatjeffguy Wed, 07/17/2019 - 08:22
I have been using the Earthworks PM40 for a couple of years now on my 6' 10" Langlois & Sons grand. My room is treated, but relatively small. These mics record amazingly evenly across the frequency spectrum and can be easily used with the lid shut if isolation from other sounds is necessary.
With the right reverbs applied you can get a realistic representation of the piano in almost any imaginable space.
I have experimented with many mic combinations of mics for recording this piano, and I have a fairly hefty mic collection. Prior to purchasing the PM40, my favorite methods were a mid-side configuration using Beyerdynamic M130 & M160 combination, my other favorites were a matched pair of Charter Oak M900T small-diaphragm tube condensers in a spaced-pair configuration.

Member for

15 years 7 months

Boswell Wed, 07/17/2019 - 08:27
Unfortunately, "super professional results" come from more than just microphone choice. Both the acoustics of the room and the placement of the microphones in the room probably have a greater bearing on the quality of the recorded sound than the make and model of microphone.

In addition, you should be considering omni-directional rather than cardioid pattern microphones, as cardioids will not do justice to the lower octave of your 6' grand. However, an omni pattern goes against "something to cancel the room as much as possible", so compromise and experimentation are going to be the only way of moving forward. Be prepared to hang thick drapes in your room to tame some of the reflections.

Of the microphones in your list (from a hire company?), possible choices could be the DPA4006A or the Schoeps sets with the MK5 capsule (set to omni). If the room acoustics can be sufficiently controlled, particularly reflections from the ceiling, then the Royer ribbons can give excellent results, especially in instances where capacitor microphones might emphasise any harshness in the piano tone.

Member for

12 years 11 months

dvdhawk Wed, 07/17/2019 - 08:53
I would echo Boswell's sentiment that "super professional results" would include a generous amount of the space around the piano, which means the room has to be of a certain size and acoustically pleasing. Any microphones good enough to capture the nuance of the piano will also capture the traits (good and bad) of the room. Otherwise, you may as well keep the lid closed and use the Earthworks piano system recommended by thatjeffguy and add artificiall reverb to suit the track.

Member for

7 years 1 month

kosmas31 Wed, 07/17/2019 - 09:33
I have heard only the best about earthworks and DPA for piano indeed

thatjeffguy, post: 461528, member: 38103 wrote: I have been using the Earthworks PM40 for a couple of years now on my 6' 10" Langlois & Sons grand. My room is treated, but relatively small. These mics record amazingly evenly across the frequency spectrum and can be easily used with the lid shut if isolation from other sounds is necessary.
With the right reverbs applied you can get a realistic representation of the piano in almost any imaginable space.
I have experimented with many mic combinations of mics for recording this piano, and I have a fairly hefty mic collection. Prior to purchasing the PM40, my favorite methods were a mid-side configuration using Beyerdynamic M130 & M160 combination, my other favorites were a matched pair of Charter Oak M900T small-diaphragm tube condensers in a spaced-pair configuration.

Member for

7 years 1 month

kosmas31 Wed, 07/17/2019 - 09:38
I think this is the best thing to do. By the way, i ii have recorded my piano with the zoom h2n set below the soundboard and the sound is dry and woody. It really cancels room reverberation. Its a little rough sound though,..
dvdhawk, post: 461530, member: 36047 wrote: I would echo Boswell's sentiment that "super professional results" would include a generous amount of the space around the piano, which means the room has to be of a certain size and acoustically pleasing. Any microphones good enough to capture the nuance of the piano will also capture the traits (good and bad) of the room. Otherwise, you may as well keep the lid closed and use the Earthworks piano system recommended by thatjeffguy and add artificiall reverb to suit the track.

Member for

7 years 9 months

paulears Thu, 07/18/2019 - 05:25
Me, and I record Yamaha's quite a bit, the real effective differences are the room, the room and the room. I could pick from a list of mics, but if the room is less than gorgeous sounding, then you are going too have to go in close and add artificial reverb. For instance, in that list are DPA 4006s - these can sound amazingly truthful, but the truth is often bad. They're brilliant for exposing reflections, lack of absorption and flutter echos. My get out of trouble mics in your list are 414s. Close miked, in really close on full stick, or equally happy as a fig-8 crossed Blumlein like array, or even spaced at a metre to so - so many available techniques IF, the room is rubbish.

Clearly you have the budget and the instrument, so spend the money on acoustic treatment. you need to do an analysis of the room, then consider what you can do. If the room is awful, no mic will do well. It's easier to really dampen the room down with absorbers - even duvets on mic stands work, and then brighten up the thing artificially.

There is no 'professional' sound. Pros get bad sound just as often as amateurs, but have the ability to do something about it. The piano is in good nick, I assume? That can also influence which mics and technique you pick. What noise does it make when you quickly remove your foot from the sustain? A nice soft close, or a thump, jangle or low frequency kerthump? If the mechanism and action makes a clatter, then more distant techniques are needed which increase the room component.

Member for

8 years 9 months

pcrecord Thu, 07/18/2019 - 05:40
I'm with the guys... There is so much of the "Pro sound" comming from the room the instrument and the player itself.
With that impressive list of mic there is simply too many combinaison. Therefor I would rather pic the mic according to the wanted sound fitting the song rather than limitting myself with a pair which other people said is the best.
Another aspect, I'm sure you didn't neglect is the preamp choice.
Now I only talk for me here and could be way wrong, but mic choice, placement, preamp etc, should stay alive and changing all the time depending on the project/song.

Sorry for not providing a direct answer ;)

Member for

7 years 8 months

John Willett Sun, 07/21/2019 - 09:18
Recording piano is my speciality.

First question - how does the piano sound in the room? The room doesn't need "treating" if the piano sounds good in the room.

I have recorded a complete commercial double-CD of all the Chopin Nocturnes on a 9' Steinway in an untreated room of a normal family house with omni mics..

Omni mics capture the bottom end of a piano that directional mics miss - and it's pretty obfious when you compare.

Beforre I recorded the above mentioned Chopan CD I did several tests of microphone positions with both directional (MS rig) and omnis - the omnis were obviously much better.

Personally my mics of choice are the Gefell M 221 as 1st choice, though I also have used Sennheisr MKH 20 and 8020 and Neumann KM 131-D.

To record piano on a low budget, the Line Audio OM1 are a good choic e and perform well above the price you pay.

Member for

7 years 9 months

paulears Sun, 07/21/2019 - 10:18
To add to John's post - here is another C3 recording in the pianist's home - in a less than perfect space. Recorded with a couple of AKG 414s, also on the omni pattern, but it's quite boxy sounding. It was for a specific purpose - playing back in large reflective spaces (dance studios) so is deliberately quite dry, otherwise the clarity suffers. Not meant for normal listening but you can hear the room components.
http://www.granthorsley.com/reverie.mp3
x