microphones shootout on piano

Discussion in 'Acoustic Keyboards' started by Didier, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. Didier

    Didier Active Member

    Sep 8, 2008
    Here a microphone shootout on a grand piano at home:


    Microphones in 20 cm AB, 1.25 m above the floor, 40 cm from the piano rim at the tail end, steered to the pianist. Chopin's nocturne. Fearn VT-2 and Fireface 400, MP3 320 kbit/s. Microphones list :

    AKG C3000B
    AKG C414B-XLS in cardio
    Audio-Technica AT4047
    Rode K2 in cardio
    FLEA 49 in cardio and in omni
    Beyerdynamics M130
    Oktava MK-012 in cardio and in omni
    Avenson STO-2
    DPA 4060
    Schoeps CMC6-MK21
    Rode NT5
    Josephson C42

    I am interested in your comments about what microphones do you like and why.
  2. tonyk

    tonyk Guest

    Unfortunately the files don't play for me.

    OSX10.5/ Safari

    Would like to check them out!


  3. Didier

    Didier Active Member

    Sep 8, 2008
    Hi Tony,

    I put the 14 tracks in a zip (130 MB) that you can get there:

    1) fill the 3 letter code,
    2) click on download
    3) wait until the 45 second counter is finished and replaced by a free download button and click on it

    Don't care about the pianist (amateur and unfortunately not consistent through the 14 takes) and let you focused on the sound.

    Than you for your attention,

  4. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    Didier, I am very interested in this, will listen on decent monitors and report back later today.
  5. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    Many thanks for this. I'll give them a listen on something besides laptop speakers soon.

    One question on your first post though - what does "40 from the piano rig at the tail end" mean? In context it looks like 40m, but I assume that's not the case.
  6. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    If I were stuck with only one mic I'd have to go with the 49 in omni. But, I really liked the warmth of the K2 and the brightness of the Schoeps M21. I was surprised that the M130 wasn't as dramatic as I expected. I suppose I should have expected just that. Anyway, it's all the opinion of an amateur. Fabulous playing by the way.
  7. Didier

    Didier Active Member

    Sep 8, 2008
    40 cm off the piano rim at the tail end. Hope this is clearer. I apologize for my mistake and my bad English. :oops:

    Thank you hueseph for your listening and your report. The placing of the microphones may be less suitable to the M130 than to other microphones.
    I recorded two other takes with the F49s in omni and the M130s, which you could be interested in. They are here :
    Note that the placing, much closer to the keyboard than for the shootout above, is not the same for both microphone pairs, the M130s are in Blumlein, and as an opposite to the shootout takes, I performed significant audio processing (EQ, reverb), moreover different for both takes. So this is no longer a comparison between microphones, but might nevertheless modify the feeling about the M130 that you got from my microphones shootout.
  8. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    In that comparison the M130s definitely sounded better. For some reason the F49s sounded muddy. Maybe it's just my monitors?
  9. Didier

    Didier Active Member

    Sep 8, 2008
    Note that for this extra F49 omni take, the lid is at it smallest opening while it was full open for the extra M130 take like for all the shootout takes. So your feeling may be just an illustration that the instrument and the placing of the microphones can be more important than the microphones themselves.
  10. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:

    Good for you for taking on the project. I know it wasn't a two minute slap it up there experiment.

    I'll caveat that my impressions are tainted by the lack of quality in the empty3's.... quite a few artifacts that distract from really hearing the detail of the recordings. But I think I understand the reason behind using them as opposed to wav's.

    The M130 has the nicer overall representation, however, IMHO, the C42 has a much more open and natural sound.

    The MK-012 and the 414 recordings you can really pick out the noise floor coming up in the background, that or the empty3 conversion really didn't go so well.

    I'm really surprised that the Schoeps wasn't in my top picks. It sounded relatively muffled and thick in the lower registers of the piano. The upper end was very nice and detailed, but that low end was almost overwhelming to my ears as clearly needing to be EQ'd to get the mud out.

    The real detail is in hearing the mechanical movement of the pedal action and the players shoes as they move across the pedals. The C42 had the greatest sensitivity to these subtleties while the Beyer had a tendency to minimize them, but not to the point that you couldn't discern them, or that they didn't sound natural.

    All of the other mic's did a decent job of capturing, but to my ears, the C42 comes out on top with the Beyer a close second.

    The one thing that I would also note, (for other readers/posters) that indeed, microphone placement is indeed critical to the recording process... and in a shootout such as this, one could potentially get a much more acceptable recording by adjusting the mic placement to better suit the individual mic response pattern and sensitivity.

    All in all... I think you did a fine job here Didier. :cool:

  11. Didier

    Didier Active Member

    Sep 8, 2008
    Thank you Madmax for your appreciation. A big lesson that I can draw from this test is that the listener taste is a key factor for ranking microphones! Up to now, I have got as first choices STO-2, MK 21, F49 omni and C 42, each one time, and as second choice 4047, MK 21 and M 130, each one time.

    I wanted initially to compare only the 414 and the 4047 for my own use. I did not keep the wav because for my ears the difference between mp3 320 kbit/s and wav, if any detectable, is not significant. Then I decided to test all my microphone collection and to offer that on internet. I kept the wav files for all the other microphones. I can provide some of them to anybody who wants to listen more accurately to some microphones. The size is about 70 MB per file.

    May be some artefacts that your very accurate ears can detect. :wink:
    Here below the spectrum for the wav file (white) and the mp3 file (red) for MK-012 in omni. The noise floor difference above 10 kHz is about 1 dB, which is negligible.


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