MICS for grand piano recording under $300



I have a quality Kawai grand in my house that I've been skimping and saving for years to buy, and I've finally made my dream come true after much close listening and play testing of hundreds of instruments. Now I want to record it and need to get some mics for the job. Of course the easy answer is to go out and drop several grand on a couple of U87s or C414s or any of a number of great top notch condensers. In reality there is no way I can spend that much on mics right now. So here is my question / challenge for all of you recording masters out there. What mics should I use and how should I use them if I am looking to spend $300 or less (and maybe a little more if it will make all the difference) each on two microphones (for a total of $600). I have read much on the subject on different websites, yet I don't feel like I've read enough. I've heard that an SM-81 toward the center of the soundboard coupled with a nice dynamic (like a Sennheiser 421) at the bass could work. Is that a terrible idea? What do you guys recommend? A matched stereo pair? Large diaphram condensers?
I'll add that I play plenty of classical and plenty of jazz, but that even for classical recording I am not a big fan of too much room ambience, so I'd be satisfied with a similar setup for both.
If you've read this far, thank you! And hopefully you can help light my way with a little knowledge.


I've had satisfying results (recording piano studens for competiton)
using two LDC Shure KSM27. They are $300 a piece. Starting setup
I use - full stick, mics 8-10 feet spaced, lead level (more or less) and
8-12 feet distant from the instrument, one pointed down on low strings
another on high strings. I used a small diaphragm condencer (SM81
would be fine) to get hummer action by placing mic on the line of
hammers about 3-4 feet from the instrunment. From starting setup I'd move things around to get what I like to hear.
You should search this forum for piano recording, it was discussed to
death, really. Lots of options. A pair of AT4040s would be another
possility for your budget. Good luck.


The CM-700's by Crown might also be a great choice. They will work very well on a number of sources, and I have used them on piano's, drum overheads, even kicks. The output from them is not as hot as other condensers but preamp's are not fixed at one level so that should'nt be a problem, just turn the knob. It is a small diaphram mic but is fairly plump yet true sounding mic.

You will not be unhappy getting a pair... or more!



Well-Known Member
Nov 3, 2004
Göteborg, Sweden
Without having heard Your room and how it interacts with the grand piano, its quite hard to give any really specific sugestions. Do we want cordiod's or do we want omni's? The best suggestion is to save up a bit more an consult your local experienced sound engineer for a one of recording session. take a close look at what he/she does and build from that. (I've consulted with several musicians this way, recording is a continous learning experience and to avoid costly lessons further down the line its always recomendable to invest i a good one beforte you commit to loads of equipment that might never sattisfy your ears!)

In the price range were talking about here, I've had good expeiences with AT's 30 series (AT3032 Omni and AT3021 Cardiod, f.y.r. about $170 a piece at Sweetwater, not saying its there You buy them!). AT Mikes are very reliable!

You would need some sort of microphone preamplification to get enough line level into whatever recorder You plan to use. I have - to my great surprize - been playing around with a PreSonus Firebox ($300) getting better than decent results on on piano..


Lutz Rippe

I would also consider Oktava microphones:


Good choices would be the large condenser MK-101 or the ribbon microphone ML-52, both available as matched stereo pairs about within you budget. The microphones look a bit strange but the sound is really a great value for the price.