Need piano recording advice



Hey folks, I've been interested in recording myself play on my upright piano for my own use. I would like some advice if you have any to offer. I don't have an unlimited budget but at the same time don't want to buy something that won't last me a long time or will skimp out on sound quality. What I do have is my PC with Q6600, Zalman 9700 HSF, 4gig ram, 8800gts, m-audio audiophile 2496 that I built myself, currently running XP but I plan to switch over to Vista within a year.

I've read Paul's guide and like the end result but also agree its a tad bit bass heavy.

1. As of right now I am considering buying two AKG C 414 B-XLS. Is there any other mics I should consider? Groove Tubes maybe? Any arguments against the AKGs in terms of price/performace? Is buying a matched pair of any importance to me? Is buying used from ebay of any issue? Any demos I can hear of piano/akg available online? I'm looking for a warm sound.

2. If the computer is in the same room will the mics pic up any of the fan noise? (my computer is pretty quiet btw, barely audible) If it will I want to keep my computer in another room. Does mic cable length have any effect on sound quality?

3. I was also considering the Presonus Firepod. I've read lots of high praise for this unit. Any issues with it on Vista PCs?

4. Is the mic pres on the firepod good enough? Should I be considering quality external mic pres? If I get something like The Brick what is the best way to interface to the computer? Any quality stereo pres that won't break the bank?

5. What is the most suitable software I should consider? I want the best sound quality without the confusion, I'm not recording a 100 piece orchestra afterall.

Thanks in advance.


Well-Known Member
May 25, 2004
Some short notes from another amateur.

1 - mics are very personal things. I cannot say I really like the 414-s. My first choice would be true omnis, say in the affordable part of the spectrum Neuman KM183. But if at all possible do try to lend/ borrow rent or whatever to find what suites you best. Matched is not necessarily any better, but could be one way to to feel a bit better. All depends on who did the matching though.

2 - computer fans always seems to be heard. Long cable can be a problem yes, when you go above, say, 300 feet. All given phantom feed decent quality cable.

3 - aah Vista and music recordings. Seems like it is a rats nest. No idea myself but I will not go there for a while.

4 - an idea for quality stereo pre is the DAV BG1.

5 - do check out Samplitude for software or its smaller sibling Magix Music Studio.



Please help me narrow down my mic choices.

1. one akg 414 b xls for roughly $650
2. two akg 414 b xls for roughly $1300
3. two AT4040s for roughly $500
4. two AT4050s for roughly $900
5. two studio projects B3s for $400
6. two studio projects C3s for $650

I'm going insane trying to decide!


Well-Known Member
Jun 22, 2004
Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
Vista seems to be working out ok (at least for me) for most of the devices I've thrown at it. You DO have to "Get under the hood" for a few things, including drivers or the way the existing drivers work.

M-Audio seems to be very good about keeping their drivers up to date. Kudos to them for all the drivers they list for the FW410 and all the Mac OS's. Took me forever, but I got my FW410 to work beautifully with the iMAC I have; running OS 10.4.5. It even ran a firmware update and rebooted the computer as well. I can't imagine them NOT having the drivers you'd need for your Audiophile 2496 in Vista.

Don't know much about ProSonus, but I'd guess they've got something that's compatible as well. Many manufacturers are keeping pace with Vista; my RME Fireface comes with a Vista-Compatible driver that's rock solid. You can always search PreSonus's website for driver info as well, if you're not sure.

Some manufacturer's are on the ball, some haven't gotten up to speed yet. For example, many people on the Mackie Onyx Firewire users forum have slamed them for not having a Vista driver out (yet?), but I found it's simple to make the existing XP driver work just fine. (And you may find this a handy trick to use in Vista anyway): In the "SOUND" control panel applette, you can click on the names of each channel of any sound card you're using, and re-name them any way you like, so that they then show up properly in the audio software you use.

This is important because without it, you may not be able to tell one channel from the other (at least in Vista, the way things are currently deployed). This may be true for ANY legacy sound card driver problem when migrating to Vista.

What I did was run sound into each channel input, one at a time, and looking for level to appear on the VERY COOL little LED bars that Vista has in the Sound driver applette. Once you find the channel(s) in question, you name them what you want to name them, (Best to keep the name short) and then it sticks permanently, until you ever want to change it again. This same name then shows up in the device selection drop-down window in your own software, so that it's easy to find and use.

Many people are still afraid of, or are passing on bad or incomplete information about Vista. I have no axe to grind with (or love of) Microsoft, but I just think after 10-15 years of software OS upgrades, long time users are getting cranky and tired of learning curves and new ways of doing things that really don't need fixing. We've got our tools in place now, and they work just fine, thankyouverymuch. (Imagine being a carpenter for 12 years and suddenly someone makes you start using a hammer that is similar, but VERY different from the one you've been making your living with...)

It might explain all the fear and loathing surrounding VIsta. LOve it or hate it, it's now installed on every new machine I buy, so I'm learning to work with it and get up to speed on it as fast as I can. Three out of five of my systems are Vista now. So far, so good.

It's got a much better(faster) networking protocol as well, so if you get a Vista machine and network it with your other machines, it'll run even better/faster. (once you've gone through all the upgrade hoop-jumping, etc. )

Sorry to hijack your questions about using a Vista-based machine, but that's what I gots on the issue so far.... :roll: