Piano+Vocal recording

Discussion in 'Acoustic Keyboards' started by danfor-2, Oct 11, 2003.

  1. danfor-2

    danfor-2 Guest

    Ok, I´ve been asked by a friend of mine to record an album with her - nine songs with her, a piano, and perhaps an upright bass or saxophone occasionally.

    I have recorded several bands and I am pretty well versed in stereo/2 track recording, but have never recorded a pianist who is singing at the same time. The music is mostly soft jazzy parts. I know that overdubbing would give me better separation, but since budget is limited I think we´ll try to record all tracks in one or two days, so live recording is probaly the only way to go. Some overdubs maybe, like sax solo.

    Any suggestions on mic placements? (Vocal, grand, sax,

    Oh yeah, in my school we got quite a mic/gear closet to chose from:

    1 Neumann U47 FET
    1 M149
    4 U87 (2 matched pair)
    2 U89
    2 AT 4060
    4 414B ULS (1 matched pair)
    2 414 TL2 (1 matched pair)
    2 Royer 121 (1 matched pair)
    2 Neumann TLM50 (1 matched pair)
    x KM84, 83 140, 184
    2 DPA 4011 (1 matched pair) love them!
    2 DPA 4006 (1 matched pair)
    3 DPA 40?? The ones with 130V Phantom.
    2 New schoeps SD mics, dont know yet which model.
    + assorted dynamics, but I think I will use some of the above instead :)

    Millenna 8ch

    DA88´s, DATs

    During mix there are a Lexicon 480L, 1176´s amongst others.

    Yeah, I´m spoiled... :cool:

    We´ll probably record with a Steinway D concert grand or a Yamaha S6 grand in a okay sounding auditorium, otherwise in a treated studio.

    Flame me with suggestions!
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Wow some great gear there! It's nice to see a post where someone isn't asking about how to get "that" sound with cheezie gear. I would say that just about any of that stuff will be "ok" :D hee hee hee

    Any thoughts on how you want to mic the piano and vocal? Is spill an issue? Will you have the piano at full, half stick or closed? It's tough to get a vocal and piano in one pass without a lot of bleed. Punch ins are just about out of the question. Sounds like a cool project. Fill in the blanks, and I will return the post. I am sure other will have some good input .
  3. danfor-2

    danfor-2 Guest

    Kurt said:
    But this also means I´ve got no excuses if it turns out bad ;) Wish it was my gear though...

    I don´t know yet if spill is an issue, I will do a test recording with another musician as soon as I can to test various setups. I think I´m looking for some kind of Diana Krall sound, and I think she does some of her tracks singing by the piano.
    The problematic bleed would be the vocals in the piano mics, right? Do you ever mic grands inside with lid half closed? Since the tunes are quiet soft and jazzy I guess the piano sound won´t have to be that hyped in the highs, so that could be a solution. I hope the M149 will go with her voice - then a hypercardoidisch pattern should somewhat isolated the vocals. However, most often I end up recording female voices with the U47FET - time will show.

    I think I will reach for the 87´s or Royers for the piano, and perhaps the TLM-50 as room mikes.
  4. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    If you have the choice, why would you sacrifice to do more songs then to do fewer songs with the highest attention to detail and audio quality? I would rather record a few songs very well with overdubs and get them right, then to fight, hope and pray that a bunch of live performances turn out to satisify everone involved. If you do a good enough job you will likely get her business back again. If you screw it up or don't meet expectations, you'll likley lose that business forever and everybody she warns about you. If you do a mediocre job then she and you will always know that you could have done a much better job but didn't and that can lead to regret by everybody. I'd hate to have someone listen to something I recorded and have them think "that's the best that you can do?" while knowing I could of done much better. Expecting to do too much in too little time is one of the biggest mistakes that is very often made and it is always 100% preventable. Taking the chance on the live recording is 100% irreverseable.

    Suggestions on mic selection and placement would require knowing more about the song, arrangement, the piano setup and type, the room and where in the room the piano is located, how many tracks are planned, the vocal level of the singer and even then it always a trial and error thing to find that which works best for this project. I could tell you exactly which, how and where I would do it but that would not have any real bearing on what this specific situation requires. You may find that a PZM on the floor or the wall would be best.

    This is where real world engineering is required and where real experience is gained. Good luck.
  5. sign

    sign Guest

    The female voice will sound brilliant on the M149.

    I've done many "one takers" with a female singer/pianist, with the M149 on her voice (hypercardioid) and two PZM's taped to the grand's lid, lid closed or opened just a very little. No problem at all.

    Hope this helps.
  6. danfor-2

    danfor-2 Guest

    What is PZM exactly? Mic type? Model? Special design? Stereo placement?
    I´ve seen the label on some crown mics (which I by the way don´t have access to), but are some of the mics I specified first in the that category?

    BTW, there´s also a pair of SM91´s and some Pearl mikes - don´t know exactly which.

    The reason why I ask you all this is not that I am afraid of the trial-and-error method, but because I got so excited when asked to do this record - my first to be released. I just can´t wait until I can test the setups, also I didn´t get much sleep last night either :)

    Keep em coming!
  7. sign

    sign Guest

    Take a look at this: http://www.crownaudio.com/mic_web/index.htm

    PZM's are very special mics!
  8. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    PZM® (Pressure Zone Microphone®) series microphones designed and developed by Crown Audio, are omnidirectional boundary microphones. They can be placed on a large surface such as a table, floor, wall, or lectern. PZMs prevent phase interference from surface reflections, allowing a wide, smooth response. Microphone sensitivity is boosted 6 dB by the surface mounting.

    PZM series microphones let the user optimally place microphones in the performance venue. Designed for use on flat surfaces, PZMs can be placed where conventional microphones do not work well. Their wide, smooth frequency response makes them ideal for miking pianos, harps and other orchestral instruments. Their small size and low profile also make them an excellent choice for recording projects, conference rooms and security applications.
  9. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    which is the model of your school dat? 16bit or 24 bit?
    Is it a DA30mk2/DA40? Panasonic Sv3700/3800?
    The placement of musicians is a very important factor on this live recording.
    While they rehearsal, walk around the room and watch for any weird delays, uneven bass response. Sorry, I am being very generic. As others mentioned, a picture of the recording scene would help take some decisions.
    If there is not going to happen many overdubs and if you decide to track them all together, it is a good idea to have 3 versions of each song.
    Plan beforehand with the musicians, make a few meetings before deadline
    Nice week
  10. danfor-2

    danfor-2 Guest

    We have Sony R500 and R700 (one with Rosetta A/D), but it seems like I will use one of the control room with a PT Mix 24.
  11. white swan

    white swan Guest

    You can cover the piano with heavy sound blankets (even with the lid full up) with the mics inside. That will cut down on quite a bit of the vocal bleed.
  12. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    where is this school with a such a nice gear list?
    Instead of mixing to 2 track DAT machine, and if you are using a board ( or mixing in the box), send its stereo mix to an empty stereo track of the very same sessions you recorded.
    24 bit SD2/wave file .
    That is why I asked you for the bit depth of your DAt recorder.
  13. danfor-2

    danfor-2 Guest

    The school is in Piteå - Sweden. Like with most universities here it´s totally free!
    The education is for two years and consists of recording (2tr and multi), mic technique, mixing, radio broadcasting, live sound, music theory, digital editing, acoustics and some 5.1
    + some guest tutors.

    Bruce Swedien had a tre day seminar the other week, he had Genelec send their largest monitors to the classroom. Mysteriously enough,someone had removed the dB meter from the wall just in time for his arrival. That was NOT the recommended 85 dBA he played, he is soo deaf. And so were we afterwards. He has done some great work through the years though...

    There are also shorter masterclasses ( approx 2 months) where the goal is to record, mix and master either a classical or pop/rock CD. These are international and about 2 or 3 out of the five students are foreigners since the classes are in english. Sounds interesting?

    More gear masturbation for the interested : :tu:

  14. by

    by Guest

    Try the SD mics though, if you have time. I've seen some jazz piano stuff record with lid open, and those 4011's in a stereo x/y mic configuration (or a few inches apart) placed above the strings 6-12 inches, about two feet away from keyboard. The Neumannn 84 or scheops would also work. This wasn't all soft jazz, most was more harder/faster, but it sounded very good.
    Just a suggestion.
  15. Richard Monroe

    Richard Monroe Active Member

    Jun 24, 2003
    Framingham, Mass.
    Home Page:
    I have a different thought. I have very little experience with concert grands, more with baby grands, uprights, consoles. That limited experience indicates that it is precisely the size of the grand's sound box that gives it that deep rich tone that promotes mic bleed, and which you love. The smaller standups, especially consoles were designed for a lady to play in the parlor while you waited for your date. The acoustic balance in any room will work better if you give the lady a piano with a smaller voice. Then you can use 2 small diaphragm overheads. Those Schoeps will do nicely. A U87 above her head, angled down, and an omni wherever it sounds good. Good luck.

    P.S.-PM Littledog. He's got a grand in his studio, and he promotes the idea of live tracking vox and guitar, so I bet he has a plan, and it isn't a smaller piano.
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