Recording Cello and Piano/ Cello

Discussion in 'Strings' started by Danju, Mar 7, 2005.

  1. Danju

    Danju Guest

    Recording Cello and Piano/ Cello

    I’m looking for some advice on how to record solo cello and cello/ piano duo. We will record in a nice hall and have access to a beautiful collection of Neumann and Schoeps microphones.

    1. what is a good postion/ hight/ distance for the microphones to start with when recording cello solo?
    2. which technique do you suggest for cello solo (AB, XY, ORTF, asymmetric micing, with or without ambient mics...)?
    3. Would you try to record piano and cello with one stereo system or rather mic them individually? (e.g. Piano: AB Cello: XY plus ambient mics)

    Thank’s for the input,
  2. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Feb 12, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    Home Page:
    I would say that the way to approach this completely depends on how the duo decides to set up. There are 2 "standard" set-ups- 1 with the cellist in the curve of the piano and the other with the cellist behind the pianist off to the side.

    A stereo pair can work out well for everything when the cello is in the crook, but when the cello is off to the side, just a stereo pair can sound odd (cello way off to the left side). You may find that with just the stereo pair that the cello sounds good at one height and the piano at another- in this case, you may consider having risers available to raise the cellist to the point where they both sound good... (obviously not recommended for a concert). If that ends up being the case, I'd set the mic to the "piano" height and then spot the cello to clean up its sound.

    If you have the cello off to the side, you'd likely do well to spot both the piano as a stereo pair and the cello individually and then mix. A hall pair of mics also may work well for that too to capture more of the ensemble sound. In this case, I'd probably go with an M-S pair on the piano (as long as the figure-8 capsule doesn't capture too much of the cello because you can then have phase issues). I'd probably use an omni on the cello...

    Hope this helps some...

  3. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    If you've got a good hall, then you're already on your way to a great recording. (Sounds like you have some great mics, as well!)

    For what you're describing, I try to separate the two players a bit, as well, maybe pull the cellist out in front and to the right a little bit more. (Usually, they're amenable to that - esp if they can "see" each other better in a recording session, as opposed to a concert. With the cellist in the crook of the piano - as in a concert - they always compain they can't see each other anyway.)

    Then I'd do just about the same as Ben suggests: Spot mic the cello, put a stereo pair on the piano, and another pair (spaced omni's, or MS, whatever you think sounds best for the room). Hopefully you're multitracking it, and you can mix to taste later.

    As for mic choices, maybe you can set up several of your favs (maybe even tracking more than one?) and find out later which one you like better. I've done a lot of "Shootouts" over the years this way, and surprised myself later back in the studio....some mics I thought would be killer actually paled next to a few other choices.

    Sounds like fun!
  4. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Home Page:
    Don't forget the option of having the cello and piano on opposite sides of a blumlein array. This works well.
  5. Philbul

    Philbul Guest

    I agree with JoeH! This mics placement sounds very well for duo. I will try to get a little bit more"separated" sound from mic for Cello and stereo pair for piano - this may help during the mixing.
    About placement of both musicians - depend very much from the hall acoustic - If they sound good together in this position will be great. You can try two or three different placement and then start recording.
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Quite true. This can work very well, but musician and mic placement are critical :cool:
  7. Danju

    Danju Guest

    Cello and Cello/ Piano

    Thanks to all of you for the very helpful input. Great forum!


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