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Recording Piano in my Home

Discussion in 'Acoustic Keyboards' started by audiokid, Nov 6, 2011.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

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    Apr 4, 2006
    Location:
    Blacksburg, VA
    I like that. You got a good amount of hammer attack for a pop/blues recording. You obviously don't want that much for classical, but I like quite a bit for pop.

    I guess I wasn't thinking about your room when I mentioned the SF24. I really need to set up the SF12 in mine and do some experimenting. I like the SM81s in that position (yes, very much like Helpenstill) picking up the hammers, but of course it can be too much. I should be able to position the SF-12 in the room somewhere to get a good second pair that would blend well.
     
  2. vttom

    vttom Active Member

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    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Vermont
    audiokid, is this a (baby) grand or upright model? The reason I ask is I'm starting to record our Yamaha upright and I'm not sure how to mic it. I've tried placing the mics behind the pianist and pointing them toward the piano, and I've tried flying them overhead on a boom pointed down. I've also considered pointing them at the wall against which the piano is placed and even flipping open the top and sticking them inside.

    Is it a matter of trial and error or is there a science to this?
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    BC, Canada
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    Yes, the whole classical business is the opposite from my thinking. I need to start listening to some classical recordings again but from the engineers POV this time. My entire life has been the performer side. Never paid much attention to the recordists POV. I've always disliked the sound of most halls. I'd much rather create my space. Close micing with no room has always been what I shoot for then add virtual flavour to taste. Glad I keep asking here!
    I was thinking about getting the Bricasti but see that would be wasted money now. Nothing like the real thing baby.

    I'm going to use the SF24 for ambience next. Thanks for the suggestions and compliments Bob. Love those Royers!
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Its a "Parlor Grand" smoke (said with an English accent) lol. 5'10" Basically a bit longer than a Baby. Its in need of complete refurbishing but is what it is. The Royer's are warmer for it and the DPA's hear what it truly sounds like. The hammers are hard and at the end. We're debating restoring it or stepping up to a new Piano. For serious work I do have a church to work in. (Thanks for the suggestion John)

    John and friends are really the best to ask, they are the pro's here. Piano's are very tough to get right because of so many factors. As you can sense from the response, the room is a big part to this. The further away from the piano, the more room, the closer you are, the more hammer which is good or bad depending on the style and what kind of piano it is etc... Its a balance factor, mic choice, placement and acoustics all in one. But that's recording too. Piano's need room to really sound great.

    Uprights aren't easy

    What mic(s) are you using?
     
  5. vttom

    vttom Active Member

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    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Vermont
    Well, I'm only just getting started on recording the piano acoustically (been doing MIDI capture up till now). So I'm using what I have, which is just a pair of EV N/D767a dynamic mics. FWIW, the piano is a ~15yr old Yamaha upright from the "silent series". I think the model is MP100.
     
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

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    Pacific NW
    Chris....How is the top set? Do you have any PZM mics? Is there anything else in the room besides the piano? Have you tried the U87 inside on the octave below middle 'C' as your spot mic and a spaced pair in the room? Yeah , I know its only rock and roll......! (all you classical piano mic'ers)

    We had a Parlor Grand in a studio I had for years. Unlike this situation we also had it in a vaulted living room with a sunken sitting area in front of a large stone fireplace. That room was 25X18X18 and the piano filled it perfectly. I know it was the only house in the neighborhood with an 8 banger wall plate for sends....

    The reason I ask about PZM's is we also had a 4' X 4' piece of plexiglass that we put under the piano and took a signal off of a PZM and generally used this as our ambient mic in conjunction with a spot room mic and we'd get the size from a stereo verb wet on these two signals as well as the close mics. For a while I had a PZM mounted on a plate up in the rafters above the piano but the partners wife didnt like the cable run in her formal living area.....we were lucky to get the patch panel!
     
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Hi Dave, fun story!

    I've never been a fan of PZM because they do an ugly with mids but then again, I've never mic'd a piano with them so that says a lot. But maybe I'm naive?

    I hate to go high in this room, it will surely revile the ceiling and box everything in with no mercy. I never added reverb on this sound bite, again just wanted it raw for your ears but may have to try that for fun and post it. Cardioids just outside the piano or the ribbons in Blumlein right over the hammers have been my fav so far.

    For classical its obvious this room simply doesn't cut it unless I faux it and even then, however, that could win some business which I'm hoping will happen. We have students coming here all the time. I want to do demo's for them, then, hopefully after hearing them, may want to have their work recorded really nicely, I can book time in the church.

    Thanks for all the help and suggestions! I hope you all don't get tired of me doing this a few times, I'm sure to post a few more of these.
     
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Location:
    currently Billings
    From a performer perspective, the most critical feature of the piano will be the touch of the keyboard itself. You will want a technician to at the very least address rebushing the keys, leveling the keys with new and firm felt punchings on the balance rail and front rail pins, and possibly placing new felt strip on the back under the keysticks. Obviously this does not obviate a full regulation/rebuild but the keys themselves are what most pianists remember from playing more than the sound itself.

    I think you will still want to move your mic's around to the other side of the piano even if you go the reverb route which is perfectly valid for a studio. When possible you will definitely prefer the church scenario though. In that case the SF24 in blumlein close to the piano and pointing down 40-50 degrees and a spaced dpa pair about eight to ten feet back/ten feet tall will be a great starting point. You want the room but you don't want too much of a church boominess.
     
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

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    currently Billings
    Oh yeah, for rock or jazz piano, PZM can definitely be a helpful option. It may not be a solo option but is great for a supporting role in grabbing the piano sound.
     
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Location:
    currently Billings
    Recording a vertical piano is an exersize in experimentation. You need to start by pulling it AWAY from any walls. This is really critical. Get it into the middle of the room or 1/3rd of the way at any rate.

    Now, some verticals sound best with the lid up, the knee board on, and the music desk in place. Others sound best with all of the above removed. You won't know which yours is probably until you try both. You're listening to the quality of the sound here and not the volume. Volume is irrelevant for recording vertical pianos. In either case you will probably want the lid propped up even if it isn't removed/thrown back. You will probably want to point one mic in from the left of the piano bench toward the low C hammer (C3). The other mic put on the right side of the piano bench pointing toward high C hammer (C5). This is only a starting point. If the kneeboard is removed then try placing one mic on the right edge of the piano case pointing at C3 hammer and the other at the left of the piano bench pointing at the harp center (low in the kneeboard area). You can try micing the back (soundboard) but that is usually "muddy" and too much hammer thump. Again experimentation is de rigeur. (did you like what I did there...a Jarhead using french...edumacated sez I)
     
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    John, the other side? I never thought about this. I'm micing with full stick out side but facing into it. I should go to the other side and go where ? The piano is in the corner which is the other side?. Maybe we should re adjust the room?

    Yes, we are considering a complete rebuild. Sending the hammers away and all done to new, strings etc.. What does this usually cost where you are?
     
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Virtual as in reverb or room simulators. Just thought I would clarify that in case someone wondered what I meant.
     
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Location:
    currently Billings
    I thought you micing up by the player. I simply meant around in the bow of the case. With lid removed you could try micing from the straight side or one on either side but I think coincident or near coincident is the way to go.

    A rebuild by a high quality tech is not cheap but likely less than a new U87. There is a fellow up there in your area-well it's a big place so area is relative. Dan Silverwood (Dead Link Removed) phone number 604.732.7863

    Dan is a fabulous old school piano craftsman that from what I know is very fair value for what he charges. Maybe he even has a better option for you than what you have. Never know.
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Nope, in the bow about 12" out, 17 back from the stick, 4' high and pointing into the harp about 35 degrees. Glad we got that cleared up :)

    The figure E in the DPA link was only in reference to your mention of that one time. I'm told the exact placement for this is critical but it does seem kind of unique. Maybe that would be good for some very subtle effect in and larger array.
     
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Thanks for the link on Dan!
     
  16. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Location:
    currently Billings
    For a non-live "studio" piano recording I always have mic's in the piano to add definition and power. If I could/can find a way to be visually invisible I would do it for live recording and especially chamber recordings too. In piano quintet concerts the piano is ALWAYS the weakest sonic link in the recording. IMO of course.
     
  17. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

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    Dec 10, 2001
    Location:
    Pacific NW
    I think with the limited height in the room that removing the top is gonna get all those nodes a -janglin...And you're gonna want the piano in the middle if possible. I you're serious about this room as a tracking room for recitals then its gonna be clouds and corners.....If you have a long wall without anything on it then traps and absorption alternated with diffusion. You certainly dont want dead unless you like the 70's rock piano sound.

    I really do suggest that with all the mics outside that you get something inside and VOILA! you've finally found a use for the U87ai!!! Move it around until it gets sweet.....dont worry, it will, and leave it there.
     
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Okay, you have my attention on the u87. Where do I put this again?
     
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

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    Dec 10, 2001
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    Pacific NW
    I always placed one at the C below middle C right below the dampers. (ie: slightly down string from the damper) Rotate in the basket for impact and phase. This is your starting point. All pianos are different. But with your front-end and with what you're trying achieve in your room , investigating this mic in this position will be eye-opening even if you dont use it. 87's were built for two things....vocalists and pianos.
     
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    BC, Canada
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    What pattern Dave?

    Also, are you doing this with the lid off?
     

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