Recording Small Jazz Groups: Call for advice!

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by pianojazz, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. pianojazz

    pianojazz Guest

    Hi. I'm absolutely going nuts trying to decide on the next set of items to enhance my simple home studio for recording solo piano, piano trios and so on. I do mostly acoustic jazz and live group recording.

    Current environment:

    A lovely Steinway baby grand :)
    A big room with high ceilings

    a pair of AT 4033s
    a Sennheiser 421
    an sm57 and an audix OM2

    Logic 7.0.1
    Digi001 and PT LE 6.x
    Mackie 1202

    I've never been happy with the sound I get from the 4033s on piano -- too boxy, though that may have something to do with the Digi001, not sure. They do sound great on sax and voice though. The 421 is great on upright bass, I've found. It's pretty good on piano too, but still not ideal.

    I find the pres on the 1202 a bit gritty sounded, compared to the thinner sounding 001 pres. Either way, I'm not thrilled with either.

    So, here's the question:

    Given a budget of around $1500, what change would you make?


    a pair of 4050s
    a pair of Oktava mk012s
    a pair of SP C4s

    Audio Interface:

    Obviously if I get the fireface or the traveler, I limit my mic options and get fewer mic pres than with a firepod (are they really that bad??).

    Perhaps, I should just get a decent pre like the FMR RNP or a small grace and leave the rest alone?

    Or perhaps, I should get a killer matched pair mic like two 414s or the Earthworks QTC30 and leave the rest alone?

    Thanks for your thoughts. I'm going nuts with all the options.
  2. backinthelab

    backinthelab Guest

    As a Fireface owner, my first suggestion would be to get one. However, this may be overkill for you of you're only tracking a few instruments. I'd go with the Firepod and a nice condensor or two.
  3. pmolsonmus

    pmolsonmus Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    I'll chime in with a vote for the 414s or 2 Rode K2s for about the same price.

    If you have a nice room, a nice piano - set those suckers in omni and fly -

    I'd lean toward the Rodes because I think you would want a nice pre for the AKGs.

    My .02
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    I have a client who brings his bands' tracking to my place. He tracks his Yamaha grand (I believe it is a C6) in his home. He uses an Audix SCX25 with the piano-mount bar through a Grace 101. Unbelievable sound from a single point. Of course, he has had the time to experiment, and the Yamaha is probably brighter than the Steinway, but still, I was floored. He told me that he's been playing with using a 421 through another Grace for the lower registers, but that has required more trial-and-error getting the 2 mics to work together. He has said that the 421 can help reinforce the low end, and that the SCX25 was able to get the sound he wanted faster than monkeying around with a pair of DPA's he borrowed from his church.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    The SCX25s are GREAT piano mics. Some of my favorite for jazz or pops style choral works! Just listen to any Diana Krall CD - her keys were recorded with the SCX-25 piano kit. (I'm not just biased b/c I'm a dealer either - I became a dealer after hearing these and the Micros!)

    As for the preamps/interface - either interface should do fine. They are both quite well proved interfaces and both of their preamps have been used with good acclaim. You won't get the world for $1500, but you can get a nice start!

  6. pianojazz

    pianojazz Guest

    Thanks for the responses thusfar. Very helpful stuff.

    Are you referring to the RNP and the Grace?

    Didn't know about the SCX25. I've been very fond of my low-end Audix mic. Do you think if I got a SCX25 and paired it up with either my 421 or 4033 and ran both into one of these preamps, I'd be in good shape or would it sound weird to blend mics like that?

    For piano, how do the SD mics do? I read great things about the Josephson SD matched pair. A pair of those on the piano w/ the RNP would fit the budget too. Or for that matter the Oktava MK-012s even?

    I've also read good things about the ADK TLs as a cheaper alternative to the more expensive multi-patterns like 4050 or 414s. Then again, maybe that's overkill for what I'm doing. And for those prices, I'd only be able to get one and an RNP or two and live with my Digi001.

    Clearly there are too many choices! I wish I could just test them in my environment. I'm sure I'd make a choice on the spot! Sigh....
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I was mainly referring to the FireFace or Firepod... Both the Grace and the RNP are nice pre's. I'm much warmer towards the Grace and think it's one of the holy grails of preamps, but yep - they're both good.

    You might want to try a DAV Broadhurst Gardens too. The price is right. I just ordered a BG2 and I'll likely write a review on it once it arrives.

    This will truthfully be one of the first pieces of gear I will have purchased without actually trying first. Sometimes, you gotta take a plunge and "go for it."

    As for the blending of the mics, it's all in the approach. If you're going to do straight piano, no a pair (matched or pretty close) would be best.

    If you're going with trios, you'll find that you need more mics.

    If you're interested in the Audix stuff, contact me off-line. I'm not a "paid" advertiser here, so I'm not comfortable dispensing info re: the Audix line.

    In any case, Audix SCX 25 piano kit with the DAV should be a killer stereo set! I'll keep everyone posted on the DAV.

  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Get 3 Crown PZMs to put inside the lid of your piano. Try 3 across in left center right or, 2 over the hammers, high and low and one at the bottom at the long end. Use real gaffers tape, not duct tape or better still use the blue 3M masking tape. Keep the lid closed. You'll love it.

    Remy Ann David
  9. pianojazz

    pianojazz Guest


    I ordered an FMR RNP (Really Nice Preamp) and a Firepod. They both arrived today. I set them up in minutes. I literally plugged the Firepod into my Mac (hot, no rebooting) and upon booting up Logic saw it in the Audio Driver list. The RNP was just as simple.

    I haven't even gotten around to testing the pres on the Firepod because I'm so busy playing with the FMR. I'll post some wav files of the A/B comparisons soon though.

    The FMR/Firepod pair compared to a raw Digi001 is immensely better. Things sound richer and warmer. The pair of 4033s sound like much nicer mics now, which is a relief.

    I ordered the RNP from Atlas and the Firepod from Musician's Friend. MF had a special that included a FREE 80GB FW HD and an MLX mic. Pretty cool!

    More soon....

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