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rumleymusic
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#1
23rd March 2009
Old 23rd March 2009
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Talking Boundary Mic Options

I've been looking into getting a pair of these and wanted to get some opinions about different brands. This comes about from my dissatisfaction from the sound I get while recording solo recitals and concerto competitions. Using a spaced omni pair or coincident pair makes the soloist sound great, but the piano is in a different time zone (mostly due to the accompanist wanting the piano on the short stick or closed.)

Here is what I am looking at, and I wanted some feedback from users.

Crown PZM (of course)
Beyer Opus 51
AKG C 542 BL
Maybe something by AT

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

Daniel
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23rd March 2009
Old 23rd March 2009
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Talking

The boundary mics that I use are the Neumann GFM 132 - but these are probably the most expensive at almost £2,000 each!

A lower cost alternative for a grand piano is to stick a pair of high quality tie mics (EG: Sennheiser MKE 1 or 2 or DPA) to the lid - these will then become boundary mics with the lid itself as the boundary.

You can also use omni mics on a stand with the end of the mic. facing and almost touching the open piano lid - these would then be a PZM.
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23rd March 2009
Old 23rd March 2009
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I've enjoyed using the Crown PCC160 for live SR work, can't speak for recording. A pair taped to the lid of a piano sounds pretty decent. I also have used them for musical theatre to capture dance steps and vocal chorus.
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23rd March 2009
Old 23rd March 2009
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I have the DPA SMK4060 kit which is based on a pair of the 4060-BM miniature microphones... getting a lot of attention with regards to classical recording as of late.

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23rd March 2009
Old 23rd March 2009
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DPA

Another vote for the DPA miniatures. The 4060 can run into trouble with high levels, contrary to what you might expect from the specs. The 4061 is safer if you are going to close mic piano or drums. You can safely remove the HF boosting grille, replacing it with the foam windshield. This gives a more flat response. I have recorded the bells of St. Colemans Carillon in Cobh using these mics taped to the stone walls inside the bell tower.

DD

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23rd March 2009
Old 23rd March 2009
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Quote:
A lower cost alternative for a grand piano is to stick a pair of high quality tie mics (EG: Sennheiser MKE 1 or 2 or DPA) to the lid - these will then become boundary mics with the lid itself as the boundary.
Thanks for the replies,

I was thinking about that, I have heard the DPA's mentioned and I think they sound great, not to mention they are very versitile, however, I was looking for a boundary because I could also use them on the floor of theatre and operas productions and they would not get destroyed via size 11 shoe.
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23rd March 2009
Old 23rd March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bishopthomas View Post
I've enjoyed using the Crown PCC160 for live SR work, can't speak for recording. A pair taped to the lid of a piano sounds pretty decent. I also have used them for musical theatre to capture dance steps and vocal chorus.
How do you set up the 160s? One of the other engineers at the club where I work SCREWED a pair of PCCs to the inside lid of our Yamaha baby grand at the edge of the lid, facing the player, and they ONLY sound usable with the lid closed - open it sucks badly.

I would have TAPED (not drilled and crewed) them to the edge of the lid facng in toward the hinges.... How do you liek to use them?

In our situation, we have $600 worth of mics mounted in an unusable location. What a waste, not to mention desecrating a fine instrument...

L
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23rd March 2009
Old 23rd March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
I would have TAPED (not drilled and crewed) them to the edge of the lid facng in toward the hinges.... How do you liek to use them?
I did this once, many years ago, with a pair of modified Tandy PZMs.

One fell off, onto the strings, in the middle of the live performance.

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23rd March 2009
Old 23rd March 2009
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Now that I take a closer look at the SMK 4061, it sounds like a better option. It does include two protective boundary mounts. Though I wanted to ask tsvisser if he had the problems DanDan was talking about on piano (I probably wound't use them for Drums). It seems that the sensitivity of the 4060 (20mV/Pa) is closer to the larger compact and standard microphone (30-36mV/Pa). I am concerned if I use these mics at a distance, the 6mV/Pa of the 4061 might not be sensitive enough and require quite a lot of gain.

Thoughts?
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23rd March 2009
Old 23rd March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
How do you set up the 160s? One of the other engineers at the club where I work SCREWED a pair of PCCs to the inside lid of our Yamaha baby grand at the edge of the lid, facing the player, and they ONLY sound usable with the lid closed - open it sucks badly.
I taped them to the lid inside the piano facing away from the player (I believe). You're right, that only works with the lid closed or on short stick. With it open you'll need real microphones.
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23rd March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
Now that I take a closer look at the SMK 4061, it sounds like a better option. It does include two protective boundary mounts. Though I wanted to ask tsvisser if he had the problems DanDan was talking about on piano (I probably wound't use them for Drums). It seems that the sensitivity of the 4060 (20mV/Pa) is closer to the larger compact and standard microphone (30-36mV/Pa). I am concerned if I use these mics at a distance, the 6mV/Pa of the 4061 might not be sensitive enough and require quite a lot of gain.

Thoughts?
I have never used the 4060 on piano, so don't know from first hand experience that they are too sensitive, but my guess is that they probably would be. I made the mistake of using 4060's on the floor about 4 feet away from a jazz kit (with the boundary mounts) when I had about 10 minutes to set up, and yes, they clipped. Last time that happened... but the limiters on my recorder actually made the signal somewhat civilized and combined with my overheads, the track ended up "ok". (sort of a non-removable drum channel strip effect) Next time I get a chance, I'll see if a simple PAD fixes the 4060's output problem or if it is the sensitivity of the capsule itself that would demand a 4061 in dynamic applications. It would be worth shooting a question off to DPA to get advice on that front. They have always been very responsive to me regarding any application questions that I had.
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24th March 2009
Old 24th March 2009
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When I got into trouble with the piano I had them only 1 centimetre from the sound board in a live Jazz situation. The clipping was soft enough.The 4060 seems to clip inexplicably in the strangest situations, e.g. taped to an acoustic guitar or bouzouki. The 4061 is only a little noisier than the 4060, 3dB I think, but with a very useful extension in headroom. I have two of each. If I could do it all over again I would go with 4061's. All of them are remarkably robust. It was quite damp and windy up in that Bell Tower!
DD
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24th March 2009
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I see, since I want it to be versitile, 4061 seems like a safer bet. My preamps are very quiet and I can always boost the level.

Thanks for the help everyone.

Daniel
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27th March 2009
Old 27th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
I did this once, many years ago, with a pair of modified Tandy PZMs.

One fell off, onto the strings, in the middle of the live performance.

Believe it or not I still have six of those Radio Shack (Tandy) PZMs which we also modified to except an XLR and phantom power.
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27th March 2009
Old 27th March 2009
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I was just thinking about those mics the other day and how Radio Shack discontinues everything worthwhile that they have ever carried. I bought a digital temperature controlled soldering station not too long ago. It was being discontinued and I found the last one in the store (on the bottom shelf pushed to the back). I paid around $35, works every bit as well as a Weller. Sorry for the off-topic Rat Shack rant.
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27th March 2009
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I think Rich Mays uploaded a sample of 4060 inside a grand piano, it may have been jazz. It was one of the best closed miked piano sounds I have heard.
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27th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
I've been looking into getting a pair of these and wanted to get some opinions about different brands. This comes about from my dissatisfaction from the sound I get while recording solo recitals and concerto competitions. Using a spaced omni pair or coincident pair makes the soloist sound great, but the piano is in a different time zone (mostly due to the accompanist wanting the piano on the short stick or closed.)

Here is what I am looking at, and I wanted some feedback from users.

Crown PZM (of course)
Beyer Opus 51
AKG C 542 BL
Maybe something by AT

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

Daniel
If you don't have the coin for the DPA's see if yes could find a couple of Shure sm91's. I've had pretty good results with the 91's in a piano with a closed lid.

Peace
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27th March 2009
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i have only fool around with a couple of examples of things miced with PZMs, and both times i was seriously disappointed with what i heard. thin and empty, and nothing i could do to them in post seemed to help much. perhaps some of you have gotten reasonable results from them, but they are about the last thing i would spend money on.

OTOH, i had a pair of DPA 4061s that were useful on almost anything i tried them on, including some use as a spaced pair for a string quartet about 4 feet out from the group - pretty damn good. i never tried taping them to an instrument as i dont think that ever sounds good for callsical or chamber type work, but they were very good on piano at several distances, from just a few inches above the strings to a couple feet out from the lip. so, i would go with the 4061s, and try the boundary kit if you must, but f it doesnt work out, you still have a couple of very useful mics.
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rumleymusic
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27th March 2009
Old 27th March 2009
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Quote:
I think Rich Mays uploaded a sample of 4060 inside a grand piano, it may have been jazz. It was one of the best closed miked piano sounds I have heard.
I have their Micing a Grand Piano CD/SACD I got a NAMM last year and it has the samples from many of their mics, including the 4061. Quite impressive. The range of placement options and different sounds that can be achieved, and the sound quality, all while being nearly invisible....damn

For around $950 they are not cheap, but for a DPA, it is quite a good deal.

Quote:
It would be worth shooting a question off to DPA to get advice on that front.
I did just that, and they seem to agree that the 4060 might be too sensitive for the inside of many pianos, and said their 4061 is the "go-to" microphone in the mini collection.
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28th March 2009
Old 28th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsvisser View Post
I have the DPA SMK4060 kit which is based on a pair of the 4060-BM miniature microphones... getting a lot of attention with regards to classical recording as of late.

DPA Microphones :: Products

Yes! There is an adapter in the kit to fit the mic and make it a boundary mic.
Sticking the IMK4060's to the lit or soundboard gives a great result too.
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Quote:
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What kind of a dumbass question is this?



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#21
29th March 2009
Old 29th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman View Post
i have only fool around with a couple of examples of things miced with PZMs, and both times i was seriously disappointed with what i heard. thin and empty, and nothing i could do to them in post seemed to help much.
You're probably aware of this already, but just in case: PZMs will sound thin (lacking bass) if the "boundary" they're on isn't big enough. Floors, walls, ceilings should be sufficient.
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