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Recording Bright Schimmel Piano Condenser Microphones
Old 8th October 2015
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigL View Post
Thanks for this helpful assessment.
Have used those kinds of traps in a studio built some years ago and found they do, in fact, control the environment. Still have some of them and will try them out this winter -- recording starts again in November.
BTW, returned the PM40 Earthworks system after trying it out even though the sound was close. The reason was distortion I was getting with the modest preamps used at that time. Have now upgraded to Millenia and AEA pres and believe they would be successful. Earthworks is an excellent company.
The higher voltage DPAs are liked by many -- do you find these appreciably better than the 4006s?
Earthworks is an excellent company - I LOVE their new piano bar mic! Although, the single mics never matched up to the high end DPA's for me. This was 15 years ago when I did a shoot out - so Earthworks could have improved.

The 130V DPA's allow me never to have be concerned about the volumes exceeding my mic's capability. There is also an inky black silence since the mics are so quiet.
Old 8th October 2015
  #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Victoria View Post
As you are a Steinway Model D owner, I'm interested to know if you have had the opportunity to use the Hammersmith by Soniccouture, and your thoughts about it if you have.
It sounds like a Steinway D. Stellar. I may pick it up.

I wish there were people out there making closer to real piano actions like the Kurzweil Midiboard. I have literally been through all the great controllers.
Old 8th October 2015
  #63
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigL View Post
BTW, returned the PM40 Earthworks system after trying it out even though the sound was close. The reason was distortion I was getting with the modest preamps used at that time.
Earthworks fixed this in their latest circuit board change - a few months ago. It's pretty nice now.
Old 8th October 2015
  #64
Gear Maniac
 
Rachel Victoria's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
It sounds like a Steinway D. Stellar. I may pick it up.

I wish there were people out there making closer to real piano actions like the Kurzweil Midiboard. I have literally been through all the great controllers.
I recently played a refurbished Kurzeil midiboard. I thought it had a great, fast action, and it also clearly benefits from it's wooden action. I noticed you don't get the clunky plastic sounds on key release, often associated with cheap Fatar plastic and metal actions.

However, although the midiboard felt really nice to me, especially for an older controller, it didn't feel like an authentic piano action at all. It feels a lot more like an organ type action to me, and I have a real Wurlizter 200a, and a Rhodes for reference.
I think it would make a really nice controller for fast organ music, just not for piano past intermediate level pieces.

It is nicely weighted, but did not feel graded to me; the keys at the higher end seemed quite a lot too heavily weighted compared to a real grand piano. It is also lacking any kind of escapement mechanism, and when i played forte or above, it started to feel quite a lot more 'spongey' than most good quality modern piano controllers.

Overall it is a great action though, especially if you are playing fast organ music.
Old 8th October 2015
  #65
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by piano View Post
Earthworks is an excellent company - I LOVE their new piano bar mic! Although, the single mics never matched up to the high end DPA's for me. This was 15 years ago when I did a shoot out - so Earthworks could have improved.

The 130V DPA's allow me never to have be concerned about the volumes exceeding my mic's capability. There is also an inky black silence since the mics are so quiet.
Agree that the PM40 has tremendous strengths. Since it is now possible to build a world class recording station next to your piano bench that is completely quiet, having a permanent mic bar in the piano makes recording much simpler and convenient. I caught the PM40s at the wrong time - while they were transitioning over to the new card and while I had insufficient pres. May very well try it again and am upgrading my older QTC1s to QTC40s.
Your phrase "inky black silence" is exactly the result desired. Have noted that using 192k D/A conversion also produces this quality and am finding that, somehow, recording with 192k also seems to be more "inky black" (as illogical as this might seem).
Regardless, it is a bitter irony that all of these technologies (along with continued improvement in piano construction) are taking place at a time when the instrument is facing death knells from taste, economic, and media forces.
Old 11th October 2015
  #66
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigL View Post
Agree that the PM40 has tremendous strengths. Since it is now possible to build a world class recording station next to your piano bench that is completely quiet, having a permanent mic bar in the piano makes recording much simpler and convenient. I caught the PM40s at the wrong time - while they were transitioning over to the new card and while I had insufficient pres. May very well try it again and am upgrading my older QTC1s to QTC40s.
Your phrase "inky black silence" is exactly the result desired. Have noted that using 192k D/A conversion also produces this quality and am finding that, somehow, recording with 192k also seems to be more "inky black" (as illogical as this might seem).
Regardless, it is a bitter irony that all of these technologies (along with continued improvement in piano construction) are taking place at a time when the instrument is facing death knells from taste, economic, and media forces.
The Soundpure crew did a spectacular youtube demonstrating the Earthworks PM40. You pare that with a Bricasti and boom! - instant and consistent high end piano sound. Or you can futz with mics for several hours..... which may or may not yield better results. If the room sucks your tone (and lets face it, most do - unless you spend the money treating it) the PM40 is a godsend.

Love the DPA's. Also love the Mechanics Hall presets in Altiverb and on the Bricasti.
Old 11th October 2015
  #67
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigL View Post
Have been experimenting for several months with mic placement -- trying out the standard methods (Blumlein works well with the ribbons directly over the middle of the soundboard) and other, more radical approaches. The attached photo (if this works -- first try) shows ribbon mics at the front of the instrument, over the tuning pins and angled towards the center of the soundboard with belly mics and an ambient mic adding other touches. To my ears, this is the best sound so far. Have shown this photo to several studio gurus and their responses have ranged from "interesting" to "can't work." I have only my ears to trust. Keep in mind that one advantage of placing the ribbons here is that they are unencumbered by reflections from the lid -- thus they are cleaner and respond better to dense textures.
I own the MK2, MK4, R84, and 4006A, and I believe you should be getting everything you need from the R84s in this case. For brighter instruments, I tend to prefer the R84 most often out of these, but you must be mindful of the backside and rear reflections. Otherwise, you can easily muck up the signal. How high is your ceiling, and is it treated? Untreated and too close to the back of the mic will likely cause "smearing", even if it's the same distance as the mic is to the source.

IME, about triple the distance or more provides the best results, or placing gobos behind the mic. In my case, I'll often place three or four columns of Cylinder Traps behind it. Also, don't forget to try miking from the opposite side of the mic, as it's a different response curve that may suit the instrument better.
Old 11th October 2015
  #68
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aural Endeavors View Post
I own the MK2, MK4, R84, and 4006A, and I believe you should be getting everything you need from the R84s in this case. For brighter instruments, I tend to prefer the R84 most often out of these, but you must be mindful of the backside and rear reflections. Otherwise, you can easily muck up the signal. How high is your ceiling, and is it treated? Untreated and too close to the back of the mic will likely cause "smearing", even if it's the same distance as the mic is to the source.

IME, about triple the distance or more provides the best results, or placing gobos behind the mic. In my case, I'll often place three or four columns of Cylinder Traps behind it. Also, don't forget to try miking from the opposite side of the mic, as it's a different response curve that may suit the instrument better.
Appreciate this valuable assessment, AE, this is exactly the kind of informed response that you and GearSlutz are to be praised for.
The respondent "piano" above likes the PM40 mic bar very much and I tried it with the caveats noted BUT felt that the R84s were a step up when I compared them to the PM40 takes. Mostly because of the realistic sound as opposed to an extremely "dry" sound from the PM40s that still did not, somehow, capture the inner nature of the timbre (this was the question that started this thread).
The room has 11 foot ceilings (thankfully) and sounds very pleasant when listening to the instrument live. Since it is not square in dimensions, but more five-sided with halls and a kitchen coming off of it, there are no standing waves and plenty of space to let the sound develop. Like your idea of gobos behind the mics and will be trying out a series of corner, wall, and free standing room treatments next month.
The brief example, hastily recorded, suffers from phase problems that I only recognized yesterday. There are two sets of mics facing each other and when you reverse the phase of either set, the sound becomes much clearer and you can hear much more high frequency detail (and also note more clearly that the piano will benefit from its upcoming tuning). Samplitude has some facilities here and I have looked at phase correction software on the Internet but it seems oriented towards stereo wave examples only and not towards phase correlation of original, multi-channel tracks. Samplitude will adjust tracks 180 degrees but if you have mics placed at 90 degrees to each other, wondering if that also would benefit from that "partial" phase adjustment.
As regards the opposite side of the room have you tried the (older) PZM mics in this usage? In that past have mounted these on sheets of plexiglass and found they provide very accurate responses.
FIND your comments about comparing the R84s with the DPA 4006s extremely telling. The Internet pundits praise the 4006s uniformly and I am just about the pull the trigger on either those, the Schoeps Mk2s, or the Josephson C617s. These are to be placed over the hammer strike line with the R84s used as a Decca tails and two Neumann large diaphragms for the lid extension line back and up some 6 feet. The thread above describes how we arrived at this configuration.
Thanks again, AE.
Old 12th October 2015
  #69
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigL View Post
As regards the opposite side of the room have you tried the (older) PZM mics in this usage? In that past have mounted these on sheets of plexiglass and found they provide very accurate responses.
Yes, but not in a LONG time. In the early 80s, I played in a studio on a number of occasions that had a pair of the older Crown PZMs mounted to the [large] control room window and on the opposite wall of the main room, which was quite large. They were mostly used for room mics (obviously) on piano and drums, and they always sounded great. On one album I performed drums on, we didn't use overheads or a hi hat mic; just those PZMs and all the cymbals sounded surprisingly balanced and more present than you would think. Note that the room played a large role in this, however.

You can do the same thing with traditional mics, but placement can be difficult. The advantage, of course, is that any phase cancelling reflections from the wall don't exist due to the very close distance from the capsule and the wall.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigL View Post
FIND your comments about comparing the R84s with the DPA 4006s extremely telling. The Internet pundits praise the 4006s uniformly and I am just about the pull the trigger on either those, the Schoeps Mk2s, or the Josephson C617s. These are to be placed over the hammer strike line with the R84s used as a Decca tails and two Neumann large diaphragms for the lid extension line back and up some 6 feet. The thread above describes how we arrived at this configuration.
Thanks again, AE.
I've found the general consensus of the 4006 as being highly neutral to the point of being "sterile". Others have mentioned a sometimes objectionable "sheen" not heard from the Schoeps. I disagree with the former, but can relate the latter in some cases: It depends on how you use them. They are definitely brighter and less warm than the Schoeps in all cases I've used them. However, sometimes that's just the ticket. In your case with the brightness described with the Schimmel, I'd definitely recommend the Schoeps (CMC5 or CMC6 + MK2) over the DPA.

The difference I hear in the Schoeps compared to the R84s: R84s are obviously darker and roll off the high end a bit (can be a very good thing), are a little more mid forward overall and are a bit drier sounding (especially if the back wall or ceiling is relatively far away), have an upper bass presence around 150 Hz or so. Some people say the bass is "woofy," but I don't hear that at all. The transient response is better than you'd think, especially in the mids; the MK2s are faster in the highs to my ears, but sometimes that's not wanted or needed. Basically the R84s have that vintage smooth sound, for lack of a better term. Also, they're obviously more picky about preamps [R84]. The RPQ is perfect. I use the TRP and the Forssell SMP-2A with them.

I've never had the pleasure of using the Josephsons, so can't comment there.

Last edited by Aural Endeavors; 12th October 2015 at 01:34 AM.. Reason: Clarity
Old 12th October 2015
  #70
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aural Endeavors View Post
The difference I hear in the Schoeps compared to the R84s: R84s are obviously darker and roll off the high end a bit (can be a very good thing), are a little more mid forward overall and are a bit drier sounding (especially if the back wall or ceiling is relatively far away), have an upper bass presence around 150 Hz or so. Some people say the bass is "woofy," but I don't hear that at all. The transient response is better than you'd think, especially in the mids; the MK2s are faster in the highs to my ears, but sometimes that's not wanted or needed. Basically the R84s have that vintage smooth sound, for lack of a better term. Also, they're obviously more picky about preamps [R84]. The RPQ is perfect. I use the TRP and the Forssell SMP-2A with them.

I've never had the pleasure of using the Josephsons, so can't comment there.
Yes, use the R84s with a RPQ and this pre is designed to lever the highs upwards in correction for the downward slope of the mic. R84s are always described as "accepting high boost well" and their actual response can be very bright depending upon how much lift you apply -- because the content IS there even though it starts sloping off fairly early. If you listen carefully to the source while adjusting the lift you can get as much treble as needed to approximate the original. And they are not particularly slow on the transients. Have noted a small boost in the lower frequencies but this is actually a plus here.
BUT the issue I am trying to resolve is the middle or "steady state" portion of the timbre. This is very unusual with a Schimmel and cannot get any of the mics tried so far to capture this portion of the tone. Am trying out the Schoeps and Josephson mics in several weeks and am hoping that they can, somehow, reveal this part of the timbre.
If Aural Endeavors is located in Phoenix would enjoy talking with you and your company. Let me know. Will soon be back in the valley.
Old 12th October 2015
  #71
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DarkSky Media's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigL View Post
BUT the issue I am trying to resolve is the middle or "steady state" portion of the timbre. This is very unusual with a Schimmel and cannot get any of the mics tried so far to capture this portion of the tone...
I have been in a comparable situation and have tried Schoeps CMC/Mk21, AEA R84 and Royer SF-1 mics with some success.

Given the issues you describe, I'd suggest you try running a pair of Royer ribbons through the RPQ. You will find that the mids have a little more focus and depth (for want of a better word, tightness) than with the R84.

The Schoeps Mk21 are great in the right space, if fidelity is the aim, however if the source is overly bright or hard sounding, they *will* capture that, whereas the ribbons can be more forgiving.
Old 12th October 2015
  #72
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkSky Media View Post
I have been in a comparable situation and have tried Schoeps CMC/Mk21, AEA R84 and Royer SF-1 mics with some success.

Given the issues you describe, I'd suggest you try running a pair of Royer ribbons through the RPQ. You will find that the mids have a little more focus and depth (for want of a better word, tightness) than with the R84.

The Schoeps Mk21 are great in the right space, if fidelity is the aim, however if the source is overly bright or hard sounding, they *will* capture that, whereas the ribbons can be more forgiving.
Thanks, DarkSky.
Am actually looking to capture the brightness of the instrument thoroughly as there is no attempt to recreate a "traditional" or Steinway-like piano sound. Instead, am trying to capture the inner depth of the timbre that sounds different live than in any recording made so far. As noted earlier in this thread, will be auditioning Schoeps and Josephsons mics soon and will then know if they open up the timbral picture that has so far stayed inscrutable.
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