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Thoughts on Piano double tracking
Old 25th October 2014
  #1
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Thread Starter
Thoughts on Piano double tracking

So I use addictive keys a lot and I'm a big fan of double tracking rhythmic parts in a mix. I was wondering how unconventional it would be to hard pan two different mono mics (one front mic and one back mic) with an upright piano, replicating that iconic technique used on 99% of electric guitar fueled music. Bearing in mind it is a pop track that I'm considering trying this on so just about anything goes here with piano based on the arrangement.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you heard it on a track before? Any tips in getting good separation between the L and R in this situation? Or anything else you want to add?

cheers.
Old 25th October 2014
  #2
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Are you asking about using 2 mics or are you asking about 2 different "takes" of the piano part?
Old 25th October 2014
  #3
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My philosophy is that whenever it is quicker to just try it, than it is to argue about it, you should just try it.


most double-tracked guitars are performed VERY closely

If you did that, it might work in a similar way, but keep in mind the piano goes much lower into the bass range than a guitar. Doubled guitars are popular and common. Doubled bass parts are not.

if the parts are very different, IMO, the sound probably needs be very different just as you might have a clean and a distorted guitar part on a recording.


I have done double-piano stuff for a blues recording. The pianos were recorded in stereo and one was panned from left to center and the other was panned from center to right. I put the low end of each piano on the "outside" as I felt avoiding overlapping left-hand bass parts was more important than preserving 'players perspective' for both keyboards.

Fortunately, the performers were sensitive to this. Well one of them was, the other was deceased.
Old 25th October 2014
  #4
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Thread Starter
I don't have the luxury of two different takes as I'm using addictive keys (not got the room size or the piano to record unfortunately) unless i was to do a lot of arduous midi tweaking with two instances of AK.

As for your philosophy Joeq, I can't disagree, however I was away from the studio at the time of posting so was looking on some opinions of this before i get the chance to try it out. Thanks for your response though, was insightful!
Old 25th October 2014
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fealow View Post
I don't have the luxury of two different takes as I'm using addictive keys
does this mean your 'two pianos' is really just one piano printed twice and panned wide? This will probably not result in the 'doubling' effect you are referring to when you talk about the iconic guitar technique. It won't even sound stereo. At best you will get "big mono"

the size and thickness of doubling comes from the differences in the two performances. But as I said earlier, the performances need to be as closely matched as humanly possible.

the distinction between "humanly possible" and a perfectly "copied" track is what doubling is all about. It's a fine line. If the performances are are merely copied, they don't really sound like anything except louder. If they are not very tightly performed they will sound messy and sloppy.
Old 25th October 2014
  #6
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Double tracking is 2 different takes. This is very different from using 2 mics for a stereo image. People use 2 mics (often more) for piano all the time.
Old 25th October 2014
  #7
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also if "instances" of addictive keys is the limiting factor, you could always render the performance as audio and do a Second Take.
Old 26th October 2014
  #8
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Thread Starter
Don't get me wrong, i understand that i cant take the same performance and hard pan to get doubling. I'm talking about the same take recorded with two different mono mics, one tube mic and one ribbon mic, one behind the piano and one in front of the piano. Yes that would be a stereo image, but due to the tonal qualities and slight time differences between the mics this should still result in some level of the doubling effect no? I know you can double mic a guitar cabinet in such a way and get a doubling effect, so the real question is can it be done with piano as well without just getting a standard stereo image. Sorry for any confusion, I know what I'm on about in my head, just conveying it in such a subjective art/profession is always difficult.

However I did achieve the effect I was looking for by splitting the right and left hand onto separate instances of AK using a front XY pair on each to put the left and right opposite each other and floor pzm's on both to add a little depth to the center and bridge the two sides. The effect is fairly unnatural but none the less pleasing while leaving space for lead instruments and a vocal.
Old 26th October 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fealow View Post
Yes that would be a stereo image, but due to the tonal qualities and slight time differences between the mics this should still result in some level of the doubling effect no?
I would say the term "doubling" has a specific meaning of two (more or less) matched performances. Stereo, or multi-miking is not "doubling" as the term is commonly used. At least not by me.

Making two copies of the same performance might be called doubling if at least one of the copies is strongly manipulated. Time or pitch modulated, for example. The "modulation" part is critical, because the ear becomes accustomed to a static difference. A straight time-delay, eq or other unchanging difference tends to blend in after even a few seconds. An effect that is changing "rubs" against the original and never rests. That's what makes it sound 'doubled'. As if another person was playing the same part and being only partly successful in matching it. Hence the name "chorus" effect for example.


Quote:
I know you can double mic a guitar cabinet in such a way and get a doubling effect, so the real question is can it be done with piano as well without just getting a standard stereo image.
Of course, multi-miking of sources is common on many instruments. I generally use a close and far mic on guitar overdubs. Often a dynamic and a ribbon right on the grill. In and out kick mics, bridge and neck mics on acoustic guitars, f-hole and "finger" mic on acoustic bass. None of those are intended as "stereo" even though it is totally possible they will end up
panned full left and full right.

If the signals don't have too much overlap, they can indeed leave a "space" in the center when panned out. OTOH, often such signals are often simply panned to the same spot, and just used as elements in a 'blend' - for tonal control. 40% inside kick and 60% outside kick.

If you are happy with the results, that is all that matters.

I am a little confused about what you are doing, you seem not to be actually setting up mics in front or back of an actual piano, you are selecting virtual mic options from a preset list in a virtual piano. Is that correct? I guess it depends on what you want, but it strikes me you could get some very far out effects if you wanted.
Old 26th October 2014
  #10
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Thread Starter
Quote:
I am a little confused about what you are doing, you seem not to be actually setting up mics in front or back of an actual piano, you are selecting virtual mic options from a preset list in a virtual piano. Is that correct? I guess it depends on what you want, but it strikes me you could get some very far out effects if you wanted.
Have you used addictive keys before? All though it is a virtual instrument the mic selections don't just emulate the mic and position of it, choosing another mic uses an entirely different set of samples recorded with that mic/s. So it is as if I have several actual mics to pick and choose from without being in the recording room. And yeah you can get some very interesting effects, I think you'd find the image I currently have to be worth a listen. anyway, I don't think theres much more to add to this topic now so thanks for your advice and info guys!
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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An old thread but no real answers here but I have the same question and I need some help. I heard two songs and asked myself how do they get those very wide pianos that seem not to be in the middle. I tried to get the same results with widening tools, reverb, mono verb oposite panned, delays ( Haas, pitched, etc.) I didnt succeed. The closest I came was by trying to double track the pianos.

2 examples: The Chili Peppers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0oIoR9mLwc piano at: 0:53
and: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGmJZWsiVog

Do you think this is indeed double tracking panned hard left and right? Or how do I get those wide pianos?
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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I think it sounded close though I didnt know if it was same as wide. And I didnt test it with a full arrangement and both piano examples seem to be heavy equed or filtered or compressed. I didnt do that during my test. Since I cant find find anything topic related on the web and there were no real answers in this old thread I asked myself if double tracking pianos for wideness is a totally uncommon thing.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bizarre Hands View Post
...I asked myself if double tracking pianos for wideness is a totally uncommon thing.
Double tracking anything for width is very common. Keep experimenting and you'll make progress.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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I checked it again. It could be a mono piano hard panned with a delay of 12ms to the opposite side as well. Maybe the delay must be as loud or even louder than the original track. With both example songs it was hard for me to guess from which side the piano is coming. Maybe that is why I thought it was double tracked. So if the delay is loud enough it could be the same effect and it is wide. My delay test was mono compatible as well...
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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The Chili Peppers track sounds like almost exactly like Soundtoys Crystalizer set to the doubling preset. It doesn't sound particularly wide to me, but it does have a bit of chorusing.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Just for fun, here's what two piano players playing the same part sounded like in the studio in 1964, mixed to mono. Part begins at 00:34.

Old 1 week ago
  #18
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The widest stereo image you can get is copy/paste with one side having inverted polarity.

When you fold down to mono, it'll disappear. Two mics won't sound like a double, and won't be wide, it'll sound like...two mics.

But, an interesting idea would be to take the ribbon, copy/paste, pan hard left and right, invert the right and you'll get a big ol piano that's super-wide. Leave the other mic on and center for when you fold down to mono.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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I havent used crystalizer for widening before. Good tip. But I didnt get the result with the "Dubbler" or "Great Doubler" presets.
That Dionne Warwick mix is interesting - doubletracked piano and the stereo field structure in general with the side panned bass...

And that is what I like about the two song examples - it isnt about getting the widest mix possible. I like how the piano gets out of the way of everything and leaves so much room in the middle.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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I have to experiment with inverting the polarity. Maybe that can do the trick by canceling out some mid frequencies.
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