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Rec_Eng 2nd January 2019 01:51 AM

Permanent Mic System For Piano
The owner of the studio I work out of is considering a permanent mic setup for his 1976 C7; something like the offerings from Earthworks and DPA. I’d imagine Schoeps may have something too? My off-the-cuff thought is I’d rather something from Schoeps, but honestly, I’ve never used any of these on piano, so what do I know?

Obviously, want something that’ll work great with the lid open or closed, and not something that’ll be in the way when miking with other mics! Any recommendations?

Drumsound 2nd January 2019 04:51 AM

I was able to try the DPA piano mic system and I thought they sounded nice. It was for a class, and not in production. They are nice sounding mics on these little magnetic bases so they could live in the piano, but still be moved around easily for different sessions.

DPA d:vote CORE 4099 Instrument Microphone Stereo System for Piano | Sweetwater

EvilRoy 2nd January 2019 04:56 AM

There was a thread here recently on how to record pianos at home. One recommendation that struck me was the use of lavaliere mics. Once read an article about a guy trying to achieve the best piano recording possible, he used PZMs on a plexiglass plate. Personally, I'm looking at a pair of Sennheiser MKS 8040s.

NathanBarley 2nd January 2019 06:58 AM

An economical and terrific sounding solution is a pair of dpa 4060 lavs with the magnetic mounts.

unphased 2nd January 2019 08:34 AM

Earthworks QTC line, with super clean preamps. I use a matched pair of QTC 40's. and have recorded piano with them. The recordings sound like you are there.

Timothy Powell 3rd January 2019 01:14 PM

I've had better results with the DPA Piano mic system than with the Earthworks rig for live recording.

Another option would be a pair of large diaphragm condenser mics with the Mirizio piano mount:

MIRIZIO MICROPHONE MOUNT – (microphones not included)

EleKtriKaz 3rd January 2019 07:04 PM

I’ve used the Earthworks piano mic system in the studio and was seriously impressed with how they sounded. The little mounts make them really easy to position and they’re pretty much hidden, which could be useful if you’re doing video.

deedeeyeah 3rd January 2019 08:17 PM

i often use two mics on manfrotto clamps and stick them inside the piano - i'm mostly choosing tlm170r or schoeps mk21, but got nice results with many other mics too (414, 460, 4007, 4011 etc.)

works pretty well, regardless of whether the piano is closed or open. i sometimes even use this approach for recording of solo piano and all sorts of classical music - needs some tweaking though...

Crazy4Jazz 3rd January 2019 08:50 PM

An important factor to consider is whether you will want to always record with a closed lid, open lid, half stick, close mic, "best seat in the house" mic setup, various stereo mic configurations etc. If all you want and will ever want is a close mic sound then systems like the dpa or the Earthworks seem like good options. Otherwise, two good mics on stands is the most flexible.

If cost is not an issue, get two Neumann U67 re-issues and you should be good to go. You can add a different preamp or two for different setups if that's your thing. Plus, the microphones will be useful on many other instruments if you so choose. You can leave them set up and they will be "permanent" if you like. I have a pair of Neumann KM183s in my piano. They are always there and always ready to go. They are "permanent". When I feel like recording something all I need to do is hit record.

Some people don't like those particular Neumanns. However, if you do like SDC's for piano, not to worry, there are similar style microphones from nearly every microphone manufacturer and nearly every price point that will give you good results.

Let me suggest that if you do decide to purchase two microphones, save some of the budget for good stands. Having good solid, sturdy stands that allow you to easily position the mics anyway you like will be a great help in getting the sound you want.

One other point, boundary mics and lavaliers, as far as I can tell are mostly used when isolation of the piano from either other instruments on the stage or in the studio is desired. For instance, some artists want to play piano and sing at the same time. This presents some challenged in set up and I suspect boundary mics help to get more sound without compromising the isolation. The problem, of course, is the space where the music stand is located. The space between the lid and the front of the piano. I have read about all sorts of improvised methods to dampen or close off that space. Foam with blankets, just blankets, pillows, whatever is handy and will fit without interfering with the functioning of the instrument.

Good luck.

Blaine Misner 3rd January 2019 09:52 PM


Originally Posted by Crazy4Jazz (Post 13718823)

Let me suggest that if you do decide to purchase two microphones, save some of the budget for good stands. Having good solid, sturdy stands that allow you to easily position the mics anyway you like will be a great help in getting the sound you want.

Good luck.

the perfect mic is nothing if you aren't able to position it. stands are not a "fun" purchase by any means, but i think high quality stands are supremely overlooked.

Swing 3rd January 2019 11:15 PM

Given several of the OPs stated objectives of use while lid is closed, permanent install, and unobtrusiveness to allow alternative micing it seems to me the main option is DPA. Countryman lavalier was even mentioned in another recent thread.

Last week I was looking at different Schoeps CCM 4P models for just this purpose as they have attenuated bass response for placement in close proximity. But while the Schoeps could perhaps be used (or not) with some of DPA's magnet mounts I figured the cost was not justified because I have other mics I like very much for piano even if they cannot be installed on a permanent basis.

So I reverted back to the DPA to leave in the piano "permanently" and will probably go that route once the dust settles here.

Rec_Eng 4th January 2019 07:06 AM

Thank you for all the feedback thus far, it’s all certainly helping!

And yes Swing is most definitely right where I just need a permanent stereo mic setup on the piano in the studio for anything where someone doesn’t have the time or doesn’t want to spend the time pulling out stands and mics and can open or close the lid as they need, and not get in the way when there is time and desire to pull out as many mics and stands as one might want. Budget is no consideration, but the best quality possible, given the parameters, is.

j.frad 4th January 2019 09:48 AM

I know you are aiming at the higher end of the spectrum but I have had great experience with the audix scx25 on piano.
Clear and dynamic, and they have a dedicated piano mount system that allows to close the lid.

JimmyTurbo 4th January 2019 10:39 AM


Originally Posted by NathanBarley (Post 13716217)
An economical and terrific sounding solution is a pair of dpa 4060 lavs with the magnetic mounts.

I use this for live mixing.
I work for 2 "neo-classical" acts that rely heavily on piano.
Works like a charm!

Swing 2nd February 2019 06:00 PM

@ Rec_Eng , just checking to see if you've made progress.

I'm curious for my own selfish reasons. Because I have mics I like for regular sessions, I only seek a very good solution for informal testing/recording. So not necessarily the best solution.

I've been looking into dpa. The 4099 (hypercardioid) seem a bit bright to me. I haven't heard the 4060 (omni) and I hope they'll be more even with better bass and lower mid response.

Does anyone have any experience with both the 4099 and the 4060 on piano and is willing to share their experience?

I am starting to believe in the previous mention of Earthworks by @ EleKtriKaz . The PM40 (omni), though I haven't heard them. Some years ago I looked into that solution (though maybe it was an earlier iteration of the PM40) but didn't drop the money. I kind of regret it now.

EDIT: Well maybe I don't regret. The 4060 could be positioned similarly to the Earthworks' positioning, especially with a number of magnet mounts, if not as easily or quickly adjustable which doesn't matter for a 'permanent' install. The self noise of both are about the same, 22dB for PM40 and 23dB for 4060, though the PM40 has an edge on max SPL, 148 vs 134dB (though on our piano we don't come close to those levels with the lid closed). And a dpa kit has other items offering flexibility for other uses (admittedly off topic here though).

Rec_Eng 2nd February 2019 07:22 PM

No decision made yet and honestly still haven’t looked too far into it all yet. It’ll probably happen in the next 2-3 months though!

Still, from the samples of the DPA 4099 system I’ve heard online, it sounds like to bottom drops out. My understanding is this was done on purpose to deal with proximity, but I don’t think I like it; at least not next to the Earthworks samples I’ve heard. So now I need to hear some samples of the 4060, as well as those Audix.

Leonard Mirizio 2nd February 2019 09:41 PM

Mirizio microphone mount with a pair of AKG 414’s is the best, hands down.

Swing 2nd February 2019 10:03 PM


Originally Posted by Leonard Mirizio (Post 13786289)
Mirizio microphone mount with a pair of AKG 414’s is the best, hands down.

Very nice! And welcome to GS!

Rec_Eng 2nd February 2019 10:29 PM

How’s that with the lid closed or open and not getting in the way when wanting to mic with different LD mics instead?

pentagon 3rd February 2019 12:55 AM

Use the omni DPA 4060 on a baby grand Yamaha. Magnetic mounts (far back for the bass and near the bend for the treble.) Tried the DPA 4099 but it didn't sound right for a more classical sound. Great isolation and lid up/down doesn't matter. This is a piano that can be dropped into record by the player at any time so was meant as a permanent mic setup. Piano sits in a "public" area so not inside a live room. It was important that it was flexible discreet micing (it's invisible) and there are cats that wander around this piano so we had to make sure there was nothing enticing when no one is around. The self-noise of those mics is kind of irrelevant in that open setting. Lid up, the DPAs are still near invisible (the cable holders are mounted to run the line out the left-side)
It's a good setup and cheap (even though they don't call it a piano setup like the 4099, all the mounts needed are included.) I also experimented with the grids and in the end liked the "no grid" option for that piano. (not officially endorsed by DPA, I believe)

Another piano, this one a Yamaha C7 has a pair of 414 mics on stands near the hammers and a Sontronics Apollo further away from the hammers (on a stand, blumlein.) Lid full stick. This is a permanent setup too but the lid obviously has to be open. Sits in the control room. This one had the Earthworks PianoMic system for a few years. Then that was changed to a Sennheiser MKH 8020 pair with some fancy mounts to hold them internally (can't remember who made those mounts but it allowed us to use no stands) and some PZM mics mounted under the lid for another option. I don't think the PZM mics were ever in use.

There's a third piano (Steinway) that is used as the live room piano but that doesn't have a permanent setup.

Swing 3rd February 2019 09:37 AM

@ pentagon , thanks for that. If you ever recall what mounts you used with the 8020 please post the info. I could test that out quickly before finding the 4060. Or test the 8020 alongside the 4060, which appeals to me because of the kit with boundary mounts which I could use on location so if they were close enough I'd go with the dpa.

pentagon 3rd February 2019 10:40 AM

I doubt I'll remember the mount. Maybe the description will jog someone else's memory of such a mount.
It was a gooseneck/19mm holder with a cushioned spring clamp on the other end that was strong enough and had a wide enough grasp to grab onto the edge of the piano. The 19mm diameter is a pretty standard size and anything that is usable by the 8040 or 8050 will work with the 8020. Also realize the mic is two pieces so the size can be reduced further since the XLR part of the body can be moved away from the microphone half of the body (with an appropriate cable run between)

This could be a nice "small" mount solution (though you'd still need a clamping device)
Cinela - Catalog - MINIX 8000: Miniature OSIX for sennheiser MKH8000 serie

Triad Orbit has some clamp mounts that look like they could work (though the overall size looks like they would be larger than what we used)

A big thing is the 8020 is much quieter than the 4060. But the 8020 is also larger and more visible. I doubt you could record in a closed-lid setup with the 8020 if that became necessary or was wanted.

(And you should hear the 8020 for yourself since, as mentioned, we did change out of them for the 414 and ribbons)

MIKEHARRIS 3rd February 2019 11:48 AM

The DPA 4060 is still available as a stereo package with mounts and xlr adaptors. SMK4060
Whereas the 4099 kit may be better for live...the 4060 is often preferred in studio use

Swing 3rd February 2019 11:55 AM

Thanks mucho again @ pentagon , the help is much appreciated. kfhkh I often use the 8020 as main pair for piano, always with fine results. But I've never tried inside. I'll look into this. Along those lines maybe a dpa 2006C (self noise of 16dB).

Thanks again for the info. I'll spend some time today looking into mounts etc.

Swing 3rd February 2019 11:58 AM

@ MIKEHARRIS yes, quite an appealing kit! Possibly with mounts for boundary layer, violin, etc.

James Lehmann 3rd February 2019 02:52 PM


Originally Posted by pentagon (Post 13786665)
Another piano, this one a Yamaha C7 has a pair of 414 mics on stands near the hammers.

Hey 'pentagon',

Would you mind sharing exactly which model and vintage of 414 you're using in this application?

There are so many iterations of this mic it's a bit confusing as to which one to look for! confoosed

I mean, can one just go out and buy a brand new pair of C414B-XLS and be sure you're getting what it says on the tin... or - to be more precise - what it said on the tin 30 years ago when this classic mic's reputation was forged?

XKAudio 3rd February 2019 02:59 PM

Mono rca/aea 44 in the bell could be a great option.
I find the ribbon mic gives a nice naturalness that can easily be overshot with the bright condenser mics.

There are so many ways to record a great sounding piano!

pentagon 3rd February 2019 09:49 PM


Originally Posted by James Lehmann (Post 13787554)
Hey 'pentagon',

Would you mind sharing exactly which model and vintage of 414 you're using in this application?

These are a pair of C414B-ULS

Swing 4th February 2019 09:49 AM

I am starting to think the best solution for @ Rec_Eng 's parameters is either the Sennheiser 8020 with MZL cables or, at higher cost, Schoeps CCM 2.

These are pretty nice mics to use under arguably compromised conditions. But it seems likely either would allow use with the lid closed. DPA 4006C seems a little large in comparison. Ditto with the lesser 2006C.

Of course, the DPA 4060 gets the job done and this is very likely where I will end up for a permanent install inside the piano (and for occasional use as boundary mics on location).

@ XKAudio I agree a ribbon just outside the piano can yield nice results. I sometimes used a 4038 to add some weight and smoothness to a pair of SDCs on piano, and now use a R44C for the same purpose when I go with that approach.