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Piano Mic Techniques???
Old 8th October 2002
  #1
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Question Piano Mic Techniques???

What are people doing when confronted with 9' concert grand piano's (or any type for that matter...). Mics, Placement, Phase issues...I have had a bit of luck with the basic XY techique with small cap condensors and also with spaced omnis. I would love to know what everybody else is trying. Lets assume to start that the piano is well tuned, and the talent has talent (also, I am tracking in a very dead room, and will be adding ambience)...Come one, come all!


chris
Old 8th October 2002
  #2
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Fibes's Avatar
 

I have two go to methods:

If I'm concerned with bleed from other musicians I go with the piano at 1/4 stick with a Neumann SM-2 in an X/Y configuration over the center brace angled with the shape of the strings. If I'm not as concerned I'll go 1/2 or full stick and raise the mic up. It's fast and usually yields good results.

The other method is a split mic technique that utilizes either a large or small condenser pair placed at opposite ends of the piano (front to back). One mic goes over the high strings and the other goes over the low strings at the back end. Sometimes I add a room mic out 5-6 feet that can sometimes be the only mic in a mono mode.

The SM-2 is the key...
Old 8th October 2002
  #3
Fixed axis stereo mic's rock!

Try a Royer SF12 ???

Old 8th October 2002
  #4
Gear Nut
 

I used to have access to a fantastic old AKG C-24 that worked great...

I'm hoping the SF-12 will make me smile the same way.

-Moze
Old 9th October 2002
  #5
jon
Capitol Studios Paris
 
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XY, spaced pair, or ambiant...depends on the context. U67s, C12s, M149s, C451s, KM84s, U87s have worked for me.

Just borrowed a Millenia STT-1 Origins dual topology mic pre again (thanks to Manu at 1001 Sons in Paris) and it was really nice on piano...using the valve circuit, especially.
Old 9th October 2002
  #6
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current favs with our Yamahar C7 are Earthworks QTC1s or M149s into DW Fearn/NSEQ2 or Millenia origins. I've had the lid off for the last 6 months or so and have beeen going about a foot off the strings above the upper frame member and above the crossed strings in the left hand 2-4' back from the hammers depending on the vibe of the tune.

For classical or acoustic jazz stuff with the lid on I like the QTC1s 10" apart just high enough to avoid the reflection from the lid and looking down into the piano from the curve w/HV-3, Earthworks or DW Fearn.

If I need something brighter and with less bleed I stuff a pair of Gefell UMT-70s in pretty low to the strings at 1/4 (recital) stick, season to taste...
Old 9th October 2002
  #7
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mixer's Avatar
 

for classical sound on a large grand i like 2 neuman u87s in figure 8 crossed at 90 degrees at a 45 degree angle over the center of the strings about 1 to 2ft up...sometimes i remove the piano lid and raise the mics even higher...not something i use every day but it does give a nice natural sound in a good live room.
Old 10th October 2002
  #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by mixer
for classical sound on a large grand i like 2 neuman u87s in figure 8 crossed at 90 degrees at a 45 degree angle over the center of the strings about 1 to 2ft up...sometimes i remove the piano lid and raise the mics even higher...not something i use every day but it does give a nice natural sound in a good live room.
If I only had a nice live room (and one more 87)...Everywhere I look there's CARPET!!!
Old 10th October 2002
  #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Konovaliv


If I only had a nice live room (and one more 87)...Everywhere I look there's CARPET!!!
try 2 cardiode condensers (sm81s or the like) in 90 degree coincedent pattern above the hammers about 1ft then take your
neuman and put it in omni and move it back from the piano send it to a seperate track..use a some reverb on that track and simulate a live room...let the mike placement do the pre delay and just use the verb for trails.....
Old 2nd August 2008
  #10
Gear interested
 

Bump. (using a random piano-micing thread, didn't wanna start a new one)

When the piano (in my case, a Bösendorfer 290 imperial) is in a small room (too small for the sound), you'd have to keep the lid half-open right? Where would you put a stereo pair when it's like that?

Also I've had trouble when mixing down a stereo mic'ed piano, (2 schoeps small diaphragm condensers, one near hammers, one near the tail, both same side of the piano) in mono. In stereo it sounds real big and spacious, but in mono all that remains is some room sound. I tried fooling around with phase/time but that didn't work either. Any suggestions? Does anyone ever place a mono mic in addition to the stereo pair to fix this?
Old 2nd August 2008
  #11
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Old 3rd August 2008
  #12
When I'm looking to maximize the piano and minimize the room, I go with a pair of LDC's hovering a few inches off the ribs of the harp where the strings are strung. Technically, I guess the strings do make the sound, when they're struck by the hammers, but the music is the harp vibrating-- I mean, how do you separate the two, I don't know, but anyways this technique always seems to work and work well. The "treble" rib is the next-to-shortest, up near the keyboard, and the "bass" rib I mic way down at the shallow end of the box

http://www.4shared.com/file/57614180...21_Flying.html

(These are GXL 2200's, finest cheap $60 Chinese mics ever made, and the chatter at the end, leading into the next song, is through a Sennheiser 835.)
Old 4th August 2008
  #13
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Smile

9' Concert Grand for Classical

Always omnis - MKH 20, MKH 8040 or Neumann KM-D series are what I use.

Normally spaced 17 to 20cm apart - the distance from the piano will vary as to the room and the music being played.

Mostly used MKH 20 for the last 20 years, my last set of four piano CDs was done with KM 183-D and the next will be with the MKH 8020s.
Old 4th August 2008
  #14
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Sorry to disagree, but ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
9' Concert Grand for Classical
Always omnis - MKH 20, MKH 8040 or Neumann KM-D series are what I use.
Not necessarily. Repertoire, dynamics and room acoustics sometimes demands the most important frequency range in a concert classical piano, ie the midrange, is picked up with more focus, using directional mics.

Quote:
Normally spaced 17 to 20cm apart - the distance from the piano will vary as to the room and the music being played.
Again, spacing with omnis this close will produce a very narrow image. This spacing is OK for Cardioids in ORTF, but omnis are better utilised in a concert hall at about 700-800mm spacing.
Old 4th August 2008
  #15
I've seen a range of approaches... and they ALL work.
Old 4th August 2008
  #16
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Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
Sorry to disagree, but ...



Not necessarily. Repertoire, dynamics and room acoustics sometimes demands the most important frequency range in a concert classical piano, ie the midrange, is picked up with more focus, using directional mics.



Again, spacing with omnis this close will produce a very narrow image. This spacing is OK for Cardioids in ORTF, but omnis are better utilised in a concert hall at about 700-800mm spacing.
This is your approach - I just stated mine which has worked well for many CDs.



Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
I've seen a range of approaches... and they ALL work.
Agreed - there are many methods to mic. a grand piano as there are engineers doing it - probably more.

At the end of the day you use your ears and decide what is best for you.
Old 4th August 2008
  #17
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John,

I'm looking for omnis to complement my QTC1's but with lower noise.

MKH8020 and KM183 are on the top of the list and I'm also looking at Röde and AKG.

I have not heard anything with the 8020 yet. Know of any clips?

Heard some classic stuff (or was it organ..hmm big hall sound anyway) with KM183 and MKH80/800 and the 183 blew the MKH away. True omni and that diffuse field response I guess.

Do you think I could get a similar response from MKH8020 as KM183 by fiddling with position, angles and EQ?

Really want that low noise from the 8020.


/Peter
Old 4th August 2008
  #18
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I got your 8020 right here!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
I'm looking for omnis to complement my QTC1's but with lower noise.
Change "complement" to "replace". That's what I did, and it was definitely a step up.

Here's some Brahms through the 8020. 80cm A/B, array about 14' out from instrument, height just above top of lid on full stick. Very nice ~250 seat recital hall with tasty acoustics. My approach is to emphasize the warmth of the instrument and capture the essence of the space. Not everyone's approach, I know, but it's what I (and my clients) like.
Attached Files

BrahmsOp119No3.mp3 (5.84 MB, 2535 views)

Old 5th August 2008
  #19
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hughesmr View Post
Change "complement" to "replace". That's what I did, and it was definitely a step up.

Here's some Brahms through the 8020. 80cm A/B, array about 14' out from instrument, height just above top of lid on full stick. Very nice ~250 seat recital hall with tasty acoustics. My approach is to emphasize the warmth of the instrument and capture the essence of the space. Not everyone's approach, I know, but it's what I (and my clients) like.
Did you use dynamic compression of any sort on this recording? Or am I just hearing some artifact of the mp3 compression?

John
Old 5th August 2008
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newyorker42 View Post
Did you use dynamic compression of any sort on this recording? Or am I just hearing some artifact of the mp3 compression?
MP3 artifacts ... the original recording was done in 5.6 DSD on the MR-1000. No processing other than level adjustment in post. Pre was DAV BG1.
Old 5th August 2008
  #21
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Michael,

very nice allthough a little warm for my taste. OTOH I don't haved the slightest idea about the live sound in the hall.

Did you use the mics pointing at the piano?

I added a touch of EQ up high and got a more open sound on my HD600.


I will likely buy a pair but the QTC1 stays partly becasue they work well at a closer distance on various instruments but I also need a mic for loudspeaker and room measurements.

Thanks for posting!

edit: I forgot to mention/ask, are you aware of the noise at 19s into the track?


/Peter
Old 5th August 2008
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumblefuzz View Post

Also I've had trouble when mixing down a stereo mic'ed piano, (2 schoeps small diaphragm condensers, one near hammers, one near the tail, both same side of the piano) in mono. In stereo it sounds real big and spacious, but in mono all that remains is some room sound. I tried fooling around with phase/time but that didn't work either. Any suggestions? Does anyone ever place a mono mic in addition to the stereo pair to fix this?
Does the stereo remain in headphones as well as thru speakers?

Those caspules, omni or cardioid?

I don't have any experience with pianorecordings but I can easily imgaing phase problems (which leads to cancellation) when close micing and the mics at great distance from eachother, especially using omnis.



/Peter
Old 5th August 2008
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
Michael,

very nice allthough a little warm for my taste. OTOH I don't haved the slightest idea about the live sound in the hall.

Did you use the mics pointing at the piano?

I added a touch of EQ up high and got a more open sound on my HD600.


I will likely buy a pair but the QTC1 stays partly becasue they work well at a closer distance on various instruments but I also need a mic for loudspeaker and room measurements.

Thanks for posting!

edit: I forgot to mention/ask, are you aware of the noise at 19s into the track?
Mics pointed slightly downward (maybe 5-10deg) and were aiming at the middle of the inside of the lid. I usually record in this room using Schoeps MK2S (diffuse field omni) but like the 8020 as a foil. Perhaps some APE balls for the 8020 will help in that regard. The sound as is is a bit more enveloping to my ears, but there's nothing scientific to back up that statement.

Yeah, that noise.... I made this mp3 quickly yesterday off the pre-mastered 44/24 file for posting to GS before I remembered about it.

On rare occasion when using the MR1000, I get this little quantization noise. I think it happens in the conversion process from DSD to PCM using Audiogate. I wonder if anyone else has this issue....
Old 12th August 2008
  #24
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MKH8020 ordered and I'll get back when I have done some tracking with them.

Michael, when you wrote "using 8020 as a foil" what do you mean with that?


/Peter
Old 12th August 2008
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
MKH8020 ordered and I'll get back when I have done some tracking with them.

Michael, when you wrote "using 8020 as a foil" what do you mean with that?


/Peter
I just meant as a different flavor of SDC omni .... 8020 has no HF lift to think of (unlike MK2S, my other omni of choice), more of a nearfield omni by design, but certainly useful in the diffuse field in certain apps.

Cheers!
Old 12th August 2008
  #26
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by hughesmr View Post
.... 8020 has no HF lift to think of (unlike MK2S, my other omni of choice), more of a nearfield omni by design, but certainly useful in the diffuse field in certain apps.
The filter module for the MKH 8000 series will come out soon - this has a 10dB pad plus bass roll-off and treble-boost (diffuse field) switches.

It will screw between the mic. head and the XLR.
Old 12th August 2008
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hughesmr View Post
I just meant as a different flavor of SDC omni .... 8020 has no HF lift to think of (unlike MK2S, my other omni of choice), more of a nearfield omni by design, but certainly useful in the diffuse field in certain apps.

Cheers!
Thanks!

I assumed that was the case but I thought I'd better ask. :-)

Have you tried to use 8020 at some distance and give it some EQ to mimick a diffuse field mic?

My hope with the 8020 is that the low distortion (or so they say) and low noise will be a basis to work from so to speak. And I intend to learn how to EQ it for different situations. Hope it will work out the way I like it to do.

I was also looking at KM183 but I decided to start with MKH8020.


/Peter
Old 13th August 2008
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiop View Post
Thanks!
Have you tried to use 8020 at some distance and give it some EQ to mimick a diffuse field mic?
No, I can't say that I have ... for those cases where I felt I needed the "lift", I've reached for the 2S. Others may be in a better position to say how the MKH mics respond to some EQ.
Old 13th August 2008
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
The filter module for the MKH 8000 series will come out soon - this has a 10dB pad plus bass roll-off and treble-boost (diffuse field) switches.

It will screw between the mic. head and the XLR.
Interesting, but I wonder if it's a passive or active solution?


/Peter
Old 27th August 2008
  #30
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Our clients have had success with both the Audix SCX25 and the Earthworks Piano Mic system
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