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Great room, great piano, but.... carpet. Modular Synthesizers
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Great room, great piano, but.... carpet.

Hello people,

I wanted to ask some advice, to see if any of you have had experience in this situation.

There’s a great sounding room I’d like to record in, with a beautiful Bluthner concert grand. It would make an incredible recording space, except that the floor is carpeted.

The room sounds great and records well in spite of this, and the piano actually sounds very good in the room as is, but i hear it’s missing something without having that hard floor reflection from under and around the instrument.

I am looking for suggestions of surfaces to put under the instrument to simulate a hard wood floor or hard surface, and wondering if the pros among you have any suggestions.

I’m thinking things like a big piece of plywood, or a laminate pieced-together dance floor, something along those lines, but am wondering if there are any solutions that I’m not thinking of that would do a better job.

It would be great if it worked with a small string ensemble on top of it as well, which seems like a plus for something like a dance floor, but a negative for plywood.

Thanks for any advice you can offer!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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I'm presuming this needs to be something transportable and temporary, so it can be brought in and removed as necessary, ideally by just one or a few people ?

It depends where on the frequency spectrum you want the most 'life' and reflectivity: at the treble or bass end, or across it as much as possible ?

It sounds like the ceiling and walls are playing their part ok...you're just wanting to make the immediate under-piano environment a bit more lively ?

How about a roll or two of kitchen floor (or hallway) vinyl, ideally the glossier and more polished/shiny the better ? You may be able to buy offcuts , in either squares or rolls, from a vinyl supply place

If for temporary use, it doesn't need to lie perfectly flat, you can gaffa tape any foot-traffic edges to the floor or existing carpet....and you'll likely roll the piano on top of it anyway, to help keep it in place. If the vinyl's not very thick it might tend to absorb bass, but reflect mids and highs quite well ?

I'm expecting it might be cheaper than plywood or floorboards, and a roll of it would be more easily transported too ? Try tap dancing on it, to gauge how well it reflects sound. Just a thought, could be a cheap option if you have time to check alternate sources in your town...and maybe vinyl floor layers could also tip you off to removal jobs they have upcoming, where old gets replaced by new in a commercial kitchen, care facility or school etc.

You'd do the removal for them, saving them labour of dumping or recycling costs...and you'll probably get it free (and likely very flat also, if it can be lifted without damage ?) !
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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tourtelot's Avatar
I think your idea of a few sheets of 3/4" plywood is a really good one. It won't entirely fix the room, of course, but it will sure help with the piano.

Or as you also suggested, rent the appropriate sized dance floor from a local party company if you don't need the ply for another project.

Great idea.

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
There's always this rather poetically rustic technique, employed by Morten Lindberg of 2L (see attached image). Additional pictures here:
Vinyl and Pure Audio Blu-ray: LIVING (2L-092-SABD) Jan Gunnar Hoff

While this is clearly addressing a somewhat different problem than what you mentioned, I wonder if it might be worthwhile to experiment with something other than a flat reflecting surface, particularly directly underneath the piano...
Attached Thumbnails
Great room, great piano, but.... carpet.-2l-092_recording-session-jgh-09.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukedamrosch View Post
There's always this rather poetically rustic technique, employed by Morten Lindberg of 2L (see attached image). Additional pictures here:
Vinyl and Pure Audio Blu-ray: LIVING (2L-092-SABD) Jan Gunnar Hoff

While this is clearly addressing a somewhat different problem than what you mentioned, I wonder if it might be worthwhile to experiment with something other than a flat reflecting surface, particularly directly underneath the piano...
Looks like David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" Log Lady has just made a visit ! Are they meant to be reflectors..or diffusors ? Absorbers or bass traps..or all of the above...or else he really dislikes the piano, and this is just prep-work for the funeral pyre ?
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Looks like David Lynch's Log Lady has made a visit ! Are they meant to be reflectors..or diffusors ? Absorbers or bass traps..or all of the above...or else he really dislikes the piano, and this is just prep-work for the funeral pyre ?
My presumption was that they are being used as diffusors to eliminate an unwanted floor reflection while allowing more of the sound to propagate into the space than would be afforded by an absorber of some kind in the same position. If this is indeed a misinterpretation, I'd be curious to know what function (other than aesthetic) they are serving.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukedamrosch View Post
My presumption was that they are being used as diffusors to eliminate an unwanted floor reflection while allowing more of the sound to propagate into the space than would be afforded by an absorber of some kind in the same position. If this is indeed a misinterpretation, I'd be curious to know what function (other than aesthetic) they are serving.
I think you're on the right track ie too much native reflection from the tiled floor, so the logs scatter randomly, rather than pure absorption and simple deadening.

An intriguing micro-environment for the mics...and maybe it stops the close floor reflections from masking the longer room/ceiling contributions, so you become more aware of the latter ?

I don't think it would help in Kevin's situation, too much of a good thing, but perhaps a warning not to aim for too much floor reflection, if the room's already giving it back ?

Last edited by studer58; 1 week ago at 06:21 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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Plush's Avatar
Probably the place you mention is convenient to use. Otherwise why go there since it is a carpeted acoustic?

Since you say it sounds good already, maybe just record there and add reverb and some EQ to counteract the absorption of sound. Besides, there's not a lot of useable definitive sound coming from the bottom of a piano. Besides, piano sound goes up, not down into the carpet.

Adding plywood or other is a gamble and not controllable.

You've been reading too many accounts of Decca and their plywood fixes.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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If all you need is floor flatness it seems like you could use something much lighter than 3/4" plywood. Foamcore pieces, 1/4" plywood pieces etc? Also, as that pic with the firewood scattered under the piano illustrates: be careful what you wish for re: extra reflections off the floor!
Old 6 days ago
  #10
I’m asking because the instrument doesn’t sound the same as it would with a hard wood surface under it.

The room sounds really wonderful, even with carpet. Many concert halls have carpet and still sound nice. They also have a wooden stage that generates early reflections. I am looking for a way to simulate a hard floor so that I can make better piano recordings there than a carpeted floor beneath the instrument allows, if possible.

Thank you for the helpful suggestions I’ve received so far! I like the rustic option, aesthetically anyways.
Old 6 days ago
  #11
I've not tried it, but I'm wondering if some marley dance flooring might be useful. Questions to consider: How plush is the carpet? How much might a laminate flex under the weight of the piano? There's a source for rental in philly: Floor Rentals | Stagestep

A couple plexi drum shields on the floor in front of the piano might also do the trick.
Old 6 days ago
  #12
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didier.brest's Avatar
 

Sound going down from the piano sound board has opposite phase with respect to sound going up. Combination of both to mics close to the piano generates comb filtering. A carpet under the piano for sound absorption or diffusers like on the 2L picture (see post from lukedamrosch) may be beneficial. Note that the 2L diffusers are located in the floor reflection area for sound going down from the sound board and incoming to the mics. Covering the carpet, in this area at least, with plane hard material does not seem to me a good idea.
Old 6 days ago
  #13
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You could probably achieve something similar to the log art-installation by getting a few boxes of old books of various thicknesses and sizes: encyclopedias, novels, coffee table books etc and placing them in various configurations to emulate the surface area and random heights of the logs collection: face down, but opened like a a log cabin, on their ends and opened, several piled high etc...all sorts of different configurations, facing different directions.

I reckon 40-60 or so books, novels, text books etc would do the job. If you don't have them at home, do the rounds of local garage sales on a Sat morning and you'll get boxes of them, all you need for $10 or less !
Old 6 days ago
  #14
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Some thoughts... the acoustic properties of plywood are not ideal; by the nature of its construction, it is very 'dead' wood, not always suitable for acoustic treatment. The sound coming off the bottom of a grand piano is not only out of phase with the top, and it also tends to be strongly LF, which can be problematic if the floor is at all resonant. Carpet, packing blankets, or even the firewood pictured above can tame LF resonance, sometimes beneficially. Have you tried removing the lid to get more 'bloom' from the piano? I think this may be more productive than trying to bring forth the sounds from under the piano. YMMV.
Old 6 days ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
Have you tried removing the lid to get more 'bloom' from the piano? I think this may be more productive than trying to bring forth the sounds from under the piano. YMMV.
And I wonder if the lid 'stick' in the photo above hasn't been elongated purposely anyway..it seems to be an aluminium telescopic foot of some sort, with several extension elements...perhaps made precisely for this purpose ?

The opening angle of the lid does seem 10-15 degrees higher than the usual aperture allowed by the wooden stick, so maybe they've twigged to Jim's idea above.... and already anticipated the needs/benefits of a longer lid stick ?

Removing the lid altogether can have merits, in terms of opening up the sound a lot more to the room...but it does also necessitate a more overhead mic placement strategy to compensate for the absence of "lid throw"
Old 6 days ago
  #16
How about a couple of these SONIC DIFFUSERS - Natural Wood - (2FT x 2FT) | Reverb
or you could just get a 4 by 8 sheet of Baltic Birch Plywood and have someone cut it in half lengthwise and put some hinges on it.

There are no voids in Baltic Birch Plywood so it mimics a real wood floor much better than normal plywood. On caveat it is HEAVY
Old 5 days ago
  #17
Never tried with piano, but I've used plywood with other instruments in carpeted studios with success.

I think you'd need a fairly sizeable sheet (or a couple of sheets) to accomplish this; and I feel like you'd be better off placing it between the mic's and the piano rather than under the piano. That's just an intuitive thing - there's no real basis for it other than my gut.

But I've certainly done this with cello and acoustic guitar with them sitting right on it. Of course, that's a bit more of a close mic situation.
Old 5 days ago
  #18
0VU
Gear Addict
 

I've used sheets of plywood before under pianos (or more usually around as I'm normally trying to reduce the floor reflection directly between piano and mics) pianos or strewn about an auditorium or upholstered/carpeted church to modify the acoustics. I've also tried carrying around and using sections of laminated/engineered wood flooring/modular stage flooring and even vinyl rolls but preferred the effect of bits of raw unfinished plywood. The shiny/hard surfaces of the others seemed to produce an unpleasant brightness compared to bare ply. However, some years ago I was lent to try and subsequently bought a number of 'wooden rugs'.

These are, as their name suggests, area rug-type floor mats, available in different sizes and finishes, which are made of linked slats or interlinked tiles of hardwood/bamboo/similar.

Like a fabric/carpet rug, they're flexible, so roll up and can be popped into tubes for easy transport/storage and they simply roll out like carpets to cover whatever you need. Either to get some brightness into over-carpeted/over-upholstered rooms or to drape over nearby flat objects or church pews or seating where they can be currved over several pews/rows of chairs/whatever in an undulating shape to break up problematic reflections off any immovable close flat hard surfaces. (e.g. I used regularly to record sessions with a small wind ensemble in a church which had a lovely acoustic for the job but had some solidly bolted down pews which caused some nasty reflections into the main mics - we tried absorbing them but that sounded dull - wood rugsdraped over the pews either side of the mics fixed it very nicely).

The 'rugs' are available in a wide range of styles, sizes and prices from places ranging from high end designer interior shops to Walmart and are a lot easier and lighter to lug about than 8ft sheets of ply.

A few examples:





Old 5 days ago
  #19
Lives for gear
4x8x3/4 plywood weighs 50+ pounds per sheet and requires a full size truck or van to move. Surely something to try only as a last ditch resort?
Old 5 days ago
  #20
I was doing a recording in a carpeted living room. We were also video taping it. We needed some fill light on the guitar and the performer so we usually carry some of this cut up in 6 foot rolls https://www.homedepot.com/p/Reflecti...6100/202851859 because it is light to carry and does a nice job of reflecting light back up when laid on the carpeting. I also noted that it did a nice job of slightly brightening up the acoustic guitar and giving it more space. FWIW
Old 5 days ago
  #21
Lives for gear
That's a good lighting tip. Thanks.
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