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Direct comparison of AB overhead and tail end miking of piano
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Lives for gear
Direct comparison of AB overhead and tail end miking of piano

These samples might illuminate the differences obtainable when miking a piano in a large concert hall.... using both overhead (ie above typical conductor location) and Decca style "well back from tail end of piano" miking placements.

This piece was recorded with both mic pairs simultaneously, so you can directly compare the results.

Of course that's not the only variable at play, and I'll provide a few more specs below...it's not strictly apples vs apples, as the AB spacing, distances and mic types vary too ! It's done more to give a subjective comparison between the 2 mic placements.

I'd argue that the overhead pair are probably located too high/far away from the piano....you get a very light, airy and wide image...with some bass solidity missing.

Alternatively, the tail placement gives more coherence between the mics, but with less width and air....floor reflections (amongst other factors) would account for some of the difference.

Overhead pair: KM183 on 50cm AB bar about 4 m high and 3.5 m in front of piano.
Tail pair : Line Audio OM-1 on 35 cm AB bar about 1.6m high and about 2.2 m away from tail-end leg of piano

Audio is roughly matched for equal loudness, and no processing apart from conversion from wav to mp3.

Each pair to its own file, plus an additional one where both pairs are combined at equal levels (no delay adjustment or alignment...just simple addition)....purely out of of interest to see if there was comb filtering or other negative interaction...or indeed, whether there was any benefit in doing so !

I probably should have just added this post to a related thread of a few years ago: Offset spaced tail pair on grand piano?
...but a bit late now....

Any comments, suggestions, preferences ?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Head
 

Is it possible the OM1 pair is reversed L and R? Treble seems to be on the R.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
Nice sounds for both, at least on my Sennheiser HD1 on-ears.

I think both pairs could be closer to the instrument for a bit more detail. They err on the side of roominess, and as a result the tail pair sounds small (though quite pleasant) and the AB pair sounds almost like a pair of room mics in the big moments. They are both very pleasant to listen to, though!

Not that we should stick to dogma in our setups, but it’s worth pointing out that Decca spec has the mics a couple feet closer and a wee bit higher that your setup here, and typically using omnis with a boosted top end like MK2H or 2S, or before the ‘80s the km83.

When I’ve seen the tail pair as part of a larger setup at Teldex or EBS, they are usually quite close and also often lower, though I’m not really up to speed on how those setups work, balance-wise.

I don’t care for the blend because I think the pairs occupy too similar a perspective, and end up fighting over stereo image instead of being additive to each other. Would recommend using distinctly closer- and father- sounding pairs for more useful blending, instead of 2 medium-far-range mains, as we’ve heard here.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Lives for gear
Good summary Kevin...yes I've typically used the tail pair around 8-9" spacing, and often a bit closer.

The overhead pair are fixed in location, so it's well worth going for closer (with the tail pair) to provide the blend contrast (with the OH pair) that you mention.

That would likely give a dryer, darker and less spread closer pair image, and by the time it's 'fanned out' and hit the OH pair there's a widening, air and more enveloping texture...which could blend better with the closer pair.

Alternatively...I should try to simply nail the sound with just a single pair...optimally placed !
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by ithinknot View Post
Is it possible the OM1 pair is reversed L and R? Treble seems to be on the R.
What's more likely is simply that the tail pair is parallel to the keyboard (and thus 90* rotated with respect to the more typical overhead AB bar, which is parallel to the long dimension of the piano, and the front of the stage)

If the latter OH type of orientation is able to give treble left/bass right, then the 90* rotation is probably messing with that L/R balance significantly....although that should be so for all Decca tail recordings....and I'm not sure if that's the case typically ?

Kevin, is this your experience with Decca tail-type recording....does it retain the stereo bass/treble spread that more conventional (front-facing) miking typically has ?

I often find that, especially with an AB omni pair, that there's a bit more 'crossing over' of bass vs mid and treble information ...that it's not strictly all HF left and all LF right, like you get in a string orchestra for example.

This tends to be more noticeable with good headphones....I suspect speaker reproduction adds its own layer of surface reflections and cross-feed into the bargain.

Just for the record, I like that crossing over phenomenon ...it adds complexity and intrigue to the listening experience !! You'll find it in the 1st sample ("OH only") in the first post, which has the AB bar oriented parallel with the front face of the piano.

Last edited by studer58; 2 weeks ago at 05:54 AM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Tommy-boy's Avatar
 

both are nice. I like the overhead pair a little bit more than the tail pair. Seems fuller and more spacious.

Blend is OK too. Is odd to be mixing two totally different stereo perspectives.

Tom
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
Stradivariusz's Avatar
No comment, just that I could happily listen to a hole CD with either which sound.
Probably the combination of engineer's skills, hall sound and not to forget, the pianist who has something in his/her touch what I personally like.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 
didier.brest's Avatar
 

Thank you for these very nice samples !

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
I'd argue that the overhead pair are probably located too high/far away from the piano....you get a very light, airy and wide image...with some bass solidity missing.
I don't hear any bass missing from KM 183. Actually spectral analysis shows higher level below 100 Hz in KM 183 sample than in OM1 one. Bass missing feeling may come from KM 183 sample being brighter, likely because of KM 183 HF bump.

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Alternatively, the tail placement gives more coherence between the mics, but with less width and air....floor reflections (amongst other factors) would account for some of the difference.
Does floor reflection cause OM1 transients sounding less steep ?

Last edited by didier.brest; 2 weeks ago at 12:25 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 
brhoward's Avatar
 

I prefer the smoothness of the OM1 in tail position.
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