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Which SDC stereo pair for recording piano?
Old 8th June 2006
  #1
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Damn it, Debbie's Avatar
 

Talking Which SDC stereo pair for recording piano?

This is my first post...no longer a virgin! I'm hoping that you guys can help a girl out. heh I need to purchase a pair of SDCs so that I can record an upright piano. My budget is around $300 for the pair. I'm looking for feedback if you've used any of these on a piano:

Studio Projects C4
MXL 603S or MXL 604
ADK SC-T
ADK SC-1 or 2
Superlux SMK-H8K

and....to be different:
Kel Audio HM-1
CAD M179
(ever used these on a piano?)

By the way, I have spent countless hours researching how to record an upright. I know it's going to be hard and I will have to do a lot of experimenting to get it right. We've already tried Neve preamps with AKG 414s and I wasn't crazy about it at all. I think SDCs are going to be the way to go from what I've read.

Let's refrain from the almighty preamp discussion and room acoustics. All things the same, which pair would you use?

Thanks in advance!!
Deb
Old 8th June 2006
  #2
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flail19's Avatar
 

Welcome! FWIW, at that price range I believe the 603's are the best sounding. But, I am extremely disappointed in the "matching" of the stereo pair. That being said, I went on Harvey Gerst's recommendation and bought a pair. For 200 bones, that wasn't a bad investment, they sound great on piano. They are a bit bright (there is a boost at - 10k). Hope that helps.
Old 8th June 2006
  #3
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What kind of a sound are you going for? Pop music? Classical with an upright?

Honestly, I would suggest getting 2 of the Behringer measurement microphones, and using those.

I've used those mics for acoustic guitar before, and was pleasantly suprised. Small diaphram omni mic. I've heard comparisons between those and the Earthworks omnis. I personally don't care if they sound like the Earthworks. Everytime that I've whipped them out, they've given me more than I could have hoped for, for $50 a mic.

But, I have not used them on piano. I like omni mics on piano though, and that's why I thought of them.
Old 8th June 2006
  #4
To answer your question: I don't know.

The bestest results I've ever gotten with an upright was with a completely spontaneous improvised approach, where we set two LDCs behind the beast, in the chasm between the back of the upright and the wall, and then propped the top open and mounted two more LDCs about eight feet back and eight feet up in the air, behind the player, to catch the wash of the sound as it rolled out. Kind of a "stereo" idea in the back of everyone's mind. The room was open and friendly enough... it worked.

I think with any set of mics you could find a workable configuration, it would just take some time and alot of experimentation. And--careful what people tell you. Lot of real brainiacs around here... if you catch my drift..
Old 8th June 2006
  #5
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You may want to look at the Avenson pair... I've heard good things about them. I'd like to try a paiir soon.
Joshua
Old 8th June 2006
  #6
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Not a condenser but I have gotten very nice results with a pair of AKG D224 dynamics. We had them in the mic closet at school and I tried them on a whim one day and to my surprise they were exactly the sound I was looking for. Very nice sounding, but you may have to search a bit to find some.

Cheers,
-Mike
Old 8th June 2006
  #7
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warhead's Avatar
 

On that budget?

C4 pair. Pretty balanced sounding mic but you get omni capsules that can sound BIG with lots of low end. Versatile kit, it'll get the job done fine.

War
Old 8th June 2006
  #8
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Damn it, Debbie's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thumper
What kind of a sound are you going for? Pop music? Classical with an upright?

Honestly, I would suggest getting 2 of the Behringer measurement microphones, and using those.

I've used those mics for acoustic guitar before, and was pleasantly suprised. Small diaphram omni mic. I've heard comparisons between those and the Earthworks omnis. I personally don't care if they sound like the Earthworks. Everytime that I've whipped them out, they've given me more than I could have hoped for, for $50 a mic.

But, I have not used them on piano. I like omni mics on piano though, and that's why I thought of them.
Hi Thumper,
Grown-up pop. Think Carol King or Sarah McLaghlan w/ an eclectic edge. I was thinking omni's too, but I want to have options for experimenting. I can only borrow those Neve's for a couple of days at a time. The C4's have the cardiod and omni caps - options! But, has anyone used them on a piano lived to say they liked it?
Deb
Old 8th June 2006
  #9
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Damn it, Debbie's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead
On that budget?

C4 pair. Pretty balanced sounding mic but you get omni capsules that can sound BIG with lots of low end. Versatile kit, it'll get the job done fine.

War
Thanks, War

I've gotten a lot of useful info from your posts. I'm leaning toward the C4's. Do you think the diaphragm on the the Kel HM-1 and the CAD M179 are too large for my purposes? I think I really just want to buy those mics because I'm curious about them, but I need to get what will work for now. tutt
Old 8th June 2006
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brownmouse
You may want to look at the Avenson pair...
A sound suggestion! The Avensons are $500 for a matched pair - I would strongly recommend these little guys if you can possibly stretch your budget. Very smooth, wide, neutral sound - an amazing bargain! Plus they are mics you'll hang onto even after you can afford more expensive ones - they're such good value and sound so good you'll always find a use for them.

One more tip - a friend has a pair of the Octava MC-012's, I think, that he uses on upright piano and they really don't sound half bad - worth checking these out too.
Old 8th June 2006
  #11
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I hate to be "brainiac-ey", (and I'm not really a brainiac, just pretending), but what is your recording space exactly? I would stick to dynamic mic's I think, as well, if the space is less than ideal... but piano isn't exactly as demanding as far as instruments go... An upright always sounds nice in most homes, so whichever way you prefer, I suppose...
Old 8th June 2006
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn it, Debbie
Do you think the diaphragm on the the Kel HM-1 and the CAD M179 are too large for my purposes?
KEL HM-1 has a 1/2" diaphragm, same as most "SDC" pencil mics; the side-address orientation of the capsule may be misleading you to think they're larger.
Old 8th June 2006
  #13
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warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn it, Debbie
Thanks, War

I've gotten a lot of useful info from your posts. I'm leaning toward the C4's. Do you think the diaphragm on the the Kel HM-1 and the CAD M179 are too large for my purposes? I think I really just want to buy those mics because I'm curious about them, but I need to get what will work for now. tutt
The M179 is a 1" diaphragm, certainly not too large and capable of doing a fine job. I really like the M179 on tons of stuff. It has a natural sort of sound to it and really extended low end response, it's amazing how rich this mic can sound for the price. The variable pattern is a nice feature.

Not familiar with a KEL.

War
Old 8th June 2006
  #14
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Damn it, Debbie's Avatar
 

Superlux?

Has anyone tried the Superlux SMK-H8K?
Old 8th June 2006
  #15
Gear Nut
 

I have used a pair of Rode NT-5s on a console piano (basically just opened the top and put the mics on either end for a stereo kinda setup), and I was pretty happy with the results. I'm recording again in the next few weeks and am going to try some KELs on it as well, just to see how they sound.
Old 9th June 2006
  #16
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Vote for Avenson. Those are luscious on acoustic strings, and excellent for many many things, sound very pleasant, super easy to place. I went through 4 of the behringer omnis, all so noisy I couldn't use them. And moved the Mk-012s out quickly in favor of Avenson.

Steve
Old 9th June 2006
  #17


Well, Deb,

I know you don't want to talk room acoustics, but that is probably why you didn't like the 414's.

The C4 pair is a little grainy in the upper register - works for acoustic guitar, cymbals (sometimes) and hand percussion that I know of. They may sound good on a console or upright piano.

Speaking of that, have you listened caretully to Enya's piano on her albums? Sounds sort of misty and airy on a lot of systems, but downright nasty on good speakers or headphones.....

Anyway, I don't think you can go wrong with a pair of Kel HM-1 here. Try them and if you don't like them - send them back for a refund (nice that they do that).

Oh, and try moving the piano out into the middle of the room and micing the soundboard side.



-tINY

Old 9th June 2006
  #18
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Damn it, Debbie's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tINY


Well, Deb,

I know you don't want to talk room acoustics, but that is probably why you didn't like the 414's.

The C4 pair is a little grainy in the upper register - works for acoustic guitar, cymbals (sometimes) and hand percussion that I know of. They may sound good on a console or upright piano.

Speaking of that, have you listened caretully to Enya's piano on her albums? Sounds sort of misty and airy on a lot of systems, but downright nasty on good speakers or headphones.....

Anyway, I don't think you can go wrong with a pair of Kel HM-1 here. Try them and if you don't like them - send them back for a refund (nice that they do that).

Oh, and try moving the piano out into the middle of the room and micing the soundboard side.



-tINY

Thanks for your input Tiny.
There may or may not be issues with the room - the jury is out on that one. I understand that this is an extremely important point, but since none of you can see or hear the room, I really just wanted to limit the discussion to mics and uprights and your experience.

FWIW, we did move the piano into the middle of the room, turning it so that the soundboard was not parallel to a wall and we did remove the lid. We placed 2 - C414 B-ULS over the hammers. Eh, not so good. The piano sounded much better when we placed the mics behind the piano on the soundboard side. We're in agreement there.

But I suspect that SDCs will do a better job. I'm just trying to figure out which ones you guys have used that worked for you *on an upright*. There's a vote for the KELS! Have you recorded a piano with the KELS?

And for you Avenson guys, I've been looking at those. If money wasn't so much of an issue right now, I'd probably get a stereo pair of Peluso CEMC6. I am interested in omnis, but if the room *is* a problem, I'll be recording more of that than I would with cardiods. That's why the C4s are appealing - I could go either way.

Oh, and no, I don't listen to Enya. The recordings I have heard have so much reverb, it's hard to tell what's going on in there. I always assumed much of the instruments were synths/software, including the "piano".

Thanks,
Deb
Old 9th June 2006
  #19
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Omni's don't always mean more room. Hang blankets or something. We've got about 30 of those Auralex wall thingies at the studio that I work at.

Omnis are just good for picking up a more even picture of the piano, instead of having the 3 or 4 notes that the mic is pointed at brighter than the others.

Tomorrow or saturday, I'll record some piano with those Behringer measurement mics I was talking about. I'm curious myself. I'll let you know how it goes.
Old 9th June 2006
  #20
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ObnoxiousTyrant's Avatar
 

Try a matched stereo pair of Berliner's, they have a slight +3db hump in the mids but it is easily eq'ed. Other than that, they cover the full audio spectrum well and sell for about $500.00 a pair. Do a search on ebay, you can't lose with a pair of these.
Old 9th June 2006
  #21
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Damn it, Debbie's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thumper
Omni's don't always mean more room. Hang blankets or something. We've got about 30 of those Auralex wall thingies at the studio that I work at.

Omnis are just good for picking up a more even picture of the piano, instead of having the 3 or 4 notes that the mic is pointed at brighter than the others.

Tomorrow or saturday, I'll record some piano with those Behringer measurement mics I was talking about. I'm curious myself. I'll let you know how it goes.
One of my engineer friends says he was pleasantly surprised by the Behringer ECM8000. I'd be interested to see how your experiment turns out. Thanks!
Deb
Old 9th June 2006
  #22
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Damn it, Debbie's Avatar
 

PZMs?

Anyone ever tried PZMs on an upright?
Old 9th June 2006
  #23
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macr0w's Avatar
 

I don't own a good pzm but another vote for the Avenson pair. Don't be afraid of LDC mics. I can't believe the 414's didn't work out. I haven't used but have heard good comment on the CAD M179's as well.
Old 9th June 2006
  #24
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the last piano work i did was with a 7'4" bosendorfer, where i used a pair of DPA 4011s through HV3 pres - very nice. i have never had good luck tracking an upright - they always sound weird to my ears. there are different tricks to tracking an upright vs a grand piano, and i dont really like any of them. and, on top of that, i am pretty much completely sick of the 50' wide piano effect when they are tracked in stereo. the next piano recordings i do will be in mono. i will use a single LD condenser fairly close in for the main track, and i will put a spaced apir of omnis out somewhat, and use a blend of about 80% main mono mic and 20% of the stereo pair to give some space around the main mic. however, my experimenting so far seems to show that just the single mono mic by itself with some stereo reverb applied gives a very nice clean piano sound. for tracking an upright, i would pull off the front so you can position the mic(s) over the strings as you would with a grand. sticking them in the top of the upright case, or at the back of the soundboard will almost always be boomy.
Old 9th June 2006
  #25
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i used the c4 on piano with great success, the only thing that dissapoints me with studio projects mics is the quality control


cheers
Old 9th June 2006
  #26


The only time I've used a PZM on a piano was a grand with one taped to the underside of the lid. The lid was shut and it provided a lot of isolation - sounded fine for the live show and decent on a tape of it.

But, if you taped two PZMs to a wall about the width of the piano and positioned the piano about a foot and a half from the wall - you might get something you can live with. Play with the placement of mics and piano.





-tINY

Old 9th June 2006
  #27
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Damn it, Debbie's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman
... the next piano recordings i do will be in mono. i will use a single LD condenser fairly close in for the main track, and i will put a spaced apir of omnis out somewhat, and use a blend of about 80% main mono mic and 20% of the stereo pair to give some space around the main mic. however, my experimenting so far seems to show that just the single mono mic by itself with some stereo reverb applied gives a very nice clean piano sound. for tracking an upright, i would pull off the front so you can position the mic(s) over the strings as you would with a grand. sticking them in the top of the upright case, or at the back of the soundboard will almost always be boomy.
One of the many ways to skin a cat. I like your idea of using a single mono mic. I didn't mention earlier that we also tracked that session with a KSM32 mono, experimenting with different mixes. I liked the sound of that track better than the 414 stereo tracks! But, I'm not above trying different placements with the 414s.

I'm still looking for SDC advice though. I just want to be more prepared and have more mics at my disposal the next time we try this. Gotta have a game plan (er, many game plans). As you all know, it takes a lot of energy to futz around with mics all day and scoot a piano around the room and I have to enlist the help of friends to do this.

Thanks, Deb
Old 9th June 2006
  #28
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Damn it, Debbie's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tINY


The only time I've used a PZM on a piano was a grand with one taped to the underside of the lid. The lid was shut and it provided a lot of isolation - sounded fine for the live show and decent on a tape of it.

But, if you taped two PZMs to a wall about the width of the piano and positioned the piano about a foot and a half from the wall - you might get something you can live with. Play with the placement of mics and piano.

-tINY

Whoo-hoo! I read about this technique and plan to try it. You never know....
Old 9th June 2006
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexi
i used the c4 on piano with great success
Omni or cardiod?
Thanks
Old 10th June 2006
  #30
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fwiw

i would spend some time lookin at the low end of audio=technica... i had a pair of pro 35' (37's) cant remember the # used them in xy configureation with exceptional results for the dough... dont know if their tolerances are tight or was just lucky but they seemed well matched
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