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Old 1st June 2019
Gear Maniac

First off, congratulations on a beautiful room. I'm glad to see a bit of treatment, especially in the corners. Looks like a comfortable environment in which to work, which in a lot of ways is as important as anything else.

Your piano recordings sound pretty good as they are. Thanks for including pictures! As for how to improve them, a number of factors are involved. Piano can be one of the trickier instruments to record, strictly because of the sheer size of the instrument and how they interact with the room. Some things to keep in mind:

1.) Piano works differently in a mix with other instruments than it does as a solo instrument. Because the pitch range on a piano is massive, it can fight for space with nearly everything. So while a lush, full range, and roomy piano recording is what you want for solo work, what you need in a mix is a piano that slots in around your other instruments so you can hear everything. I only mention this because I know that sometimes it can be hard to separate the pianist who wants a great sounding piano recording from the recordist who wants to put together a great mix. Context is going to dictate how you want to approach your capture, to a degree.

2.) I think for solo pieces you can afford to capture a little more of your room. Try this: C414 on the lower register, LA-320 on the upper register, KSM141's in an x/y or ORTF configuration two or three meters out from the piano fired at the lid. These are just ballpark suggestions bassed on nothing more than the pictures you provided. The best thing would be to have someone play the piano while you walk around your space and place the room mic pair where you think the piano sounds best. In this case, you want to get the mics literally as close to where your ears were as possible.

3.) Close mics: obviously, the closer you place the mics to the hammers, the brighter and more articulate the resulting sound will be. Farther back on the soundboard will result in a smoother, more mellow sound. A good rule of thumb for striking a balance between the upper and lower registers of the instrument is farther back up top and closer up down low. Experiment a bit with mic placement on both ends of the instrument and you should find a sweet spot for both.

4.) Mic placement can also be somewhat dependent on the style of music you are playing. For example, you might find it advantageous to place mics farther back on the soundboard in general for a softer, more mellow piece of music, while placing the mics closer to the hammers might better suit a piece of music with an edgier, more aggressive tone.

5.) Be sure to check for phase coherence when using multiple mics on the piano. You often times won't need to pan the piano as wide in the mix as you might think. You want to be sure you aren't introducing any weird phase interactions by panning the mic channels closer together.

6.) A ribbon mic, by virtue of the way they work (fig 8 pattern) might be a little tricky to place on the piano in an ensemble recording situation. You run the chance of either picking up too much bleed from other instruments (drums, in particular) or picking up bad phase interactions from the early reflections off the lid of the piano or both. I'm not saying don't try it. I'm just saying you might have to experiment a bit to get it to work, and even then you might decide on a different mic. Typically speaking, uni-directional microphones are your friends when trying to record more than one instrument in the same room. So are gobos. You'll probably want to build some gobos.

Sorry for the book, but I hope this helps. I concentrated on the piano recording aspect of your post more than the jazz recording parts because the jazz recording parts of your post probably warrant their own thread. Recording a piano is a big enough topic on its own.

Last edited by Mag J; 1st June 2019 at 08:36 AM.. Reason: clarity's sake