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What budget SDCs for huge, lush piano sound? Condenser Microphones
Old 16th September 2018
  #1
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What budget SDCs for huge, lush piano sound?

Hello everyone,

I need to record piano for a project, and after some listening around, I reached the conclusion that a pair of SDCs is what I need. The piano parts are all soft playing on both grands and uprights. I would like to be able to mic as closely as possible in order to get a really massive, lush sound.

Sadly, I am on a budget - so to some extent, I have to buy used, which might limit the choice a bit. It seems, however, that there are some decent sets on offer currently. I would like to ask your advice as to which of these mics best fits my requirements.
  • SE Electronics SE-8 (matched)
  • 3U Audio CM100 (matched)
  • Oktava MK-012 (matched)
  • Line Audio CM3 (unmatched, buy new)

Thank you in advance!

Kind regards,
Niels Münster
Old 16th September 2018
  #2
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Nowak's Avatar
I've never achieved 'lush' with small microphones on piano. Of the above, I've used the Oktavas and wasn't satisfied at all.

If I had to blindly buy any of those microphones you mention, it would be the 3U, I have a pair of his LDCs and they go great.
Old 16th September 2018
  #3
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Avenson sto
Old 16th September 2018
  #4
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timtoonz's Avatar
I did a piano mic shootout recently and tried everything from KM84's, Gefell m300's, Oktava MC012's and even Gefell UM70's and 414s.

I ended up preferring the sound of Advanced Audio's AA87's. SDC's were fine, especially when you can put'em in omni, but the AA87's had the best balance of bottom and 'clarity' without being spiky at all up top. And they're pretty affordable, at least compared to any high-end SDC's (though yes, they're LDCs).

(And you can also check out AA's SDC pair, which you can get with different pattern capsule heads. They sounded pretty good on the piano too... as well as drums and acoustic guitars. I just preferred the 87's on piano, which was my primary goal)
Old 17th September 2018
  #5
Look no further than the line audio cm3. I recorded a stereo grand piano with them a while ago, absolutely clear and honest representation of the source.

I had a room mic and a mic where the player sat too, and for some tracks I blended these in for vibe, but the cm3s where great on their own for most tracks.
Old 17th September 2018
  #6
Look no further than the line audio cm3. I recorded a stereo grand piano with them a while ago, absolutely clear and honest representation of the source.

I had a room mic and a mic where the player sat too, and for some tracks I blended these in for vibe, but the cm3s where great on their own for most tracks.
Old 17th September 2018
  #7
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanBarley View Post
Avenson sto
The OP stated he needs to record soft piano paets. The very high self-noise of those mics makes them not ideal for that application at all.

I would recommend the Line Audios. I got some tracks to mix where they were used to record soft rav and hang drum parts and they sounded pristine.
Old 18th September 2018
  #8
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

You can't beat a pair of AT4050's for piano.

However, you didn't mention what piano you're recording - is it large, say over 6 feet, is it a Yamaha, or Steinway, or other brand. Is the player good at getting "the sound" you're after? Will you be in a small space or large? Will it have been tuned?

All these things matter.
Old 18th September 2018
  #9
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Blaine Misner's Avatar
 

the only small diaphragm mics i've had ANY luck with (on Piano, that is) are the schoeps mk4's. i'm quite sure that is quite a bit above your budget, but in my experience small diaphragms are an uphill battle for larger than life piano
Old 19th September 2018
  #10
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Drumsound's Avatar
I actually like my Octava MC012 in ORTF on the soundboard of my upright. The sE8 are really nice sounding mics and I assume they would do well. Lately sE T2 have been really doing it for me on piano, but they are out of your budget, I fear.
Old 24th September 2018
  #11
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rojaros's Avatar
Line Audio
Old 24th September 2018
  #12
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Harewood's Avatar
+1 for the Line Audio CM3. You’ll not find a better mic for a whole lot more money.
Old 24th September 2018
  #13
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Drumsound's Avatar
Are you guys buying the Line Audio stuff direct, or is there an American distributor?
Old 24th September 2018
  #14
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Harewood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Are you guys buying the Line Audio stuff direct, or is there an American distributor?
Line Audio - Swedish Made High Quality Audio Products - Available at NoHype Audio
Old 24th September 2018
  #15
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rojaros's Avatar
I bought them directly from Line Audio, but it's obviously easier in Europe...
Old 24th September 2018
  #16
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bowzin's Avatar
My music buddy just shelled out for a very nice upright piano, and he owns the 3U Audio 127 SDC's. Those are similar to the CM100 but with transformers, and are more "in the spirit of" KM84's. They've slayed in every other stereo setup we've done so far, so we'll be trying those on piano relatively soon I hope.

He has the "Cardioid Flat" capsules to imitate KM84 territory, and they are exceptionally good for the price ($500 shipped for a matched pair with cardioid-flat caps).

I strongly dislike "bright" SDC's and these ended up being just perfect for me. There are some really good audio examples of them by user Ragan, including up against a Neumann KM84. I really enjoy his mic shootouts.

The normal Cardioid caps have a bit more air/brightness than the Cardioid-Flats. But I prefer to add top-end only as needed later on with processing. Bright SDC's I've used in the past sounded "hard" and lacked depth. There was shimmer but it was a bright shimmer, not a rich shimmer. These sound much closer to what I like. I'm sure they're a joke next to my classical friend's Schoeps/Pueblo rig, but they're great for us.

Detailed without being bright/sharp, and take processing very well. As far as noise, don't remember any self noise at all when I had them for a few months to myself.

We'll keep these as workhorse stereo SDC's until we can afford truly high-end, or can shoot-out a bunch of stuff and see if we get lucky with something.
Old 24th September 2018
  #17
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Drumsound's Avatar
Thanks a lot. I'm always weary of buying form overseas and dealing with customs and such.
Old 24th September 2018
  #18
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Harewood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Thanks a lot. I'm always weary of buying form overseas and dealing with customs and such.
It was painless and fast. Very reliable. also on eBay if that is less worrisome.

Line Audio CM3 Condenser Electret Microphone, Made in Sweden, for USA/CA/CH only | eBay
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