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Re: KM184 vs AKG c414 for Upright Piano?
Old 19th November 2011
  #1
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Re: KM184 vs AKG c414 for Upright Piano?

Hi Gearslutz,

So I've spent a LOT of time surfing this site for years now, and I'm real glad to say that I'm finally a member now! Thanks very much for having me in advance, and what a way to start the learning process off by opening a thread- hopefully no illegal moves here, haha..

Basically I am more of a classical pianist than I am a recording geek, so this is where I was hoping to get some valuable advice from all of you out there..its finally come to the point where I am ready to start making some microphone investments to prepare for a set up that will be used for recording my piano pieces.

I currently own a single AKG C414 B-XLS alongside an Avalon 737 dual pre..My dilemma is that I could either invest in another C414 B-XLS to complete the ideal stereo steup (but my fear is that they will not be a squeaky clean st image of each other- or is it really that noticable?) or I could perhaps trade the AKG for a stereo pair of Neumann km184's instead..The microphone choices are primarily concerning the recording of my upright piano as the solo/main primary instrument in the mix.

Regarding the sound I'm hoping to go for: the piano is the very opposite of bright (which is lovely for the kind of music I make) and I would ideally like to close mic to capture the sound of the hammer action whilst still retaining a full body of sound. does that make sense?

I wonder if you guys have any advice for me before I make any decisions? I don't have as much of a large budget as you can see by the choices there, but I hope that you could shed some more light on the matter- would help me out a great deal.

Looking forward to hearing from you! heh
Old 20th November 2011
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hahaha View Post
Hi Gearslutz,


Basically I am more of a classical pianist...
this makes me think SDC pair


Quote:
I would ideally like to close mic to capture the sound of the hammer action whilst still retaining a full body of sound.
but this makes me say 'get the second 414'

I personally wouldn't worry too much about them matching "squeaky clean"
Old 20th November 2011
  #3
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Thanks for the message back my friend..apart from being able to choose polar patterns, what would I be compromising if I did go for the km184's as opposed to a pair of large diaphragms?
Old 20th November 2011
  #4
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I'd go for the Neumanns or look into Schoeps.
Old 20th November 2011
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hahaha View Post
Thanks for the message back my friend..apart from being able to choose polar patterns, what would I be compromising if I did go for the km184's as opposed to a pair of large diaphragms?
I have not had a lot of experience with the km184's specifically, but for me, mics like the 414's generally win out over SDC's in the "beef" category. heh You said "body" - I think that might be similar.

I generally prefer SDCs when I am micing the space. An SDC pair in ORTF in the "front row" - like for chamber music or jazz. This is a more standard way of recording classical. In fact, none of the classical pianists I have ever recorded have asked for MORE hammer action! But even so, I have used 414's as main pairs and they are not bad.

Between the fact that you are playing classical on an upright and the fact that you want to capture stuff like hammer sound instead of the room, makes me think your recordings will have a somewhat 'experimental' quality compared to typical classical. If so, having the patterns will increase in importance. For example, with the omni setting, you can get in really really close with no proximity effect. With the figure-8, you could use the deep nulls to keep things out of your recording
Old 20th November 2011
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
Between the fact that you are playing classical on an upright and the fact that you want to capture stuff like hammer sound instead of the room, makes me think your recordings will have a somewhat 'experimental' quality compared to typical classical. If so, having the patterns will increase in importance. For example, with the omni setting, you can get in really really close with no proximity effect. With the figure-8, you could use the deep nulls to keep things out of your recording
You're absolutely right...the idea is to try and capture as much detail of the inner workings of a piano as possible, while still trying to maintain a good sound at the same time.

The techniques you mention about the polar patterns are very insightful, I guess I can use the patterns to my advantage since I will be playing in an untreated living room..
Old 20th November 2011
  #7
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184's are good mics, but they won't do justice to the lower register of a piano. They start to roll off the lows well above 150 Hz. There are lots of other sdc's out there with good low frequency extension that I would turn to first for this application.
Old 20th November 2011
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2pulse View Post
184's are good mics, but they won't do justice to the lower register of a piano. There are lots of other sdc's out there with good low frequency extension that I would turn to first for this application.
I understand..are there any suggestions that you could give me? Would be greatful.
Old 20th November 2011
  #9
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Ribbons anyone?

Is a stereo ribbon mic in the picture? I love upright pianos for the simple fact that they just naturally have more body than grands a lot of time and because everything is crammed in a box they are naturally more compressed. Royer makes a nice stereo ribbon that's good and full and if you needed you could throw on a 421 just to fatten it a little. Just an idea..
Old 20th November 2011
  #10
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I've previously A-B'ed the KM184, C414 XLS, CMC6/MK4 along side a couple of other microphones (4090, M930, CMC6/MK2) on a baby grand. I positioned it as fig. 1 in this pic

The KM184s were quite bright, the transients were extremely present. The piano was a bit harsh, and you could definitely hear that trough the KM184s.It could work very well in a pop mix, but it doesn't seem to be what you are looking for.

The C414s has a very colored sound. It seemed to add a bit of body, but it was also because it also sounded less bright than most other microphones. The coloration was generally pleasent

The Schoeps CMC6/MK4s were the most balanced. It had a bit less body than the C414s, but a lot less coloration. It was just very.... clean.

I had a session with a pianist and a jazz singer. I went with the same mic positions, recording the piano with both C414s and MK4s. For most of the songs, I eventually used with the C414s. The body and the coloration worked very well in the mix.

I'm generally not the biggest C414 fan, but in your situation (also considering the limit budget) I think getting a second C414 will be the best option.
Old 20th November 2011
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W.Wong View Post
The KM184s were quite bright, the transients were extremely present. The piano was a bit harsh.

The C414s has a very colored sound. It seemed to add a bit of body, but it was also because it also sounded less bright than most other microphones. The coloration was generally pleasent.
Thanks for the response, yes you're right its a shame there is a budget but I guess thats is the life of a student haha..I guess I'm not looking for something bright as a number of people have pointed out with the KMs..and as another gearslut said above, I could get creative with the possibilities of different polar patterns on the 414s

Mr Wong, I just wonder out of curiosity whether these are the Schoeps you were refering to- http://www.dv247.com/microphones/sch...plifier--20935 Please excuse my ignorance, but I guess we all learn something new every day!

Ribbons are also not out of the questions, although unfortunately the Royers which you suggested are out of my budget dang.

Thanks for the honest answers guys, any other feedback will be greatly appreciated!
Old 20th November 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W.Wong View Post
The KM184s were quite bright, the transients were extremely present. The piano was a bit harsh, and you could definitely hear that trough the KM184s.It could work very well in a pop mix, but it doesn't seem to be what you are looking for.
Thats about right. 184's are terrible mics! Here in DC you see pairs on craigslist all the time as WW are finding out they sound terrible. Despite what they were told at guitard center.

I use ribbons and they rock! Figure 8 is very useful when positioning. I tend to use 3 on an upright 2 R84's in blumlein and an a440 near the rear bottom for the bass.

supersweet sounding
Old 20th November 2011
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hahaha View Post
Mr Wong, I just wonder out of curiosity whether these are the Schoeps you were refering to- Schoeps CMC 6U Microphone Preamplifier | DV247
That's just the body of the microphone (CMC6). In that case I used it with the cardoid MK4 capsule (hence "CMC6/MK4").

+1 on ribbons... if you can afford them.
Old 20th November 2011
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty James View Post
...184's are terrible mics!
They have trouble with RFI. They sound fine if there's no RFI problem. I prefer a KM 84 but 184s are workable if you use transformer mike pres.
Old 23rd December 2011
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty James View Post
Thats about right. 184's are terrible mics! Here in DC you see pairs on craigslist all the time as WW are finding out they sound terrible. Despite what they were told at guitard center.
On piano, generally that has proven to be the case in my experience as well, though I wouldn't put a blanket statement and call them terrible mics all around. Yeah, the presence peak is about an octave or two too low to make them widely useable on a variety of sources, but i've found use for 'em occasionally. Maybe stick one on the fingerboard of an upright or as room mics or maybe on the odd acoustic guitar.

A seasoned engineer once said every mic will excel somewhere where something else has failed.

Personally, I think the SM81 is KILLING on piano, deceptively cheap as it may be.
Old 23rd December 2011
  #16
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I was surprised I liked C414(eb - white ring capsule) on upright. Surprised because I like to hear a lot of detail in piano recording and even with a bit bright mics I can't stop myself boosting the hf (details) even more. Now my C414 are a bit dark, they are colored in a way that makes things to be smoother and creamier. Something I wasn't looking for in my upright piano recordings, but when I've heard it for the first time, it was instant .

I've tried:

KM76 - nice, detailed, a bit too clean, not satisfying.
CMV563 + M7 - full sound, I'm quite ok with it but a bit too colored
CMV563 + M55K - very bright, only good in some special cases
M582 + M62 - nice detail, almost as much as I hear in front of the open piano, smooth, but a the bottom isn't firm enough, it feels highpassed
C414 - first mic I didn't want to cut in the lowmids, yet still there could be plenty of it (lowmids) in the signal, my go to... but there is C24 on the way so who knows what's gonna sit on my persona upright piano mic throne in 2012 ;-)
Old 23rd December 2011
  #17
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Charter Oak M900T. Pick the youtube 720p option for better sound.
Old 23rd December 2011
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2pulse View Post
184's are good mics, but they won't do justice to the lower register of a piano. They start to roll off the lows well above 150 Hz. There are lots of other sdc's out there with good low frequency extension that I would turn to first for this application.
Where on earth did you get that from? They most certainly do not. And they absolutely are not terrible mics Salty James. They have a bit more top than a KM 84, but they are totally usable. As far as 414's on a piano, years ago I worked a hi def shoot for jazz arranger Dave Matthews, it was also multitracked, for an album I seem to recall we used a pair of 414TLII's on the piano, and got a real nice sound
Old 23rd December 2011
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2pulse View Post
184's are good mics, but they won't do justice to the lower register of a piano. They start to roll off the lows well above 150 Hz...
Can you site a reference for this LF roll off? I'm impressed by the deep bass I hear in our KM184's, and anecdotally speaking, I doubt your 150 Hz attenuation point. It's silly to enter the debate about why the KM184 is or is not a Terrible Mic, but I will say, that if you can't make a credible recording with the M184 you should enter another field of work, in my view.

John Caldwell
Old 23rd December 2011
  #20
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My experience with the km184 doesn't align at all with the "flat to 20hz" frequency chart on the Neumann website. It's possible that my pair were defective out of the box, but that seems unlikely.

This site seems to be in agreement:

Neumann KM 184 | RecordingHacks.com

They're wonderful for pop piano and drum overheads, where the full mix will usually have other channels dedicated to the bassy elements. Classical solo piano, though? I would really feel the loss of low impact with 184's.
Old 23rd December 2011
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty James View Post
Thats about right. 184's are terrible mics! Here in DC you see pairs on craigslist all the time as WW are finding out they sound terrible. Despite what they were told at guitard center.

I use ribbons and they rock! Figure 8 is very useful when positioning. I tend to use 3 on an upright 2 R84's in blumlein and an a440 near the rear bottom for the bass.

supersweet sounding

Mine are fine ( KM 184 ), and work great on Piano. The mic is not the problem
if it doesn't sound right.........
Old 23rd December 2011
  #22
Motown legend
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickNagurka View Post
...A seasoned engineer once said every mic will excel somewhere where something else has failed...
True. What separates the men from the boys in mikes is how often a given mike sounds more than good enough to allow moving on to other important issues.

This is actually true of most gear. The best allows one to work really really fast.
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