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Questions from a Piano MIC N00B
Old 25th March 2013
Gear interested

Thread Starter
Questions from a Piano MIC N00B

Hi guys!

I just bought my new ZoomH4n (my very first mic) for recording on my Steinway M. (I was recommended by the guy behind the counter of my local music store to come here and post about my questions.) :D Since this is my very first, I have a lot of questions.

Following I will ask about

1. Mic Positioning
2. Adding an extra mic to the Zoom H4n
3. Should I get MXL 990 and 991 instead


As of right now, I have both mics of the Zoom rotated at 120 degrees, and the Zoom mounted on a tripod pointing into the inside of the piano (from the back right next to the sound holes). I'm probably going to purchase a mic stand to test out some other positions. I'm thinking about using the same position as that of 7notemode's (video here Sophisticated Lady - jazz piano solo - YouTube).

Is this position good, or is there a better one out there?

Second question... (if i am keeping the zoom...)

I'm also thinking of getting a second mic to record thru the Zoom. I was wondering which mic would be good. I'm trying to get a thicker, and more complex sound (a ribbon mic or condenser perhaps). any recommendations? I'm only willing to spend $100. $120 tops.

Third Question:

I was just wondering if the ZoomH4n was a good purchase. My music store also had MXL 990 and 991, but i went for the Zoom because I knew the great sound it had (wasn't so familiar with the MXL's). Are the MXL's better mics? (im only thinking this cuz one mic would be for the lower strings, and the other for the higher strings. And for 90$ it seemed pretty reasonable). I still have 3 days to return my Zoom for a full refund.

Your N00b pianist,

Old 26th March 2013
Lives for gear
In terms of mic position, I'd start in the middle of the keyboard and move the zoom to a few heights and distances back and just listen. Pick your favorite, then try a little left to right comparison at the chosen height & distance. Depending on your room and position in the room, you may find a sweet spot particular to your room.

The Zoom's mics are actually decent for piano. I don't know that $100 will get you a real upgrade. And I think you want to get two. I'd probably rent or borrow before buying. I've used SDCs and ribbons successfully on piano. DPA makes some great piano mic systems. I've gotten good piano tracks through my Zoom using Audio Technica SDCs. I have also played around with ribbons through the zoom and have not gotten the best results. I think I needed a mic pre more suited to the ribbons.

The H4N is a good quality recorder. Until you get some very good mics, it will serve you well. I like that you can use it to power condensor outboard mics. That's bonus.
Old 26th March 2013
Gear Guru
DanDan's Avatar

+1 to all of that, with a few nuances.
Over the middley of the soundboard can deliver and amazingly proper stereo picture and tone, if the lid is removed.
If the lid is in place I have had repeated good luck by placing stereo pairs just over the curved inward part of the body. It's pretty much where you would poke your head in to have a close listen.
+16.345 to the DPA 4061 mics. If Carlsberg did mics.....
Cheaper, I am told the Beyer overhead pair are amazing for the price.
Dearer, MBHO without doubt, and of course DPA again, the 4011.
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