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Micing Acoustic Grand Piano


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I am planning on recording my piano teacher's acoustic grand piano on Saturday and was looking for some pointers. As a quick disclaimer, I have never miced anything before so please assume that I know nothing :grin:

I have managed to borrow a matched pair of Rode NT5 cardiod condenser microphones from a friend and I will be using my Scarlett 6i6 interface. We will be recording an hour's worth of classical music in a small room (no space to move the piano, even if we could lift it).

I have the the following questions:

a) What mic techniques would you recommend? I have seen videos of X-Y, ORTF and A-B. Would any of these be suited to classical recording in a small room? From the demos that I have heard (e.g. this link) I rather like the sound of ORTF but I am unsure how difficult it is to pull off properly and how suited it is to classical music? Is there a good example that you can provide of your preferred micing technique? There seem to be many variations of individual techniques out there...

B) Are there any rough rules about where to place the mics? The position where the treble and bass strings seems to be popular from what I have read. Is there a general rule for mic height or is this just something that you need to play with?

c) Are there any pitfalls that you can warn of or any helpful tips?

Thanks,

Jonathan

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From what I remember, you could place both inside the top just above the strings, one pointed toward the higher strings and the other pointed toward the lower strings to get a good full sound.

It wouldn't be terrible to mic the bottom as well though, if you only have 2 mics I'd put them both inside but if you can get another, mic the bottom as well.

As far as distance, since they're condenser mics you probably want a good 8-12 inches between them and the strings, maybe more.

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I always see a spaced pair of ribbons or tube condensers either over the strings (closer sound) or elevated and back a few feet from the lid (more distant sound). Depends on the result you want and the limitations of the room. You're probably going to lean towards a closer sound in this case; a little bit of extra rejection/focusing from the NT5s, since they're SDCs, probably helps.

This SOS article goes into all kinds of unnecessary detail: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may99/articles/recpiano.htm. I found it worthwhile. If you need more pictures, try browsing through http://scoringsessions.com/. Those aren't strictly classical techniques (which tend to be more distant/ambient), but there's a lot of overlap.

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This SOS article goes into all kinds of unnecessary detail: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may99/articles/recpiano.htm.

I actually think all that detail is very helpful. You have to be willing to filter out what you don't yet understand, but still, I would recommend SOS on anything audio they publish.

Edited by timaeus222
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Thanks for you help. I do have an SM58 lying around so I might try sticking that on the bottom as per Darangen's suggestion.

I think you are definitely right about close micing Yasae. From what I have read ambient micing a grand piano in a small room is a recipe for disaster (there isn't really enough room for ambient micing anyway). Do you have any suggestions on how to make it more classical sounding in post? (e.g. is there any particular type of reverb that you would recommend / any other processing? Or is it just a case of playing around and seeing what sounds best?)

For anyone reading this in future, I found these 2 resources:

- Very indepth, loads of examples of mic positions and a discussion of the benefits of each: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan08/articles/pianorecording_0108.htm

- A simple video demonstration of 3 close mic techniques in video format:

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Altiverb or IRCAM Tools are very good reverb choices from my experience listening to them. They're overpriced though. :lol: Maybe find a cheaper impulse response verb and buy/find some free responses?

That video's good. Notice how the A-B (spaced pair) result sounds compared to X/Y and ORTF. I like that one. It's a soft, wide, rather classical sound to me, even if there is a little bit of phantom center going on.

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I remember mic'ing my teachers piano.

I honestly like my pianos mono. sounds fat and sits like a boss in any mix.

wut Darangen said pretty much.

Determine the tone that you are going for in your recording. the closer the mic,

the more upper frequencies and overtones you will pick up, a brighter tonality. The farther away, the more room/air and more of a resonant sound you get.

Edited by SonicThHedgog
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