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Thread: New piano piece.. Microphone placement trial

  1. #1
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    Default New piano piece.. Microphone placement trial

    OK.. trying something new to record a grand piano. You can hear the track here.
    Piano test track

    Sorry I don't have a web site of my own to post it on. I can only post this MP3 version.

    Let me know what you think of the sound. I will be working with this lady in the future so I appreciate any input you have.

    The mics are placed inside the piano, one over the bass strings pointed down into the sound board. The other mic is just outside the strings pointed a bit more towards the hammers. They are mounted on a spanner that runs across the case of the grand piano. Lid is full up. Steinway D9

  2. #2
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    How honest would you like me to be?

    Also give me details about the mics and recording path.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  3. #3
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    Honestly.. brutally honest..
    recording path is low budget.. tascam 122L into the laptop. Mics are AT 835 choir mics, no pre-amp.
    Mics were placed on a spanner bar, one mic over the bass strings pointed down into the piano case, the other was out past the bass strings pointed more towards the hammers, located over the string frame.

    Just want to really know how far behind the 8 ball I am with low end gear. You won't hurt my feeling regardless of the review. If its total crap I want to know, but if its descent.. I want to know that too.

  4. #4
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    OK.. been away from it for a while. I think I have the mics too close. Not enough ambient sound and they are picking up too much mechanical noise of the pedals. The player has a heavy foot. Backing the mics up further from the player, perhaps a bit higher will open the sound a bit..

  5. #5
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    This would be in the ball park for a "studio/commercial" piano sound, but it simply won't do in the classical world. Remember that in classical the room is also an instrument that must be captured accurately. Bright electret mics are also ixnay for this sort of thing.

    The piano is also in need of tuning.

    There is a really good thread on Gearslutz titled "What's up with piano recordings these days?" that has several excellent descriptions. I personally favor Simon Eadon's Decca technique. It looks daft but sounds brilliant. See that thread for details. I have used it and there is NO mechanical noises.

    Good effort but if you are being paid then you need a major change of direction.

    Rich
    Rich Mays
    309 Gloucester Rd
    Savannah GA 31410
    912-484-8451
    www.sonarerecordings.com

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sloop View Post
    Honestly.. brutally honest..
    Just reminding you.

    NOTE: This is offered as constructive criticism. Not the kind you'll get from friends and family or typical forum members. (Yea, I read the comments in that thread.) I'm not being mean or harsh and please don't take it that way. My only desire is that you grow and improve your recordings. I understand fully that being this honest is no way to make friends.


    Noises - The very first thing I noticed is that there are lots of noises in this recording. There's a big one in the first :02 of the recording. Could be piano bench, could be pedals, could be dampers (sounds like bench). It's very distracting while listening to the performance.

    Cause: Either the pedal mount (we had this discussion before--it's called a "lyre," right?) is not adequately tightened or the bolts on the bench (underside, in the corners) are lose.

    Solution: Tighten all those bolts and anything else that shouldn't move. Moving away from the piano will also help remedy this.

    Just to make sure you hear what I'm talking about, other instances are at :12, :17, :19 (These three are surely pedal related, since they are in holes). There's another noise I don't recognize at :28.

    Another odd noise that I don't recognize at 1:25 to 1:27 (specifically at 1:26, in the right channel). Listen again at 2:57 for a strange unrecognizable (to me) noise.


    Tuning - Many of the unisons are not in tune, look specifically to the notes in the upper register phrase at :47-:50 where almost all of the unisons are out of tune. By unisons, I mean the multiple strings that should be tuned to exactly the same note. In that register, usually there are three strings. These are not all sounding the same pitch. The notes at :56 to :57 show exactly the same problem. There's a really bad unison at 1:55. Again in the 4:25 region (same as problem area pointed out previously).

    Solution: Good piano tuner/technician. Have him look at some of the lower midrange notes which sound like they are "pinging." Sort of a midrange boink instead of a nice round bark. It's hard to tell but it may be a voicing issue, but poor tuning can cause this as well.


    Distortion - At :27, there's some distortion.

    Solution: Make sure you leave plenty of headroom on the mics, preamps, digital recorder. Piano is notoriously peaky.


    Panning - Listen at 2:10 to 2:20 where the left hand (lower register) is really hammering. To me the bottom of the piano sounds centered. So the image doesn't feel L to R to me. It's feels like Center to Right, with very little discrete L channel information.

    Solution: Check the panning and make sure the low end mic wasn't accidentally panned center.


    Mic Placement - As Rich mentioned, I think you're way too close. If you want an intimate sound, then position the mics outside the body, either as XY or one in the crook and another on the far end of the piano if you want more separation from low to high. You can move out 12", 24" or even 4-8' depending on the recording space. You'll get a much more natural sound. I think you'll get a much better sound than being right up on the hammers, which would work if you were overdubbing on a pop/rock tune.


    Mic Choice - This piano recording feels like there's nothing below 150 Hz or so. Even on the largest of the low notes which are really being played well, there's no sonority, no grandeur, no harumph, no air moving. With this composition, this performance, this player, it should be really bellowing and rattling the room and I never feel that. I would chalk that up to the mics. Could be placement, but in this case I think not.

    _________________________________

    On the positive side, I think the performance is wonderful. And good for you for finding a performer who wishes to have you record them. What an amazing opportunity.

    There are others here who are more proficient at classical piano recording than I am and I would like to hear from them. What do they think of the performance? The sound?
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  7. #7
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    Thanks to everyone. Fantastic information!!

    yes the bench was making some noise(300lb piano player), also the floor was making some noise which I didn't catch when setting up. Its been a few months since the piano was tuned, the piano technician also heard the voicing issues when I played it for him. Its bee a couple of years since a good voicing was done, its on the schedule.

    Once again.. great info and no feeling tramped on at all. You can only learn when people give you good information....

    I will check out the thread on piano recording.. I want to develop a good method as it seems this might be coming up more often.

    Yes, what the client wants(low cost stuff, mostly for self gratification) is that "in your face" piano sound, but I need to lose the mechanical sounds.. open the feel up, capture more of the sound, not just the piano. I will also haul out some different mics and play around. I have a feeling I know where this is going.. but heck.. I can always use some new toys..

    Jeff
    Last edited by sloop; 06-29-2009 at 06:06 PM.

  8. #8
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    A crossed pair of mics sitting right outside the crook of the piano, about 12-18" out and halfway between the soundboard and full-stick lid gives a nice balance of presence and tone without highlighting technical noises, in my experience.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3daudioinc View Post
    A crossed pair of mics sitting right outside the crook of the piano, about 12-18" out and halfway between the soundboard and full-stick lid gives a nice balance of presence and tone without highlighting technical noises, in my experience.
    thanks.. I will give that a shot...

  10. #10
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    Default related questions:

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Mays View Post
    There is a really good thread on Gearslutz titled "What's up with piano recordings these days?" that has several excellent descriptions.
    Rich
    Rich,
    if you're still out there, can you help me find that thread you recommended ? I tried a Gearslutz search on "piano" and as you might guess, got thousands of hits.



    3daudioinc,
    How do I post one of my piano recording samples on a thread ? And does it have to be MP3, or can it be any higher resolution ?

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