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  • Piano Miking

    Whats the best way to mic a grand piano with stereo pencil condenser mics?

  • #2
    One of the toughest and most variable situations in audio - so there's no one best way. A lot depends on your application - classical, loud rock, honky-tonk, etc. all tend to have different tonal needs and difficulties.

    What kind of music are you doing?
    <div class="signaturecontainer">&quot;I would kill the children of a thousand planets, just to see you smile&quot;</div>

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    • #3
      It would be contemporary christian type music.

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      • #4
        Open lid or closed???

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        • #5
          closed

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          • #6
            Closed? Why bother with an acoustic grand then?

            Probably the best way under these circunstances is to mic from the bottom, mic the soundboard close to the pegblock, maybe 6 inches inside and mic the low end side a little farther in.

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            • #7
              Haven't personally been in a position where I have had to try this, but I have always heard that the bridge routine is a good way to mic closed lid grands. Use some tape (gaffer's) to create a bridge over the low registers of the piano as well as the high registers. Lay a condenser on top of each bridge (2 mics total) and tape them down to the bridge. Run cable so that it doesn't rest on any of the strings or hammers. Close lid.... Check...

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              • #8
                The theatre where I work has a 57 Steinway that we mic regularly. Usualy we mic it with a closed lid because it lessens bleed and feedback problems, however micing with a closed lid sacrafices A LOT of sound quality (SR is always tradeoffs isn't it?). A couple of the problems that occur with a closed lid are the mic hears a lot of the reflections from the lid and unless your mic is really small there is a clearance problem with the lid. We usualy use a combination of SM98s SM81s or SM57s.

                What we've found works pretty well is:

                Put a 81 or 57 in one of the sound holes (try one of the middle or the large ones) (really it must lay off axis pointing at the harp due to clearance problem mentioned previously). We call this mic PNO LO.

                Then put 1 or 2 mics (here we use the SM98s (they're a pretty bright mics but all we're trying to capture is the attack and they do fit under the lid)) over the harp pointed at the hammers. We call these mic(s) PNO HI (use a Hi pass filter here). If you're using 1 mic on the hammers placement is critical (you have to experiment a lot). If you're using 2 mics over the hammers you must listen for phase cancellation and adjust accordingly (If you're running a stereo system, panning these mics L&R can help with the cancellation problems a lot).

                This technique usualy works OK as a general purpose piano sound but it is by no means the only or even best way to do it (you must decide if it is suitable for your purposes). My fav technique is to use a large Dia condenser for the sound board (AT 4033 or Shure KSM44) and a couple of small Dias for the hammers (AKG C451s or Octava 012s) with the lid on tall stick (we did this with a small orchestra (mostly strings) and it sounded wonderful but we had to orient the piano so that the open side was toward the audience and away from most of the orchestra). Stage monitors were minimal and the overall show volume was averagely very low.

                Try to use a board (or mic pre's) that are as quiet as possible and set your gains on the low side (pianos have a lot of transients that are too fast for most meters) and get you gain after the fact. Doing this will make for a more clear and open sound (of course if you're micing with lid down the "phase smear" that you get from reflections won't ever give you a truly great sound anyway).

                Hope this helps. Have fun
                J.R. Previously jrble

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                • #9
                  The theatre where I work has a 57 Steinway that we mic regularly. Usualy we mic it with a closed lid because it lessens bleed and feedback problems, however micing with a closed lid sacrafices A LOT of sound quality (SR is always tradeoffs isn't it?). A couple of the problems that occur with a closed lid are the mic hears a lot of the reflections from the lid and unless your mic is really small there is a clearance problem with the lid. We usualy use a combination of SM98s SM81s or SM57s.

                  What we've found works pretty well is:

                  Put a 81 or 57 in one of the sound holes (try one of the middle or the large ones) (really it must lay off axis pointing at the harp due to clearance problem mentioned previously). We call this mic PNO LO.

                  Then put 1 or 2 mics (here we use the SM98s (they're a pretty bright mics but all we're trying to capture is the attack and they do fit under the lid)) over the harp pointed at the hammers. We call these mic(s) PNO HI (use a Hi pass filter here). If you're using 1 mic on the hammers placement is critical (you have to experiment a lot). If you're using 2 mics over the hammers you must listen for phase cancellation and adjust accordingly (If you're running a stereo system, panning these mics L&R can help with the cancellation problems a lot).

                  This technique usualy works OK as a general purpose piano sound but it is by no means the only or even best way to do it (you must decide if it is suitable for your purposes). My fav technique is to use a large Dia condenser for the sound board (AT 4033 or Shure KSM44) and a couple of small Dias for the hammers (AKG C451s or Octava 012s) with the lid on tall stick (we did this with a small orchestra (mostly strings) and it sounded wonderful but we had to orient the piano so that the open side was toward the audience and away from most of the orchestra). Stage monitors were minimal and the overall show volume was averagely very low.

                  Try to use a board (or mic pre's) that are as quiet as possible and set your gains on the low side (pianos have a lot of transients that are too fast for most meters) and get you gain after the fact. Doing this will make for a more clear and open sound (of course if you're micing with lid down the "phase smear" that you get from reflections won't ever give you a truly great sound anyway).

                  Hope this helps. Have fun



                  i have tried and endorse every technique you describe.
                  hate closed lid sound, not too fond of under piano mic, but it is possibly the most even sounding method of micing a grand with one mic, with better ambient noise rejection/ gain before feedback.

                  last week i mic'ed our steinway with a 451 at the hammers and a cheapo MXL LD condenser near the far bass end.

                  pianist hits the keys very light, and with gain sitting on the brink at noon on the input channels, i'm getting an average of -6 on the meter

                  the drummer, 20 ft away, shielded by a 5/12ft clearsonics baffle, and being bocked by the piano lid,
                  registers +6 on snare shots and cymbal crashes....

                  other things to check out:

                  shertler, hepinstall, c-ducer, akg 414s on a tape bridge...

                  i cannot endorse the barcus berry 4000xl system, of which we have two.
                  i'd rather use a soup can and some string.::
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