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how to record a piano?


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  • how to record a piano?

    i friend of mine got a new upright piano and wants to record a song or two with me

    ok open the top, having two mic stand left and right and pointing the mics to the strings

    any recommendation what to look at, what to avoid, newbie mistakes to avoid?


    which mics? i have two sm57 or two small diaphragm condensers i use for drum overheads

    i don't know in which room it stands cause i had no chance to visit her in her new flat and if the room acoustic would be desirable or not


    anyhow any info or any links is mostly welcome

  • #2
    you're on it. if your daw interface can handle a boat load of mics then more the merrier with any grand. the strings change in length so keeping mics in the areas to capture all tones are important. using your diaphragms basically all that you have for general area and use a few SM 57's adjustable according to the sessions scale. example if its a low scale tune point them to the lows. high to highs. broader for flex session.
    you can't really over mic just make sure no feed back can be made and you're set to record.


    • WRGKMC
      WRGKMC commented
      Editing a comment

      The issue you have with multiple mics on a single source is phase issues. If you keep the mics the same diatsnce or use the 3:1 rule you should keep yourself out of trouble of having the time delay sound takes to get to a mic through the air. This delay can shift the wave timing and cause partial or complete frequency cancellation, much like you'd get with a guitar pickup reverse phased. 

      If this is a baby grand and you're micing the top and bottom you need to set the bottom mics for reverse polarity. (or an upright piano with the front and rear sound board miced)

      The best way to ensure the mics are in phase and picking up the best tone is to set the headphones for mono and adjust the mics for the best tone so they have the least amount of phase cancellation. You can hear this when the headphones are set for mono.

      You may want one mic close to the sound board and one further away to capture more room sound. If the close mic is about an inch from the sound board, set the other at either 3, 6, 9" etc. Use a tape measure to like you would setting mics on a drum set to get it close. Since the piano is so big and it resonates throughout its structure, the mic position isnt going to be exact. You just have to tweak it till you find the best tone. Same thing for the mic on the soundboard. You may get more attack/dynamics near the mallets but more mechanical thumping if the mechinisms are older and worn. You may get more sustain, resonance further away towards the end of the sound board. 

      You just have to move the mics around while listening through good isolation headphones to dial up the best tone. In many ways its like dialing up guitar tone. You have a tone in your mind you're going for and just tweak things till you get it. If you arent familure with pianos, let the guy playing it help. If he's any good he should have a good ear for getting his own tones.