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Choosing to record a real piano versus a virtual one

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  • Choosing to record a real piano versus a virtual one

    I'm going to be recording piano parts, both solo instrumental pieces and accompaniments for vocals. Initially they'll be for a demo for a solo act I'm working on, but I do hope to be able to distribute them as well. I have a Yamaha C3 grand in my living room. Pianos are the bane of recording engineers, so how good of a sound can I expect to get from it as someone who knows just a little about engineering? Putting up any sort of permanent sound treating is out of the question. It would be nice to be able to record a real piano, but would I be saving myself an enormous headache to just get a good virtual piano instead?

  • #2

    Why not so both and see which sounds best?

    I'd say the only downsides of recording an acoustic piano is the micing techniques and the possibility the piano may not be tunes to concert pitch. Room acoustics do play some role but mic choice and placement will determine how much room reflection you will have. What kind of mics you have to use and their placement over the sound board will be the biggest challange. If you plan on micing the top and bottom of the sound board, be sure you reverse the phase of either the top or bottom mic. Most DAW programs will have a phase button on the track that reverses the phase so you shouldnt have to use a reverse cable, but a reverse cable can let you hear what you're tracking when setting up the mics.


    • kkelly
      kkelly commented
      Editing a comment

      I'm starting from scratch, so trying both is an expensive proposition. I have the piano tuned twice per year and it holds a tune well, so that part shouldn't be an issue. What I'm trying to determine at this point is how much money and time (pain?) I'd have to put into recording my piano to get, to most people's ears, a good sound. I know I'm not going to fool any professional engineers. I'm coming at this from the perspective of a performer who wants to record at home, using a real piano if possible, but who will use a virtual one if the expense and time involved in recording the real one is too great.