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Yamaha digital piano -recorded with 2 mics THEN recorded direct with line in


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I just received a second AKG C414. So on I recorded my recently acquired Yamaha F01 digital piano with the 2 of them. I tried using one as an overhead - about 41 inches up from the floor and about even with my body when sitting on the piano bench. The lower one was placed about 21 inches up and slightly under the piano keyboard.

 

The recording sounds OK to my ears. When I posted it on a forum that's more (I'll say) beginner oriented, everybody said the recording sounds like crap basically. They said I need to recorded directly. So I dug up 2 matching cables and did it. Basically the same settings on the Tascam DO008EX, only recorded 24 hours apart.

 

Everyone pretty much said the line-in version sounds much better. As for myself, I don't think there's that dramatic a difference. So I'd like to get other opinions. If you can give any specifics as to why the mic'ed version sounds like "crap" I'd like to hear those specifics. I know that sometimes people have preconceived notions that are just that: notions. They hear or read that something has to be this way or that. And they just buy it on face value.

 

If there is something I can do to improve the mic'ing, I'd like to hear that/those suggestions also. The song is a classic bluesy jazz standard called "Killer Joe".

I'm sure you'll all know which is the mic'ed version.

 

Thanks in advance for observations.

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/david-goethe/kllr2wav

 

https://soundcloud.com/david-goethe/killrjoewav

 

 

 

 

 

In case someone does NOT know, Kllr2wav is the directly recorded version.

Edited by davd_indigo
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Lots of people will recommend you record a digital piano direct. In many ways that's the "easiest" approach, and it can yield fairly good results... with some caveats.

 

Of course, some pros may also let you in on a secret - and that is, even electronic instruments can benefit from a pass through the air on their way to your recorder. For a recent thread where we were discussing this very thing, check out this link. Pay particular attention to UstadKhanAli's comments. Yes, mega-engineer Bruce Swedien is a big fan of this technique, and so am I. Run your electronic sound out to an amp/speaker or two - a powered studio monitor works fine, or in a pinch you can use a powered PA speaker or keyboard amp... a guitar amp will probably roll off too much highs for something like a piano part - then mic it up and record the sound coming out of the speaker to a new track.

 

Your Yamaha has built-in speakers and amps, so you don't have to resort to an external powered speaker since they're already built-in. Since it can already move some air, the question becomes one of optimizing the mic positioning. That's where I'm going to run into some limitations, because I'm not really familiar with that model, and I don't know what type of speakers it has and where the speakers are mounted, but here's a few tips to keep in mind.

 

First of all, experiment with different mic placements - and take pictures and notes so you can get back to what works best for you later. Distance means depth of field - back the mics up further for a darker and less present sound with more room reflections and ambience, move them in closer for a brighter, more present and less ambient sound.

 

If you're in fairly close with the microphones, the edge of a speaker is usually darker and warmer sounding, and the center (near the dust cap) is generally brighter sounding. If you're using a cabinet with multiple drivers (woofer + tweeter) and miking fairly close in (two or three feet away), try aiming at different locations between them to balance the sound to your tastes.

 

If the keyboard has dual speakers and pans the piano left / right (low / high notes), you might want to try with one mic closer to one speaker, and the other closer to the other. The closer in you go, the more obvious the stereo spread will be. Remember - too much of this can also sound unnatural. Most people don't listen with their ears under the lid and right inside the piano above the soundboard. ;)

 

I noticed a bit of hiss from the amps / speakers on the miked track, but it has a less annoying and less digital sounding upper-midrange on the note attacks. The hiss will be a dead giveaway that it's electronic in origin, so try to minimize that if you can.

 

Try an external powered speaker instead of the built-in units. You may find that the external amp hisses less and has a fuller-range frequency response than the built-in units - or not. The Yamaha's speakers and amps may still sound best - but the only way to know that is to try both and see what you think.

 

The upper midrange on the note attacks on the direct recording will be as much of an obvious "tell" that it's electronic as the hiss on the miked recording IMHO... as will the lack of early reflections and ambience. If you're going to run direct, an early reflection plugin and a dash of good room or hall reverb sim will help... dealing with the upper midrange is trickier and requires careful EQ, but even that doesn't always make it totally convincing.

 

Compare what you're getting to some really good piano recordings. What does theirs have that you want, but don't have? Adjust your setup and configuration with that in mind and try again. The more experimentation, the better you're going to get at this, and the more you'll get to know the particulars of your own room and equipment.

 

Context is important. If you're going to do a solo piano recording, then it needs to be able to stand on its own; there won't be anything else to mask or hide behind and the piano sound will be very exposed. While that's far more revealing and will show any flaws, it also means you don't have to EQ to try to get the piano to work and play well with the other elements of the mix. If it is in a mix with other things, you have to take into account how everything sounds and works together, and not just the piano. If the piano is going to be featured as a forward instrument in a busy mix, you might want to record it with closer mic positioning (remember - distance means depth) so it sounds more forward in the mix. You typically won't want to mic a soloist at a long distance, then slam that track super-high in the mix. It's unnatural. Of course, as an effect, everything's fair game... but if you're going for realism, move the mics a bit closer for featured instruments and further away if it's more of a supporting part.

 

Finally, do try running it direct at least once or twice for comparison. You may like the sound that way, and if you do, there's nothing that says you have to record it with microphones instead of just going direct - but do continue to experiment with miking it - you're not out of your mind or doing anything "wrong" by doing so.

 

 

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Well, I had kind of an "aha" moment. I placed both mics on the left end of the piano. Duh ! I believe it's designed to have the low pitches sound more the left side. I copied and pasted the stuff below from Yamaha's site. I played a handful of pianos in the local Yamaha show room, and I swear this sounded the most realistic in my price range (under $7-8K). It's something like 7 or 8 year old technology, but to me as a pianist, I liked it best.

 

But maybe I'll try backing one a couple of feet. That raises a question. Please excuse my ignorance. But do the levels of the two mics need to be somewhat even when recording ? Or does that not matter. The more distant mic is obviously going to be recorded much lower.

 

One other question (I'm giving you a workout). What other mics should be considered for recording an acoustic bass player and a jazz style drummer. I will be having them over sometime. Gotta get the 32 track first of course. But I'm wanting to be thinking and reading about the candidates.

 

The Yamaha description below:

 

Amplifiers 40W x 2

Speakers 16cm x 2 + 5cm x 2

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

To offer truly authentic sound, Yamaha takes piano voice sampling to a whole new level for rich, musical voices. The Grand Piano voices are complex multi-samples painstakingly recorded from a full concert grand piano.

MODUS takes the realism of the grand piano sound to new heights with its Stereo Sustain and Key-Off samples. Stereo Sustain samples recreate the resonance of the strings and soundboard when the damper pedal is pressed contributing to the unique sound of a grand piano and Key-Off samples provide the delicate sound of the dampers touching strings as the keys are released.

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Well' date=' I had kind of an "aha" moment. I placed both mics on the left end of the piano. Duh ! I believe it's designed to have the low pitches sound more the left side.[/quote']

 

That's pretty typical of electronic pianos - when running in stereo, they pan the notes across the stereo field, with low notes on the left and high notes more on the right.

 

I copied and pasted the stuff below from Yamaha's site. I played a handful of pianos in the local Yamaha show room, and I swear this sounded the most realistic in my price range (under $7-8K). It's something like 7 or 8 year old technology, but to me as a pianist, I liked it best.

 

Decent sounding multisampled pianos have been around for quite a while now IMO. My Kurzweil isn't exactly new either, but I really like it a lot.

 

BTW, that was very nice playing on the recordings. phil-thumbs-up-small.gifwave.gif

 

But maybe I'll try backing one a couple of feet. That raises a question. Please excuse my ignorance. But do the levels of the two mics need to be somewhat even when recording ? Or does that not matter. The more distant mic is obviously going to be recorded much lower.

 

I'd suggest trying something a bit different than what I think you've been doing... instead of putting one mic on each speaker (in a spaced pair arrangement, but with one closer to its associated speaker than the other), try experimenting with the two microphones in a coincident or near-coincident arrangement. XY stereo would be a good place to start. Blumlein (crossed figure-8's) can also work well - especially if you want to accentuate the amount of room reflections and ambience you picking up.

 

Experiment with moving the pair of microphones around. You'll want a decent stereo bar to help make that a bit easier (so both mics can share a stand and can be moved by repositioning the stand and boom, without messing with their relative orientation to each other). As far as where to put them, I can't really offer suggestions yet for reasons I'll get to in a moment...

 

One other question (I'm giving you a workout). What other mics should be considered for recording an acoustic bass player and a jazz style drummer. I will be having them over sometime. Gotta get the 32 track first of course. But I'm wanting to be thinking and reading about the candidates.

 

I've been using a Rode NTK on upright bass for years now, and while I don't know of anyone else who does, I really like it in that application. Lots of people like small diaphragm condenser microphones on upright bass too.

 

For jazz drum kits, I would suggest a three mic approach for starters, maybe four, depending on the kit, room and drummer. If you need a fourth mic, it will be for the snare drum. A SM57 is probably the most used mic in that application, but I've been using the Audix i5 a lot too. A pair of overheads (small diaphragm condensers or ribbon mics) plus a large diaphragm moving coil dynamic for the kick are the main three mics. I like the E/V RE20 and RE320 a lot in the kick position, but there are several other good kick mics out there. I'd be interested in trying the modernized AKG D12 VR sometime; I've heard good things about it from other engineers I respect, and the original (long-discontinued) D12 is still a good choice for a more vintage vibe on kick, and can work well for jazz. Steer clear of the D112 though - it doesn't have the right sound (IMHO) for jazz.

 

For the overheads, a pair of small diaphragm condensers is the option that's probably used the most often. For a fairly neutral sound that won't break the bank, I like the Audio-Technica AT4041. You can probably pick up a pair new for around $500 total. Also check out Blue's new Hummingbird - while they're a skoch more expensive, these are exceptional performers; some of the best SDC's on the market in the under $500 a piece category IMO. A pair will probably cost about $100 more than the ATs.

 

Ribbon microphones are a nice alternative to condensers on drum overheads. In that application, the Beyer M160 is a great choice, as are the more expensive Royers like the 121. You'll drop about $1.5-2.5k for a pair of ribbons in this class, and you'd probably need something like a ~$250 Cloud Cloudlifter CL2 to bring their level up hot enough for the preamps in the Tascam to deal with (ribbons have low output, and need LOTS of preamp gain - more than you'll find in many interfaces and mixing boards), so they might not be a realistic option for you, depending on what your budget's like.

 

 

The Yamaha description below:

 

Amplifiers 40W x 2

Speakers 16cm x 2 + 5cm x 2

AWM Dynamic Stereo Sampling

To offer truly authentic sound, Yamaha takes piano voice sampling to a whole new level for rich, musical voices. The Grand Piano voices are complex multi-samples painstakingly recorded from a full concert grand piano.

MODUS takes the realism of the grand piano sound to new heights with its Stereo Sustain and Key-Off samples. Stereo Sustain samples recreate the resonance of the strings and soundboard when the damper pedal is pressed contributing to the unique sound of a grand piano and Key-Off samples provide the delicate sound of the dampers touching strings as the keys are released.

 

Thanks for the description!

 

So basically they're running everything out of a 2" and a 6" speaker on each side, with a 40W amp for each side... but what I'm having a tougher time trying to figure out is where the speakers are located on the unit. I downloaded the manual for the Yamaha F01, but can't seem to find that information in it. Are they mounted in the panels below the keyboard (downward arrows) or under the keybed firing downward, as indicated by the upwards pointing arrows?

 

fetch?id=31638432

 

 

Without knowing where the speakers are located and which direction they're firing, it's hard to suggest actual positions for you to try out with the microphones... smile.png

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Here's that (by now) tired old favorite "Killer Joe" yet again. I like this one OK.

 

I did the X/Y 90 degree configuration as best I understand it. The mics are about even with my head height wise, and maybe about a foot behind it (my head).

 

Although I like the idea of a ribbon mic, I'm a little concerned about damaging one. I know they're more durable than they were in years past. But...I want to see the Blue Hummingbird in person and feel how the moving capsule works. I want get a feel for how secure the moving mechanism is. I'm concerned about it flopping around in ways not intended several years down the road. I like what I read about the Blue Baby Bottle mic, but I guess it would be duplicating what I already have with 2 large condenser mics (2 C414's).

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/david-goethe/killr3wav

Edited by davd_indigo
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Compared to the 414's the Baby Bottle tends to have a bit more midrange emphasis and focus. It's a somewhat darker sounding microphone. I wouldn't consider them to be enough alike in terms of tonality that they'd be redundant.

 

I'm kind of busy ATM but I will give your new recording a listen soon.

 

Do you happen to know where the speakers are mounted on your piano?

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I just ran my fingers over the gray panels underneath the piano keyboard. I can feel a grill on the left and right panels. The speakers seem to be about where the downward pointing arrows are in the illustration above (a couple of posts previous).

 

By the way. If I do get a Baby Bottle, would it be a good idea to go ahead and get two? I'm beginning to picture owning 3 different pair(s) of good mics.

Edited by davd_indigo
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