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05-31-2016, 06:51 PM   #1
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K David's Avatar

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Audio Recording for Piano music

Hi, B&H,

I record piano music for my church's YouTube channel and I'm trying to find a solution that improves our recorded piano music quality. Right now all the camera and room mics are on the wrong side of the raised piano cover except one and it's at an unfavorable axis to the hammer orientation (and it's built into a Sony CX-240 camera, so it's not superb anyway). I think I can rig up two off-axis, variable height mics (one in line with the hammers and one at about a 65 degree angle and facing the back of the piano, the first about two feet elevated from the piano and the other can be elevated to about four feet above the piano, set about seven and ten feet away, respectively.) My current thinking is that I'd use two large-diaphragm condenser mics running to a wav recorder like a Tascam DR-60mkII. The room we're in is live, very live, from a recording perspective and my hope is that the mics can avoid picking up the sound of the choir and congregation singing during the anthems and hymns. (Ambient sounds recorded when the piano isn't used are fine since I'll be cropping them out anyway.)

All that said, I'm not 100% certain that my idea for a set-up is the best, so I'm also looking for some insight. I'm hoping that you guys have staff who know as much about audio as your photography staff know about cameras and photography.

Do you have any suggestions for mics? (A range of prices would be appreciated.)
I have Soundbooth CS4 that I can do some minimal audio editing in (I'm not very experienced with audio editing yet.) So my hope is that the recording can be used mostly straight from the mic with minor level balancing.
I forget the make, but the piano is a full-size grand.

Thank you!

06-02-2016, 12:48 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: New York
Posts: 856
Hello;

I have shown your request to an Audio expert here and I will paste his comments below. I will admit I understand little of it and should you want to follow up, I would send an Email to audio@bhphoto.com / Attention John P in the subject line.

In my opinion the best way to mic a piano is in an XY stereo configuration. This way you are recording it exactly as the pianist is hearing it.

I would suggest 2 AKG 414’s a matched pair if possible. Put them both in a cardioid pattern. Then take the right hand mic, the one over the high strings and place it with the diaphragm pointing at the pianist but down a bit over the strings. Position it at almost the end of the high strings. Close to where they are wrapped to the pegs.

Then take the left hand mic the one that covers the low strings and point the diaphragm away from the pianist. The mic should be positioned close to the hammers. This will result in the recording sounding the same way the pianist is hearing when they play. The hammers strike the low strings and the sound travels down and away from the pianist. This way the mic’s are in and XY with the diaphragms pointed in opposite directions.

The mic’s should be panned hard Left and hard Right. The result will be the piano panning from left to right and right to left as the pianist plays. The piano will move across the speakers creating an image that is very natural sounding to your audience. The high strings panned right and the low strings panned left.

When you listen back to your recording, it will be very exciting and the image will be constantly moving across the speakers. Thus creating the illusion that there is no left and right speaker, there is just an exciting dynamic image moving as if you were seated at the piano.



Hope this helps, good luck.

Chuck
06-02-2016, 05:22 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Hi, Chuck,

This is a HUGE help, yes. The mic suggestion was one I had looked at so it's good to know I was on the right track there. The pattern and panning details I didn't know and now I just need to figure out some details. This puts me WAY down the road from where I was a couple days ago.

Thank you very much!

David
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