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Recording a Yamaha C3E Grand Piano

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by kosmas31, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. kosmas31

    kosmas31 Active Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Home Page:
    My audio interface is Sound Devices Mix Pre 6 and it records straight to SD. I want to record my Yamaha C3E grand piano in a way that I won't ever need to go to a studio. I currently use Zoom H2n. I want to record 4-8 hours per day. Solo, duets, four hands etc. I have a list of microphones in matched pairs (many of them are stereo too). Which one will give me super professional results? Keep in my mind that my room is not treated so I need something to cancel the room as much as possible.
    AKG C 451 B Stereo Set
    AKG C314 Stereo Set
    AKG C414 XLII Stereo Set
    Antelope Edge Go
    Antelope Edge Quadro Stereo Set
    Audio-Technica AT4050 SM
    Audio-Technica AT5045P
    Audio-Technica BP4025
    Audix SCX25A-PS Set
    Austrian Audio OC18 Set
    Austrian Audio OC818 Set
    Avantone CK-40
    Beyerdynamic MC-930 Stereo Set
    Coles 4038 Studio Ribbon Pair
    DPA d:vote Core 4099
    DPA ST2011C
    DPA ST4006A
    Earthworks Audio PM40
    Earthworks Audio SR-25 MP
    Golden Age Project R1 ST
    Haun MBC660 L Set
    JZ Microphones BT-201/3S Set
    Lauten Audio Atlantis FC-387
    Lauten Audio Clarion FC-357
    Miktek CV3
    Miktek CV4R
    Neumann KM184 Set
    Neumann TLM 103 Stereo Set
    Neumann U87 Ai Set
    Oktava Mk 102 MSP2 Silver Stereo Pair
    Oktava MK 220 Set
    Oktava MK 319 MSP Set
    Oktava ML 52-02 Set
    Rode TF-5 Set
    Royer Labs R-10 MP
    Royer Labs R-121 MP
    Royer Labs R-122 MKII Set
    Royer Labs SF-24
    Schoeps MSTC 64 Ug Stereo Set ( ortf)
    Schoeps Stereo-Set MK 2s
    Schoeps Stereo-Set MK 4
    Schoeps Stereo-Set MK 5
    SE Electronics SE 4400A Stereo Set
    Sennheiser E 914 Set
    Sennheiser MK 8
    Sennheiser MKH 800 Twin Nx
    Sennheiser MKH 8020 Stereo Set
    Shure KSM 137 Stereo set
    Shure KSM 141 ST Stereo set
    Shure VP 88
    Sontronics Apollo 2
    Telefunken M60 FET Stereo-Set
    Warm Audio WA-84 Black Stereo-Set
  2. thatjeffguy

    thatjeffguy Active Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Vashon Island, Washington
    Home Page:
    I have been using the Earthworks PM40 for a couple of years now on my 6' 10" Langlois & Sons grand. My room is treated, but relatively small. These mics record amazingly evenly across the frequency spectrum and can be easily used with the lid shut if isolation from other sounds is necessary.
    With the right reverbs applied you can get a realistic representation of the piano in almost any imaginable space.
    I have experimented with many mic combinations of mics for recording this piano, and I have a fairly hefty mic collection. Prior to purchasing the PM40, my favorite methods were a mid-side configuration using Beyerdynamic M130 & M160 combination, my other favorites were a matched pair of Charter Oak M900T small-diaphragm tube condensers in a spaced-pair configuration.
    kosmas31 likes this.
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Unfortunately, "super professional results" come from more than just microphone choice. Both the acoustics of the room and the placement of the microphones in the room probably have a greater bearing on the quality of the recorded sound than the make and model of microphone.

    In addition, you should be considering omni-directional rather than cardioid pattern microphones, as cardioids will not do justice to the lower octave of your 6' grand. However, an omni pattern goes against "something to cancel the room as much as possible", so compromise and experimentation are going to be the only way of moving forward. Be prepared to hang thick drapes in your room to tame some of the reflections.

    Of the microphones in your list (from a hire company?), possible choices could be the DPA4006A or the Schoeps sets with the MK5 capsule (set to omni). If the room acoustics can be sufficiently controlled, particularly reflections from the ceiling, then the Royer ribbons can give excellent results, especially in instances where capacitor microphones might emphasise any harshness in the piano tone.
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    I would echo Boswell's sentiment that "super professional results" would include a generous amount of the space around the piano, which means the room has to be of a certain size and acoustically pleasing. Any microphones good enough to capture the nuance of the piano will also capture the traits (good and bad) of the room. Otherwise, you may as well keep the lid closed and use the Earthworks piano system recommended by thatjeffguy and add artificiall reverb to suit the track.
    Kurt Foster likes this.
  5. kosmas31

    kosmas31 Active Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Home Page:
    I have heard only the best about earthworks and DPA for piano indeed

  6. kosmas31

    kosmas31 Active Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Home Page:
    I think this is the best thing to do. By the way, i ii have recorded my piano with the zoom h2n set below the soundboard and the sound is dry and woody. It really cancels room reverberation. Its a little rough sound though,..
  7. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2014
    Lowestoft - UK
    Home Page:
    Me, and I record Yamaha's quite a bit, the real effective differences are the room, the room and the room. I could pick from a list of mics, but if the room is less than gorgeous sounding, then you are going too have to go in close and add artificial reverb. For instance, in that list are DPA 4006s - these can sound amazingly truthful, but the truth is often bad. They're brilliant for exposing reflections, lack of absorption and flutter echos. My get out of trouble mics in your list are 414s. Close miked, in really close on full stick, or equally happy as a fig-8 crossed Blumlein like array, or even spaced at a metre to so - so many available techniques IF, the room is rubbish.

    Clearly you have the budget and the instrument, so spend the money on acoustic treatment. you need to do an analysis of the room, then consider what you can do. If the room is awful, no mic will do well. It's easier to really dampen the room down with absorbers - even duvets on mic stands work, and then brighten up the thing artificially.

    There is no 'professional' sound. Pros get bad sound just as often as amateurs, but have the ability to do something about it. The piano is in good nick, I assume? That can also influence which mics and technique you pick. What noise does it make when you quickly remove your foot from the sustain? A nice soft close, or a thump, jangle or low frequency kerthump? If the mechanism and action makes a clatter, then more distant techniques are needed which increase the room component.
  8. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2013
    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    I'm with the guys... There is so much of the "Pro sound" comming from the room the instrument and the player itself.
    With that impressive list of mic there is simply too many combinaison. Therefor I would rather pic the mic according to the wanted sound fitting the song rather than limitting myself with a pair which other people said is the best.
    Another aspect, I'm sure you didn't neglect is the preamp choice.
    Now I only talk for me here and could be way wrong, but mic choice, placement, preamp etc, should stay alive and changing all the time depending on the project/song.

    Sorry for not providing a direct answer ;)
  9. John Willett

    John Willett Active Member

    Apr 2, 2014
    Oxfordshire, UK
    Home Page:
    Recording piano is my speciality.

    First question - how does the piano sound in the room? The room doesn't need "treating" if the piano sounds good in the room.

    I have recorded a complete commercial double-CD of all the Chopin Nocturnes on a 9' Steinway in an untreated room of a normal family house with omni mics..

    Omni mics capture the bottom end of a piano that directional mics miss - and it's pretty obfious when you compare.

    Beforre I recorded the above mentioned Chopan CD I did several tests of microphone positions with both directional (MS rig) and omnis - the omnis were obviously much better.

    Personally my mics of choice are the Gefell M 221 as 1st choice, though I also have used Sennheisr MKH 20 and 8020 and Neumann KM 131-D.

    To record piano on a low budget, the Line Audio OM1 are a good choic e and perform well above the price you pay.
    cyrano and pcrecord like this.
  10. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2014
    Lowestoft - UK
    Home Page:
    To add to John's post - here is another C3 recording in the pianist's home - in a less than perfect space. Recorded with a couple of AKG 414s, also on the omni pattern, but it's quite boxy sounding. It was for a specific purpose - playing back in large reflective spaces (dance studios) so is deliberately quite dry, otherwise the clarity suffers. Not meant for normal listening but you can hear the room components.
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