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#1842575 - 02/11/12 01:43 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Seeker]  
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Originally Posted by Seeker
Del - perhaps this link will help. There are sound samples there that include the mics about which you are asking.
http://www.earthworksaudio.com/our-microphones/pianomic-series-2/

The Earthworks system sounds phenomenally good, and it is priced roughly twice that of the Audix system. My bet is, that with the Audix, the 90/10 rule would come into play, i.e., for half the price you get 90% (or better) of what you get for a lot more ca$h.

For about half the price of the Audix, I'm pretty sure you could successfully mic a piano at half stick with something like the Shure KSM-141 or even some of the very small diaphragm pencil condensers.

Thanks for the link.

I’ve heard about the Earthworks PianoMic system but have never seen one in action. For my client the Audix system would be a stretch, though, so I’m quite sure they would not go for something twice as expensive.

The goal is to come up with a system that can be simply installed—without requiring a lot of experimentation—and left in place. It would be used primarily as a live system and only secondarily for recording.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
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#1842609 - 02/11/12 02:21 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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I have a recording studio and a grand piano and I have found that a pair of Countryman Isomax II Omni mics work extremely well on piano with lid open or closed or half stick and they are about $200 each. You can use a piece of tape or almost any kind of clip to attach them to the plate struts at appropriate locations. They are extremely small, invisible to an audience, and pick up with great precision and detail. Really a sleeper mic, but I would definitely give them a try before shelling out $1200 on the Audix mics. Buy them from an online retailer that has a good return policy and if you don't like them, send them back for the Audix mics, but I have a feeling you won't be sending them back. That's must my 2 cents worth, but I have a/b'd them with some U87's and the sound stood up amazingly well. Full Compass sells them for less than $200, but there return policy is not as generous as some other retailers. (read 15% restocking fee)


Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.
#1842615 - 02/11/12 02:25 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Del]  
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Originally Posted by Del
The goal is to come up with a system that can be simply installed—without requiring a lot of experimentation—and left in place. It would be used primarily as a live system and only secondarily for recording.


for that purpose you may want to look at the piano-specific M40 boundary mic; @ $450 thru musiciansfriend.com:

http://www.appliedmicrophone.com/products/show/13

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Zsp93jgXqc

http://innig.net/music/recordings/method/mics.html

#1843976 - 02/13/12 05:54 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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Thanks to all who responded. I'll pass all this on to my client.

It is apparent that there are still no easy choices or solutions—which is, of course, what my client is interested in finding.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
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#1843994 - 02/13/12 06:11 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Pianolance]  
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Pianolance....curious as to how these the Isomax II sounds...do you have any sound files you can share here? I like the specs, especially the frequecy range of the 2.0 20-20, and the OSL, 150 db SPL. Would like to hear a sample you have made, since you have a recording studio and grand....thanks, GPM


#1843999 - 02/13/12 06:15 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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Del, forgot to mention this.....Kawai makes this for grand pianos...it looks pretty good, but I have never heard a sample. It may be worth a look by your client, since it's very simple to use and set up.


http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/digital/Special/pr-1.html


#1844023 - 02/13/12 06:48 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Grandpianoman]  
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Originally Posted by Grandpianoman
Del, forgot to mention this.....Kawai makes this for grand pianos...it looks pretty good, but I have never heard a sample. It may be worth a look by your client, since it's very simple to use and set up.


http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/digital/Special/pr-1.html

Interesting.

And it reminds me of a question I intended to ask but then forgot: Is there any practical downside to miking the piano from the bottom. In theory, at least, essentially the same sound energy and waveform should be radiated from the bottom of the soundboard panel as from the top.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
#1844028 - 02/13/12 06:51 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Del]  
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Good question Del...there must be something positive about that, maybe that's why Kawai designed their system utilizing the underside of the piano.

Also, I just read the PDF on the Kawai PR-1...it's also for uprights and other instruments!

http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/grands_09/PR-1/brochure_om/PR-1.pdf


#1844067 - 02/13/12 07:49 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Grandpianoman]  
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Originally Posted by Grandpianoman
Good question Del...there must be something positive about that, maybe that's why Kawai designed their system utilizing the underside of the piano.

Also, I just read the PDF on the Kawai PR-1...it's also for uprights and other instruments!

http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/grands_09/PR-1/brochure_om/PR-1.pdf

I notice it's a little shy on specifications of any kind.

Any idea of the cost?

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
#1844381 - 02/14/12 10:53 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Del]  
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Originally Posted by Del
Originally Posted by Grandpianoman
Del, forgot to mention this.....Kawai makes this for grand pianos...it looks pretty good, but I have never heard a sample. It may be worth a look by your client, since it's very simple to use and set up.


http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/digital/Special/pr-1.html

Interesting.

And it reminds me of a question I intended to ask but then forgot: Is there any practical downside to miking the piano from the bottom. In theory, at least, essentially the same sound energy and waveform should be radiated from the bottom of the soundboard panel as from the top.


the sound file of the kawaii system doesn't sound good at all to my ear, and they muck it up with tons of reverb -- not a good example. besides, that system seems wholly inappropriate for live use; seems like a very simple home recording system for pressing a CD.

here's a link to a Shure PDF regarding mic placement. in general they discourage under piano placement as muddy. my experiments confirm muddiness. again that would not be appropriate placement in a live situation...

http://www.shure.com/idc/groups/public/documents/webcontent/us_pro_micsmusicstudio_ea.pdf

lastly, here's another very simple piano system from DPA:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjILuNfLr-U

i think they also have a non-stereo option, which is appropriate for ensemble live performance. along with the M40 i'm not sure it gets much simpler for live performance.

#1844406 - 02/14/12 11:39 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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more grist for the mill:

i'm back to full stick with the behringer c-3s in omni mode parallel to the piano, diagonal in position with the treb mic pretty close to middle C and about 6 inches back from the hammers, the bass mic over the bass strings, 1 ft above the strings, no effects. here's a doodle example:

http://www.box.com/s/heoz9hgtkamvsf4x3m96

sometimes the sound file crackles but that's coming from the box.com stream, not from the mp3 file.

i was told by a recording studio yesterday that USB powered breakout boxes are under powered for large diaphram condenser mics; they don't give enough juice for the needed headroom, better to get a preamp that properly plugs into an outlet. my audiobox 22vsl is USB powered, but i'm going to make the best of it for the time being.

#1844409 - 02/14/12 11:43 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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Nice sound, Entheo


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#1844496 - 02/14/12 02:20 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Grandpianoman]  
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Originally Posted by Grandpianoman
Del, forgot to mention this.....Kawai makes this for grand pianos...it looks pretty good, but I have never heard a sample. It may be worth a look by your client, since it's very simple to use and set up.


http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/digital/Special/pr-1.html



Here is an old sample recorded using PR1 performed by our dear member KawaiDon.

regards,

Last edited by Hakki; 02/14/12 02:32 PM.
#1844590 - 02/14/12 04:56 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Pianolance]  
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Pianolance - You write that "I have a recording studio and a grand piano and I have found that a pair of Countryman Isomax II Omni mics work extremely well on piano with lid open or closed or half stick and they are about $200 each".

I went to the Countryman website, and they are recommending the omni for mono, and the cardioid for stereo.

Do you have a sample recording you could share either here or by pm?

My interest goes beyond the academic. I'm about to self-record a CD which I hope to distribute commercially. Right now I'm using some LDCs which are pretty nice, but the Countryman Isomax II looks like a lot less trouble to set up from session to session.

Thanks for letting us know about these microphones.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
#1844593 - 02/14/12 05:01 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Entheo]  
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Originally Posted by Entheo
more grist for the mill:

i'm back to full stick with the behringer c-3s in omni mode parallel to the piano, diagonal in position with the treb mic pretty close to middle C and about 6 inches back from the hammers, the bass mic over the bass strings, 1 ft above the strings, no effects. here's a doodle example:
====snip=====

Sound very nice.
I can't picture your set up.
Could you share a photo?
"parallel to the piano" side? keyboard?
"diagonal in position" with respect to what?

Thanks for posting.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
#1844974 - 02/15/12 02:56 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Grandpianoman]  
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For what it’s worth…another PDF.

Brüel & Kjaer (B&K) acoustical test equipment has, for decades, been regarded as some of the world’s best. Years back—late 1980s—I worked with a B&K measurement microphone which, even then, was noted for its dead-flat frequency response. Like everything B&K it was frightfully expensive. Sometime back in the 1990s sales of at least some B&K microphones was transferred to Danish Pro Audio (DPA). Initially these mics were still manufactured by B&K but this may have changed.

As may be, I was snooping around DPA’s website and came across this on miking the grand piano— http://www.dpamicrophones.com/en/Download/~/media/PDF/Download/grandpiano.pdf
—and thought others might also be interested.

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
#1844983 - 02/15/12 03:07 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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I'm sorry, but I no longer own my pair of Countryman Isomax mics, I traded them a couple of years ago for a vintage Beyerdynamic ribbon microphone and it's one of the worst trades I've ever made. I have really missed those things, and as a matter of fact I am considering buying another pair. The reason I recommended them in Del's situation is because they are extremely easy to mount and very easy to hid inside a piano. Del wanted something that was easy to leave in place, invisible, and would work for both recorded and live sound and these fit the bill. When I was doing most of my recording with those mics I had a 7' Schimmel and it was awesome. They wouldn't sound as good on my 5'2" Knabe, it's just not as resonate as the Schimmel. As far as omni vs directional, I don't know, mine were omni so I have never compared the two, by the omni's worked great.


Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.
#1845013 - 02/15/12 05:03 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Seeker]  
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Originally Posted by Seeker
The Earthworks system sounds phenomenally good

It is (Stevie Wonder has just bought one). I record Stuart & Sons pianos, and use the PM40 for live ensemble recording, and complement it with two Earthworks QTC50 omnis placed level with the RHS of the piano for studio work. The resultant sound is out of this world.

I've also recorded two Stuart pianos with two PM40s. I know they are expensive, but believe me they are worth it. Having said that, I used to use two Behringer C-3s, which are surprisingly good given their low price.

Regards
Chris


Stuart & Sons 2.2 metre #25
#1845115 - 02/15/12 10:03 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Seeker]  
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Originally Posted by Seeker

Sound very nice.
I can't picture your set up.
Could you share a photo?
"parallel to the piano" side? keyboard?
"diagonal in position" with respect to what?


hi andrew, here you go:

[Linked Image]

#1846480 - 02/17/12 12:20 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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SOME learning curve happening....

Spent 2 weeks tearing my hair out trying to get a "classical" solo piano sound out of a couple of AKG 414 XLMs!

I think, perhaps, that the 414s were TOO good: they picked up unwanted room ambience no matter how I set them up.

Placing them very near the piano, and even over the strings, "solved" the room ambience issue, but introduced a dry and slightly nasal quality to everything around C3 that I didn't like.

Here's the Beyer m160s at about 7ft out from the bend in the Hailun 218, again in a REAL small space, which is my piano/music room:

http://www.box.com/s/hlgr617go9vs4grujczg

Also working well set up in the same way are the AKG C 451 Bs.

Note: you can't mic for a classical piano sound INSIDE the piano with either the Beyer B160 or the AKG C 451B (hypercard). The result, to my ears at least, is super twangy.

So I guess these small ribbon and small diaphram condensor mikes are made more for listening at a distance.

Now the question is: would the realively cheap Oktava 012 (mod or otherwise) do an even BETTER job. Same type of mic as the AKG, but cheaper (and better?)...

JG

Last edited by johngrant; 02/17/12 08:22 AM.
#1846640 - 02/17/12 10:08 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Entheo]  
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How do you upload pics here???

JG

#1847584 - 02/19/12 01:02 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: johnlewisgrant]  
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Two AKG 451 b mics, the Hailun 218 sitting in my slightly cramped music room (at least, that's what we call it), and the same-ol JSBach prelude played with the requisite number of mistakes.

AKG 451s in an xy configuration, roughly 3 ft out from the fully open lid, 6ft off the floor:
http://www.box.com/s/993x2kd9zo9kxne9j0p2

AKG 451s 5-6ft apart, 3ft out from open lid, aimed at the treb and bass strings respective. Lid wide open:
http://www.box.com/s/pjxe0000osg64q2po7ur

AKGs 10 ft apart and about 5 ft out from open lid (mics actually sitting a little outside the outer edge of the piano, again facing the fully open lid and pointing to the treb and bass respectively):
http://www.box.com/s/cilx8e6kug0zx4p23pkx

All different performances of the same (are you getting bored) piece. But useful.

I will be going up a notch next week, and will post what DPAs and the Cole Ribbons sound like.

I wonder if they're be a noticeable difference?

JG

#1847709 - 02/19/12 09:31 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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john, not getting bored; appreciate the consistency for comparison's sake.

the further apart you go with those mics the more i like the sound. is it my imagination or did the 10 ft apart volume drop about mid-way thru (auto gain?)

little bit of clipping in the 5 ft apart example?

what are you running your mics into? (preamp, etc.)

for posting pix, what i do is:

create a free tinypic.com account
1 upload your pic
2 copy the full URL
3 then, come back here and in a Full Reply (not Quick Reply) click on the image icon in the post toolbar and paste in the URL. preview to be sure it's working et voila.

#1847806 - 02/19/12 01:12 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: Entheo]  
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Ahhh.... so THAT'S the secret...(re pic upload) Can Do!

Interesting.. so you prefer the mics out max distance from the instrument? WELL... it seems that the further out I got:

1. The more reverberent the sound
2. The less coloured the piano sound

So what I call the "midway" file is sort of a compromise between in close, which I find too coloured and out ten ft, which I find picks up too much ugly verb.

Not all rooms have ugly reverb, but this one does.

Clipping: Yes, I think there is a bit in the midway file. And the mics at a distance version is not normalized to the max. Also, I think the 10 ft out version is converted to 228 kps; whereas the others are 320.

Mics to Scarlett 2 pre; to garageband on macbook (aiff format); to ultimately to my pc i9 to wav format, where I trim the file, normalize it, and convert the wave file to mp3.

Lots of weak links, the weakest being my daughter's old macbook, which can barely handle the recording (I get some pops and clicks).

In theory, the idea is that I'm getting through this process a reasonably accurate approximation of what any particular mic might sound like in this particular room with this particular piano.... when I find something that seems to work, I will fork out the big bucks.

So far, the AKG 451s seem to work the best for me (compared to the 414s and the beyer m160s), at least in the sense that when I a/b my trials against pro recordings of exactly the same music, the difference is mostly subjective.... or a matter of taste.... Which is why I leaned towards the "midway" mic position in these examples... seemed about as verby as the average recording of these piece, and no more coloured.

Next week I'll try to rent some of the "big boys" Coles 4038, Schoeps, and DPAs.

Thanks for the input. It confirms what I'm hearing.

JG

Last edited by johngrant; 02/19/12 01:14 PM.
#1848142 - 02/19/12 11:26 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: johnlewisgrant]  
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Originally Posted by johngrant
====SNIP====

Mics to Scarlett 2 pre; to garageband on macbook (aiff format); to ultimately to my pc i9 to wav format, where I trim the file, normalize it, and convert the wave file to mp3.

Lots of weak links, the weakest being my daughter's old macbook, which can barely handle the recording (I get some pops and clicks).
====SNIP====

Couple of things to suggest.

1) You can swap out the Mac for your PC if you download Audacity (free from SourceForge.net as I recall). If your PC has USB ports, I think the Focurite should work fine with it.

2) When you "normalize" the file, does that mean you're adjusting the max level to "0 db"? If so, that may be where your background noise is coming from. You might get better results by getting your input levels adjusted better, normalizing if necessary to say -2DB, and using a compressor. There is a very interesting package here which you could download and play with.

Meanwhile - I think your latest efforts are sounding fabulous. It will be interesting to A-B the same piano, with mics set up the same way, when you get to the truly great mics from Coles, Schoeps, DPA, etc. My bet is that we'll see the 90/10 rule come into play.

Good Evening to All.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
Rockville, MD USA
www.AndrewKraus.com
www.YouTube.com/RockvillePianoGuy
Twitter at @IAmAPianist

1929 Steinert 6'10" (Close copy of New York S&S "B")
#1848210 - 02/20/12 01:10 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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Del Offline
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Olympia, Washington
Another interesting article—to me, at least—I’ve found on recording the piano can be found on the Sound on Sound website. This article gives some (mostly accurate) information on just why the piano is so difficult to record. It can be found here:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may99/articles/recpiano.htm

ddf


Delwin D Fandrich
Piano Research, Design & Manufacturing Consultant
ddfandrich@gmail.com
(To contact me privately please use this e-mail address.)

Stupidity is a rare condition, ignorance is a common choice. --Anon
#1848384 - 02/20/12 11:27 AM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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Wound up Offline
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Wound up  Offline
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Posts: 66
I feel bad even writing this, Those who were trying the AKG products -- I think would notice a major improvement using older examples. i.e.: the 451E sounds much better to me then the 451B, Also the older 414's get the better the newest ones are near useless... but a BULS or a TL2 are easy to find and should still stomp on the new ones while costing less....

Also For a small diaphragm budget option I have heard many rave reviews on the Rode ntk-4 and 5 series

Of course Neuman KM64/84/54 are great as well as other really expensive old german tube mics..

If someone was interested in that quality but wanted to go new I would recommend all of BOCK AUDIO mics everyone of them..

good luck micing!

Last edited by Wound up; 02/20/12 11:29 AM.
#1848417 - 02/20/12 12:44 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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hv Offline
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Cape Cod
Del, I think the Earthworks setup would be hard to beat in the permanently installed application you require. I haven't used it myself but I do use their qtc40 omnis as well as their compact cardioids and they are top notch. I consider them the closest in performance from a US manufacture to DPA. Their setup installs for operation with the lid up or down. Keep in mind that its compact spaced omni mics would yield a very accurate and natural imaging that would probably work well for anything from classical to pop and both at fast and slow tempos. I've used spaced omnis myself and my only criticism is that imaging is a little flatter and lacking in depth for my tastes.

For most of my live stage recordings, I use the DPA 3521 kit which consists of a pair of 4021 compact cardioids. Pictured in the DPA pdf you posted above in the 2nd graphic (as spaced cardioids in magnetic holders on the plate) and in figure D in the XY holder which is the way I always use them. I find their medium sized capsule rich in bass response and texture and quick enough to also be well suited to both fast and slow tempos. I like them on stage because they are so small they are almost invisible on the end of a mic stand and do a nice job rejecting air conditioning and lighting noises. They're kind of expensive, however, and hard to get these days. Not sure if DPA is still making them.

For studio recording where environmental noise can be controlled, I favor mid-side micing. I've used pairs of U87s but find their large diaphragms sometimes lose detail with fast tempo and/or percussive playing. Same for ribbon mics. They work very well for slower melodic material, however. One fix was to substitute a qtc40 for the mid which works quite well. Setup and positioning is still a little clunky, however. I've been spoiled by the ease of handling with DPA 4021s.

For my most recent studio work I tried a pair of MJ modified Oktava MK012s in a figure 8 array with a qtc40 mid and it was fantastic. The compact diaphragm of the Oktavas seem to make for more ambient detail and razor-sharp imaging in a small and light package that was reasonably easy to position. At a cost probably 1/4 that of a Neumann DAAK AK20/AK40 equivalent setup (which I've always lusted for, btw).

Howard

#1848468 - 02/20/12 02:14 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,152
charleslang Offline
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charleslang  Offline
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Here is a demo of some CharterOak tube microphones on a Steinway -- yet another nice option among the very many:

M900t


charlessamuellang.com
Semi-pro pianist and piano technician
Tuesdays 5-8:30 at Vince's West Sacramento, California
#1848469 - 02/20/12 02:16 PM Re: best piano microphone [Re: richard_dup1]  
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Posts: 4,764
Jeff Clef Offline
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Jeff Clef  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,764
San Jose, CA
"Those who were trying the AKG products -- I think would notice a major improvement using older examples. i.e.: the 451E sounds much better to me then the 451B, Also the older 414's get the better the newest ones are near useless."

Oh no Wound Up--- if I'd only had your advice before I bought those nasty (and new) AKG 414B-XLS dogs. In my ignorance, I thought I was getting nice recordings. Though I do envy johngrant's strategy of renting and trying out a variety of good mikes; I merely looked at a lot of spec sheets then crossed my fingers and went through the learning curve until I found some things that worked well with my piano, room, and purpose.

I admit it was not that easy. It was somewhat less nerve-wracking knowing that Sweetwater had my back, and that if they really turned out to be wrong I could send them back. Well, it's too late now. But
it would be interesting if you would say more about the old AKG 414 mikes (and the dates the good ones were made), and how they were better. Everything wears out in time, and maybe I will live long enough to need to replace the mikes I have.


Clef

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