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Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
#2891224 09/17/19 08:21 AM
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Just curious as to what most folks use to record audio? I currently have a Samson C0U1 Pro (USB) microphone. It works ok, but definitely not like some of the samples I hear on YouTube. I see a lot of folks have 2 or even 3 mics set up. After looking around, I see that the MXL 990/991 combo is pretty popular.

What are you guys/gals opinion on an affordable mic setup?

Thanks!
Matt


1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
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Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891243 09/17/19 09:06 AM
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Well I don't know whether they are the best/affordable mics out there but I am using a matched pair of Rode NT 5 mics with omni capsules (optional). I am quite satisfied with the results.

Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
Hakki #2891260 09/17/19 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Hakki
Well I don't know whether they are the best/affordable mics out there but I am using a matched pair of Rode NT 5 mics with omni capsules (optional). I am quite satisfied with the results.


I have exactly the same microphones in a matched pair and using them in ORTF set up with the omnis I am really very happy about the results. On should always keep in mind, though, that well placed cheap microphones are always a lot better than expensive microphones in the wrong place for your room. It pays to play around with different positions and directions of the microphones.

Here is a sound bite of the NT5 omnis in a 40m² room in ORTF set up on an 1886 Steinway B:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ozX388jxik8QGqM6w0Xz_6_o_PW8YdFG

Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891273 09/17/19 10:27 AM
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Those sound fantastic! What other components do you have to record the audio?

Since I am only recording to playback for corrective steps while training, I would ultimately hope to find something more affordable.

Maybe something like this setup? Thoughts?

https://www.amazon.com/Neewer-Micro...enser+pair&qid=1568730406&sr=8-7

https://www.amazon.com/MXL-990-991-...nser+pair&qid=1568730406&sr=8-12


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Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891292 09/17/19 11:29 AM
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NT5s here as well. Here's a piece I wrote recorded on my Estonia with NT5s. The other link in the chain is a Scarlet 2i6 interface. There was some processing done on this (compression and EQ).

https://soundcloud.com/pantonality/remorse-and-atonement

You may say you just want to record to correct mistakes now, but in the future that may change. Regarding the mics you posted the NT5s are small diaphragm condensers like the MXL991 and the Neewers. Generally, when you're talking inexpensive microphones they're made in China to hit a price point. The Rodes may be made in China but they're at a professional price point. Rode also offers the M5 in a matched pair for about the same as the MXL, but I don't know what they sound like. As others have already said, mic placement and processing will have a significant impact on sound.

Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891306 09/17/19 11:49 AM
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Thanks for the recommendation on the M5's. Those are probably affordable within my budget. I found one video on YouTube using them and they would fit my needs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdGO4vLl9ow


1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891315 09/17/19 12:14 PM
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Found this video with the M5 mics. I think they will work perfect based on this recording. Would be even better if I could somehow hook them into the mic input on my Canon 5D MK2.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnUW4FUuP3Q


1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
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Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891364 09/17/19 02:09 PM
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The first question would have to be: what is affordable? in this case, to you.

Some people think 100$ is affordable, other $1000 etc. The most common way to record a grand piano is with two condenser microphones, Large Diaphragm and Small Diaphragm are popular for this purpose, some also prefer Ribbon Microphones. Once having them, you need a way to record them. Most popular choice is probably by connecting the microphones to an audio interface and then use a Digital Audio workstation computer program to edit the recording.

some popular microphone brands: MXL, Rode, Audio Technica, AKG, Neumann (there are tons more but this is listing generally from cheaper to more expensive)

Some Popular Audio Interface Brands: Steinberg(Yamaha owned), Presonus, Focusrite, MOTU, Universal Audio

Some Popular Digital Audio Workstations: Studio One, Digital Performer, Logic, Pro Tools

Hope this is helpful.

Last edited by sroreilly; 09/17/19 02:09 PM.
Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891382 09/17/19 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by TurboMatt
Found this video with the M5 mics. I think they will work perfect based on this recording. Would be even better if I could somehow hook them into the mic input on my Canon 5D MK2.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnUW4FUuP3Q


Since these mics require 24/48 V phantom power you will need an interface and connect the output of the interface to your Canon audio in port. Or sync audio and video later.
Still IMO such a set-up (mics, interface, mic stands, mic holders, XLR cables, interface cable etc.) might be overkill for just recording to playback for corrective steps while training.


Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
OE1FEU #2891394 09/17/19 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by Hakki
Well I don't know whether they are the best/affordable mics out there but I am using a matched pair of Rode NT 5 mics with omni capsules (optional). I am quite satisfied with the results.


I have exactly the same microphones in a matched pair and using them in ORTF set up with the omnis I am really very happy about the results. . . .


ORTF uses cardioid mics, not omni.

. . .Do you prefer results with the omni ?

Thanks --


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
Charles Cohen #2891399 09/17/19 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen


ORTF uses cardioid mics, not omni.

. . .Do you prefer results with the omni ?



You're correct, of course. In lieu of a professional term for an omni in the same spots as ORTF I call it that and always mention the omnis anyway.

The recording is a result of roughly 18 months of fiddling around with every configuration possible and, yes, to my ears the omnis sound a lot more natural and spacey than the cardioids. The latter ones are too direct in my ears and lack a certain warmness.

In a real hall with a real piano my set up actually sounds really nice and almost professional:

https://youtu.be/UOd0nTHPN_Q?t=4558

Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891400 09/17/19 03:48 PM
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I have a Rode NT4 XY mic. I haven't used it yet, but bought it based on Aimee Nolte's videos. Here's one where she compares her Rode to the more expensive Earthworks mics. About 6 min. into the video is when you can hear the Rode in action.

I like this video because she tries various mic placements so you can hear how that changes the sound quality. The Rode NT4s go for about $550 on Amazon, but you may find a used one much cheaper on Ebay.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 09/17/19 03:52 PM.

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Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891401 09/17/19 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by TurboMatt
Those sound fantastic! What other components do you have to record the audio?

Since I am only recording to playback for corrective steps while training, I would ultimately hope to find something more affordable.


I use a Tascam dedicated portable recorder, DR-44WL, that provides the necessary phantom power for condensers, but alternatively I also have a digital audio interface to feed it into a DAW. That's the Steinberg UR-22 MKII with excellent Yamaha preamplifiers at really a very good price - and Linux compatibility.

Please note that microphones for your purpose are usually one time investment that will last you a lifetime, Maybe you can find a local store that will help you by lending the mics to you for a weekend. That wouldn't be unusual and would definitely help you find the right mics for your purpose.

Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891411 09/17/19 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by TurboMatt
Would be even better if I could somehow hook them into the mic input on my Canon 5D MK2.


Oh, that's a helpful remark.

This Canon camera model has a 3,5mm dedicated microphone input that overrides the internal one once a mic is plugged in. I have some experience in dealing with that kind of microphone and I have played around with some particular model for more than 30 years. It was originally designed as a binaural microphone for using it with an artificial head, but I only used these as stereo microphones in connection with a variety of portable recorders, such as the Sony WM-D3, TCD-D8 and nowadays the Tascam DR-05.

The results can be quite stunning, as in these examples:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1B0fWo8sbQMH3xTxTbY0Q-0ebqZGPylKe (Igor Zhukov plays Scriabin Fantasy b-minor Op. 28)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crnQMSfxHgw

The microphone I am talking about is the Soundman OKM-II and all live recordings on my youtube-channel were done with a pair of these.

Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891476 09/17/19 08:14 PM
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It's easy to rent mics and stands, and not very expensive.

But you need XLR inputs to plug them into, and phantom power if they're condenser mics.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891589 09/18/19 08:38 AM
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Thank you all so much for your feedback. This thread has already exceeded any information I had hopes to receive.

As far as budget, I would say under $500 for everything needed (mics, stands, pre-amp, etc).

From what I gather, the best bet for my budget will most likely be the Rode M5 matched pair and a pre-amp like the Focusrite 2i2 or 4i4.

I would agree that this should be a one time investment. For now, it would only be used for self-training to playback for myself. I use my phone now to find problems that I don't otherwise hear while practicing. I noticed several problems using the phone as the mic is not the best.

One item that I have not seen mentioned is software. What is everyone using for the post aspect?

Thanks!
Matt


1980 Yamaha G5 Grand Piano
1924 Chickering Baby Grand
Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891607 09/18/19 09:19 AM
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Mixcraft is a robust solution on Windows, and pretty cheap. I've used it to record and mix podcasts, and it has been very solid.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 09/18/19 09:20 AM.

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Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2891620 09/18/19 09:47 AM
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I use "Audacity" since its free and open source software and works really well.

https://www.audacityteam.org/

Have you listened to the recordings with the binaural OKM-II mics? These might work really well with your camera.

Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2896678 10/03/19 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by TurboMatt
Those sound fantastic! What other components do you have to record the audio?

Since I am only recording to playback for corrective steps while training, I would ultimately hope to find something more affordable.

Maybe something like this setup? Thoughts?

https://www.amazon.com/Neewer-Micro...enser+pair&qid=1568730406&sr=8-7

https://www.amazon.com/MXL-990-991-...nser+pair&qid=1568730406&sr=8-12



I've been really pleased with the Neewer mics you have listed paired with Behringer UMC404HD interface using Audacity. My wife and I got that setup to record her playing. We are still figuring out the best configuration and I think we have lots of room for optimization of both microphone placement and post processing. Here are a couple of our recordings..

Let it Go
Raindrop
El Espanta Pajaros (jump to 1:25 for the music)

Re: Best / Affordable microphones for recording grand piano?
TurboMatt #2896698 10/03/19 10:11 AM
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Thank you for sharing the links. Have you tried to play the mics closer to the strings? It sound as if the bass strings are not being picked up at the same level as the mid and treble sections. Or is this aspect due to the microphones themselves?


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