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Hi everyone, I am looking for a good-quality audio interface would be work for classical piano recordings and online lessons. Does anyone have experience connecting non-USB microphones? I am considering different price ranges. Suggestions would be appreciated.

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About Zoom settings on mobile devices:

https://youtu.be/mfszcjY8VDI

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Here is a popular audio interface that connects to USB port of a computer:

https://www.thomann.de/gb/focusrite_scarlett_2i2_3rd_gen.htm

Here is a good quality mic pair suitable for recording piano in stereo:

https://www.thomann.de/gb/rode_nt_5.htm

Here is how a pair of Rode NT5 mics sound:

https://youtu.be/dd6bCZgLR_4

Last edited by Hakki; 02/08/21 06:21 AM.
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The Schubert sounds lovely.

Hakki, so if I get a pair of Rodes with this interface, how would you say this compares with using a Zoom with its internal mics?

Also, how does the Focusrite compare with a Zoom with Rodes as external mics?

(I hope these questions make sense.)

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Hi Natasha,

I asked almost the same question nearly a year ago and got some helpful replies (LINK).

There are some great, moderately-priced suggestions in that thread, such as Steinberg UR22, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and MOTU M2. I ended up with a used RME interface - options are plenty. To be more precise, perhaps tell a bit more about how you intend to use it - PC or Mac, emphasis on certain roles/functions/usability aspects?

From my own experience, as long as you get a decent interface, it's the investment in microphones that matter. Here, the suggested Røde NT5s have a strong reputation. I am very, very satisfied with my pair of Line Audio CM4s as an alternative.

Best,
Kasper


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Originally Posted by David-G
The Schubert sounds lovely.

Hakki, so if I get a pair of Rodes with this interface, how would you say this compares with using a Zoom with its internal mics?

Also, how does the Focusrite compare with a Zoom with Rodes as external mics?

(I hope these questions make sense.)

Focusrite will have better quality low noise mic preamps compared to Zoom.

There really is no comparison between the sound quality of a pair of Rode NT5 and internal mics of a Zoom device.

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The links that Hakki provided are a great series for video and audio applications. However you question was specifically about audio interfaces. I use a very high quality USB interface from UK company Audient. It is their id44 at around £400.There is a smaller version, the iD22 at around £300.

https://audient.com/products/audio-interfaces/id44/overview/

I use a matched pair of Neumann KM184 small condenser mics at around £950.
Ian


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I use RME Babyface pro. 2 mic inputs and 2 line inputs. Depends on how many inputs you need.
+ Audient or Arturia audiofuse. Was the ones I thought of too but went with the RME.


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I recently purchased an interface after doing quite a bit of research. The Focusrite Scarlett, Focusrite Clarett and Presonus Studio devices get consistently good reviews. I was very impressed by them. You can get a 2-input unit for about $150-$200. There are also lots of other makes but the prices, quality, performance and reviews of them are all over the map.

In the end, however, I went for a Mackie ProFXv3 mixer instead of a basic audio interface. The 6-channel & 10-channel models are in the same price range as the basic 2-channel audio interfaces but they provide more inputs, useful controls and greater all-round utility; they are also very low noise & provide latency-free USB conversion up to 24-bit/192kHz.

That said, I agree with others who have suggested that the mics you use will make have the biggest impact on the quality of your recordings.

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Thank you to everyone!

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Originally Posted by Hakki
Focusrite will have better quality low noise mic preamps compared to Zoom.

There really is no comparison between the sound quality of a pair of Rode NT5 and internal mics of a Zoom device.

Thank you, that's really helpful.

This might be a silly question - but in that case, I am just wondering why are Zoom recorders so generally favoured here on PW? Is it price? Or perhaps ease of use? Or is there some other feature of the Zooms?

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Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by Hakki
Focusrite will have better quality low noise mic preamps compared to Zoom.

There really is no comparison between the sound quality of a pair of Rode NT5 and internal mics of a Zoom device.

Thank you, that's really helpful.

This might be a silly question - but in that case, I am just wondering why are Zoom recorders so generally favoured here on PW? Is it price? Or perhaps ease of use? Or is there some other feature of the Zooms?

You are spot on.

It is a hassle to deal with XLR cables, mics, mic booms, interface etc. Especially in a home setting if the room is not a dedicated recording room. Even then condenser mics are sensitive and should be kept in their case when not used and should be protected from humidity.

So yes, Zoom devices are popular because they are practical, easy to use and setup and they are affordable. Also they are ideal for recording practice sessions, can be carried to other locations such as a classroom etc. and provide a good quality sound compared to a smartphone or laptop mic.

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So I think I understand. The Zoom has all the bits in a small handy box; but the trade-off is quality.

My goal in acquiring a recording capability would be to make recordings of my antique instruments, to document them - rather than to focus on my playing/practising. I think separate mics and an audio interface sound like the way to go to meet this objective, as a little less convenience would not really matter, whereas better quality would be important. Thanks for clarifying this in my mind. Any thoughts welcome!

Natasha, I hope you don't mind my latching on to your thread.

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So I have the flip question. If I wanted to buy a USB mic, what's the best option? Just a good old Blue Yeti?


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To record your instruments faithfully, mic selection is very important.

It has to be a transparent mic that does not add any colour to the sound of the instrument.
It should have a very flat frequency response.
For stereo recording, two mics of the same model should be a Matched Pair.

Like a Matched Pair of two KM-184 mics.
https://en-de.neumann.com/km-184
https://www.thomann.de/gb/neumann_km184mt_stereoset.htm

Or if your room acoustics is good, a Matched Pair of KM-183 mics
https://www.thomann.de/gb/neumann_km183_stereo_set_ni.htm

Here is general info about frequency response:
https://mynewmicrophone.com/complete-guide-to-microphone-frequency-response-with-mic-examples/

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If you are interested in listening to sound samples of various relevant microphones, people in the Gearslutz fora are as interested in recording equipment as Pianoworld members are in pianos.

Here's a helpful test, rigorously comparing samples from some of the microphones (in different price brackets: Behringer B5, Røde NT5, Line Audio CM4, Neumann KM-184) mentioned above. It's a parallel piano recording, microphones mounted in parallel (LINK).

A decent set of headphones is probably needed to evaluate the differences.

The same person similarly tested a lot of other relevant equipment (LINK).

Last edited by kaspere; 02/09/21 07:51 AM.

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The NT5 comes with one distinct advantage: As an add-on there are omnidirectional capsules available - NT45O and that adds quite a lot of flexibility in playing around with the best possible microphone set up. It needs to be said that this part is a lot more important than the supposed quality of the microphones themselves. It takes quite some time to find one or more positions for the microphones to suit one's taste and not each of them is immediately obvious. For example, I somewhat stumbled upon a configuration that may seem odd on first view, but listening to it gives me quite some pleasure.

I fixed the NT5 and its omnidirectional capsules on a stereo bar with a distance of 30cm between the mic clips and positioned them at an angle of roughly 140°, quasi ORTF. Distance to the piano is about 1,5m albeit in a beautiful concert hall that adds a lot of ambience by itself. The audio interface is a Steinberg UR22 which I chose for the very good quality of its Yamaha microphone pre-amplifiers. Recorded with audacity, no post-processing at all:



In my home the same set up sounds like this:


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Both nice recordings, I particularly like the 'at home recording'. Presumably these are different pianos as well as different room acoustics?


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