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Rubens Offline OP
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I just purchased two condenser microphones, with changeable capsules (I can choose between omni and cardioid) to record some solo classical music on my grand piano in my living room.

Experimented with a few combos, and actually found this one to sound the most satisfying:
Mic A: omni capsule, 180cm high, 60cm away from the concave side of the piano (the side where the lid opens), pointing at the bridge, output to the left channel of the final sound file.
Mic B: cardioid capsule, 115cm high, 20cm away from the concave side of the piano, also pointing at the bridge, output to the right channel of the final sound file.

!!??!!

Theoretically, isn't this too ridiculous?
I would think a stereo combo within the same kind of capsule would make much more sense, but I found those combos less satisfying. I definitely like an omni/cardioid combo, but never heard the "one to the left ear, one to the right ear" combo, maybe because it's too outrageously suboptimal.

I'm a total newbie. Actually a bit embarrassed to even post this, but I gotta start somewhere. Maybe you could suggest some better stereo settings to try? Thank you.


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Please try this with both mics Omni. Pan hard left (closer to keyboard) and right. Mics parallel to floor.

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Look up X-Y pair stereo microphone recording and read about it. That's what is usually used for recording stereo with a matched pair of microphones. Basically the mics are close together but at a 90 degree angle to each other. Positioned a few feet back from a grand, pointing into the open lid. I am not an expert, but that is what I use for my recital recordings.

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Rubens Offline OP
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Thank you.
I tried those matched combos and I do like some of them, but I'm looking for an optimal mixed one-of-each-capsule combo if there is such a thing.. In any case I'll read more about the XY to make sure I'm not missing anything.


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I have found that pointing the mics to the bridge gets too much key noise, though some might like that.

I position mics about 8 inches from strings, inside open lid. both mics are about centered over strings. Bass strings mic is further towards back of piano, treble mic is midway above strings. both mics are tilted slight away from each other. I get very nice stereo effect.

You really have to determine if you like open room ambient (mics placed as stereo pair away from piano per Hakki suggestion, or closer micing inside lid. I prefer the latter with only two mics. A mix of the two would be ideal with 4 mics.

Shure has a nice guide on their website that talks about ways of micing grand piano. There are a lot of youtube videos on the topic as well. Also lots of other threads on the forum if you search.


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Rubens Offline OP
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Thanks drewhpianoman, I haven't tried that combo yet.

Originally Posted by drewhpianoman
You really have to determine if you like open room ambient (mics placed as stereo pair away from piano per Hakki suggestion, or closer micing inside lid. I prefer the latter with only two mics. A mix of the two would be ideal with 4 mics.

Yes I definitely like a mix of the two. My setup (one mic of each) sounds surprisingly good to me, but I'm afraid there's something bad about it that I'm not hearing yet because I'm so new to recording music. Buying two more mics (for a 4 mic setup) would go over my budget at this point.


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Originally Posted by drewhpianoman
. .

Shure has a nice guide on their website that talks about ways of micing grand piano. There are a lot of youtube videos on the topic as well. Also lots of other threads on the forum if you search.

+1.


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well, if you like the sound I would go with it. You will certainly try different things over time. Recording well takes a lot of time and experience so don't expect to get things perfect right away.

Just try a lot of different positions and distances because the result depends on a lot of different factors, your piano, your room, the particular mics etc.


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Rubens Offline OP
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Yes I've been reading and apparently my setup has been used with good success for other acoustic instruments/settings. Maybe I'm onto something with this after all but I can't quite believe it yet. Maybe I should have phrased my OP a bit differently, something like "what's wrong with this mic setup?", haha.
In any case, I will probably post a short clip just for people to judge.


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My favourite at the moment for 2 cardioids is ORTF

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORTF_stereo_technique

The good thing about this is that you can move the array around depending upon the acoustical characteristics of your room. You can put it inside the lid of a grand (with the lid open obviously) or outside as you like. As you move further from the piano you will get more and more and more of the room sound which could be desirable if you are in a concert hall but less so if it is in your untreated front room.
It is easiest to set the mics using a stereo bar which is made specifically but you can approximate without a specialised bar.

Here is an article where various possibilities are discussed
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/piano-recording

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Quote
I tried those matched combos and I do like some of them, but I'm looking for an optimal mixed one-of-each-capsule combo if there is such a thing..

IMO, there is not such a thing for recording piano.
You either use two cardioids for close miking and another pair of Omni for the room (or maybe one). But I haven’t seen a mixed pair.

Here is a video that might be helpful:


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Rubens Offline OP
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Ok let's start with these two samples. Pardon the background noise (neighbor's sixth sense detected that I was recording so he started renovating his house). And pardon the playing (couldn't wait to share with you, so no patience to record more than one take of each).

Strictly in terms of sound recording quality, which setup would you find yourself re-listening to? I know both are bad compared to pro recordings but please indulge me.

Sample 1

Sample 2


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My vote is for Sample 2


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Sample 1 sounds real.

Sample 2 sounds artificial.

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Rubens Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Hakki
Sample 1 sounds real.

Sample 2 sounds artificial.

So in this case would you say that Sample 1 sounds better to your ears?


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Not better, but it sounds like how a real piano sounds.

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Rubens Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Hakki
Not better, but it sounds like how a real piano sounds.
Thank you. My question when I posted the samples was about which one you would personally prefer to re-listen to, if my performance was identical between the two. Let's say I wish to record the whole piece (which lasts around 14 minutes). Which of the two setups would you personally find more pleasing to listen and re-listen to, if there is one?


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I would re-listen either of these if your playing was good.
BTW, your playing is good.

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Rubens Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Hakki
I would re-listen either of these if your playing was good.
BTW, your playing is good.

Thank you for your last sentence, haha.

Reveal:
Sample 1 was the setup that you recommended to try : both omni, both at same distance from the piano.
Sample 2 is the mixed one I invented : one cardioid close to the piano outputting to the right channel, one omni that is placed similarly to the ones in setup 1, outputting to the left channel.

I find setup 2 to capture more "colors" from the performance. However I find that the sound decays faster, and thus there is a lack of the nice flow and sonoric build up that I hear in Sample 1. Maybe I will use setup 2 but make the omni more prominent in post-production.


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Rubens Offline OP
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Some more samples:

First, for reference, here is the same passage played by Garrick Ohlsson in a 1993 professional recording, on a magnificent rebuilt Mason & Hamlin. I'm really shooting myself in the ego here (especially with the eminently superior playing by Ohlsson), but I want to make sure I can produce a home recording that sounds at least decent even in comparison with the best, knowing that pro recording technology has evolved a lot since 1993. In the Ohlsson recording you can immediately hear how much sweeter the sound is compared to my home recordings; more spacious yet more immediate at the same time. And I can absolutely understand what Hakki meant about my Sample 2 from my earlier post sounding artificial... This pro recording sounds like a real piano for sure.

Garrick Ohlsson

Now back to me, my Pease piano and my two humble condenser mics. Disturbingly, I find that the home setup that best approximates the Ohlsson recording is actually my first one, with just the omni mics far from the piano, and no cardioid mic, nor any mic near the instrument! Here it is again:

Sample 1

However, one immediately feels the lack of focus compared to the pro recording. I felt that I had to compensate for this, but didn't find any option other than a mixed setup (omni far + cardioid near, like my Sample 2 from earlier), but this time with relatively more input from the omni mic than from the cardioid one, to avoid an artificial sounding result. I found this setup to be the most satisfying of mine so far. Here is how it sounds:

Sample 3

Still miles from the quality of the pro recording, but decent? I realize I cannot mimic the exact sound of the pro recording, so I didn't even try, and instead went for the best sound that I could produce with what I have.
Thoughts appreciated, thank you.


Soli Chopin gloria
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