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Hi

Will soon be writing solo piano tracks for an album using the Garritan CFX Concert Grand in Garageband, and will be needing advice in regard to the recording process. Apart from choosing a piano preset and convolution reverb, what mic position, recording volumes, bit depth and sampling rate would be recommended? I know it all comes down to personal choice and preference, but professional advice would be helpful.

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I have no idea what kind of track you want to record. POP, Jazz, Blues? Solo? Multi-instrument?

With the amount of information, you put out here the process is to hit the record button and record a wav track. 24bit 192khz maybe?

* You can listen to similar genres and recordings out there and see which one you like (as the person who does mix/mastering) and come up with a similar idea. I guess I am intermediate in mixing/mastering so my advice can't be pro advice you're looking for. So unless you provide more information there is not much to be said here honestly.

Last edited by Abdol; 07/06/20 09:53 AM.

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You don't need a convolution reverb. The software contains distant mic samples that capture the beautiful Abbey Road ambiance. That's one of the biggest selling points of Garritan CFX. I'd use the default Classic Close preset and that would be enough for a perfect recording. (you may want to enable half-pedaling, apply my re-pedaling fix... but most probably you'd be just OK with the default preset)


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Originally Posted by CyberGene
You don't need a convolution reverb. The software contains distant mic samples that capture the beautiful Abbey Road ambiance. That's one of the biggest selling points of Garritan CFX. I'd use the default Classic Close preset and that would be enough for a perfect recording. (you may want to enable half-pedaling, apply my re-pedaling fix... but most probably you'd be just OK with the default preset)
I agree - there is more than enough natural ambience in those distant/room mics to not need additional reverb, or if you feel it's required then just a touch of one of the excellent built-in convolution reverbs. A balance of 100% close & 40-50% Distant in the default Classic preset is a good place to start. Depending on the style of playing, you could also add a tiny amount of the built-in saturation to warm the tone up a bit, and back off on the high EQ a little to control any harshness. It really depends on the music and of course your taste/preference, but Garritan's CFX Full version is one of the best sampled pianos available for solo, exposed playing in my opinion. You'd want to bounce your masters at 24bit 44.1kHz, normalised to 0.5-0.7db (ie. peaks are no higher than that).


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Originally Posted by Craig Richards
You'd want to bounce your masters at 24bit 44.1kHz, normalised to 0.5-0.7db (ie. peaks are no higher than that).

Normalising to 0.5-0.7db, what exactly is that, and how does one go about it?

Sorry, new to the concept.

Last edited by Pianoworldstage; 07/06/20 10:01 PM.
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Originally Posted by Pianoworldstage
Originally Posted by Craig Richards
You'd want to bounce your masters at 24bit 44.1kHz, normalised to 0.5-0.7db (ie. peaks are no higher than that).

Normalising to 0.5-0.7db, what exactly is that, and how does one go about it?

Sorry, new to the concept.

Welcome to world of mixing and mastering then. There is a debate on that. I only normalize when necessary.

To Normalize or Not Normalize

I wouldn't start from normalizing. Leave some headroom for the dB if you're not sure about your output.

You first need to learn about the mic positioning and piano and the genre of music you're going to record.

Then adding important effects like reverb and how to use a combination of reverbs (or maybe even delay!) to give your instrument character and fullness. It's really important.

Your next step is to learn how to use limiter/compressor effects and EQ your work.

It doesn't matter what kind of reverb technology you're going to use as long as you qualify the output as the desired output.

With a solo performance that would be most likely it.


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Thanks for the advice Abdol, also thanks to everyone else, helpful.

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Thank you,

The genre of music is soundtrack, ambient nature, simular to Yann Tiersen piano works. You are correct, compression can conclude an audio file to sound unnatural (depending on its purpose) i think for the best part the CFX with one of it's warm pre-sets and a choice of one of three mic positions in an ambient setting is all that would be needed for a quality solo piano recording? Without the need for compression or a limiter. In particular the only digital processing i was considering was to normalize all tracks at the same volume level..

Not sure if that's recommended?

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Originally Posted by Pianoworldstage
Thank you,

The genre of music is soundtrack, ambient nature, simular to Yann Tiersen piano works. You are correct, compression can conclude an audio file to sound unnatural (depending on its purpose) i think for the best part the CFX with one of it's warm pre-sets and a choice of one of three mic positions in an ambient setting is all that would be needed for a quality solo piano recording? Without the need for compression or a limiter. In particular the only digital processing i was considering was to normalize all tracks at the same volume level..

Not sure if that's recommended?

There are so much pro information available online that I don't feel confident about lecturing here. This is a nice read:

link 1

Link 2

So the idea behind mixing an instrument (more importantly solo), is that you want lush yet clear sound.

In addition to the information provided above, I'd also try the dual reflection trick. This is usually used for lead vocals but I'd just experiment with it. That would be cool if you do it and share the results here laugh

This is a better description of what I'm saying:

Link 3

For mixing, I'll be using closed-back headphones (to folks who are against closed-backs). When I'm done with mixing, to add final touches, and master my work, nice open cup headphones are great


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Thanks for your input and links, helpful.

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You're welcome. I just realized that I said dual reflection! It's dual reverb and as I said it's main usage is for vocal. But it may sound good on solo instruments as well. I actually never tried this method in any mix but now I'm curious to see how it sounds! Sorry for the typo

Last edited by Abdol; 07/08/20 09:15 AM.

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