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#3159378 09/25/21 08:35 AM
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This is about recording, not a piano question, but I do not know where to ask. I have basic knowledge about recording, have been using USB mics for a while.
Now I start to record with a pair of Rode M5 with Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface.

The sound quality is excellent, but it seems the mic got saturated easily at the loudest sound. I am recording a Steinway B grand piano in a small studio room. The sound is LOUD. I tried to adjust the gains both on interface and on computer, even trying to move mic a little further away (the space is really tight), but nothing seems to help much.

On the other hand, the cheap mic on my camera seems to work fine (not saturated). I am now curious, is it because the dynamic range of M5 is small, or I did something wrong?

Last edited by scientistplayspian; 09/25/21 08:35 AM.
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You should ask this on the Piano Forum.

Unless you are looking for a solution to voice down your Steinway. But I don’t think it would make much difference for the recording level.

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FWIW (I have no Rode M5 experience) --

Rode says the M5 will saturate at 140 dB. That's jet-engine-noise level, and you couldn't stand to be in the same room with the piano.

. . . So the mic isn't saturating.

The obvious question is:

. . . How are you setting your gain controls, on the Scarlett 2i2 ?

. . . How are you setting the computer's gain, which is probably controlled
. . . by the software driving the 2i2 ?

You could easily saturate the mic pre-amps, if the gain is too high.

Acoustic pianos have a large dynamic range. Recording may not be easy.

I expect this reply will get moved, if necessary.


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I have a lot of experience recording pianos in many different environments. What Charles Cohen says is the right direction.

What mics are you using? If they’re not outputting a standard mic level signal and instead are outputting a line level signal but you’re still using XLR connectors then the Scarlett will boost the signal too much.

If your mics are ok, I’d recommend you remove the computer from the equation and connect headphones to the Scarlett. Get the sound you want that way first. Then you can move to the computer and adjust settings knowing the Scarlett is producing the correct sound.

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Wouldn't some compression/limiting help?


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Originally Posted by N W
Wouldn't some compression/limiting help?

Why would you want to limit the dynamic range of a Steinway B in a recording?

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Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Originally Posted by N W
Wouldn't some compression/limiting help?

Why would you want to limit the dynamic range of a Steinway B in a recording?
Because it's overloading the recording? All recordings include compression of some sort. Even the old LPs had loads of it to stop the needle jumping out of the grooves.
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Thank you for all the response. I am still very confused, I already lower both the gains on interface and computer (using audacity). But when piano delivers a strong chord, the peak would plateau.
I also do not think I am actually "saturate" the mic, something must be wrong, I connect the mic with interface with XLR cables. I will double check my set up.

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As mentioned previously, make sure the only recording source is your mics. An easy way to test this is to tap your mic gently with your hand while recording. Also tap your computer mics to make sure they are not on. You should hear the mic tap on the recording.

You can lower the gain on your interface and computer to avoid distortion on loud chords, but you might find the bulk of the recording's volume too low, as I have. Using Audacity's limiter function (Effects....Limiter (located under the bottom line)) should limit the loud passages db signal while allowing you sufficient gain for the remainder of the recording.

You might have to play with mic placement also.

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Originally Posted by TBell
As mentioned previously, make sure the only recording source is your mics. An easy way to test this is to tap your mic gently with your hand while recording. Also tap your computer mics to make sure they are not on. You should hear the mic tap on the recording.

You can lower the gain on your interface and computer to avoid distortion on loud chords, but you might find the bulk of the recording's volume too low, as I have. Using Audacity's limiter function (Effects....Limiter (located under the bottom line)) should limit the loud passages db signal while allowing you sufficient gain for the remainder of the recording.

You might have to play with mic placement also.

AH! That may very well be it. The OP should make sure in Audacity that the audio interface is chosen as the input and not the computer's built-in mics.

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Originally Posted by N W
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Why would you want to limit the dynamic range of a Steinway B in a recording?
Because it's overloading the recording? All recordings include compression of some sort. Even the old LPs had loads of it to stop the needle jumping out of the grooves.
Nick

It depends on the genre. Classical recordings (at least high quality ones) wouldn’t use compression because the dynamic range is an essential aspect of the musical expression, and getting the full dynamic range (compared to in person) is already limited with our current recording technology.

Using old LP’s isn’t really the best example because any compression used would have been more for mechanical reasons and not to make up for an inability to understand the recording equipment being used wink

There are some people who argue that compression as it’s used today is hurting music in all genres. I tend to agree, except for things like dance music, etc.

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Originally Posted by jsilva
Originally Posted by N W
Originally Posted by OE1FEU
Why would you want to limit the dynamic range of a Steinway B in a recording?
Because it's overloading the recording? All recordings include compression of some sort. Even the old LPs had loads of it to stop the needle jumping out of the grooves.
Nick

It depends on the genre. Classical recordings (at least high quality ones) wouldn’t use compression because the dynamic range is an essential aspect of the musical expression, and getting the full dynamic range (compared to in person) is already limited with our current recording technology.

Using old LP’s isn’t really the best example because any compression used would have been more for mechanical reasons and not to make up for an inability to understand the recording equipment being used wink

There are some people who argue that compression as it’s used today is hurting music in all genres. I tend to agree, except for things like dance music, etc.
True enough - I agree.
Nick


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Thank you for all the suggestions. I am sure I chose the interface for input. When it is not clipping, the recording quality is very high. Now I suspect the problem is Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, it does not handle signal M5 properly. I did some search it seems clipping is common for this model. So I ordered 4i4, which has a pad function. Hope that will resolve the problem.

Nonetheless, here is a recording we just did using the system. It almost broke my heart when I saw clipping on a few occasions (listen to 1'28''). Fortunately, the end result is not too bad.


Last edited by scientistplayspian; 09/27/21 12:31 PM.
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Did you try the Limiter function in Audacity? It is there for your exact problem - signal is too hot on loud passages.

The pad will just lower your overall input signal by 10db or so and you might find your entire recording too low on volume.

I use the limiter on my Tascam handheld for your exact issue.

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I will look into the limiter function. Thank you!
Still very surprised to see the issue, maybe the dynamic range for this Steinway B in a small studio room is just too big.

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If M5 or 2i2 or the computer is not defective it seems like a user error.

Is there anybody around who is familiar with using recording equipment that will give you a hand with this?

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Good idea of consulting with an audio engineer. I will do more testing when I have a chance.
There is also this "Inst"Air" switch on 2i2 I need to test out. Anyway, I will report back if I identify the issue.

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There is something really wrong your set up.

This is a mono recording and its sound, even without clipping, is not really great. Also, one can hear that something is moving with the audio, sometimes covering the microphones.

I suspect that we hear the audio from the digital camera, not the Røde microphones.

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I downloaded the audio from your video and inspected it in Audacity.

The recording is in STEREO. But at places like 1:28 the peak level exceeds -6 dB.

How did you connect the M5 mics to the 2i2?

How did you connect the 2i2 to the computer?

You just have someone play a loud chord while you are monitoring the recording levels in Audacity and adjust the gains so that you don't go over about -12 dB.

https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360000790265-Recording-in-Audacity-Windows-

https://support.focusrite.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360000794009-Recording-in-Audacity-Mac-

Last edited by Hakki; 09/27/21 02:09 PM.
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Patrick,

how and where the microphones placed in relation to the piano? And has there ever been anything (person, drywall, paper) between the microphones and the piano for the duration of the recording? Have you moved the microphones during the recording?

Wonderful Brahms playing, BTW.

Last edited by OE1FEU; 09/27/21 02:33 PM.
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