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GregR Offline OP
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What does everyone use to record themselves playing? If you use a phone, which app? I am not having a lot of luck; the sound is extremely thin, or the phone mic will overload. I think it's trying to "listen" for a human voice or is continually adjusting the mic gain. Is there a preferred app? If not, what gear should I get to record myself and then playback the result? The goal right now is to record and play back sections as part of my practice.

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Cell phones can work fine and should not distort. See some of Tiffany Poon's earlier vlogs on YouTube, I think she is just recording with her cell phone. Have you tried placing your phone farther away from the piano? Here is a helpful video on options, along with sound samples comparing cell phones vs other recording methods for piano.

Good luck!


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I’m using the IPhone camera app, bad results, maybe because it’s on the side of the piano.

Some people on YT have had success with connecting earbuds. (which have a mic)

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Tascam and Zoom make several models of handheld recorders that should give a better recording than a camera. My cheap Tascam DR-05x has several gain controls including a manual one.

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I use a loop pedal to play back short snippets of practice for immediate feedback. More complicated to setup than using a phone, but it is all controlled by a foot pedal. Sound can be excellent depending on your setup. I use the Boss RC-3 loop pedal. But you need a separate mic to feed audio to the loop pedal, and a monitor speaker to listen. The advantage is you get immediate feedback by just tapping the pedal to start/stop/playback.

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GregR Offline OP
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Thanks everyone for the advice so far.

TBell, does the DR-05x have speakers for playback? I've seen those mini-recorders, but am concerned about being able to immediately playback the recording.

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I've just been setting my phone on the music desk (with the part of the camera module with the mic hanging off over the strings. Seems to be ok for quick n dirty recording, especially if just to judge your playing!


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More details: My current piano is a console upright; I've tried placing it on top of the piano, and about 3 feet away from the piano (the player side, not the soundboard side).

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I'm not sure what your budget is, but I had thought about the problem a while and came up with something really self-contained, non-obtrusive, and high quality. It is a little expensive though.

1.) Earthworks PM40 piano mic. You can get a used one from Reverb for around $2k. I'm not sure if it would work with a upright, but it seems like it could.
2.) MOTU M2 USB Audio interface. (~$200) This will provide phantom power to the mics, but as importantly it is powered through the USB input (5V)
3.) Apple lightning to USB3 camera adapter (~40). This will connect the iphone to the audio interface and to the power bank
4.) Anker PowerCore+ 26800mAH power bank (~$160). This provides power to the audio interface and charges your phone. But I did notice that if your phone battery is almost dead, it draws too much current and it cannot power the audio interface.


Basically, I plug in the phone, and turn on the power bank. The phantom power charges up the mic in a 20-30 seconds and you are good to go. I just use the iphone camera app, you can put it on your bench, on the cheek, or music stand if you have a long enough male/male lightning cable.

The input signals are on display on the MOTU, so your gain is always good, i.e. no clipping. When you're done, just pull out the lightning cable from you iphone, and the powerbank and audio interface turn off automatically. There are no power cables to the wall, no mic boom stands, just a nice long lightning cable so you can push the record button on your iphone from your piano bench. I mostly practice with the lid down and with a dust cover on, that's why I went with the Earthworks, install and forget about it. In my opinion, it sounds as good, if not better than most professional solo piano recordings, especially considering I'm not doing any post processing of the recording.

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Originally Posted by GregR
TBell, does the DR-05x have speakers for playback?
Yes it has a small mono speaker - also has a line out\headphone jack for better audio. So if you had a stereo or boombox with an "Aux IN" you could plug it in that from the DR-05x for playback.

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I use with extraordinary results two different Zoom recorders.

One is a Zoom H6. Both using standard mics or external ones, the quality is astonishing. Just putting it over my U3 open top lid gets wonderful results.

Another recorder I use is the Zoom Q2n-4k. It is really a video recorder, so it can be used also to record playing videos, but I mostly use just the audio recorder with its internal mics, with wonderful results.

I am using also the same recorders to record my band rehearsals and they are also pretty good for that use, even being done on an small place with loud instruments. The key is to set a good recording level. Both units indicate levels on their VU-meter displays and, very important, also clipping by blinking the red recording LED.

All in all, this way is far better than using any mobile phone. It is money well spent, IMO.

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I’ve been happy with the zoom H4n.

It is good as it comes out of the box with the right settings.

Can also add things, such as better XLR microphones on a stand, wired remote control, additional monitor speakers for playback, etc.

Last edited by spk; 05/24/22 11:30 AM.
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There's just one single important thing in recording. And that is the MICROPHONE, anything else is accessory.

Microphone in mobile phones are usually poor. Your best bet as it has been said is a Zoom or similar. There are also microphones for mobile phones but you can get a Zoom H1 or H2 for 100 / 150 and that will be so much better than any mobile phone . . .

Also when in time you will become picky you can add an external high quality mic . . .

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Originally Posted by Sam S
I use a loop pedal to play back short snippets of practice for immediate feedback. More complicated to setup than using a phone, but it is all controlled by a foot pedal. Sound can be excellent depending on your setup. I use the Boss RC-3 loop pedal. But you need a separate mic to feed audio to the loop pedal, and a monitor speaker to listen. The advantage is you get immediate feedback by just tapping the pedal to start/stop/playback.

Sam
Sam,
I have a Boss VE20 Vocal Performer that has a loop facility. I never have thought to use it with my acoustic but your idea to you use a looper for piano practice and review is great. It will save me setting up my Mix-Pre 3 II and Neumann mics.


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Originally Posted by Beemer
Originally Posted by Sam S
I use a loop pedal to play back short snippets of practice for immediate feedback. More complicated to setup than using a phone, but it is all controlled by a foot pedal. Sound can be excellent depending on your setup. I use the Boss RC-3 loop pedal. But you need a separate mic to feed audio to the loop pedal, and a monitor speaker to listen. The advantage is you get immediate feedback by just tapping the pedal to start/stop/playback.

Sam
Sam,
I have a Boss VE20 Vocal Performer that has a loop facility. I never have thought to use it with my acoustic but your idea to you use a looper for piano practice and review is great. It will save me setting up my Mix-Pre 3 II and Neumann mics.

I use my old Zoom H4n as the mics for the loop pedal, and a powered monitor speaker under the piano for playback. Tap once to start recording, and again to start playback. Tap and hold to erase and try again. Super simple once you get it setup. You don't have to take your hands off the keyboard or your eyes off the music...

Sam


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Originally Posted by marklings
There's just one single important thing in recording. And that is the MICROPHONE

No, the single most important thing in recording a piano is PLACING the microphones. Note the plural; recording with one microphone is going back to technology used 80 years ago.

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My recording in the May Piano Bar thread was taken on an Android phone using the camera app set to video. The phone stands about 1'6" from the end of the piano. I find the recording to be ok given its simplicity and cheapness but playback can be greatly improved if the sound is played through a better quality speaker or headphones.
Using the same phone but with a recording app downloaded from an app store, on the other hand, produced terrible sound quality.

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Some mobile phone can actually produce astonishing results when it comes to audio. This is an impromptu set up in a concert hall with a OnePlus 5 and no additional microphones or post-processing:


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Personally since I use a digital piano, I have connected the USB to host output from the piano with a cable to the lightning port of my iphone. That way my iphone uses the digital sound and blocks out other sounds from our small house like the AC or the dogs barking etc. That said, I find the sound lacking in depth - when I record just the sound via the Yamaha Smartpianist app it sounds better than when using the iphone camera app. I have no idea why but looking for how to improve the sound quality.


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I just use my phone as I can't afford a fancy set up. But I wish I could record the audio on a separate device then synch it to the video later. No idea how I'd do that just on my phone.


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