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Joined: Jun 2022
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A couple experimental, free improv recordings on my Bosendorfer 225. It's amazing how hard it is to capture the sound of a piano as it is in person. IMO neither of these comes close, but are still far superior to what I've achieved using worse setups. I absolutely love the sound and feel of this instrument. Of course this is tough to get across with recordings, but I've done my best with what I've got.

I tried a few variations of mic placement etc., I think they have different pros and cons. The first was recorded with the lid closed, and the music shelf removed, and the mic pretty close to the piano. The second with the lid wide open, and the mic farther away. Just one mic was used (and a budget one at that). I think I spent under $200 on the mic, the phantom power, and the audio interface combined (and a free DAW, Audacity).

Given the budget, I'm happy with how the recordings are turning out so far. The electronics and acoustic setup are a bit bright, I think. Nevertheless, it sounds good to me. I think it'd work well with other instruments too such as drums and/or bass. Without a band to play with, I was thinking of experimenting with a drum track (programmed from a drum machine or something). Anathema in jazz, it'd still be a compromise that might yield high artistic results, if I could pull it off. But I might not do it after all, we'll see.

Thanks for listening, I hope you enjoy these. Although far from perfect, they're also far from horrible. smile

"Solitude"

"Instinct"

[Linked Image]


Formerly chromaticvortex. Bösendorfer 225 (1978 restoration), Yamaha U1 (1984). Writer/piano teacher. Recent video("Vampire’s Lust")=https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKZ5LE-Gcg
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James, so nicely played!

As to recording, my general thought is that even without going whole hog on professional microphone setups (decca trees?), It's actually very easy to make a piano sound pleasant.

What I've found though, is that it's absolutely impossible for any recording or playback setup to ever capture the true character of sitting at and playing a piano. Honestly, a well recorded 5' piano sounds almost as good as a recorded 10' concert grand, and I usually cannot tell one brand's "sonic signature" from another's in a good recording. But sitting at the bench with hands on keys, all of these things are immediately obvious. Is it just me?


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Thank you! "Solitude" I felt a bit better about, "Instinct" wasn't quite as good of a take, but wanted to include it as an offering of the different setup ("Solitude" was recorded later on once I was warmed up and getting a feel for the acoustics and I realized just how many details the mic does pick up on...therefore leading to more careful and controlled playing). When I finally put together a bunch of these pieces into an album length, not sure they'll both make the cut. "Instinct" has some action noise in one part. But here are demos anyway.

Yes, I agree. In person, the sound is very "3D" and surrounds you (especially with a Bosendorfer). There are so many more overtones and subtleties that are lost in a recording. Some of that comes through, but it's basically just a fraction of the real thing. I don't think you need to do anything too fancy at the end of the day to get a sufficient recording...a lot of work only gives you a little bit more, whereas a little bit of work goes pretty far, to jump from the absolute minimum to a decent budget maximum.

Last edited by James Gordon; 07/04/22 02:34 PM.

Formerly chromaticvortex. Bösendorfer 225 (1978 restoration), Yamaha U1 (1984). Writer/piano teacher. Recent video("Vampire’s Lust")=https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKZ5LE-Gcg
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Beautiful playing and beautiful sounding piano James!

I prefer the sound of the open lid with the further away mic, but I can see the advantage of close-mic with the lid closed, especially if you were using it with other instruments in the mix.


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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Beautiful playing and beautiful sounding piano James!

I prefer the sound of the open lid with the further away mic, but I can see the advantage of close-mic with the lid closed, especially if you were using it with other instruments in the mix.

I agree. I think it is going to be difficult with one microphone to capture the depth of tone in that piano. I use two Rhode's and have tried a number of different placements.

Closer micing gets more hammer strike sound, further away is more mellow but I do believe you need at least a mic on the bass section and another on the treble. so jealous of your piano BTW!


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Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Beautiful playing and beautiful sounding piano James!

I prefer the sound of the open lid with the further away mic, but I can see the advantage of close-mic with the lid closed, especially if you were using it with other instruments in the mix.

Thanks so much. I'm still in the process of listening to the recent recordings you posted in full. Stunning!

Agree with you here. That's why I included that version, it just had a warmer sound. I think open lid is the way to go. Later on I tried it closed and was more warmed up with my playing, but found the acoustic wasn't as successful. They all turn out different anyway (thus is the nature of improvisation).

Originally Posted by drewhpianoman
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
Beautiful playing and beautiful sounding piano James!

I prefer the sound of the open lid with the further away mic, but I can see the advantage of close-mic with the lid closed, especially if you were using it with other instruments in the mix.

I agree. I think it is going to be difficult with one microphone to capture the depth of tone in that piano. I use two Rhode's and have tried a number of different placements.

Closer micing gets more hammer strike sound, further away is more mellow but I do believe you need at least a mic on the bass section and another on the treble. so jealous of your piano BTW!

Thank you! Maybe I'll have to get a second one. I have an MXL 770, which received good reviews for the price (and I'm mostly happy with the result), but two mics might make everything that much better...worth considering anyway.

Yes, it's a fantastic piano! Worth envying. I had someone grill me on it (who happens to be a Steinway owner, presumably this was offputting to him because it isn't the "Steinway sound"; he complained it's bright and said he'd have it voiced down), but honestly I love it how it is. I do think recordings make it sound a bit bright. But it'll never sound like a Steinway, regardless.

Last edited by James Gordon; 07/04/22 03:20 PM.

Formerly chromaticvortex. Bösendorfer 225 (1978 restoration), Yamaha U1 (1984). Writer/piano teacher. Recent video("Vampire’s Lust")=https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKZ5LE-Gcg
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My personal favourite setup is blumlein where you can capture some of that 3d sound. Mid distance (2-3ft away from string)


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That model gets some friendly pixels on this board. Easier to see why with these recordings!

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Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions! With time and effort I suspect I’ll be able to achieve even more pleasing results.

Last edited by James Gordon; 07/04/22 06:32 PM.

Formerly chromaticvortex. Bösendorfer 225 (1978 restoration), Yamaha U1 (1984). Writer/piano teacher. Recent video("Vampire’s Lust")=https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKZ5LE-Gcg
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Nice sound clips!
I spent the same small budget on my recording material, but your recordings sound better than mine because my piano is currently out of tune. However this is encouraging for me because it gives me some hope that I can make good home recordings as well once my piano is tuned.

I can definitely hear that you are playing on a quality piano. Only "recording snobs" (of which there are a few here, unfortunately) would say that it is impossible to capture the beauty of a piano's sound without expensive equipment.

The clip with the open lid sounds better to me.


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Rubens: Thanks. I think that “cheap” equipment can go far these days. The tracks had a noticeable white noise hiss (either mic or interface, maybe both) but I used a noise reduction effect on audacity to mostly take care of it. I suspect the differences between my setup and one costing ten or a hundred times more are not so big at the end of the day. Especially when the piano is already at such a high level of quality. But, I am curious to see if using two mics would make a significant difference. I’ve got a close friend who has multiple mics, and I suspect they’re better than mine. So maybe I can do some borrowing or get his input.

Last edited by James Gordon; 07/04/22 09:07 PM.

Formerly chromaticvortex. Bösendorfer 225 (1978 restoration), Yamaha U1 (1984). Writer/piano teacher. Recent video("Vampire’s Lust")=https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKZ5LE-Gcg
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Originally Posted by James Gordon
Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions! With time and effort I suspect I’ll be able to achieve even more pleasing results.
James - your piano (and your playing...) both sound great to me.
Regarding the brightness of the recording, IMO that is caused by the freq response curve of the MXL mic you used. Look here: MXL-770 Freq Response curve, and you see what we call a rather pronounced presence peak in the mid-range. In and of itself such a peak is neither good, nor bad. It depends on what you are recording. IMO, for your piano, it's... bad.

I would recommend looking for a microphone with a flatter or "warmer" response.
I use a pair of omni mics (OM-1) from a company in Sweden called Line Audio.
They are just about ruler flat. Line also makes a cardioid mic the CM-3 that could work for you.
There's a response curve for the OM-1 on this page: http://www.lineaudio.se/OM1.html

Or, check out the Lewett lct-440. The response curve is on this page: https://www.lewitt-audio.com/microphones/lct-recording/lct-440-pure. This is not a linear response microphone and would be a little brighter than the Line Audios - I'm told by an engineer who used them at an event I just saw/heard where the sound was terrific that the 440 is modeled on the sound profile the AKG-C414, almost 4x the price. In any event, I'd try one of these, and I think you'll be happier.

I need to look around for mic placement info for you, but there are a number of positions that work well with grand pianos. PM me here if interested. Just posted a recording with my OM-1 mics of my Bechstein Konzert8, a dance by Piazzola. Again, PM me for a URL if interested. I have no interest in hijacking your thread.

Great piano, you're a fortunate guy.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
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Seeker, thank you for your kind words and insights. I am quite fortunate. I’d like to listen to your recording(s).

This mic is too bright. When I sit down to play the piano it sounds so warm and (to my ears) quite mellow. But that’s lost on recordings.


Formerly chromaticvortex. Bösendorfer 225 (1978 restoration), Yamaha U1 (1984). Writer/piano teacher. Recent video("Vampire’s Lust")=https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKZ5LE-Gcg
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Andrew, I listened to your recording. Wow, this one feels like you're right there in the room. Love the 3D effect on this. Really enjoy your playing, very focused! Neat piece, too.

Last edited by James Gordon; 07/04/22 11:59 PM.

Formerly chromaticvortex. Bösendorfer 225 (1978 restoration), Yamaha U1 (1984). Writer/piano teacher. Recent video("Vampire’s Lust")=https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKZ5LE-Gcg
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Very talented playing James! Thank you!

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Originally Posted by Jethro
Very talented playing James! Thank you!

Thanks, I appreciate it, Jethro...my pleasure!

I've been learning from others on the thread, and have decided to go with a different mic(s)...return this one, it's quite bright and needs too much EQ adjustment to sound decent...I need to get two mics anyway (one can only get you so far with a recording).

Andrew (Seeker) in particular has been helpful. As someone not very well-versed in recording, I can use the help. So, before long, at some point, higher quality recordings will be forthcoming from me.


Formerly chromaticvortex. Bösendorfer 225 (1978 restoration), Yamaha U1 (1984). Writer/piano teacher. Recent video("Vampire’s Lust")=https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKZ5LE-Gcg

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