An Advanced Method The Ms
The mide-side technique is a great way of achieving a good piano sound using only two mics that can be perfectly converted to a mono signal. All you need is a cardioid condenser and a figure-of-8 patterned condenser. The figure-of-8 captures sounds from both the front and back of the microphone equally.
Find the best position using only the cardioid condenser with the methods mentioned above and lock in the mic stand. Add the figure-of-8 mic at exactly the same position but with the two sides pointing left and right, 90° away from the front of the cardioid microphone.
In your DAW, pan the cardioid signal to the centre. Add two inputs for the figure-of-8 mic and record arm both. Pan one of them hard left and the other hard right. Flip the phase of the right channel. Voila, you now have a full-blown stereo piano sound that can be summed to mono in an instance retaining all sound characteristics without phasing artefacts.
This technique works because summing to mono will make the figure-of-8 channels cancel each other out as they are then exactly 180° out of phase. For more information on phasing, check out this article.
Another technique you should definitely check out for recording piano is the ORTF technique mentioned above in the acoustic guitar section. It gives a very wide stereo image with good mono compatibility. Also perfect for using as a room mic further back in a large space or hall with good acoustics.
How To Record Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic guitar may in fact be the simplest of all instruments to record, yet there are a few aspects to consider in order to get some really good tracks on tape. Its all about getting the right balance between high and low frequency components and a good relationship between the guitars body resonance and string sound.
Recording Piano Discover How With This Simple Guide
Recording piano can be one of the trickier things to get right in the studio. Different microphone positions and techniques can produce wildly different results, and the recording environment can have a large effect on the sound as well.
So my goal is always to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to recording a piano. Sticking to a few core techniques can help you capture solid recordings and record the take you want.
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How We Test Recording Microphones
We test recording microphones in a variety of ways and with a lot of different material to test their strengths and weaknesses. Obviously if a mic is designed with a certain instrument in mind then we focus on that type of recording. It may be that a mic has been designed with a specific frequency response for vocals, for example, so we obviously won’t use it to record kick drums but, where possible, will try it on similar material if appropriate.
We compare the recordings we make with those made with some of the standard reference microphones we have in our studio, being sure to have them set up in the same way and distance from the source being recorded. We will always try to be fair by comparing like with like â ribbons, condensers, dynamics and those with similar polar patterns â and models of a similar price. That said, it’s often interesting to compare a cheap mic with some vastly more expensive microphones to hear just how close they can get. You’ll be surprised at how good some cheaper models are against classic and vintage microphones as, just like every other music gear category, technology has also improved in microphone design.
Choose Between Dynamic Or Condenser
Theres a big difference between dynamic and condenser microphones. A dynamic microphone, for example, may have a hard time capturing very high frequencies. When used with a piano, it may fall short in capturing the very high frequencies of the piano sound. This is because dynamic mics are not designed to capture transient sounds.
In such a case, the dynamic mic may misrepresent the percussive clicks and the actual sound of the note. Yet, there are exceptions to the rule because you will also find great recordings of the piano using dynamic microphones. It all depends on how the piano sound recording has been engineered.
On the other hand, the condenser mics are the most appropriate mics for recording piano sound because it provides great frequency capture covering almost all the sound frequencies given off by the piano.
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Different Types Of Mics
Condenser microphones are more sensitive and are excellent at capturing nuances in soundproof or sound-treated environments. Condenser mics require an external power source, called phantom power, in order to work. Nearly every modern audio interface and mixer includes this tool to boost the electrical signal.
There are also two sub-categories of condenser mics: large-diaphragm condensers and small-diaphragm condensers.
Large-diaphragm condenser mics generally have a richer, more luxurious sheen with more detail .
Small-diaphragm condensers tend to sound more natural and accurate.
Dynamic mics, on the other hand, are often less sensitive, making them a better choice for recording environments with lots of noise, such as live venues. While both types of microphones work well for recording the piano, it really comes down to the sound that you’re after.
Ribbon mics are another option for recording piano, though for me they tend to feel a little too smooth.
Sensitivity Of The Akg C 414 Xls
The open-circuit sensitivity rating of the AKG C 414 XLS is given as 23 mV/Pa . This means the microphone will output a strong signal when subjected to exterior sound pressure. This ensures a usable signal even in the quietest moments of a piano’s performance.
For more information on microphone sensitivity, check out my article What Is Microphone Sensitivity? An In-Depth Description.
However, the microphone output isnt the only way to talk about sensitivity.
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Frequency Response Of The Neumann U87ai
The frequency response of the Neumann U87 is listed as 20 Hz 20,000 Hz. Here is the frequency response graph of the U87 in cardioid mode:
As we can see, the Neumann U87AI has an incredibly flat frequency response from roughly 60 Hz to 5,000 Hz. This is where the bulk of the grand piano’s sound and tone will come from, and so the Neumann U87AI is exceptionally accurate at capturing and reproducing the character and music of the grand piano.
We’ll notice the increased bump in the upper frequencies. This helps to accentuate the upper frequencies of the grand piano. An enrichment of these frequencies helps to enhance the character of the grand piano and add brightness to the piano signal.
Another important note is that at the very upper range of the U87AI frequency response there is actually a roll-off. The roll-off protects the microphone from yielding an overly bright and harsh sound. This is critical in the days of digital recording, where the high-end is often over emphasized.
Note that one of the biggest differences between the U87AI and the vintage U87 is that the newer AI edition sounds slightly brighter than the original.
The high-pass filter of the U87AI is designed mostly to counteract the proximity effect when used in close-miking situations. If we are to use the U87 in a close-mic array on a grand piano, try engaging the HPF and listen to which version of the signal sounds best to you.
Akg Pro Audio C414 Xls
The C414 is somewhat of an industry standard when it comes to recording all sorts of musical instruments and sounds. This is a highly versatile mic with a high-quality recording output, making it a very thankful item in your recording kit.
When using this mic, you can use up to 9 different polar patterns, switching easily from one to other. You can also use 3-way switchable bass filters and 3 different levels of pads to get you the best sound possible without distorting it
|Polar Patterns||Cardioid, wide-cardioid, hypercardioid, omnidirectional, figure-8 + 4 intermediate positions|
The great thing about this mic is that it also comes with a memory lock, keeping the settings of your mic in one place when youre on the road.
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Try Opening Or Closing The Lid
Opening or closing the lid will have a major effect on a piano sound. If youre recording an upright piano, a closed setting may sound more intimate and smooth, but an open lid may help the instrument cut through the mix, giving it more air.
In the case of a grand piano, you can try different heights to find the optimal sound. Tone-wise, a grand with an open lid will greatly reverberate and resonate across the room With a closed setting, it will sound more contained.
Mxl 603 Pair Instrument Microphone For Piano
Another good one from MXL, the 603 Pair Instrument Mic promises crisp and bright noise. The design is quite innovative with an open top. Lets see what its other features are:
- Enjoy solid low end with transformer-less design
- You can use it for pianos, strings, acoustic guitars, and drum overheads.
- Accuracy is a given when this mic is your friend!
- You can order just one mic or a pair of mics based on your requirement. Make sure you check before you place your order because, by default, you get only one.
- Each mic comes with a mic clip.
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History Of The Microphone
The framework for the microphones invention was set in motion upon the advent of the telephone in the late 19th century, but attempts to craft an instrument capable of amplifying the voice had been attempted for centuries prior.
The philosophy of the telephone being able to transmit an audio signal from point A to point B is essentially the same concept as the modern-day microphone, with the exception of amplification being the purpose of design.
Reports from around 500BC suggest that amplification was attempted through the creation of an acoustic megaphone using horn-shaped masks in order to project ones voice to crowds.
In 1665, Robert Hooke created the well-known cup and wire telephone which is one of the first instances of amplification through means other than air.
There is some controversy over who modeled the first successful microphone, but it was invented some time in the late 1800s a carbon microphone allowing for sound to be converted to an electrical signal.
It was this style of microphone that was used during the beginning of the radio era at the dawn of the 20th century. As technology advanced, so too did the microphone, with the condenser and ribbon microphones being invented soon after.
And so round and round it went, leading to the ocean of available, high-fidelity microphones today.
A Note On Miking The Grand Piano
The grand piano is a big instrument. It’s relatively difficult to capture all the sounds of the piano with a single microphone. For the fullest capture of the piano’s sound with one microphone, place an omnidirectional mic several feet from the side of the piano with an open top. Of course, this is a gross generality. Mic positioning must be experimented with to find the sweet spot that suits the grand piano, the room, and the tastes of the musicians and producers.
What I mean to say here is that the capture of the grand piano depends more on the piano, its position, the microphone position, and the room than it does on the microphone used. This is true for all instruments, but particularly true for the grand piano due to its size and wide range.
However, conditions for recording or reinforcing the grand piano are often less than ideal. On top of that, high-quality equipment does, in fact, play a big role on the quality of the grand piano recording/live reinforcement. In terms of equipment, the signal chain, of course, starts with the microphone.
For more information on microphone placement, check out my article Top 23 Tips For Better Microphone Placement.
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Best Microphones For Recording Piano 2020
Do you have some piano enthusiasts around you? Without doubts, as one of the most popular instruments, piano is playing an important role in presenting all kinds of various tracks which also could express a full range of emotions. Especially, if you are a singer or composer or a musician, piano could be an important tool to produce the excellent musical works. By the way, instead of attending a real musical performance offline, if a piano could be recorded and then shared online, people could get access to the performance no matter where they are. In order to obtain the original quality of piano, an excellent microphone is quite necessary which could absorb and record all the sounds while playing the piano. Nowadays, a lot of producers are adopting the way of recording piano to share with others. Today, we would introduce the best microphone for recording piano to you.
Microphone Techniques Recording Upright Piano
With an upright piano, the best results come from using close mic techniques.
One option is to open the top lid and to remove the front panel of the piano. Position 2 microphones from above , around 2-3 feet away. This should give your sound a direct and full-bodied quality.
A second option is to keep the front panel removed , and to have a microphone either side of the pianist one pointing towards the low-end strings, the other towards the high-end strings.
You could even remove the pianos backboard and have two condenser mics pointing towards the piano, at a distance of around a foot. Large-diaphragm models are the best option here, but small-diaphragm mics still work really well.
When it comes to judging the space between your two microphones, remember that the overall goal is to produce a panoramic stereo spread of the piano. If the mics are too far apart, youll hear a hole-in-the-middle the left and right channels will sound like two separate signals instead of one signal spread across two channels.
But dont put the mics too close together either youll start to lose the stereo picture, which is the whole point of using two mics. And remember the 3-to-1 rule to help deal with any possible phase issues. If you do hear the effects of phase cancellation between the two mics :
- Try moving the mics around slightly
- Check that the spacing follows the 3-to-1 rule
- Reverse the phase on one of the mics
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Microphones For Recording Electric Guitar
The Shure SM57 is probably the most popular mic ever, and is used for recording guitar, any kind of amp, drums, hell, even vocals sometimes. Its so durable you could drop it 100 times and it will still work.
It works great for recording high-gain guitar amps. Stick it up in front of the speaker cone and youre away.
I find it can sound a little flat and lacks depth and detail so generally I steer clear of the SM57 when recording guitars. However, using a second microphone to complement it, you can get very good results. But try it yourself, pretty much every rock album from the 1990s featured guitars recorded with an SM57.
The MD421 delivers a crisp, clear and honest electric guitar sound when used for recording amps. It responds well to harsh tones such as distortion and gives a full body to clean guitar sounds.
This is the mic you see dangling from the amp on stage at your local concert venue. It was specifically designed for electric guitar amps and delivers on practicality and sonic quality.
Beyerdynamic M88 TG
The M88 TG is a lesser known option for recording guitar amps but an absolute gem. It has a slightly vintage quality that sounds immense on a crisp fender blackface and responds to overdrive and distortion well.
Its kind of like putting a mic through a preamp with mojo, giving it a different vibe. Theyre not that cheap, but well worth the cash.
Point The Microphone At The 12th Fret
This is the best way to start when searching for your perfect acoustic guitar sound while recording. Putting the microphone at the 12th fret just delivers a balanced sound with enough string jangle and body resonance and is suitable for both strumming and fingerpicking playing styles.
But in audio we still rely primarily on our ears so feel inspired to move the mic around a bit and experiment with the positioning. Depending on the guitar, the guitarist and the room, you may find the 12th fret position needs improvement. Thats what recording audio is all about finding the perfect microphone position by using your ears.
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The Classic: Akg C414
My search for an all-rounder pair of mics started and nearly ended with a studio classic. For decades, the go to all-purpose microphone has been the C414, invented by AKG Acoustics in Vienna. At least one pair can be found in almost every recording studio in the world. The C414 has been through several generations since its debut in 1971. While all of them are objectively excellent professional tools, recording engineers agree almost universally that the original version, with its legendary brass capsule has a magical sound quality that later versions could not match.
The problem with the brass capsule, called the CK12, is that it was exceedingly time-consuming and expensive to make. It could only be made by hand, there was a failure rate of up to fifty percent during the manufacturing process, and by some accounts sometimes only a single microphone could be built on a given day. Clearly this was unsustainable, so AKG sought a tenable alternative. Nylon turned out to be a much more cost-effective material, but it was unable to match the universally praised magical quality of the original brass capsule. That said, nylon did have the decisive advantage of producing consistently reproducible results, in contrast to the more temperamental CK12.