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Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

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Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

Postby Licchavi » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:49 pm

I have posted a few topics recently and promised myself to stay off the forum, but then I saw something that puzzled me a bit. I was looking at a promotional video for by Deutsche Grammophon for Daniil Trifonov's Liszt Etudes and noticed that there are four (two pairs) mics on one of the stereo bars. To see what I mean here is the link (you may need to slow the video to 0.25 speed and see 0:13).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Oy7lebHkDU

The only explanation I can think of is that they are probably using different caps (both mics look like Neumann km100 series)

There is something also very similar in this set up in Jonas Kauffman's Winterreise.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJKKrZrX_g8.

In this case it looks like they have used a Schoeps pair and km100 pair.

So is it just a way of giving a choice of sounds to chose from once the recording is done or is there some other reason for using this set up?
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Re: Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

Postby Ariosto » Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:45 pm

Personally I think that using so many mic's may be overkill, but of course they may choose just one pair for the final recording. We do not know if the sound on the demo YouTube video was from those mic's or not. (Liszt).

On the Schubert lieder I'n mot sure if the distance between singer and pianist was helpful, or the way the whole thing was setup. it may have been to achieve better separation between voice and piano. personally i prefer the voice to be blended in more with the piano, and the musicians to make the balance rather than interference from the control room. But that's just my take on how i like the end result to sound, and others may prefer something different.
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Re: Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

Postby Licchavi » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:28 pm

Ariosto wrote:Personally I think that using so many mic's may be overkill,

I agree about the over kill. But just to be clear, what particularly puzzled me were the four mics used closest to the piano on the Liszt recording (not the DPAs and the Schoeps that were used much further away).

Licchavi wrote:On the Schubert lieder I'n mot sure if the distance between singer and pianist was helpful

One of the advantages (apart from audio) of that particular recording set up is that the singer and the pianist can make eye contact. Also if there are only two people recording in a large space, I think it creates a strange atmosphere is the singer is facing away from the pianist. Having said that I have heard some pianists say they find it uncomfortable to have the singer facing them (but a few times they changed their minds after getting used to it).

From a sound perspective I also prefer the set up used in that video because you can mic the voice and piano separately while minimizing phase issues. I appreciate what you say about letting the performers balance themselves but I think (depending on the room) beyond 3-5 feet away from the source the voice begins to lose detail; which makes room micing a lieder recording problematic. (I am sure different people have different perspectives on this).

I also wonder if this is a relatively new technique. For example I wonder how they did those wonderful Elisabeth Schwarzkopf recordings of things like Wolf and Brahm's Lieder.
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Re: Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

Postby Ariosto » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:51 pm

It is possible to have the singer in the bend of the grand half facing towards the pianist and have the mic's in front of the singer and just high enough to get the full piano sound with the lid fully open. I haven't tried it but if I catch a willing singer here at home, I might try it.

Personally i go for a more purist approach, but to many people this might seem a bit old fashioned.
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Re: Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:55 pm

Licchavi wrote: I was looking at a promotional video for by Deutsche Grammophon for Daniil Trifonov's Liszt Etudes and noticed that there are four (two pairs) mics on one of the stereo bars.

Stereo bars? There looks to me to be a distant wide-spaced stereo room pair, a closer spaced stereo pair (and the only array actually on a stereo bar) -- both of these being DPAs I think -- then two close stands forming another spaced stereo pair, but each stand with two mics taped together, plus there's a large-diaphragm TLM170R mic off the tail.

The taped pairs appear to have the same body sizes, and look like KM180 or KM100 series mics . They are probably using different capsules for tonal variation or, more likely, different polar patterns to control room sound. They could even be using different bodies (analogue/digital) for different recording chains.

Whatever the intentions, it's very unlikely that all those mics would be used at the same time. I suspect they were just rigged to provide post-production options for the producer...

As you say, the second video appears to have paired Schoeps/Neumann close mics on the piano.

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Re: Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

Postby Licchavi » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:09 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Stereo bars?

Sorry I just meant the mounting for the stereo pairs. It might be the wrong name. Is that not what they are called?

Ariosto wrote:It is possible to have the singer in the bend of the grand half facing towards the pianist and have the mic's in front of the singer and just high enough to get the full piano sound with the lid fully open.

I think someone once told me they did almost the same thing. Should try it sometime!
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Re: Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat Feb 18, 2017 3:15 am

At 0:43 on the piano piece is a shot of the recorder's monitor screen. I count at least 8 separate tracks recorded which seems to tally with the 8 mics I can see in the video.
So many mics and tracks might seem a bit redundant but it would allow more options balancing the direct piano sound with the room sound later, and speaking for myself I'd rather have too many options than too few.

In the lieder piece I agree the separate vocal and piano mics - and the musicians facing each other - allow much better separation of the two, and therefore better options for balancing them later on. And in this later balancing, the musicians themselves can be very much involved. The balancing is a musical decision after all.
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Re: Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

Postby Licchavi » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:35 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:8 mics I can see in the video

I think I expressed myself badly. The thing that made me curious were the taped up mics nearest to the piano in the Liszt. They look very much like km100 series mics, but why are they taped up? I wondered if they were perhaps using different caps and also whether they had any ideas to using both sets in the mix (and set them up as close as possible to minimise phase issues).

Alternatively that might just be the best place to place the mics in the rooms at that distance so once they found it they just put both mics in the same place.

The same thing goes for the taped up piano mics in the Lieder.
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Re: Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:46 pm

Maybe they were just backing up in case a mic or cable fails.
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Re: Could give an explanation of this piano rcording technique

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Feb 18, 2017 2:14 pm

Licchavi wrote:...but why are they taped up?

Because they didn't have suitable double clips? ;-)

I wondered if they were perhaps using different caps and also whether they had any ideas to using both sets in the mix (and set them up as close as possible to minimise phase issues).

I agree that mounting does suggest they were aiming for phase alignment and, as I said earlier, I agree they are probably rigged with different capsules.

I don't see any logic in the idea they were backups. Mics and cables rarely fail once rigged and tested. And while a backup might be required in a very special live broadcast situation, maybe, I've never seen it done in a straight-forward recording session where you could easily stop, fix, and start again.

I suspect the two mics simply have different polar pattern options...but different tonality is an option too. Unlikely that they would want or need to mix both sets together in that scenario. What would be the point (or benefit)?

If the taped mics were omni/fig-8 pairs I could see the point (remotely adjustable polar pattern), but it there's no fig-8 capsule in in those arrays. The only other possibilities I can think of is if they were an omni and cardioid combination, to give directional separation at mid and HF, but with the omni blended in at the low end; or they were the same capsules but on analogue and digital bodies, to evaluate the different systems -- something that would be practical with the KM100 mics.

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