You are here

Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Mar 22, 2020 11:53 am

DC-Choppah wrote:The recorded piano is pleasant, just completely different than the real thing.

Try growing four ears and play while leaning in over the hammers. The recording will probably sound much more similar then! :lol:
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28580
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Ariosto » Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:28 pm

John Willett wrote:
DC-Choppah wrote:T
It's still amazing to me how the recorded piano actually sound nothing like the real thing. I can play back what I play right away and hear the difference sitting at the piano. The recorded piano is pleasant, just completely different than the real thing.

The pianist never hears the piano properly - he/she is sitting in the wrong position. :roll:

The piano is designed to be heard by the audience, not the player.

So if you get the recorded piano to sound like when you are playing it, it will be very wrong and nothing like the audience would hear when they are listenin g to you play.
That does not make sense to me. If the pianist can't hear and effect what the sound is (and I know they can) then how do they interpret the music, and change the balance and the tonal effects? It's more like the mic does not hear the piano properly, and we mess about until we get it to sound how we want it to be heard! (And then it's only an approximation!)
Ariosto
Frequent Poster
Posts: 876
Joined: Sun May 04, 2008 12:00 am
Location: LONDON, UK

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Mar 22, 2020 4:00 pm

Ariosto wrote:That does not make sense to me. If the pianist can't hear and effect what the sound is (and I know they can) then how do they interpret the music, and change the balance and the tonal effects?

No one is saying the pianist can't control what they play.

The point John is making -- and it's a perfectly valid one that affects a lot of different instruments -- is that the player rarely if ever hears the instrument in the same way as the intended audience.

For a grand piano, the player hears direct sound mostly, a lot of it from the hammers, and with lots of early reflected sound off the floor.

In contrast the intended audience hears mostly sound reflected from the lid and the floor, and inevitably receives a far more distant perspective, hence a very different sound expectation.

I've seen people record pianos with a pair of mics behind the player to give a player's perspective... Sounds distinctly odd if you're used to the concert presenation!

As another obvious example, compare the sound of a trumpet captured at the player's ears, compared to what it sounds like directly in front!

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28580
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Mar 22, 2020 4:06 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:Listening to the latest sample, and not being aware of how the piano sounds live, it's not that great. I'm hearing harsh middy string sound (on the right), bass is not as full as I'd expect and that softness of tone from the higher notes is lost beneath the 'stridentness' of those notes.

I'd share that view.

It's hard to tell from the image, but that piano looks like it's tight into the corner of the room which really isn' going to help with the tonality. It's quite possible the midrange prominence is a room effect.

And if you are suffering room issues, throwing more mics into the pot is likely to make things worse rather than better.

In that situation I'd be inclined to switch to contact mics on the soundboard (Schertler, for example) and a fistful of EQ...

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28580
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:40 pm

Ooops, I had some processing on that clip.

Here is the same clip with no processing:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1WwS6h ... qRk9GCKMwz


The two processing elements that were on in the first clip were:
- Air stereo width on the piano bus. Using the 'phase' method. I had been using that to examine how phase was changing the tone, not just the perceived width.

- Lexicon PCM random hall reverb on stereo mics over the strings.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1611
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:59 pm

And here are the three raw tracks bounced individually:

Stereo mics (PULSAR II) over the hammers
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1hsVjm ... pSUtWRCvNb

KSM137 mic near the bass strings
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1i7Zly ... TgL2wMRJlN

PL9 mic in the rear soundboard hole
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1DzaHe ... -bei-GFqxD

The KSM137 was panned center while the PL9 was panned hard right in this mix.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1611
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:50 pm

My two penn'eth: There are obviously some tuning issues with the piano which are a little distracting, and the room is clearly affecting the overall tone too. The stereo hammer mics are extremely right-heavy, but when tweaked for a more balanced sound aren't actually too bad if you want that hammery sound. Great for cutting through a busy mix! :-) I don't know if the right offset is a gain calibration, placement, or a playing issue... or maybe you want a right-heavy balance for the mix?

The PL9 isn't really bringing anything useful to the party, and sounds rather 'sound holey' so it may be in too close... but even so it's not bringing anything that the KSM isn't.

The KSM does bring some welcome weight without the boxy sound of the PL9 or the clatter of the hammer mics.

As you said don't want more mellow and less hammer, I'd ditch the hammer mics altogether. Keep the KSM for now, and experiment with just one other mic to bring out the mid/top either from close in over the strings or from just beside the piano somewhere in the curve towards the keyboard midway between the case and lid. Distance, height and (if you're using a directional mic) angle of this mics often makes a significant difference to tone.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28580
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sun Mar 22, 2020 9:00 pm

I played a Yamaha CFX at Westminster Hall, and the mics were DPA 4006s.
Their placement was pretty much around the soundboard, rather surprisingly, I thought.

When you hit, (and remember that pianos have hammer actions), a CFX goes very loud indeed!!
Trevor Johnson
Regular
Posts: 334
Joined: Sat May 15, 2010 12:00 am

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Mar 22, 2020 9:07 pm

Listening to it again and looking at the photos, my feeling is that with the piano shoehorned into that room with the wall very close, it would be extremely difficult to get a reasonable sound. What would the same piano played with little or no room contribution sound like. I cant be sure. It would be interesting to hear it.
Tim Gillett
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2227
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:00 am
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Sun Mar 22, 2020 11:15 pm

User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1611
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DanDan » Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:05 am

Remove the Lid. If the piano sounds good an M/S or XY a few feet over the centre should sound awesome. If your piano is lacking in balls or whatever, you could try to add in say Bass by using a mic close to that aspect. Quite often there is an interesting sound available at the sound board. Try poking a SDC, DPA 4061, into the holes in the frame near the inward curve at the side.
User avatar
DanDan
Regular
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:00 am
Location: Cork Ireland
Dan FitzGerald MIOA  MAES
www.irishacoustics.com
www.soundsound.ie

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:01 am

DanDan wrote:Remove the Lid.

That's actually more practical for me than relocating the piano around the room..

So far, the music stand, and the lid have only caused me problems. I'm a jazzer and prefer to learn a song so I don't need music anyway. So I am ok without the music stand. But no lid!?!
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1611
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:18 am

This is my mix reference.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBimSLh3I78

Kenny Barron playing piano with Stefan Di Battista, Embraceable You. I wonder how this was recorded?

The piano sounds upfront, very detailed, very jazzy, and this recording reads well wherever it is played. You can always hear all the instruments. In comparison to many recordings the piano really stands out here to me as being expertly recorded and played. I love the way the piano sounds in stereo here.

I could pick out every note he plays on this recording even with the other instruments playing.

Check out the piano solo BTW.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1611
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:56 am

This is starting to sound like my piano when I play it back!

Taking High's advice, I ditched the PL9 and replaced with an SM81.

I tracked down the L/R imbalance on the XY mics. One of the channels in my analog mixer was set to PRE so the faders were not balancing properly. I fixed that so now when I hit a middle D, the mics ring at the same level.

I tried the SM81 all around the rim along the curve, but it always sounded hollow and like the sound hole. I tried the SM81 inside pointed at the strings. Same hollow sound. Very hard to combine with the other mics too. But just sounds bad on its own.

So then I moved the SM81 out front like the KSM137, but pointed at the high strings. This sounded good and more natural. So it seems the lid is not my friend. Gotta stay away from it.

So then I figured that instead of removing the lid, at least open it up on the tallest stick. The outside mics don't interact with the lid because of where they are out in front. The reflections from the lid don't come towards the outside mics perhaps.

This setup is actually sounding much more like my piano coming back through the Adam monitors. Cool.

Here is a photo
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1nTh7N ... -gKMYEoxWZ
IMG_3031.JPG

Here is the blend (no processing)
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1I8_cs ... ufEaxwzu2P


Tracks
Stereo mics (PULSAR II) over the hammers
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1z_lg9 ... w4qrFvLOWD

KSM137 out front L
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1advsg ... AfK6l2m5hi

SM81 out front R
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1k6Zxz ... zObFkePA2u


Please let me know how this sounds. This sounds much improved to me. At least much more like my piano.
User avatar
DC-Choppah
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1611
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:00 am
Location: MD, USA

Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Ariosto » Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:34 am

I liked the blend - no processing.
Ariosto
Frequent Poster
Posts: 876
Joined: Sun May 04, 2008 12:00 am
Location: LONDON, UK

PreviousNext