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Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Arpangel » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:29 am

This piano needs a good tune, TBQH, that could improve things dramatically, if you’re playing an instrument regularly, unfortunately you tend not to notice as much as other people would.
Millions of opinions about mic placement, but honestly, just move them around until it sounds good to you, and that sweet spot may be in a very unlikely place, just experiment.
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby John Willett » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:15 am

Ariosto wrote:
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!)

Virtually no musician hears his instrument properly.

BUT - a competant musician learns his instrument to interpret the music.

For example, a brass player is behind his/her instrument that radiates sound in a forward direction. They will never hear the instrument like the audience hears it.

A pianist hears the instrument from the keyboard - the audience will hear it by reflections from the lid and floor

A musician should NEVER try and record an instrument that sounds like he/she hears it as the sound will be very wrong.

If you can, I recommend the book "Acoustics and the Performance of Music" by Jürgen Meyer - it's on Amazon.co.uk HERE :thumbup: It shows the sound radiation patterns of various musical instruments which I find very useful. I found the book so good I bought it twice - I have the 1st edition and also the current 5th edition. :thumbup:
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:16 am

Greatly improved, tonally, but the stereo imaging is excessively wide with a strong and unpleasant 'out-of-phase' quality to my ears. You can see the problem on a vectorscope or phase meter quite clearly.

Mono compatibility is not entirely desperate, thankfully, probably because you're blending in those close hammer mics with the wide-spaced front mics?

If you're happy with those mic positions you could try panning the front mics inwards a bit, rather than hard left/right. That might help. Or you might find that flipping the polarity of one of the front mics helps. Worth a try...
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:50 pm

John Willett wrote:
Virtually no musician hears his instrument properly.

BUT - a competant musician learns his instrument to interpret the music.

For example, a brass player is behind his/her instrument that radiates sound in a forward direction. They will never hear the instrument like the audience hears it.

A pianist hears the instrument from the keyboard - the audience will hear it by reflections from the lid and floor

A musician should NEVER try and record an instrument that sounds like he/she hears it as the sound will be very wrong.

If you can, I recommend the book "Acoustics and the Performance of Music" by Jürgen Meyer

Thanks for that. I'm going to see if I can borrow that book.

I saw an interview with Miles Davis. They asked him why he played live with his back to the audience and his horn pointed down at the floor. He said that way he can hear himself, and it changes the way he plays.

When we play jazz, we are reacting to each other and our own sound, listening to the whole group, and making up the music as we go. Hearing yourself and the band is very important to us. There is no sheet of music to interpret, except the basic structure sometimes. How the players can hear themselves dramatically effects the overall performance.

I have learned that if the jazz group can make it sound good on stage for each other, the sound man/recordist can make it sound good for the audience. I used to rely on others to do that technical stuff for me and didn't think much about it, but with my own project studio, SOS has helped me get things to sound right. Very tricky stuff. All the help is greatly appreciated.
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:04 pm

Arpangel wrote:This piano needs a good tune, TBQH, that could improve things dramatically, if you’re playing an instrument regularly, unfortunately you tend not to notice as much as other people would.
Millions of opinions about mic placement, but honestly, just move them around until it sounds good to you, and that sweet spot may be in a very unlikely place, just experiment.

I am afraid we are locked-down. The piano tech can't come over. I appreciate your ears and will have the piano tuned. I love the way it sounds after a fresh tune.

One thing I have noticed is that I have two different techs, and for one tech, the tuning lasts much longer than the other. :eh:
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Arpangel » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:24 pm

DC-Choppah wrote:
Arpangel wrote:This piano needs a good tune, TBQH, that could improve things dramatically, if you’re playing an instrument regularly, unfortunately you tend not to notice as much as other people would.
Millions of opinions about mic placement, but honestly, just move them around until it sounds good to you, and that sweet spot may be in a very unlikely place, just experiment.

I am afraid we are locked-down. The piano tech can't come over. I appreciate your ears and will have the piano tuned. I love the way it sounds after a fresh tune.

One thing I have noticed is that I have two different techs, and for one tech, the tuning lasts much longer than the other. :eh:

It’s not the end of the world, adapt your music to suit.
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:34 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Greatly improved, tonally, but the stereo imaging is excessively wide with a strong and unpleasant 'out-of-phase' quality to my ears. You can see the problem on a vectorscope or phase meter quite clearly.

Mono compatibility is not entirely desperate, thankfully, probably because you're blending in those close hammer mics with the wide-spaced front mics?

If you're happy with those mic positions you could try panning the front mics inwards a bit, rather than hard left/right. That might help. Or you might find that flipping the polarity of one of the front mics helps. Worth a try...

Using the phase scope I see what you mean. Lots of anti-phase sound in the mix.

Playing with the out-front mics, these have little effect on the anti-phase sound. Flipping the polarity just takes out the body of the sound and no effect on the anti-phase signal.

Putting the phase scope just on these out-front mics and they don't show much anti-phase sound.

The anti-phase stuff is all coming from the XY pair. Flipping polarity on one of those mics takes the body out of the sound and does not reduce the anti-phase.

Putting the phase scope on just the XY mics shows lots of anti-phase sound. More than the center actually by quite a bit (5- 10 dB).

The only way to reduce the anti-phase sound on these mics was to put on an M/S and reduce the sides by 8 dB. But when I do that, it just sounds mono.

I wonder if my XY mics need a re-arrangement to get a stereo sound without the anti-phase stuff?
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby blinddrew » Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:38 am

I would definitely start with looking at your x-y pair. If you've got them correctly set up it shouldn't sound phasey.
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:48 am

The XY pair is not XY.

XY describes a stereo array with coincident capsules, but none of the mics in DC's multimic rig are coincident.

The strong out-of-phase elements are essentially because you're using spaced capsules, and the sounds captured by the different mics are significantly incoherent (ie different to each other). In effect you have the classic 'hole in the middle' effect.

The important thing is to be sure the summed mono sound has all the characteristics you value in your piano sound. And if no, tweak the mic arrangement/mix until it does. Then you have the desirable situation where mono sounds great and stereo sounds even better...

It's easy to get into the situation where stereo sounds great and mono sounds compromised... or even bad. That's what you need to avoid, but no one said it was going to be easy!

H
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:09 am

OK, mics over the hammers are now a proper XY with coincident capsules and 90 degree angle. This gives me much less anti-phase sound for these mics according to the scope. Anti-phase sound is now 10 dB below the center channel sound.

Switching to mono yields no change in tonality. Just brings the image in-between the monitors.

This sounds good to me.



Mix (no processing):
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1HkfGU ... Z5NK6w97MN


Stereo mics (PULSAR II) over the hammers in proper XY
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gewUo ... D6gQ8Czc0S

KSM137 out front L
https://drive.google.com/open?id=13UCUn ... nVWqxt9DDI

SM81 out front R
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1-6FUQ ... R0uvkDhRl1


Picture:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1onuot ... xBDlJwskp-
IMG_3036.JPG


I did try other configurations. For example I made the angle tighter of the spaced pair (45 degrees instead of 90) but that made the anti-phase sound even stronger.

For the coincident XY, it does seem that on the phase scope, the anti-phase sounds spike when I play single notes at the farther end of the keyboard. So the amount of anti-phase sound is just related to how many times I hit a solo high or low note.
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Mar 25, 2020 11:33 am

It's certainly getting a lot better (personal subjective opinion of course)...

The mix seems to be left-heavy most of the time, and that appears to be mostly down to the XY mics in the middle. Being so close to the hammers, these are always going to over-emphasise some small regions of the keyboard at the expense of others, and it just happens that the key you're playing in here makes the track left-heavy. A different piece played in a different key would probably produce a different result!

There is also a lot of attack and distracting damper noise from those XY mics, again because they are so close.

Personally, I much prefer the sound of just the spaced outer mics (the KSM and SM), but panned in to about 50-60% each rather than fully hard left/right. Much less damper noise, less transient attack, more body and weight, nice stereo width and movement without phasiness, and quite reasonable mono compatibility.

So if it were me, I'd ditch the XYs, keep the spaced mics, and just pull the pan controls in a bit.
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Ariosto » Wed Mar 25, 2020 12:29 pm

Are you using a lot of sustain pedal? I'm hearing that you are. The harmonies need release and clearing as they are making a muddy sound and the need for tuning makes it sound worse.
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DC-Choppah » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:11 pm

Ariosto wrote:Are you using a lot of sustain pedal? I'm hearing that you are. The harmonies need release and clearing as they are making a muddy sound and the need for tuning makes it sound worse.

That you for that. Very helpful.
I need to work on the release of the harmony for the next phrase. Yes I use pedal to make large two-handed chords ring while I play a phrase on top of it. I use shifting harmonic structures in my music to give each chord its own unique harmony. I have clear boundaries in my head. There should be no clash between the ringing harmony and the melody line. I need to work on the pedal technique to make the boundaries clear. I am very grateful that you are hearing these things and help me translate the music from what I can hear in my head to what comes out of the speakers.

Now that I have the piano sounding natural through the mics, I can focus on technique and the music. It was very distracting when the piano tone sounded all wrong coming back from the speakers!
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby Ariosto » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:49 pm

And just to add I think your Jazz playing and creation is going well, and once the headaches of mic's and recording are finalised it will go from strength to strength. If I could get my wife back on the keyboard I would record her, but she's concentrating on setting up teaching from home with all the problems it is bringing up. She's also had to give up all hopes of doing her recitals in London and Manchester until who knows when.
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Re: Please help recording grand piano to eliminate phasey sound

Postby DanDan » Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:38 pm

Disinfect a friend and have them play the piano and listen while moving about.
Repeatedly I find a sweet spot at the inward curve, perhaps a foot or so up, pointing across at the centre. Slightly spaced and angled pair, or M/S or XY if you want real punchy mono compatibility.
Lose the lid and boxiness will go, because the box is gone! You will discover amazing clarity and pinpoint imaging of each note.....
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