You are here

Home Piano Recording

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

Home Piano Recording

Postby Hudson1984 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:44 pm

Hi all, my last post was deleted by accident so i'm starting again (thank's for the apology mod team haha I thought it had been deleted on purpose)

anyway, I play piano, mostly on a digital and mostly in my mancave/garage.

ABRSM (exam board) now offer a performance only grade for piano which I'm keen to take on instead of the normal route - mainly because it means I don't have to sing!!

this means I have to record a video of me playing, this must not be edited and must be less than a 2gb file.

My concerns here is my laptop only has a basic webcam
my phone isn't ideal either
the speakers on the digital piano aren't great so won't give the best feel of dynamics etc.

What i'd like some advice on would be how to a) bump the sound from piano b) record this with video

I've had a look and it looks (to my basic mind) that a sound interface would do part of the job, something like a focusrite solo?

But i've no idea what would go where, can I then add monitors to the interface, plug the headphone out from piano (it's a Roland FP-30 with no line out, only headphone jacks) into the interface, then interface into laptop and add monitors to the interface?

I'm lost.

The video just needs to be 720p, nothing major there.

So in summary - I need to record a 720p video with half decent sound.

Only things I have is a Roland FP-30 piano and a decent laptop.

anyone able to put me out of my misery and put a shopping list together?
Hudson1984
Poster
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:17 am

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:05 pm

All you need is one decent small bridge camera and a cable (almost certainly a 1/4" jack to 1/8" mini-jack cable). You do not need any kind of magic interface, you do not need to jump through any hoops and you do not even need a microphone.

Plug the jack into the piano and the mini-jack into the camera. Set the camera to about an 80th-second shutter speed (to avoid pulsing from any strip lights or LEDs you might be using) and the frame rate to 25fps (frames per second) and the focus to autofocus. Stick the camera on a stand, point it at your good self and check the sound levels and adjust the volume on the piano accordingly.

Edit in some idiot-proof software like Hit-Film (it's free!) or if you want to learn a professional package DaVinci-Resolve (it too is free!) and render your version of Rachmaninoff's variations on 'Chop-Sticks' or whatever.

The Panasonic FZ1000 can be picked up new for about £400 or used for £300 and can even provide cinema-quality images in the right hands! Other models and brands are available!
The Red Bladder
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2556
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:00 am
Location: . . .
 

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby Hudson1984 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:22 pm

yay finally someone looking to save me money haha

just been chatting to a store and they've put me about £1,000 worth of shopping together if I get the monitors too

so ok, what you propose will record everything as needed.

how then do I upgrade the onboard sound? the piano has two speaker slots, could one go into the camera and another into a monitor/pair of monitors? just normal playing is a bit hampered at the moment due to poor on board speakers.
Hudson1984
Poster
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:17 am

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby The Elf » Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:22 pm

For a simple 'quick and dirty' method...

Looks like the FP-30 has a USB output. With that you could record your MIDI to a DAW as you play. This MIDI you could then route to a virtual piano and record the output as audio and merge it with your video file.

Using Reaper as your DAW (free to start) and a simple, free virtual piano, you should be able to get something usable.

Here are a few free piano VSTs to get started: https://cymatics.fm/blogs/production/25-best-piano-vst-plugins#shootdown

Zero cost!
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 14883
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby Hudson1984 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:27 pm

The Elf wrote:For a simple 'quick and dirty' method...

Looks like the FP-30 has a USB output. With that you could record your MIDI to a DAW as you play. This MIDI you could then route to a virtual piano and record the output as audio and merge it with your video file.

Using Reaper as your DAW (free to start) and a simple, free virtual piano, you should be able to get something usable.

Here are a few free piano VSTs to get started: https://cymatics.fm/blogs/production/25-best-piano-vst-plugins#shootdown

Zero cost!

only issue there is the video has to be "unedited" so splicing it together like this could look like a cheat and get DQ'd
Hudson1984
Poster
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:17 am

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby CS70 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:48 pm

Hudson1984 wrote:
The Elf wrote:For a simple 'quick and dirty' method...

Looks like the FP-30 has a USB output. With that you could record your MIDI to a DAW as you play. This MIDI you could then route to a virtual piano and record the output as audio and merge it with your video file.

Using Reaper as your DAW (free to start) and a simple, free virtual piano, you should be able to get something usable.

Here are a few free piano VSTs to get started: https://cymatics.fm/blogs/production/25-best-piano-vst-plugins#shootdown

Zero cost!

only issue there is the video has to be "unedited" so splicing it together like this could look like a cheat and get DQ'd


It is normal practice to use two different systems to record video and audio. The virtual piano you use is immaterial, as it's basically anything you have available - it doesn't have to be the sound engine of that specific keyboard you have. The playing is in the MIDI.

"Editing" in this context would mean artificially adjusting the performance to make it sound better than it is - changing phrases, notes fixing errors etc. In other words, cheating.

If you just record video with your phone while you record midi with your keyboard, send it to a piano to make an audio file and then pair up the result with the original video, it's not editing in the "cheating" sense.

All that said, these guys want only to see how you play. I don't think they expect anything particularly polished - they might even get suspicious if you send something particularly polished.

If I were you, I would just ask the course's administration desk about whether or not the shortcomings you mention are relevant and if you do need to make an effort to make things sound better because of better equipment (as opposite to you playing).
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6072
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:48 pm

"how then do I upgrade the onboard sound?"

It could hardly be easier (and shame on the music shop that tells you that you need £1,000 of superfluous audio rubbish!)

All the budget video cameras I have, have got 1/8th inch jack inputs and the movie cameras have XLR inputs - the Roland FP30 has a mini-jack output. it is for headphones, so you will need to be careful not to overload the inputs on the camera.

No home should be without at least one budget-priced DSLR or at least a bridge camera like the FZ1000 - the only thing to watch out for is that it has a separate audio input. Plug it in, press record on the camera and start playing!

In today's world, all the mad complications like time-code and syncing audio to video are dead. All good video software (i.e. not Adobe Premiere or Avid Media Composer) can auto-sync just using the audio as a guide, so you could do a sophisticated multi-cam shoot using 16 GoPros without any need for any link, other than each getting a halfway clean audio-feed.
The Red Bladder
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2556
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:00 am
Location: . . .
 

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby Hudson1984 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:58 pm

CS70 wrote:
Hudson1984 wrote:
The Elf wrote:For a simple 'quick and dirty' method...

Looks like the FP-30 has a USB output. With that you could record your MIDI to a DAW as you play. This MIDI you could then route to a virtual piano and record the output as audio and merge it with your video file.

Using Reaper as your DAW (free to start) and a simple, free virtual piano, you should be able to get something usable.

Here are a few free piano VSTs to get started: https://cymatics.fm/blogs/production/25-best-piano-vst-plugins#shootdown

Zero cost!

only issue there is the video has to be "unedited" so splicing it together like this could look like a cheat and get DQ'd


It is normal practice to use two different systems to record video and audio. The virtual piano you use is immaterial, as it's basically anything you have available.

"Editing" in this context would mean artificially adjusting the performance to make it sound better than it is - changing phrases, notes fixing errors etc.

If you just record video with your phone while you record midi with your keyboard, send it to a piano to make an audio file and then pair up the result with the original video, it's not editing in the "cheating" sense.

All that said, these guys want only to see how you play. I don't think they expect anything particularly polished - they might even get suspicious if you send something particularly polished.

If I were you, I would just ask the course's administration desk about whether or not the shortcomings you mention are relevant and if you do need to make an effort to make things sound better because of better equipment (as opposite to you playing).

yeah it's more me than anything, I just want a half decent setup to kinda make me feel a little more confident is all, rather than think ARGH that sounds awful.

The Red Bladder wrote:"how then do I upgrade the onboard sound?"

It could hardly be easier (and shame on the music shop that tells you that you need £1,000 of superfluous audio rubbish!)

All the budget video cameras I have, have got 1/8th inch jack inputs and the movie cameras have XLR inputs - the Roland FP30 has a mini-jack output. it is for headphones, so you will need to be careful not to overload the inputs on the camera.

No home should be without at least one budget-priced DSLR or at least a bridge camera like the FZ1000 - the only thing to watch out for is that it has a separate audio input. Plug it in, press record on the camera and start playing!

In today's world, all the mad complications like time-code and syncing audio to video are dead. All good video software (i.e. not Adobe Premiere or Avid Media Composer) can auto-sync just using the audio as a guide, so you could do a sophisticated multi-cam shoot using 16 GoPros without any need for any link, other than each getting a halfway clean audio-feed.

Their list was:
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio Pack - £200 odd
Focal Alpha 50 Monitor - £190 each so £380 if I went for a pair.

then add the camera stuff, easily £1,000 to be done.

I like the bridge camera idea, But would still like the piano to sound better to me sitting there.

I assume I don't need a mic as the camera is merely recording the file direct from the piano rather than through a mic? dificulty I will have there is I do have to introduce the piece and say my name etc. So I do need to be heard - if only at the start.

again, liking the bridge camera setup plan and I'm really eager to keep it simple, doesn't have to be cheap but would like it basic and easy to use and at the same time upgrade the live sound from the piano (if that's a seperate issue then fine.
Hudson1984
Poster
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:17 am

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:00 pm

Keep it simple.

As RB suggests, you just need a digital video camcorder with an external audio input, and a conversion cable to go from the piano's left-right quarter-inch outputs to a stereo 3.5mm mini-jack input on the camera.

But read the user-manual for the chosen video recorder before purchase -- you need to check that it will let you set the record level manually and turn off any automatic gain control function. It would probably be nice to be able to turn of any auto-focus too, although that is less critical.

Digital video recorders cost anything from £100 to £1000... so just pick something that suits your budget and does what you need.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28343
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby Hudson1984 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:03 pm

Just on from the "I need to speak" bit.

Would I be better served with a digital camera such as that suggested, then add something like a Rodevideomicro? I mean for £55 that might be better to use as I can speak as needed and still record the piano.

Then ask you nice people to recommend some form of speaker to upgrade the on board ones i.e pair/single monitor or amp or something.
Hudson1984
Poster
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:17 am

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby CS70 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:13 pm

Hudson1984 wrote:But would still like the piano to sound better to me sitting there.

Short of using headphones then, yeah, the only way to improve things is to get better speakers.

There's two things at play here - one, your current onboard speakers are bad, and you solve that with better speakers. The other is making the recording, and better speakers could also solve the speaking conundrum.

They're different concerns because your brain gets used to your room so better speakers will in general give you a subjectively better sound when you play. A recording, on the other side, "prints" the room and you simply can't get a great one in a bad room, no matter the quality of the kit.

But likely you don't need a great recording. A properly positioned smartphone (on a little phone tripod) set up to record video and audio would allow you to record a realistic piano live take (with some few tricks) and say your name etc (just speak loud enough :D). At least if the phone is not older than say 5 years.

Again, nothing pro-sounding (as a recording) but, as I wrote before, I doubt that's the necessary at all.

I don't know how "crap" the speakers you have are, but if the keyboard has a stereo output, a pair of decent small active speakers will do the trick - no interface, no computer needed. I like the iLoud Micro Monitors but there's plenty.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6072
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby Hudson1984 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:19 pm

they're not totally crap, just a little underpowered is all and I want to be able to show clearly I now how to play loud bits loud and quiet bits quiet, so i'm not too fussed about having it sound professional I want it to be clear that I am able to play the dynamics how I should.

only reason i'm aiming for speakers over headphones is during a lesson, I want my teacher to hear me (she comes to my house) so it just works better for me.

I think you're all right in the way you're taking me. Recording at the level i'm aiming for is basic, and that's fine. I mean who knows in 5-10 years I might decide to put stuff on youtube but i've no real aspirations of that at this stage.

So, what speaker(s) would you lot recommend? i'll take a look at the iloud ones for sure.

quickly back onto the recording part - my phone isn't great really, that's where my initial thoughts came from, I could try the rode mic into it, as it was the sound that was the issue there rather than the video.

What would be the benefit of using a DSLR over my phone? (Iphone 6S+)
Hudson1984
Poster
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:17 am

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby CS70 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:40 pm

Hudson1984 wrote:So, what speaker(s) would you lot recommend? i'll take a look at the iloud ones for sure.

You're spoiled for choices these days. I've personally stuck to the Neumanns KH120A plus a single Auratone powered by an integrated hifi amplifier for the last 8 years, and it still sounds good enough to me, so I'm not much up to speed. The iLoud are in my stepson's room and boy I like them. There's another thread going just now about small speaker for studio that can give you ideas (I think they mention the Presonus Eris).

These are mostly studio monitors however, which the better they are, the less they flatter the sound. To hear pleasant things, you might also look at some good hi-fi speakers powered by an external amp - second hand, you find lots of bargains usually.

I'm sure people more up to speed on current offerings will help soon!
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6072
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby CS70 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:43 pm

Hudson1984 wrote:What would be the benefit of using a DSLR over my phone? (Iphone 6S+)

Haha, that's the question that is literally killing the camera industry!!

For your purposed, I'd dare say little.

The main difference is that your phone has fixed focal length, so you can't change the way it sees things as much as you can with a DSLR with interchangeable lenses. Plus DSLRs have many more format options - allowing you to post-process the image or film to a much larger degree without ruining it.

A 6S+ is perfectly able to record a decent take to use for your course presentation and - given a good room - absolutely for youtube as well.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6072
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Home Piano Recording

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:46 pm

It sounds as if a cheap and cheerful mini-mixer is going to be your long-lasting friend. £100 tops! Plug-in a mic into one of the inputs (at that price it will just have two!) and plug the piano into the line inputs and adjust the gain to match the inputs of the camera.

Under no circumstances should you even begin to contemplate thinking about spending your hard-earned money on separate video recorders (they start at about £1,000).

I do this for a living and spent all day yesterday recording a technical rehearsal for a TV music programme (first decent gig since lockdown!) and there we had magic cameras and magic recorders with 5.1 ins and outs, etc. I began in 1967 at Granada in the days of 405 B&W, so I've seen pretty much all TV roll tech issues roll before my eyes - today is brilliantly simple. Make use of the technology and as Hugh says, keep it simple! And keep it cheap!

So you need a 4K bridge camera (oodles of them out there!) with separate audio in. A microphone (SM58 is never a mistake!) a camera tripod and some cables to join all that rubbish up together. Camera £300, mixer £50, mic £100, cables £10.

If you get a half-ways decent bridge camera, it will be your friend for years to come, hense my suggestion of the FZ1000 as it has a good 25-400 Leica lens and with a 128GB card will record three hours of 4K film-quality video albeit in half-hour bursts and you will need second battery for three hours!

Desk - https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Soundcraft-S ... i&LH_BIN=1

Camera - https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Panasonic-LU ... Sw3yJfI-DX

Mic - https://www.thomann.de/gb/shure_sm58_set.htm
The Red Bladder
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2556
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:00 am
Location: . . .
 

Next