You are here

Piano recording

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

Piano recording

Postby Nyiregyhazi » Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:56 pm

Any thoughts on the sound here?

https://youtu.be/MMwBn9o-oLo

I'm pretty pleased with this now, for a tiny 12 ft square (or less) room. Aside from some rockwool in corners, I've got a duvet opposite the lid and another directly under the piano. I'm using a pair of om1s inside the piano. One is high up close to the lid, for the treble and the other is close in about half way down the length of the bass strings, a little way into where they cross the mid strings.

I'd been trying to get more bass before but I've stopped worrying about that and used eq to help out. There's a bigger boost right at the bottom and then a moderate one through the bass range. It seems better to have the microphones both fairly central in the range of the instrument, rather than try to catch the lowest strings directly. When I was trying to get more bass directly, I think I was getting a very thin lower middle range. It still feels a bit like cheating to me, to ramp up the bass, but I'm confident that it's more of a genuine correction issue rather than faking a sound that I can't genuinely make.

One thing I find surprising is that the treble is always much louder in dB on the recording. I have the mic much further from the strings than the one for the bass. If anything I'd have expected the lower frequencies to have greater energy, especially with closer miking. I've both raised the bass mic in terms of input gain and used some EQ. For me it seems pretty well balanced now. I've also used some narrow cuts of around 10db for three resonant frequencies and used arturia rev plate 140 for resonance. It actually sounded surprisingly good without the reverb, but I went for a small amount.

Any thoughts from an engineer's point of view? Listening from a performer's end I'm very happy with what I'm getting here and I've certainly heard commercial recordings where I liked the sound less. However, I'm very interested in any thoughts from anyone more versed in the technical side of things. The only thing I was wondering about is whether I should have reduced the stereo width further? Maybe it sounds a little fake to have the reverb with too much sense of directional differences? However, there's probably plenty of stuff I wouldn't even know to look for, so any technical criticisms are very much welcome.
Nyiregyhazi
Regular
Posts: 114
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:46 pm

Re: Piano recording

Postby Nyiregyhazi » Thu Aug 13, 2020 12:03 am

One thought just came to mind, is having the treble mic higher perhaps making it catch more reflection from the lid, as well as direct sound? Could having the other mic very close to the strings actually reduce the reflected sound or something? I can understand higher pitches being subjectively more piercing to the ear, but I'm still a bit confused by generating a bigger dB reading.
Nyiregyhazi
Regular
Posts: 114
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:46 pm

Re: Piano recording

Postby Arpangel » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:39 am

The sound has an upper mid-range emphasis to my ears, there’s a lack of bass too, it doesn’t sound very full. You’ve done a reasonable job avoiding the room sound as much as possible under the circumstances.
The character of the sound in general I’d put down to the mic's used, EQ can only do a certain amount, and it would be better to try and find a mic with a better bass response, it sounds as though the mic is limiting the bass, not the position of the mic.
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4998
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Piano recording

Postby Tim Gillett » Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:26 am

After a short listen, I like the sound. It sounds balanced without anything bad standing out. The room problems do seem to have been diminished. Well done. Perhaps another piece exploring the fuller range of the keyboard would give it more of a test.
Tim Gillett
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2212
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:00 am
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Piano recording

Postby Arpangel » Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:38 am

Tim Gillett wrote:After a short listen, I like the sound. It sounds balanced without anything bad standing out. The room problems do seem to have been diminished. Well done. Perhaps another piece exploring the fuller range of the keyboard would give it more of a test.

Yes, it’s a tight sound, but something hard going on in the that upper mid-range.
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4998
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Piano recording

Postby forumuser840717 » Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:06 am

Given the compromises inherent in the size of the instrument and room, the balance isn't actually bad. It's probably a good, even flattering, representation of how the piano really sounds in that room. THe slightly crunchy upper mid will probably change - though not necessarily for the better - if positioned differently to reduce reflections from the close lid and there might be some odd things going on with the mids due to the relative spacings of the mics but on any recording like this there'll always be compromises somewhere and it's just a matter of choosing which to accept.

Just a thought but are you chasing a sound that simply isn't really there? Baby grands don't really produce the warmth, weight, or richness of full sized concert grands and that applies across the full range of the instrument, not just in the lower octaves (though it's especially apparent there). A good one will fake it quite well but ultimately, they're smaller and they sound like it, no matter what mics one uses or where they're positioned. Changing or moving mics around can alter the overall spectral balance but it only goes so far.

I occasionally come across little pianos on recordings for which I'm hired and, while a good one that's in good condition and well set up can be tonally balanced and pleasant enough in many circumstances, it always (to me) sounds lean/malnourished / small-scale/weak, and bass light when compared to a full sized grand, even in acoustically good spaces. One can't get a 9' piano sound out of a 6' or 7' piano. Add a small room and it's never going to sound other than a small piano in a small space. (Though, arguably, in a small space, it might actually sound better than a 9' piano.)

If full sized pianos didn't bring something sonically special to the party then there wouldn't be much point in making them because in practical terms they don't have much going for them. They're heavy, unwieldy, relatively fragile, and expensive space hogs which aren't easy to move around and need specialist care and environmental conditions if they're to last and stay at their best, yet still people want them and transport them around the world to play concerts and recitals on because nothing sounds quite like them.
forumuser840717
Regular
Posts: 148
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:20 pm