You are here

Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

For fans of synths, pianos or keyboard instruments of any sort.

Moderator: Moderators

Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Sat Jan 23, 2021 2:15 pm

Hi

I'm sure this question is very debatable and mostly down to personal choice, but when recording solo piano for a commercial album, what perspective of the piano is normally preferred, performer or audience?

A recent article on how to record solo Piano for a commercial recording suggested using a pair of AKG C414 large-diaphragm microphones set to cardioid and positioned with one near the hammers on the high side of the piano and the other over the point where the bass strings cross the mid strings.

It's this MIC placement (Stereo Imaging) that I'm looking to record an album with, unfortunately the CFX concert grand i have from Garritan as a plugin inside Logic Pro doesnt come with this MIC placement. I was thinking then of a stereo imaging plugin that may help to gain a similar MIC surround setting?

There is a sample of the above MIC placement played on a Yamaha C7 concert grand i could upload to give an idea of what i mean.
User avatar
DigitalMusicProduction
Regular
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:00 pm

Music is a universal language that speaks to every person, a euphoria of moods that inspires, convicts and heals 

Re: Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

Postby The Elf » Sat Jan 23, 2021 2:23 pm

Other than deciding whether you want to flip L/R, why are you feeling the need to hammer this sampled piano into something it isn't? With a sampled piano the creators have made all the decisions about mic's and placement for you - all you need to do is use it.

Grab a copy of the free Voxengo MSED - that will allow you to adjust mid/side balance, width and panning, but it won't take much to make it sound unnatural, so be sparing.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16568
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

Postby RichardT » Sat Jan 23, 2021 2:26 pm

DigitalMusicProduction wrote:Hi

I'm sure this question is very debatable and mostly down to personal choice, but when recording solo piano for a commercial album, what perspective of the piano is normally preferred, performer or audience?

A recent article on how to record solo Piano for a commercial recording suggested using a pair of AKG C414 large-diaphragm microphones set to cardioid and positioned with one near the hammers on the high side of the piano and the other over the point where the bass strings cross the mid strings.

It's this MIC placement (Stereo Imaging) that I'm looking to record an album with, unfortunately the CFX concert grand i have from Garritan as a plugin inside Logic Pro doesnt come with this MIC placement. I was thinking then of a stereo imaging plugin that may help to gain a similar MIC surround setting?

There is a sample of the above MIC placement played on a Yamaha C7 concert grand i could upload to give an idea of what i mean.


For classical recordings, the audience perspective is what’s used, imagining the piano is in front of the listener facing sideways with the keyboard on the left. This means, given the geometry of a grand piano, that the high notes are to the left and the low notes to the right in the stereo image.

For other types of recording, it’s up to you.

I would simply choose one of the existing mic settings in your sample library. There are many different ways of recording a piano. I’m sure the options in the plugin are fine.

You might need to reverse the stereo field, if you want the classical perspective and the plugin defaults to player’s perspective. There may be a setting for this in the plugin.
RichardT
Frequent Poster
Posts: 751
Joined: Fri Aug 13, 2004 12:00 am
Location: London UK

Re: Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 23, 2021 3:04 pm

DigitalMusicProduction wrote:I'm sure this question is very debatable and mostly down to personal choice, but when recording solo piano for a commercial album, what perspective of the piano is normally preferred, performer or audience?

You already know the answer -- it's a personal choice, either of the performer or, more typically, of the producer, combined with conventions of the genre.

That said, classical piano performances are pretty much universally recorded from an audience perspective, in a nice acoustic space, using relatively distant (as in a few metres) mic positions. (Some prefer a stereo pair positioned in the curve of the piano, others a pair down by the tail... And either format is most often with a pair of spaced omnis).

A recent article on how to record solo Piano for a commercial recording suggested using a pair of AKG C414 large-diaphragm microphones set to cardioid and positioned with one near the hammers on the high side of the piano and the other over the point where the bass strings cross the mid strings.

That technique is a common one, but more usually associated with 'rock 'n' roll' than classical music. It inherently gives a more dynamic, transient-rich, and brighter character, often with a very exaggerated stereo image, compared to typical classical approaches.

[It's this MIC placement (Stereo Imaging) that I'm looking to record an album with, unfortunately the CFX concert grand i have from Garritan as a plugin inside Logic Pro doesnt come with this MIC placement.[/quote]

Tough. Other piano VSTis a available.... But are you looking to record with an emulation of that technique just because you read about it, or because it provides the appropriate sound character for your music?

Without wishing to offend, you do seem primarily driven to employ techniques and plugin presets because you read about them somewhere, but without actually understanding their relevance or application, and without apparently involving a critical analysis of what is really neede for your own music and performance.

I was thinking then of a stereo imaging plugin that may help to gain a similar MIC surround setting?

There are plenty of plugins available to manipulate stereo width. Voxengo'sfree MSED is very versatile, easy to use, and free... But bear in mind that altering stereo width is not the same as changing mic techniques, and excessive width will degrade the mono compatibility.

My advice would be to get on and record you music with whatever virtual piano preset sounds good to you, put it in the retail chain, and then see what the market reaction is.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 30677
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

Postby Arpangel » Sun Jan 24, 2021 9:34 am

I think tone and acoustics are the most important factors when recording acoustic piano, in regards to making a final judgement on the overall sound, depending on application.
From a classical perspective, the piano will in most cases be side-on, so any perception of a stereo spread of "notes" will be non-existent to the audience, all you’ll be able to tell is basically where the piano is on the stage.
With all due respect, I think you’re over-thinking this, as has been said, most of the decisions have already been made for you, just use it.
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7271
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sun Jan 24, 2021 12:48 pm

Are you using the 'full' CFX version, rather than the 'lite'?

The full version gives you seven different mic placements: I've just listened to the samples from the Garritan website and it sounds all right to me. I've had DPA 4006s placed when being recorded playing a CFX and that is an option in the Garritan setup.
Trevor Johnson
Regular
Posts: 378
Joined: Sat May 15, 2010 12:00 am

Re: Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:15 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:That technique is a common one, but more usually associated with 'rock 'n' roll' than classical music. It inherently gives a more dynamic, transient-rich, and brighter character, often with a very exaggerated stereo image, compared to typical classical approaches.

Your advice has been helpful, is there a name given for the above common MIC placement?
User avatar
DigitalMusicProduction
Regular
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:00 pm

Music is a universal language that speaks to every person, a euphoria of moods that inspires, convicts and heals 

Re: Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:24 pm

Not that I know of. Most of those I've heard mentioning that technique simply seem to refer to it as 'close miking over the strings'.

There are, of course, lots of variations as to the specific mic positions -- and some will no doubt be ascribed with magical properties and divine invention by some esteemed recording recording engineer or producer involving different precise mic locations over the strings, or over sound holes, or with very specific types (or numbers) of mics... ;-)

However, it should be remember that a mic technique is solely about being able to capture the desired sound that suits the nature of the specific music, performance, instrument, and acoustic environment at that time.

Change any one (or more) of those things and a previously fabulous-sounding mic technique will deliver a very different sound character which might not work at all... So the mic technique has to be chosen for the circumstances. There is never a one-size-fits-all solution. The skill and art of a recording engineer is being able to identify what is required and to deliver a solution to achieve that based on knowledge, experience, and the equipment available!
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 30677
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:25 pm

In my (rather limited :) ) piano recording experience, I noticed that miking from the player perspective captures more of the mechanical sounds of the keyboard. Not a problem in a busy mix, but for a solo piano it would be annoying.

A drop in the sea of experience on show here, but I hadn't thought about that the first time. My source of wisdom was Mike's article on SOS at https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/piano-recording and it worked out alright.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7745
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Piano, Performer Or Audience ???

Postby DigitalMusicProduction » Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:38 pm

Thanks to everyone for your support on this post, very helpful.
User avatar
DigitalMusicProduction
Regular
Posts: 142
Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:00 pm

Music is a universal language that speaks to every person, a euphoria of moods that inspires, convicts and heals