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Home recording piano and flute advice please!

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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Siejen » Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:07 am

The pieces are by Bach and Schubert (although what age of keyboard they were intended for is well beyond my knowledge).
Happy to say I had a fun afternoon playing in cubase with Mike Seniors piano recording examples and mixing them against my daughters flute. I can understand a little more now about why a more spacious / less intimate piano recording may be useful. When balanced against a spot miced flute they compete for lots of the same sound 'space', while the distant mics sat better together.
My fingers are crossed we find the one front room that has a decent acoustic to start with!
I have lots of duvets, clothes rails to hang them on, even a gazeebo if we need to make an indoor duvet tent :bouncy: (I must credit the Boss with that one, but it has a roof and we can peg 2 sides for duvet, maybe not completely mad??

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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:19 am

Creativity can be your friend ;)

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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby John Willett » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:02 pm

Siejen wrote:Hi all, amateur recorder here looking for the standard advice....
I've been invited to record a piano and flute duet in someones home. They have a baby grand piano in a front room of a good size, and want to record Schubert and Bach flute sonatas for their own happiness, maybe sell some self funded cds at concerts.

My main concern is that the acoustics here may preclude the preferred 'dominant pair of mics recording naturally balanced performers in a decent acoustic space' advice.
I've requested some photos so I can see if it's carpet or wooden floor, full of furniture or an art gallery style. We can move the piano inside the room, but not to a decent sounding hall! Piano has just been tuned as well.

I've spent a week reading these forums and particularly Mike Seniors excellent recording a grand piano article and sound examples. This really is a fantastic resource! Regards the piano, I happen to prefer the 'inside the piano' spaced omni setup type sound (note: this is maybe self affirming as I'm so concerned about the sound of recording in a front room). Call me a coward, but I feel like a pair of inside mics for the piano and separate flute mic is the way to go. I've been practising flute recording here with my daughter, following best forum advise, so am learning loads before I turn up!

So what advice do I need?
Is it really worth fighting the acoustics of the room to get a dominant pair of mics of the musicians together, especially when I don't really like the 'concert hall' sound of most classical recordings I've been listening to for reference.


Kit available: Pair of Line Audio CM4 (thanks again to this forum for the point; they sound great) in piano
Groove tubes GT1B (smooth valve LDC) for the flute.
Pair of SEelectronics SE1 (SDC) as backup....

Thanks for your thoughts in advance! Iain

Firstly, I would do a recce and see if the ensemble sounds good in the room.

Move around the room and listen with your ears.

If you can find a spot in the room where it sounds good to your ears, then stick a stereo pair at that point and record. :thumbup:

If, unfortunately, you cannot find anywhere in the room where the sound is good - then you will have to get more creative ...
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Siejen » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:28 pm

Thanks John, but I think my worry is not being confident enough to know if it sounds good (or not!) while walking round. From reading round here, I understand the ear is very good at compensating for room acoustics on the fly, and less tolerant of a recording (hence why I wouldn't notice if it sounded poor until playback).
The more I think, the more a second day seems a necessity! If only to compensate for lack of clear early decisions on my part

Thanks all, Iain.
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby John Willett » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:03 pm

Siejen wrote:Thanks John, but I think my worry is not being confident enough to know if it sounds good (or not!) while walking round. From reading round here, I understand the ear is very good at compensating for room acoustics on the fly, and less tolerant of a recording (hence why I wouldn't notice if it sounded poor until playback).
The more I think, the more a second day seems a necessity! If only to compensate for lack of clear early decisions on my part.

That's why I said "do a recce".

Do a short test recording after finding the spot and see if it works.

I did exactly this when I had to record a double-CD of all of Chopin Nocturnes on a grand piano in someone's living room.

I did the walk - recorded in three separate places with two possible combinations of microphones (MS and spaced omni) and chose the rig and position with what sounded best.

I did the recce a couple of weeks prior to the first session.
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Siejen » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:43 pm

Thanks John, it's good to know this is merely tricky, and not impossible . I hope to do justice to all the help so far!
Anyway, I've been messing around with Mike Seniors piano recordings and my daughters flute, and have come up with this sort of sound that I think I like. This uses the cardioids outside the piano (as I'll be able to setup similar I hope)
https://drive.google.com/file/d/15d-mjy ... sp=sharing
Any comments ? (and please go easy on the flute playing comments, she has a Dad faffing around her with microphones while she plays!!)
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Sam Inglis » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:16 am

If I'm right in thinking that your Line Audio mics are omnis, I think the first thing I'd try would be to have them arranged as a spaced pair between the piano and the flautist. In other words, to position them as you might for recording a solo piano piece and then place the flautist behind them. That way you should be able to get a reasonable balance between the two instruments without having to go very distant and thus bring in more room sound than you want.
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Siejen » Tue Aug 20, 2019 9:36 am

Sorry Sam, I got the cm4 cardioids. I did read the piece on soprano and piano describing this technique after buying them and think about what I’d done, but longer term I think the cm4 will see more use.
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby John Willett » Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:44 am

Siejen wrote:Sorry Sam, I got the cm4 cardioids. I did read the piece on soprano and piano describing this technique after buying them and think about what I’d done, but longer term I think the cm4 will see more use.

As the Line Audio mics are such very good value, I would also recommend that you also get a pair of the OM1 omnis when you can. :thumbup:
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Exalted Wombat » Wed Aug 21, 2019 12:01 pm

Ariosto wrote:
Exalted Wombat wrote:Surely the opposite? Later works will have been conceived for an instrument pretty close to a modern piano. Earlier stuff may not have been conceived for piano at all, or for a piano with a much lighter tone than a modern one.

But the musicians will have addressed this issue. You shouldn't need 'remedial mixing' on this sort of session.

Fine if using a clavichord or a similar early instrument but if you read the earlier posts, this is being recorded on a modern piano. Modern works will have possible challenges. The early works may have too, but as you might know, early keyboard works are less thickly scored.

And how do you know the musicians have addressed the issue?

I think you miss my point. The later works will have been composed with modern flute and piano (or instruments very close to them) in mind. The composer will have scored them in a way that sounds good. That's part of his skill-set as a composer! We shouldn't have to double-guess his musical intentions in the way that we might need to when performing a 17th century piece on the 'wrong' instruments.

But this isn't like recording a bad rock group with players who don't know how to give way musically. I think (hope!) we can assume these guys are listening to each other and balancing as required.
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Siejen » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:14 pm

Hi again, photos are in from the house and I think we might just get away with this!!
It’s a very odd shaped room with few parallel walls but more importantly it has a balcony so is double height :D
It’s all hard surfaces, so plenty of duvets at the ready for flutter echos, but large low frequency standing waves may be less of an issue than I feared.

Poorer news is that we only have the day, so reduced track list it is. Until they want to try again after more practise!!!
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby blinddrew » Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:27 pm

Shame about the time limit but the room sounds promising, good luck! :thumbup:
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Exalted Wombat » Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:02 pm

Siejen wrote:Poorer news is that we only have the day, so reduced track list it is.

What does that mean?
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby blinddrew » Fri Aug 23, 2019 4:03 pm

I took it to mean recording fewer pieces. Seems like a sensible approach rather than trying to jam stuff in and compromise on the set up time.
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Siejen » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:36 am

Yes, exactly that. I’ve been optimistic on track numbers before and it never really ends well for anyone. So as this is more ‘grown up’ than I’ve done before, i want to focus on the quality.

<dawning realisation I might actually have grown up, but just not noticed >
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby blinddrew » Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:24 am

Siejen wrote:<dawning realisation I might actually have grown up, but just not noticed >
Whoah, watch out for that. It's a slippery slope. Better sit around and watch cartoons for half an hour whilst you eat a tub of ice-cream. That should stave it off for a while.
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Siejen » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:30 am

:mrgreen: Does riding my bike round the woods until I fall off count??
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:57 am

That'll do it :thumbup: can I join you?
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby blinddrew » Sat Aug 24, 2019 10:47 am

Siejen wrote::mrgreen: Does riding my bike round the woods until I fall off count??
Definitely! :)
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Re: Home recording piano and flute advice please!

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:04 pm

blinddrew wrote:I took it to mean recording fewer pieces. Seems like a sensible approach rather than trying to jam stuff in and compromise on the set up time.

This isn't your decision. You're recording, not producing. You set up your equipment, they play. When THEY are happy with the performance of one piece, move on to the next one. YOU don't get two goes at anything.
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