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Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Ariosto » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:23 am

Like any other piece of equipment a piano needs servicing and repairs. An 8 year old grand piano can have covered a lot of miles depending on how many hours a day it's being played, and even more importantly, how powerful the player is and how advanced. I've known of Russian pianists who have practised on a piano for two or three hours and their playing was so heavy that the piano needed adjustments and re-alignments, and the owner was not too pleased!
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Arpangel » Tue Nov 05, 2019 1:32 pm

guillome2k wrote:Thank you all for your reactions!

First: i agree to embrace the sounds. It makes the recording feel real.

The first recording i used Neumann 103 mics, and there the sound was really too loud to embrace. It was bumpy (low bass noise) and also high frequency string noise.
This made pp and ppp passages very a-relaxed to listen to.

Fortunately, i could also use the Neumann 193 mics, and as a miracle, this mics nearly doesn`t record the noise! I don`t know how, but the sound is perfect:
You still hear some pedal/damper noise, but very subtile and soft and real, and not annoying or blocking your ppp feeling.

But still weird that a Steinway from 2011 in top condition makes such noise. You really hear the string noise while playing p pp or ppp passages.

Both of those mic's are cardioids, the 193 is supposed to have a better of-axis response, how this would affect the damper noise in a different way to the 103 I don't know, maybe Hugh can enlighten?
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:21 pm

Here's the frequency response of the TLM 103:

Image

And here for the TLM193:

Image

The TLM193 is a significantly darker-sounding mic than the TLM103, and the latter will tend to emphasise high frequency noises like the rubbing of dampers...

And in contrast to your assertion, the TLM103 is actually slightly more uniform off-axis than the TLM103:

TLM103: Image


TLM193 Image
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:48 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:...The TLM193 is a significantly darker-sounding mic than the TLM103, and the latter will tend to emphasise high frequency noises like the rubbing of dampers...

and will also emphasise high frequency noises like piano notes in that band... with a net piano notes to damper noise ratio change of about zero...?
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby John Willett » Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:33 pm

guillome2k wrote:Thank you all for your reactions!

First: i agree to embrace the sounds. It makes the recording feel real.

The first recording i used Neumann 103 mics, and there the sound was really too loud to embrace. It was bumpy (low bass noise) and also high frequency string noise.
This made pp and ppp passages very a-relaxed to listen to.

Fortunately, i could also use the Neumann 193 mics, and as a miracle, this mics nearly doesn`t record the noise! I don`t know how, but the sound is perfect:
You still hear some pedal/damper noise, but very subtile and soft and real, and not annoying or blocking your ppp feeling.

But still weird that a Steinway from 2011 in top condition makes such noise. You really hear the string noise while playing p pp or ppp passages.

The 103 has an HF lift (about +6dB) and the 193 is pretty flat - so the 103 would accentuate any HF noise.

When I record piano (especially a concert grand) I always use flat-response omnis as these gat the low end which a directional mic misses. My "go to" starting position is about 20cm spaced at about ear height and about 2m in front of the piano - but I will vary this depending on the piano, the room and the piece being played.

I hope this helps.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:38 pm

Ignoring the issue of damper noise, if it’s an issue at all, whilst I prefer to use a stereo Omni pair to record grand piano in a good acoustic, I’ve also recorded gorgeous grand piano recordings using a pair of TLM193s for non-classical genres - they are my desert island microphones - well TLM170s would be if I could afford them!

They are often described as dark, I call them neutral (with a sprinkling of fairy dust). They are dark relative to brighter microphones..........

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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby John Willett » Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:26 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:(TLM193 / TLM170) They are often described as dark, I call them neutral (with a sprinkling of fairy dust). They are dark relative to brighter microphones..........

Agreed - not "dark" at all - just neutral and reasonably flat.

Only "dark" when compared to over bright microphones. :thumbup:

I have heard quite a few people say that the TLM 170 is the best mic. Neumann make. :thumbup:
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:32 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:They are often described as dark, I call them neutral (with a sprinkling of fairy dust). They are dark relative to brighter microphones..........

Indeed. :-)

I agree, the TLM193 is a pretty neutral mic (in terms of overall frequency response) -- one of Neumann's flattest LDCs, in fact -- the TLM170 being another, of course. And I also share your appreciation of the TLM170R -- it's a gorgeous mic. A friend has a pair which he lets me borrow, although I tend to use my own SM69FET more now which is also fairly flat when using the directional patterns.

I think the popular 'dark' reference comes from the inevitable comparison to the U87, not least becuase of their similar familiar styling. The U87 has a pronounced 'presence peak', though (like the TLM103 which was designed to sound much the same).

Regarding Tim's point about relative signal-to-noise... I don't think that argument is valid,. People don't perceive the note tone and noise as a single entity. They perceive noise elements separate from tonal ones.

The increased strength of tonal harmonics when using the brighter TLM103 is not perceived as related to the more exaggerated damper noises....

H
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Tim Gillett » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:43 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
...Regarding Tim's point about relative signal-to-noise... I don't think that argument is valid,. People don't perceive the note tone and noise as a single entity. They perceive noise elements separate from tonal ones.

The increased strength of tonal harmonics when using the brighter TLM103 is not perceived as related to the more exaggerated damper noises....

H

Some people, perhaps many, don't notice that in increasing one, we've also increased the other, but as we know, that's at best a failure to notice, and at worst wishful thinking. "Reduce the unwanted elements at source". Isnt that the watchword here?
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Ariosto » Wed Nov 06, 2019 7:56 am

Sometimes it's best to ask the pianist to keep the sustain pedal down at the end of a quiet ending in a piece, rather than letting the pedal up as the pedal will be heard with the decaying notes, even on a well maintained instrument. I then fade the notes out to the required length.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Tim Gillett » Wed Nov 06, 2019 8:09 am

Yes a good point for all musicians to bear in mind when recording, no matter what the instrument. I've seen pianists get to the end of a difficult piece, play the last chord, lean back and the foot comes off the sustain pedal sharply, with a very audible bumping sound...
As some Yanks say," It aint over till it's over"!
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:06 am

Tim Gillett wrote:Yes a good point for all musicians to bear in mind when recording, no matter what the instrument. I've seen pianists get to the end of a difficult piece, play the last chord, lean back and the foot comes off the sustain pedal sharply, with a very audible bumping sound...
As some Yanks say," It aint over till it's over"!

I do that on all my piano recordings, to a certain extent, it's necessary, it's marking an ending, with a statement, and it in no way detracts from anything, it's another way of using the instrument. It's a problem that doesn't exist.
On a recording session as an engineer I've come across some uncooperative belligerent musicians, and it's annoying, but ultimately we are at their service, not the other way around.
If you're a great musician, truly great, you're forgiven and everyone thinks what a "character" you are, but if you're a rank amatuer with ideas beyond your ability you're an annoying prima-donna, and quite rightly so.

;)
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Wonks » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:18 am

That's a personal preference, not a fact, so it will be an issue for a lot of people, and less of one or no issue for others. The very fact that it's been brought up by other people highlights this.
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:31 am

Wonks wrote:That's a personal preference, not a fact, so it will be an issue for a lot of people, and less of one or no issue for others. The very fact that it's been brought up by other people highlights this.

True, but I don't know what those who get annoyed at damper noise would think of me, muttering "Nice" at the end of all my pieces...

8-)
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Re: Recording Steinway grand piano - damper noise

Postby Wonks » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:55 am

Everyone's different. It would be boring if we weren't. :)
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