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How to: Record Piano (Read 9736 times)

Offline 49410enrique

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How to: Record Piano
« on: August 26, 2012, 02:11:24 AM »
came across this and thought it might be useful info to post. man i need to save up and buy some real mics.....


Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: How to: Record Piano
«Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 03:30:26 AM »
You always post something awesome! 

First the Carl vine piano concerto 2, that thing you sent me, and now this!

But I haven't listened to that thing you sent me yet.  I've been quite busy with shool recently.  but yeah I'll listen to it and give my feedback.
Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline chopin2015

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"Beethoven wrote in three flats a lot. That's because he moved twice."

Offline 49410enrique

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Re: How to: Record Piano
«Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 04:53:27 PM »
anyone care to expand on what else besides mics and stands one would need to buy? how about to mic and record and sync to video, is it only a post edit or can some video records microphones be 'divered' to the auxillary mics so you can record live video in real time to the enhanced audio?


wanting to learn more about this.

what else, do you need special software of if you use the above option on video w mics and not worried about advanced edits, is that enough? what kind of 'recorder' would one need to plug into the mics? what powers them? do yo uneed amps too like w speakers?

i know little of this but would like to understand some of the basics.

Offline davidjosepha

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Re: How to: Record Piano
«Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 06:43:32 PM »
anyone care to expand on what else besides mics and stands one would need to buy? how about to mic and record and sync to video, is it only a post edit or can some video records microphones be 'divered' to the auxillary mics so you can record live video in real time to the enhanced audio?

You'll need an interface, first, which is what you'll plug all the mics into. The interface will then have a line into your computer, USB or Firewire. If you don't have a Firewire port, make sure you get USB or you won't be able to plug it in.

I'm sure there's a way to record it with the video, but I don't think it's worth doing. First, you'd need a 3.5mm or 1/4" input on your camera, which I don't think many (consumer) cameras have. Then, you'd need an interface with an audio-out port. You'd then connect the audio out to the audio in and voila. But that's way more effort than it's worth.

The best option is to record the audio and video separately than put them together afterwards. That's what movie studios do. The problem here is syncing it up. First, you need to make sure they start at the right point. And then, you need to make sure they end at the same point. You may experience problems with something starting in sync but getting out of sync. This is because the recording may actually alter the speed very slightly (I've dealt in situations where it doesn't, and I've dealt in situations where it does, and let me tell you, when the speed changes, recording with tracks is one hell of a mess), like, changing a recording of 6:24 to 6:23.3 or something. Barely anything, but enough that stuff'll get out of sync and sound funny, when tracking, or will look funny, when trying to sync video. So when recording the video, you'll want to have a loud, crisp hit that can be heard AND seen at the beginning and end of the video. You'll use these two points to align the audio and video tracks. Movie studios use a clapperboard, but I doubt you have one of these lying around, so you'll have to find something else. You may think just watching your hands as you play and trying to align that way will work, but most likely, it will not.

what else, do you need special software of if you use the above option on video w mics and not worried about advanced edits, is that enough?

You'll need software to record the audio, and then to sync the audio and video. If you aren't planning on doing any editing of the audio or tracking (like, play the first section of the piece, take a break, play the next section, or record the entire thing several times and take section 1 from the first recording, section 3 from the second, and sections 2 and 4 from the third, for instance), you'll just be able to use whatever. If you want to do anything more, audacity is free and works well, although it's not what I'd call great. My interface came with Pro Tools SE, which is a light, simpler version of Pro Tools, and it works very well. Definitely all you need to record piano and move stuff around. You can also add some mild effects to make up for how dead everything sounds in a recording compared to actually being in the room listening. I've also worked with Ableton, which was also very nice to work with, and Sonar Home Studio, which took a little more getting used to, but was nonetheless user friendly. When you buy an interface, it might come with software already, which is probably the best option if you're not picky, since it'll probably work out of the box without too much configuration.

I don't know what to use for syncing audio and video. The obvious suggestion is Final Cut Pro, but that requires a Mac and is very expensive. Try Googling it and see if anything good comes up.

what kind of 'recorder' would one need to plug into the mics? what powers them? do yo uneed amps too like w speakers?

Not sure what you mean by "recorder", care to elaborate?

The mics will be powered by the interface which will be powered via USB/Firewire from your computer.

You only need speakers if you want to hear yourself or something else through a monitor while playing, which is unnecessary since you presumably aren't going to be tracking and the piano should make plenty of noise to allow you to hear yourself.

i know little of this but would like to understand some of the basics.

If you really want to know more, I suggest you google stuff like this and look into things a lot. I've given you enough that you should probably be able to get started, but my explanation isn't going to give you a thorough understanding of what's going on. Personally, I wouldn't pull the trigger on an expensive purchase like this without first knowing exactly what I'm doing, plus about 3 steps beyond anything I'd actually need to know about the process.

I'm glad you're interested in recording. It's a really cool, if somewhat frustrating, thing. I've worked in a small studio recording drums, guitars, and vocals with a few friends. I've also worked with a single mic + interface situation, and can tell you, it can be a lot of fun. I bought a single mic and interface a while back to start writing and recording my own music, but I haven't done tons with it. Sometimes I'll whip it out to record myself playing a piece and let me hear how it's going, but not always (for instance, all the recordings I've sent you so far have been recorded on my phone).

Anyway, good luck. let me know how it goes, if you decide to buy some equipment.

Offline chopin2015

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Re: How to: Record Piano
«Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 11:09:37 PM »
anyone care to expand on what else besides mics and stands one would need to buy? how about to mic and record and sync to video, is it only a post edit or can some video records microphones be 'divered' to the auxillary mics so you can record live video in real time to the enhanced audio?


wanting to learn more about this.

what else, do you need special software of if you use the above option on video w mics and not worried about advanced edits, is that enough? what kind of 'recorder' would one need to plug into the mics? what powers them? do yo uneed amps too like w speakers?

i know little of this but would like to understand some of the basics.

New protools 11 is fine and dandy with sync, audio, and video.
 I recommend the Yamaha sound reinforcement handbook if you are interested in the audio stuff.  There are the different directional patterns of microphones that this book discusses, and miking techniques with an actual explanation regarding how to customize your mic position to capture the acoustics and direct to reflected sound ratio and all that crud.
"Beethoven wrote in three flats a lot. That's because he moved twice."

Offline asuhayda

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Re: How to: Record Piano
«Reply #6 on: August 28, 2012, 02:11:18 PM »
It's good that you posted this because I just started doing some recording and....

it's AWFUL!!  ugh.. Here's my equipment.

A pair of Behringer C2 cardioid condensor mics
A Behringer mixer (the small one, I can't remember the part number)
This little converter thingy that plugs into the mixer and then runs a USB line to my computer
MusicCreator 6 by CakeWalk

The recordings have been so bad that I've had to question whether or not I'm just playing badly.  But the mics are missing notes, there are sections where I know for sure I hit certain notes and they are not there on playback..


I'm putting the mics right into the Piano in the high low arrangement (I have a Boston GP178-PE).    But, I don't really know what I'm doing with that.. someone said to put them 3 inches from the hammers and three inches above the strings evenly seperating them so that the piano is cut into 3rds.


The other problem I'm having is the mixer. I'm a pianist, not a sound engineer!! I have no idea how that thing works.  I've got the EQ hi,low and mid set to equal for both mics with their levels equal about a quarter volume.  Main mix is set to 0 (between L and R). Gain for both mics is all the way down.

There's nothing I can do with the converter and I pretty much just hit record in MusicCreator...

HELP!!! :)

Or do I just have bad recording equipment and that's the end of it?

I'm doing these recordings for a teacher's certification, so I don't want to spend 1000's of dollars on microphones I'm only going to use a couple of times (and they do cost that much...)

Any help is GREATLY appreciated. 

Thanks in advance.
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Offline richard black

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Re: How to: Record Piano
«Reply #7 on: August 28, 2012, 11:17:01 PM »
None of those tricks is sensibly applicable to recording classical piano, unless for some reason you are really stuck in a small space. A pair of mics about 8ft/2.5m from the piano is far more typical. Play with exact placement, mic type and response pattern etc. to taste. Mics in the piano sound horribly bright, undynamic and spatially unrealistic, and pick up damper noise and other undesirables.

In terms of equipment, put the majority of your budget into microphones. The electronics these days tends to work very well even for a small sum of money.
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Offline chopin2015

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Re: How to: Record Piano
«Reply #8 on: August 29, 2012, 04:20:18 AM »
Direct to reflected sound:
close miking=percussive and bright, some risk of proximity effect coloration
distant/room mic=ambient sound with some reverb coloration

When using spot mic and room mic think about time aka sound hits closest microphone first, physics, physics, blah blah blah. Phase sounds awful and you can fix it with some panning, I think.
"Beethoven wrote in three flats a lot. That's because he moved twice."

Offline asuhayda

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Re: How to: Record Piano
«Reply #9 on: August 29, 2012, 04:52:52 AM »
thanks for your help with this.  I picked up a better audio interface and the cheaper version of Pro Tools MP9 and I'm getting a pretty great recording now.. I think my major problem was I had lousy recording software.  Pro Tools is much smarter and is getting the job done much better.  I've still got to futz around with mic placement.  It seems that there are conflicting opinions on this, but now that I've got good software and decent mics, I'll try some different things.  I'm going to be recording a Bach English Suite.. so I'm inclined to agree that room ambience is going to be a factor. The recording will not be as good if the sound is too dry and too bright.

Thanks again for your suggestions.
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Offline chopin2015

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Re: How to: Record Piano
«Reply #10 on: August 29, 2012, 10:47:21 PM »
Awesome! Yeah, equations are equations, but your ear will know best.
"Beethoven wrote in three flats a lot. That's because he moved twice."

Offline quantum

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Re: How to: Record Piano
«Reply #11 on: August 30, 2012, 01:19:57 AM »
None of those tricks is sensibly applicable to recording classical piano, unless for some reason you are really stuck in a small space. A pair of mics about 8ft/2.5m from the piano is far more typical. Play with exact placement, mic type and response pattern etc. to taste. Mics in the piano sound horribly bright, undynamic and spatially unrealistic, and pick up damper noise and other undesirables.

In terms of equipment, put the majority of your budget into microphones. The electronics these days tends to work very well even for a small sum of money.

Much agreed!

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asuhayda, for classical music most of the audio work can be done with mic selection and mic placement.  A good preamp will up the anti, but probably is overkill for the amount of recording you will be doing.  Software is for capturing your sound and editing.  Proper mic selection and placement will need very little, if any post editing in software.  For classical music, well captured sound source will give a much better result than one that is heavily processed and corrected for errors in the placement of mics.  

There is no need to go and purchase hi end software if you are just starting out (remember, the mics and their position are far more important).  However, if your hardware came bundled with it, go ahead and use it.  

I would recommend Audacity.  It is an excellent open source audio editor and recorder.  
http://audacity.sourceforge.net

If you want something more of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) try Ardour.
http://ardour.org


You have to set your gain accordingly on your mixer or interface.  Locate the clip indicator on your recorder.  You want to make sure this never lights during the recording.  The effects of clipping can be heard as pops, clicks, or severe distortion, depending of the severity of the clip.   Put your mics in position and turn on your recorder.  Play loudly, at the very least as loud as you are going to play in your piece.  Watch the clip indicator if it lights.  If it does, turn down the gain until you find the point at which the sound does not cause clipping.  On my equipment having loudest sound at approximately -3dB in order to give headroom, works well for my needs (maybe a bit more if I'm doing prepared piano or any experimental music).  You also don't want to set your gain too low, or you will lose detail in quiet moments. 
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