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Author Topic: A question about recording yourself while practicing.  (Read 400 times)
jdrpiano
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« on: September 18, 2017, 04:57:13 AM »

Hello Everyone!

     I have decided to start recording myself during practice sessions so I can hear my own playing which I got from Josh Wright on YouTube. Does anyone know if Audacity is a recommended software to use when recording and what the best microphone placement for a grand piano is with one mic? I don't know a lot about recording equipment so any help would be appreciated. Also in case any of you ask I have a CAD U37 condenser microphone with a pop filter (would that change much considering it's recording on top of a grand piano?). 

     Thank you all,
          Joel Del Rosario
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indianajo
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« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2017, 05:43:19 PM »

Ordinarily to record grand piano without room effects, one puts the microphone under the soundboard.  Some tape an omnidirectional microphone to the soundboard, I respect $$$$$ instruments more than that. Use a short stand, a camera tripod if you can't find a microphone stand short enough.  Face of a cardioid microphone should face up.  
I use audacity. The version from lubuntu op system has a non obvious level setting control.  So try some mysterious unlabeled panels until a level setting bar pops up.  Turn the unused stereo channel down to zero.  There is also a separate monitor (headphone) out level setting control. 
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Bob
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2017, 06:30:43 AM »

Experiment and see what you like.  I thought of mic'ing close to the strings but then you don't get the room acoustics.  You could mic from where an audience member sits.  That's just me though for that.  You get an "honest" recording of what the audience hears as if they were there.  Very little editing needed.  But you can also pick up other sounds, like key slaps, you body rustling, etc.  Still, that was present and part of the performance.
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Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."
timothy42b
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2017, 12:20:55 PM »

I use Audacity and I record at least some of every practice session.  It works very well and is intuitive enough that even I could figure it out (unlike DAWs like Reaper.) 

I don't know the technicality of how to connect your microphone.  Audacity is a computer program so you have to get the analog signal converted and inside somehow.  I use an H2, which is a stand alone recorder if you want, but you can use it as a microphone connected directly to your PC. 

I also have an M-Audio Fasttrack audio interface, and that has microphone inputs, but I don't have a good microphone to use with it.  (I just use it for the MIDI inputs and the audio out to my stereo.) 
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Tim
jdrpiano
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2017, 06:03:20 AM »

Thanks for all of your responses, everyone! I figured out how to record through my U37 using Audacity, however, now I'm just trying to figure out how to get good sound quality as I have seen some people using just a $30-40 audio recorder device and get near CD-like audio clarity. Anyone have any thoughts? I know two of you said to just fool around with the settings until I find one that works for me, but, do the microphone settings help as well? There are two options on my mice, the first being a slider from 0 to -10 and then a second slider below it that goes from a straight, horizontal line to a horizontal line which slants at a downward angle towards the end. I think the 0 to -10 is the pre-amp??
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timothy42b
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« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2017, 01:43:47 PM »

I think you need to know sample rate and number of bits.  I know I had some really bad distortion suddenly, and came to find out my software was set for 44.1 kHz and my interface to 48, or something like that.  But you're at the end of my technical knowledge now.

Of course watch your levels and don't drive it into the red.  You can always bring the level up in software if you record too low, but you can't get rid of clipping if you record too high. 
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Tim
indianajo
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2017, 02:13:16 PM »

I've never heard any mike under $150 new that sounds like anything on piano recordings. Plus all the ones I know are condensor mikes and and require a $60 (used) to $150 mixer to provide phantom power (48 vdc).  My candidates include shure SM27 (I got used for $80) shure ksm127 KSM32, KSM44a, AT 4030,4033, 4040, 4050.  I've heard recordings with zoom integrated recorder and similar internal mikes I didn't like much, see this thread for links.  http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/instruments-and-amps/309572-mic-preamp-converter-grand-piano-recordings.html The early recordings he made with the zoom are **** IMHO. You can plug external mikes into a zoom or equivalent roland or optimus device, most have phantom power, but you have to make your own cables to the tiny receptacles they use. 
Your standards may be different and you may have better luck in your bargain purchases.  I searched for good mikes for 40 years before I found any I could afford. Before that I recorded direct  to 1/4 tape off a synthesizer, which had its own problems, like not really sounding like a piano.   
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2017, 03:07:17 PM »

Ordinarily to record grand piano without room effects, one puts the microphone under the soundboard. 

Imo this may be appropriate for pop / jazz recordings, but not for classical (unless you are using several mics and using a close one as part of the mix). It doesn't give the sound time to bloom when the lid is up. Remember that an up lid points the sound outwards to a hypothetical audience. It is more conventional to have the mic at the rear the piano, heading a little bit out to the audience, approximately in a line with the end of the soundboard. I've attached a photo from a recording session I did last year. Of course, this is in a much larger room / hall, but I would never expect good sound quality from inside the strings or under the soundboard.

In terms of cheap mics, as an example of what I think is reasonable quality: https://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=64143.msg680726#msg680726
that's a Rode M3 cardioid condenser, and you can get that on Amazon.com for $149. It is only mono, but it does have the distinct advantage of not requiring phantom power as you can run it off an internal battery and, for example, just plug it into a portable recorder etc (this does require a 3.5mm male to XLR female cable but they are inexpensive). You can infer where the mic is because you can just about see the stand in the corner of the video. As I said, I'm pretty happy with the audio quality for the price; I also have Rode NT5s but using them requires involving a mixing desk etc, and they are more expensive.


* Caird1-1.jpg (2229.82 KB, 2665x1512 - viewed 3 times.)
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timothy42b
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2017, 05:15:39 PM »

Stop me if I've told this story before.

I was at a church conference, a large scale professional event.

The piano player was obviously highly skilled but the sound- ugh - one of the worst digital piano sounds I'd heard.  Very surprising in terms of the quality of the venue. 

So on a break I went up and checked.  No, it was a quality acoustic grand, but it was miked, and the sound system was adding distortion. 

Of course there's a lot of difference between microphones for sound reinforcement vs for sound recording, but still it shows there is some skill involved in doing it for a piano. 
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Tim
ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2017, 05:44:01 PM »

I suppose that brings me neatly to address this, which I forgot to comment on previously..

Of course watch your levels and don't drive it into the red.  You can always bring the level up in software if you record too low, but you can't get rid of clipping if you record too high. 

.. and which I do thoroughly agree with. Levels should be tested before the start, by playing as loudly as possible, and seeing if you are near to distortion / clipping. It's worth knowing that in a crisis Audacity provides the option of a clip fix algorithm, which extrapolates to rebuild the sine wave at the points where it has clipped (i.e. there will be a flat top with the amplitude of the sine wave at 1.0 of the y axis), and it's actually pretty good in cases where clipping has not been excessive, but in principle, you simply don't want to have to go there, and it's better to get it right first time round.
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