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 Post subject: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:25 am 
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Something I've been meaning to do for a long time, but it has been delayed for various reasons.

Anyway, I have got a venue booked for later this year, pending what I hope is the formality of exchange of legal documents. It's costing me a fair bit, but it is the best piano I can get my hands on. I have two full days recording time.

I would be very grateful if I could get opinions on the uploaded sound sample. I've tried to make it brief, whilst making a compilation of extracts which between them have a variety of dynamics, pianistic effects and moods. These sound samples are taken from my previous live experience on the piano, with the recording equipment I intend to use for the project. In short I would like to know if the sound is adequate for what I'm hoping will be a professional-sounding cd.

The sample comprises four different extracts, all from material which is ultimately to be on the resulting cd: the piano is a Steinway Model D whilst the recording equipment is an Edirol R-09HR with a matched pair of Rode NT5 mics. No editing has been applied to the extracts: the MP3 is 192 kHz, produced from the original WAV file. Any thoughts and advice more than welcome. I must admit I'm distinctly perturbed by having spoken to my teacher about the project - he is very much in favour of it, but told me that when he recorded for Decca they used 16 mics!

Apologies if this is the wrong place to upload this topic. Chris and Monica, please feel free to move it if so.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:46 am 
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That's a nice idea - making a semi-professional recording!
I listened to your sample here. The piano sounds great! And there is nice reverb, which must be natural, right, since you said you did no editing? The only little thing is that I had to turn my speakers all the way up to hear this properly. Maybe try increasing your input levels. Good luck, Andrew! :)

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:35 am 
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Hi Andrew,

It seemed that the first two excerpts were at a quieter input level, while the next two seemed on the mark. Did you keep the same input level for all, or did you boost it a bit for the last two? I would keep it right there where you left it. What you want is to end up with a listening level that would be at about the 12:00 noon spot on the speaker output level. That's usually a comfortable level for most people. The big thing is not to blow listeners headphones right off their heads. :lol:

The Model D sounds great! And the Edirol is capturing it well, and the Rode mics are neutral, so adding no coloration of their own, which is exactly what you want. Pay no attention to the "16 mics". Two mics for two-track stereo is exactly what you need. Anything beyond that invites phase problems.

I know you've wanted to do a recording project like this for awhile, and I'm happy for you that you're going to make it happen.

Best of luck on that!

David

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Last edited by Rachfan on Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:24 am 
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Hi Andrew,

I sampled your recording. Wonderful playing of these paraphrases. This is some epic music :shock: :)

About the sound: beautiful tone from the Steinway. I assume you had the lid all the way open as I thought I could hear a really nice openess to the tone. I couldn't hear much noise in the recording so the signal-to-noise ratio must be low, which is good. I also thought the balance and positioning of the microphones was even and so I would reproduce this type of setup for the real thing. The microphones have good definition (I have actually used the NT5's in my audio class for a project) one thing I missed was when you play tremolando octaves in the lower register, I didn't feel like there was as much body as there could be to those notes. I use a large diaphram microphone and though it lacks the high end definition though one nice thing is it reproduces the big string notes faithfully.

look forward to the fruits of your future project,

Riley

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:42 am 
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Thanks for the encouragement! It's a project I'm looking forward to, but at the same time viewing with some trepidation.

pianolady wrote:
That's a nice idea - making a semi-professional recording!
I listened to your sample here. The piano sounds great! And there is nice reverb, which must be natural, right, since you said you did no editing? The only little thing is that I had to turn my speakers all the way up to hear this properly. Maybe try increasing your input levels. Good luck, Andrew! :)


Yes, the reverb is natural. It's quite a nice hall that I'm playing in and it's in fairly regular use as a concert venue.

Rachfan wrote:
It seemed that the first two excerpts were at a quieter input level, while the next two seemed on the mark. Did you keep the same input level for all, or did you boost it a bit for the last two? I would keep it right there where you left it. What you want is to end up with a listening level that would be at about the 12:00 noon spot on the speaker output level. That's usually a comfortable level for most people. The big thing is not to blow listeners headphones right off their heads. :lol:

The Model D sounds great! And the Edirol is capturing it well, and the Rode mics are neutral, so adding no coloration of their own, which is exactly what you want. Pay no attention to the "16 mics". Two mics for two-track stereo is exactly what you need. Anything beyond that invites phase problems.


As both you and Monica commented on the input level, I will too! I noticed it before uploading and am somewhat mystified. All the samples are taken from the same wav file, so unless when I split the file into individual tracks and converted them to mp3 I applied differing gain levels to different tracks and forgot about having done so, I'm at a loss to explain it.

Re the mics, I spoke to my will-be-sound engineer this morning. I'll have to bear your comments about phase problems in mind: I was not aware of this until now, but he can, if needed, bring to the project a pair of Neumann U87s (amongst others) in addition to the Rode NT5s. I don't know much about mics, but I believe the Neumanns are rather nice.

pianoman342 wrote:
About the sound: beautiful tone from the Steinway. I assume you had the lid all the way open as I thought I could hear a really nice openess to the tone. I couldn't hear much noise in the recording so the signal-to-noise ratio must be low, which is good. I also thought the balance and positioning of the microphones was even and so I would reproduce this type of setup for the real thing. The microphones have good definition (I have actually used the NT5's in my audio class for a project) one thing I missed was when you play tremolando octaves in the lower register, I didn't feel like there was as much body as there could be to those notes. I use a large diaphram microphone and though it lacks the high end definition though one nice thing is it reproduces the big string notes faithfully.


Yes, the lid was fully open. When I put the samples together with Audacity, I thought there was a small bias to the left, but not anything particularly significant. In any case I wanted to leave it unedited. The tremolando octaves in the l.h. at the climax of the Liebestod aren't as "big" as I'd expect, but the whole climax seems a little muted, as referred to above, and I do wonder if I've inadvertently done something to the track in the past.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:14 pm 
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Hi Andrew,
that´s a good sound throughout, except that I hear a quite disturbing little hiss in the background. Apart from that nice clearness und transparency in the sound-picture. I´m using WaveLab, a professional sound editing program. And I would do normalization and correction of volume especially. But also Panorama editing would improve this recording. There is no need of more reverberation IMHO. You could add a bit equalizer, if you like. But that´s a matter of taste, of course. The Rode N5 are really not bad, but I find my Neumann KM 184 still more natural than your Rodes. I agree to David, that two microphones are enough for a good stereo-recording.
So, the only thing you really necessarily will have to do is to find out the reason for the hiss and to normalize the volume.

The examples are really well played. Bravo! And the grand is excellent.

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:58 pm 
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Hi Andrew,
I haven't listened to the samples but have this to say. If you can capture the sound as cleanly as possible without any "peaking," etc. and then send your file(s) for POST-PRODUCTION and MASTERING, this will get you what you want. Your task -- if you accept this mission -- is to locate such a service, but this should not be difficult given the resources of the internet and search engines. I should think that this could be accomplished for $500-$800 US. Remember that a piano recital is actually quite boring from a post-production and mastering point-of-view, when compared to ensembles and bands with vocalists, etc. Good luck and keep us informed.

Eddy

Edit: I listened. Great playing!

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:55 pm 
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musicusblau wrote:
Hi Andrew,
that´s a good sound throughout, except that I hear a quite disturbing little hiss in the background. Apart from that nice clearness und transparency in the sound-picture. I´m using WaveLab, a professional sound editing program. And I would do normalization and correction of volume especially. But also Panorama editing would improve this recording. There is no need of more reverberation IMHO. You could add a bit equalizer, if you like. But that´s a matter of taste, of course. The Rode N5 are really not bad, but I find my Neumann KM 184 still more natural than your Rodes. I agree to David, that two microphones are enough for a good stereo-recording.
So, the only thing you really necessarily will have to do is to find out the reason for the hiss and to normalize the volume.


musical-md wrote:
Hi Andrew,
I haven't listened to the samples but have this to say. If you can capture the sound as cleanly as possible without any "peaking," etc. and then send your file(s) for POST-PRODUCTION and MASTERING, this will get you what you want. Your task -- if you accept this mission -- is to locate such a service, but this should not be difficult given the resources of the internet and search engines. I should think that this could be accomplished for $500-$800 US.


A nice bonus regarding the person who will be helping me with the recording is that he is a professional recording engineer, and has access to various high-range sound editing programs, so I'm not worried if there is a small amount of hiss in the trial recording here and I imagine the mastering should be no problem.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:54 am 
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Hi Andrew,

This is going to be a nice endeavor. The difference of having good equipment will be more noticeable in a good hall than in the living room. It's nice that you have a recording engineer to help you to record, edit, and master the final product. Indeed, a small recorder will not give the signal to noise ratio, fidelity, nor the dynamic range that can be achieved in a good and quiet hall armed with a nice Steinway D. Please, make sure the hall is quiet!

David is right, don't concern yourself with multiple mics, unless your hall is exceptional then you'll mic 2 distant pairs to capture the ambience and mix that into the direct tracks. But, this is easier said than done. Stick with an A-B spaced pair of small condensor mics spaced 15-18 inches apart, 6-9ft high, 5-9ft from the curve of the piano pointed down along the parallel axis of the lid. You will have to experiment with the distances to determine the amount of "air" you want from the room and the amount of direct sound from the instrument. It will also depend on the room characteristics like size, brightness.

I won't go into too much detail here, but allow me to say that mic selection is important. You need a mic preamp and mics that are tonally neutral, have fast transient response, and have a flat EQ response. The final sound depends on the pianist, piano, room, and then the mics (in that order). Repertoire and genre of music is an important consideration too. In my opinion, Rode NT5 mics you mentioned are too bright. Most Neumann mics are too bright too for classical piano. The U87 is a fantastic mic, even great for jazz up close, but it's mainly a world-class vocal mic - a bit colored, and not the first choice for classical piano with a broad peak at ~8kHz. However, if you're really intent on the Neumann, and if your engineer has a large collection of mics from his studio, then the Neumann M50, TLM170, U89i, M149 (in that order) will give you a stellar and majestic sound. However, a matched pair of these mics are in the $6,000 to $12,000 range. Hey, if it's a large studio with deep pockets, access to mics are easy.

Here is a link to my first thread here on PS as it has a lot of useful info, links, and charts. It gives information regarding mics, preamps, recorders, etc. suitable for classical piano recording:
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2844

My recommendation is to go with a pair of small condensor mics: Schoeps MK2, DPA, or Sennheiser MKH8020 omnis. Personally, I find the the Senn MKH8020 to be an excellent match for capturing the bronzed sound of the Steinway D for classical piano. With response down to 10 Hz, it also excels as an organ mic. Here is a photo of the Sennheiser MKH8020 in action. You can feed it into a Sound Design 722 directly without a preamp, or use an external preamp (preferred) and use a Tascam DV-RA1000HD, Korg MS-2000, or another 24bit/192kHz recorder where the internal A/D conversion is more than adequate.

Good Luck!

George

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:38 pm 
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Thanks for that wealth of information! As far as I know, I will have access to (if desired) a pair of Rode NT5s, plus two Neumann U87s, an AKG C414 and a Rode NT4 stereo x/y phase condenser. I will take on board your comments re the Neumanns.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:23 pm 
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Hi Andrew, I listened to the file and as always I'm very jealous of your ability to play the piano so well!!!
About the sound quality I'd like to point out that in the third excerpt the pedal noises are clearly audible, when I use my headphone (Beyerdynamic DT 990 pro). And the sound overall is rather flat, not with so to speak "surround effect". Best wishes to you!!!

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:07 am 
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hyenal wrote:
About the sound quality I'd like to point out that in the third excerpt the pedal noises are clearly audible, when I use my headphone (Beyerdynamic DT 990 pro).


Ah, that's not the first time you've spotted that in one of my recordings. I think I probably have a bad habit with my pedalling, probably tapping my foot on the pedal, especially in more aggressive passages. I'll keep an eye out for this in future - thanks for pointing this out.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:00 am 
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Andrew,

I had a listen to your sound samples. Overall, impressive sound, reverb, piano -- and, of course playing :P The only thing is, as some others noted, the overall amplification. I had to turn my volume up on both my computer and speakers to hear it adequately. The quality, though, sounds quite professional to my ears. Good luck with your project!

Joe

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:33 am 
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andrew wrote:
Thanks for that wealth of information! As far as I know, I will have access to (if desired) a pair of Rode NT5s, plus two Neumann U87s, an AKG C414 and a Rode NT4 stereo x/y phase condenser. I will take on board your comments re the Neumanns.
Anytime Andrew. I would avoid the Rode because I fear it will result in a thin and glassy sound in this application. I actually own a pair of AKG C414 B-XLS mics and I use them to record my Steinway B. But a majority of my recordings were made in an untreated living room measuring 35x14x8.5ft (bare walls, no furniture, no acoustical treatment). The perks/curse of being single I guess, but in any case it has become a dedicated music room just for the piano. For a large condensor mic, the AKG C414B is excellent in capturing the tone and timbre of any instrument. They are slightly on the bright side of neutral, but in a complimentary way if the room is large. When miked in a large hall, the high frequency content can get lost (compared to a living room due to the lack of nearby reflections). I think that they will excel in capturing just the right amount of "air" in the performance and give you a good balance in sound across all registers. You should definitely audition the C414 B. As long as the tone is neutral, most of these mics in this class react well to EQing if you need to tweak later on. Heck if you lived close by, I'd let you borrow my mic collection.

http://www.akg.com/site/products/powers ... ge,EN.html

George

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:48 am 
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Excellent sound indeed. Somehow the last sample sounded a little less 'open' to me than the previous, but it could be my imagination.

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:37 am 
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jlr43 wrote:
Andrew,

I had a listen to your sound samples. Overall, impressive sound, reverb, piano -- and, of course playing :P The only thing is, as some others noted, the overall amplification. I had to turn my volume up on both my computer and speakers to hear it adequately. The quality, though, sounds quite professional to my ears. Good luck with your project!

Joe


Thanks: I'll be paying close attention to the amplification level as a few recordings I've made in the past have veered on the quiet side. I didn't have any involvement with the setting up of the original recording from which these specific samples are taken (though it did involve my equipment) and didn't want to edit the samples before uploading them.

88man wrote:
For a large condensor mic, the AKG C414B is excellent in capturing the tone and timbre of any instrument. They are slightly on the bright side of neutral, but in a complimentary way if the room is large. When miked in a large hall, the high frequency content can get lost (compared to a living room due to the lack of nearby reflections). I think that they will excel in capturing just the right amount of "air" in the performance and give you a good balance in sound across all registers. You should definitely audition the C414 B. As long as the tone is neutral, most of these mics in this class react well to EQing if you need to tweak later on. Heck if you lived close by, I'd let you borrow my mic collection.


:) Ok, I will definitely check out the C414 B. The hall is not huge - it holds in the region of 250 when full.

techneut wrote:
Excellent sound indeed. Somehow the last sample sounded a little less 'open' to me than the previous, but it could be my imagination.


The last sample is from the same piece as the third; indeed it's less than two minutes later, so the characteristics should be the same. It's possible I may have used the una corda at some point in it.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:09 am 
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Nice sound ! I do not think that you should reduce the dynamics by means of normalization. Just check commercial recordings of classical piano : you will find such large dynamics. The NT5 is a bit lean on the low end not because it is a small diaphragm but because it is cardioid. You would get the same with Neumann, Schoeps or DPA cardioid condenser microphones except if the microphones are close to the soundboard for involving the proximity effect (low end reinforcement at short distance from the source exhibited by pressure gradient microphones), which is not suitable for classical piano.

There are pedal noises (around 2'30" for instance). If you do not want to get them, you should be more cautious when putting off pedal and/or finding quieter placement for the microphones. The sound misses reverberation with respect to current standard for such recording. Here attached the result from a quick processing: bass boosting and reverberation adding. The piano is too wide. I would reduce the spacing between the microphones.


Last edited by Didier on Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:20 pm 
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New recommendation. Just record your stuff and send to Didier for post-processing. 8) I'm sure you can work out a deal.

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:05 pm 
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Andrew, I forgot to mention that when you're tuning the piano before the event, have the technician grease and lubricate the pedal to eliminate the noise. Tell him before hand, and he'll locate the source of the problem and do the necessary tightening, lubrication, etc. I had a similar issue with a "clunk" every time I used the soft pedal. I told my technician and it was a rather quick fix. If your mics are high as I described they might be out of the path of the pedals. Make an audio check of this as pedal noise is the last thing you want to worry about before all your hard preparation.

George

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:18 am 
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Didier wrote:
Nice sound ! I do not think that you should reduce the dynamics by means of normalization. Just check commercial recordings of classical piano : you will find such large dynamics. The NT5 is a bit lean on the low end not because it is a small diaphragm but because it is cardioid. You would get the same with Neumann, Schoeps or DPA cardioid condenser microphones except if the microphones are close to the soundboard for involving the proximity effect (low end reinforcement at short distance from the source exhibited by pressure gradient microphones), which is not suitable for classical piano.

There are pedal noises (around 2'30" for instance). If you do not want to get them, you should be more cautious when putting off pedal and/or finding quieter placement for the microphones. The sound misses reverberation with respect to current standard for such recording. Here attached the result from a quick processing: bass boosting and reverberation adding. The piano is too wide. I would reduce the spacing between the microphones.


Yes, I'm not keen on reducing dynamic range at all. If anything I think my dynamic range should ideally be bigger. The result after your processing is rather nice. I've got a photo of the mic positions somewhere, but it's not on this pc and may be on an old hard drive; I'll see if I can find it for my reference, and I'll experiment with the mics being closer together during setting up for the recording.

88man wrote:
Andrew, I forgot to mention that when you're tuning the piano before the event, have the technician grease and lubricate the pedal to eliminate the noise. Tell him before hand, and he'll locate the source of the problem and do the necessary tightening, lubrication, etc. I had a similar issue with a "clunk" every time I used the soft pedal. I told my technician and it was a rather quick fix. If your mics are high as I described they might be out of the path of the pedals. Make an audio check of this as pedal noise is the last thing you want to worry about before all your hard preparation.


If everything goes to plan I'm actually going to be playing publicly on the same piano a few days before the recording session and I think the same tuner is doing the tuning for both events, so I should get some sort of advance warning of potential problems. I once played at a concert where the pedal was making noises and there was a loose screw somewhere in it, so having it looked at is definitely on my mental checklist.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:08 pm 
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It is quite daunting to lay out cash .... 1) for 2 days at a particular venue; 2) for a good instrument; 3) for good mics; 4) for good USE of the equipment (mic levels, placement, et. al.)

Starting with the MOST IMPORTANT variable 5) ability at the instrument ... answer... no worries!!!

The other variables? Well, based on what little I have learned over the last 3 weeks of torture...renting ALL manner of microphones: Schoeps, Coles, AKG (various), Rodes (your nt5), etc., etc., etc... they are NOT all that different in terms of the end result..... (sue me) (Granted, ribbon mics are a different kettle... but small diaphram condensers? Well, mass production in China has made this game zero sum.)

Much more important is 1. the musical "material" 2. the type of mics employed on site (small card, medium card, small omni, medium omni, long ribbon, short ribbon, etc., etc., ) 3. the PLACEMENT of said mics. 4. the MIXING of the auditory results from each individual mic post performance/recording.

ALSO 1/ Slow, less dense piano music is a MUCH, MUCH easier starting point to the end of making a good to "state of the art" cd ready result. Just SO much easier to solve accoustically; 2. Microphone choice: A mid-high end (medium sized condensor) mic like the AKG 414 is made to be flexible (omni, card, etc ) but is NOT easy to use. The small diaphram condensor mics, your Rodes, will do the trick (make a pro. cd) much more easily. Typically, what the pro engineers (like Didier) will do is surround the piano with 4 or more mics, and MIX the result afterwards, to get the RIGHT balance between precise, closer-to-instrument tone and the venue ambience, which is equally critical to a getting a sensational CD sound.

Fortunately, the bar is (in my humble view) very low for solo classical piano recordings. Until you've heard, for example, little known CDs like Bunin's Bach compilation recorded in the early 90s, by who-knows?, you don't know how spectacular a well-recorded piano can sound. Such glories are few and far between. Even Barenboim, with his phenomenal abilities at the piano, his dedication to the art of the great recording, etc.., etc., has not (sue me) released a spectacular technical recording. They tend to be just "very, very good" and, naturally, just awe-inspiring pianism.

It's almost a lucky strike proposition, and I wish you much luck in it. You've got the chops. So you just want, in the end, for THAT to shine through, notwithstanding the vagaries of "recording the instrument." Getting over that hurdle.... that's going to take you a LONG way!!

JG


Last edited by johnlewisgrant on Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:53 am 
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Thanks for your comments. I'm quite pleased to see that the general opinion of posters has been that the Rode NT5s are adequate for the purposes: I'm quite pleased with their sound and it is my intention that they are the fall-back tried and tested option should there be problems with other mics. Set-up is the one part I'm really not looking forward to! There is a comparatively low amount of "slow, less dense" material on the recording repertoire list, so I am expecting that I may have to do a fair bit of trial and error. I think I may also have to consider that what is a good sound for one type of piece may not be so suitable for another.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:59 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
New recommendation. Just record your stuff and send to Didier for post-processing. 8) I'm sure you can work out a deal.


:lol: Just saw this. That's funny - I needed a laugh... :)

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: Update
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:36 am 
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Location: Edinburgh, UK
Hi everyone, thought I should give an update on how this has been going. I would put it in the general forum, but as it started here, I suppose it's more likely to be seen by those who were kind enough to give me advice first time round.

Anyway, I spent two days this week recording takes. 10am to 6pm both days on a very nice Steinway Model D; first day the first 2+ hours were spent on setting up before any actual recording took place. I've listened properly to a fair bit of it now: there are things which could be better, but I have my limitations and will have to live with them. Some things did go satisfyingly well. In an ideal world, I would have liked at least another half-day for further tidying of takes (as I've heard a few oddities which I'm not completely sure I've cleaned up), but venue hire etc was not cheap and I'd decided a three day booking was an expensive luxury.

It's amazing how many problems there can be in the process! Ambient noise was an absolute nightmare. The first two piano stools creaked liberally at any over-enthusiastic body movement. I ended up on a cheap plastic chair with a cushion on it to get me to the right height. During takes, someone dropped something large and metallic outside the building; despite the building being well set back from the road, there was the odd bit of traffic noise. Before recording even started, I (or to be more precise, my engineer) had to locate the source of an incessant buzzing, eventually tracked down to an induction loop for hearing aids.

Despite these hazards, it was ultimately a lot of fun and not quite as stressful as I was expecting. For most of the pieces I did one or two full takes, then ran through again them stopping whenever I did something I didn't like and retaking it until it was ok (four problem passages, of which one occurs in the video clip below, were retaken innumerable times). I have approximately 7 hours of takes (from what will ultimately be around an hour of music) to go through, collate, and rate for usability. I really hope I don't have problems with incompatible tempi of different takes. I'm intending to start full editing next week. My engineer has Protools and there are a lot of things to be considered, like the mix of the different mics (ultimately we used a pair close over the treble and bass strings, a stereo mic higher up and further back and two room mics).

I've included two samples and any thoughts on the sound would be great. They are completely unedited: no tweaking of mic levels and no cut/paste of alternate takes. They most assuredly will end up being edited, as there are things I don't like in both of them. I had a camera running during the last hour or so of takes, so one of the samples I also have in video form - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXGM8Bp4wsI (not that youtube does the sound any favours).


Attachments:
sample for video.mp3 [3.01 MiB]
Downloaded 170 times
liebestod sample.mp3 [1.83 MiB]
Downloaded 163 times
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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:51 pm 
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Andrew, I think your efforts are going to result in a really excellent product. Your playing is excellent, demonstrating beautiful musicianship and capable technique, and the recording quality is really excellent, and this despite the lack of engineering and post-production etc. You should be proud. Your transcriptions seem very idiomatic and successful. The liebestod left me wanting more ... much more! Bravo!

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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:43 pm 
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Location: Edinburgh, UK
Thanks - I've still not got through critiquing all the takes (an arduous and not particularly pleasant task) and working out which are usable. I would be happy with a lot of them in a live context, but this is different. I imagine I'll feel more positive once I have a few tracks edited into coherent wholes: it is quite amazing just how easy it is for left hand ostinato-type accompaniment to slip into marginal unevenness in p passages, supposedly vocal turns to become muddy, or for chords to be accidentally voiced unevenly. Listening hypercritically has actually been very educational regarding defects in my playing, to say nothing of humbling.

I'm really pleased with what you said about the sound: my initial impressions were that it had good dynamic range - I want it to go fully from pp to volcanic ff whilst not compromising on tone - but after so much time listening I'm no longer a neutral observer of what sonic characteristics I'm perceiving and it's good to have a third party opinion. I do think over the full samples I've examined that the treble may be a little shrill, but, even within the first hour of recording, I felt that about the piano itself - so that isn't necessarily a poor reflection on the recording quality. In any case, it's probably possible to manipulate it somewhat in the mixing process.


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:27 pm 
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I listened to Isolde's Liebestod. The piano sounds too far to me, just my own taste. I guess that we are listening mainly to the stereo mic ? Not bad but it sounds very old school with respect to the current "high-definition" piano recordings made nowadays. I would try to get the stereo mic (which shall be the main mic in the configuration that you described) closer. Because of the kind of stereo recording performed by such a mic, the stereo image of the piano is narrower than with two separate mics: it is not necessarily a drawback but it is a reason for getting the mic rather close.

Do you know this recording of the same piece done at Horowitz home a few days before he died ? Just two mics (Schoeps MK2).


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 Post subject: Re: CD recording project: advice wanted
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:46 pm 
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Location: Edinburgh, UK
As far as I know, all the mics are roughly equally balanced. I'll mention your comments to my engineer. The recording's done now, so no physical rearrangement of the mic configuration can be performed, but I assume there is certainly still scope for manipulation of the sound.

I have very mixed feelings about Horowitz's recording of Isolde's Liebestod. On one hand, it is manifestly obvious from even the first 15 seconds that it is a truly great pianist playing, but it's tragicomically inaccurate (the part with the octaves, approximately halfway through, is especially horrendous if my memory serves me). I regret that Bolet didn't (to my knowledge) record it; I think he would have produced something quite splendid.


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