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Mic'ing a piano

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by Eboy87, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    I know that the coming year will find me figureing out how best to mic our piano for any live music things, and I want to be ahead of the game.

    It's an upright piano, and we've just stuck one mic in the top of it, and it sounds like crap. I was thinking of either putting two mics (we only have AKG C1000's for our wired mics, we have no dynamics) and EQ'ing and panning them, doing the same, but point them at the soundingboard, or sticking one of my MXL 990's in the piano, but I'm not sure phantom power works with our patchbays.

    Anyone have any other suggestions? Our mic selection is limited to the c1000's, our wireless hh ones, my dinky AT digital reference dynamics, and my MXL condensers.
     
  2. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    The C1000's should be fine..a 57 would work too for an upright.

    Positions: Place one mic in the top of the upright around the mid point, and the other outside the piano on the rear about 3/4 the way towards the bottom of the soundboard (near where the hand grips are). Should be about 1 foot away max. Mix the two mics together to desired sound. EQ may be needed to fine tune it. Roll off the HPF for the top mic to about 150-200hz for resonance, and for both mics Adjust the EQ around 2k and 8k for boost, and roll off around or between 500-800hz, and again at 250hz to clean it up some if needed.. EQ slightly until you get the sound that is clearest for you...

    Thats one suggestion--others I'm sure will have other methods.. You won't know until you try various ones to get the sound you want...
    -w
     
  3. foeglass

    foeglass Member

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    I think wolf got it in one out of your mic selection c1000 would be the best choice,

    On an upright unless you open the top most of the sound will come from the back as long as it is an acoustic and not an electric. I will assume acoustic for the time being.
    Although, in the piano? Actually sitting inside with the strings and hammers?? Would there not be alot of reverb that you could avoid by keeping the mics outside the piano? I actually would say I know more about pianos then mics (which is saying much) so I would like to know myself how that would work.
    However the two other mics sound right to get excellent sound.
     
  4. falcon

    falcon Active Member

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    when we do pianos in the studio, well, we use electric which just plug into a DI and into the board. But when we did acoustic pianos, we used three mics, one above the piano in the centre, and the other two where in the back on either sides. that way, you get the highs in one mic, the lows in the other, and the mids is picked up with all three, and teh one above just fills in the sound. just playing with those levels and eqs seem to be the best for us in our situation.

    Just experiment with mic placement keeping it outside of the piano, unless you like the reverb, and try to find what works for you.
     
  5. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

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    I was at a college last week for a christian conference, and the last night we had a talent show and the house tech was going to put two AKGC 1000's under the lid of the baby grand we were using, although other people insisted on moving the piano during the show, which kinda squished that idea, and he went back to using a single boundry mic (no idea what kind) taped to the inside lid.

    sorry, that was kinda random, but I just felt like sharing it. (oh ya, and by the way, i'm back, I missed you all :) )
     
  6. bwayhawk2002

    bwayhawk2002 Member

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    If i saw the house tech doing that...i would have taken over his job in a snap, and been able to do his job much more efficiently. I mean, you don't tape a mic into a piano like that. If you're gonna use a mic on a piano, use a boom...NEVER EVER TAPE IT IN TO PIANO!!

    Oh well..nothing more one can do about it now.
    I guess that's enough blabbing outta me.
     
  7. AVGuyAndy

    AVGuyAndy Active Member

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    Is there an acoustical reason for that or just because the tape could fail and the mic could fall into the strings all that?
     
  8. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

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    Ya, ditto AVGuyAndy's question.... it's a boundry mic so it has to be RIGHT on the wood of the piano or it wont work properly.... so i am not sure how else you would do it.
     
  9. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    the book for the college i want to go to has a picture of a neumann gaff-taped inside a grand piano above the strings.

    A question about one mic inside the piano and one outside, would those have to be out of phase of eachother? I think i saw another post here about a snare drum with one mic on either side of the "noise maker", for lack of a better term, and they had to be out of phase with one-another for them to work.
     
  10. The_Guest

    The_Guest Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Well it all depends if the two mics are canceling each other out or not. It really depends on how the mics are positioned.
     
  11. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Taping a boundary mic in a piano is (sadly) quite an accepted method of micing. Done it many times on concerts and shows all over. I don't personally like it, but it is accepted as one method to do...even tho YES the tape and the piano finish tend to not like to stay stuck together...which I have had to fix mid point during a show so many times--but when you are an A2 you do what the A1 wants... When I am A1--I do what I want.. ;)

    As for my initial post regarding the mic at the mid point top of the upright--to elaborate the mic does not go deep inside the upright--it sits at the top in the mid point for highs towards the strings to get a bit of high string sound...and yes the lid is open. The mic on the rear (which does not have to be out of polarity of the other--the technique with a snare is due to the concussion wave you are picking up--think about it--one mic is getting the sound is pushing down, and the other is getting sound reflecting upwards--so they would fight each other if you didn't toss the polarity) is to catch the deeper and sometimes warmer (although an upright is anything but "warm") reverberations off the sound board to add to the other. This is one method of probably half a dozen to mic an upright...the BEST method depends on the sound of the piano and the numerous different angles you try to achieve the sound you want. Its not a Grand or Baby Grand where the sound is a lot clearer, so its a method I would suggest you start with, and then like all good sound guys, experiment with the various placements and different mic's to find what works for the style of music and the application. Different styles of music sometimes require different applications to get the desired sound... Good sound folks will listen to an instrument before mic'ing it for its sound or resonances, take into account the style of music and figure what technique will give you the sound desired, and not be afraid to try different methods...

    -w
     
  12. GV_hellion

    GV_hellion Member

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    We have recently been controlling the piano's volume through the sound board for our shows... HOWEVER our pianist (did I spell that right?) is deaf and never thinks she is loud enough... and she doesn't have any faith in my abilities... so I am constantly being told what to do by her and all the other kids who stand behind her and have NO idea what they are talking about.. SO here is my question.. when it comes to running her sound should I keep her where she belongs (volume wise) or should I turn her up when she sends me death rays through her eyes?
     
  13. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

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    My rule of thumb... during rehersals... obey the death rays... dress rehersal and show.. do what sounds best (dress rehersal to give the others a chance to hear the difference, and clue them in about it if you can)
     
  14. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    Or, if she doesn't all ready, run her out a monitor mix, and just make her really hot in the monitor. She'll hear herself and feel loud and important, and the rest of the world can keep on spinning.
     
  15. tenor_singer

    tenor_singer Active Member

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    The problem with this is that our sound system didn't have a monitor system. Her "monitor" was a 4-channel TOA speaker that she would turn up and up and up and up and up until she was louder than the main mix.
     
  16. soundman1024

    soundman1024 Active Member

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    I'm guessing in ears are out of your budget range. If that is the case I would give her the monitor, and put it at a moderate volume (below the mains) and tell her that is all the volume she gets. Sometimes if a musician's monitor is too loud and they ask for more volume I turn it down instead of up. Musicians can be difficult to talk to about this kind of thing with, so instead I would try to put confidence in the pianist Make them trust that you know what sounds good. Make them realize you hear things they way the audience does. If you can get her to trust you then you're set. Just keep working with her. If it is possible get a recorder and get a good mix and play that back for her. You could even play back for her what she thinks sounds good so she relizes what it is like. Just some thoughts presented in a jumbled up fashion. I apologize about that.
     
  17. The_Guest

    The_Guest Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Soundman raised some good points. But there are certain little tricks you can use to make the muso is think they know what they're getting. Sometimes all it takes is a change of perception. "Hey could you bring that up for me." "Sure! (sarcastically)" And sometimes they'll just think it's louder. Just because you said "sure, no problem" and pretended to bring up the muso's level can satisfy their needs. The mind probably thinks that's what their listening to. I mean there are occasions when you're dealing with good ears, but most musicians you'll work with on the small to medium scale usually don't know any better. As long as the attention is on them and they think they're being served usually it's not a problem. Another trick is how you EQ their mix, just by hearing things clearer will make all the difference. If a performer demands they want it blasting loud, it usually means boost the low end til they feel it and give them the stuff they can hear the easiest (around 1k and below). Another thing you could do is try bringing down their wedge and bring it back up slowly so they feel a dynamic from the wedge and their preception of the volume is changed. I mean when you get out from a concert in a club, 80dBs can sound like a nothing to you. Much less you can barely have a conversation with anyone. Try these little tricks, because it's not uncommon to have your eyes play tricks on you.
     
  18. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    that reminds of the mind games that can be played with monitors, sometimes people say they are way too loud, I unplug the monitor and they still maintain that they are too loud. Some people just can't hear anything they don't want to.
     

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