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-   -   Rode nt55 vs Shure ksm141 for classical piano recital/studio (https://gearspace.com/board/remote-possibilities-in-location-recording-amp-production/1303476-rode-nt55-vs-shure-ksm141-classical-piano-recital-studio.html)

pianisticchef 26th March 2020 10:15 PM

Rode nt55 vs Shure ksm141 for classical piano recital/studio
 
Hi there,

Getting mics and audio interface/mixer for classical piano performance (using grand pianos 6'-9') in small concert halls and in my own teaching studio for:

a) audio recording: need to connect to computer thru USB for editing
b) video recording: need to send mic signals to camcorder 3.5mm
c) online teaching (for this stay-home-only moment): need to send mic signals to computer Zoom app thru USB

The gears I probably need:

1. a pair of mics for stereo recording
I've read couple threads here about Shure ksm141 and rode nt55, and they seem a good fit under limited budget. What will you go with for my purpose (classical piano performance)?

2. audio interface or mixer
Any suggestion to fit the above mics well and to achieve the above 3 usages?
(Heard about Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 and Zoom Livetrak L-8, but do not know how good their pre-amps are.)

3. mic cables
Is Kopul or Canare fine for sound? (Reviews said that Kopul cables are easy to kink...) Or other suggestion?

4. mic stand
I guess I need 2 boom stands (please correct me if I'm wrong.) Any recommended brand/model? Do I need telescopic boom?

Please let me know if I overlook something. Thanks.

hbphotoav 27th March 2020 05:21 AM

The setup you propose is fine for the use you propose. Your bonus is being able to choose "omni" or "cardioid" with the KSM141s. I'd buy them long before the NT55s. I've had a NT4 since 2002... I like it enough to keep it, but it sees most use as a drum kit overhead.

I build most of my cables... and I generally use Mogami bulk spools when I have a need. Mogami, Canare... MonoPrice... in my usage, pretty much any cable that is properly shielded and terminated (100% Neutrik for the past 20 years) has not ever been a problem.

One add would be to good audition headphones and choose a pair, if you haven't already. I've been on UltraSone 650HDs for 20 years. Next up would be decent nearfield monitors, again, if you haven't got them already, and learning where in your world to place them to best effect. My primaries are Tannoy 800a (with the Tannoy system sub)... secondaries are HHb Circle 5... for location use are Equator D5 coaxial. FWIW, my interface is a Apogee Ensemble.

Your mileage will vary... this stuff works for me. Find out what works for you!

Now... order it up and get to recording.

HB

edva 27th March 2020 05:36 AM

141's are very good on piano.

norfolksoundman9 27th March 2020 08:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hbphotoav (Post 14615129)
Your bonus is being able to choose "omni" or "cardioid" with the KSM141s.

As, equally, is the case with the NT55s, of course: they are supplied with both the cardioid and with the very acceptable NT45-O omni capsules.

Cheers,

Roland

DaveyJones 27th March 2020 08:56 AM

I've never used the KSM141 before.

I use a pair of NT6 mics (which as far as I'm aware are identical bodies and capsules to the NT5 apart from they have a 1m cable between the two) for classical piano spot micing in orchestral piano concerto type concerts. I have found the sound from them to be *perfect* for this. They will help the sound cut across the orchestra and I've never found them to be harsh (as many on here HAVE found). I use cardioid for this purpose.

However, for solo classical piano I'd definitely look for Omni. A full sized grand piano makes some fairly delicious LF content and if recording in a nice acoustic you will want to be able to put some distance between the strings and the capsules to get a nice balance. Using cardioids here you will loose the bottom end as the distance increases. With proper omnis, you won't.

So, I would get the NT55 but get the NT-45 O capsules (which k think are included with the set on the NT55).

I will try and post a sample of a recording I did with the NT6.



Dave

jimjazzdad 27th March 2020 10:58 AM

I have the NT55 stereo pair with both cardioid and omni capsules (the stereo set is sold this way) and a stereo pair of KSM141. On the whole, you cannot go wrong with either. Subjectively, I think the Rode mics are slightly brighter, and the Shure mics are slightly darker. My preference is to reach for the NT-45 O capsule when I need an omni pair and the KSM141 when I want cardioid, but I really could use either mic. I like the convenience of mechanically switching the pattern on the KSM141; threading the capsules on and off the NT55 bodies is a bit fiddly, with potential for damage if you drop the capsule. Both mics are a bargain IMO.

didier.brest 27th March 2020 12:54 PM

The NT55 is the same mic like the NT5 with two additional switches for HP filter and pad, which you don't need for classical piano recording. The SDCs from Schoeps, DPA, Neumann (and some other ones), often used for piano recording don't have such switches.

The price for a stereo set of NT55 is about 580 $ from Thomann (including shipping to US). A stereo set of NT5 plus a pair of omni capsules NT45-O (included in the NT55 stereo set but not in the NT5 stereo set) is about 120 $ less.
Comparing NT55 and KSM 141 is a bit unfair because a stereo set of KSM 141 is 300 $ more than a NT55 stereo set and near twice the price of a stereo set of NT5 and a pair of NT45-0.

Instead of a NT5 stereo set and a pair of NT45-0, I would rather consider, for about the same price, a pair of Line Audio CM4 and a pair of Line Audio OM1. The CM4 replaces the CM3, which I have compared with the NT5 on piano here and here.

Nice CM3 vs. CM4 samples on piano from gearslutz member hendriks here.

Note also that small size and dark finish of CM4 and OM1 are better suited to video.

DaveyJones 27th March 2020 02:16 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Should be a short clip here of Rode NT6 (same capsule and amp as NT5) pair on classical piano spot.

However, piano sound is also reinforced by spaced omni main pair, ORTF pair and, to a much lesser extent, orchestral omni flanks.

dingenus 27th March 2020 04:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DaveyJones (Post 14615592)
Should be a short clip here of Rode NT6 (same capsule and amp as NT5) pair on classical piano spot.

However, piano sound is also reinforced by spaced omni main pair, ORTF pair and, to a much lesser extent, orchestral omni flanks.

This sound very nice. Wich other mics did you use for this recording?

pianisticchef 27th March 2020 05:34 PM

Thanks for your opinions.

"I would go with the Rodes (NT55). KSM141s are just too colored, and not in a good way" was commented in a thread 2 years ago, but not for piano recording. It's kind of hard for me to picture if "dark" and "colored" are "in a good way" for piano?

Besides mics, audio interface/mixer is another crucial part. Some excellent but costly products are probably overkill for the relatively budget mics I'm getting. Any suggestions for my purpose?

Thanks.

Philip

pianisticchef 27th March 2020 05:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DaveyJones (Post 14615592)
Should be a short clip here of Rode NT6 (same capsule and amp as NT5) pair on classical piano spot.

However, piano sound is also reinforced by spaced omni main pair, ORTF pair and, to a much lesser extent, orchestral omni flanks.

Sounds great to me! Thanks. It does give me confidence with NT55.

pianisticchef 27th March 2020 05:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimjazzdad (Post 14615375)
I have the NT55 stereo pair with both cardioid and omni capsules (the stereo set is sold this way) and a stereo pair of KSM141. On the whole, you cannot go wrong with either. Subjectively, I think the Rode mics are slightly brighter, and the Shure mics are slightly darker. My preference is to reach for the NT-45 O capsule when I need an omni pair and the KSM141 when I want cardioid, but I really could use either mic. I like the convenience of mechanically switching the pattern on the KSM141; threading the capsules on and off the NT55 bodies is a bit fiddly, with potential for damage if you drop the capsule. Both mics are a bargain IMO.

Thanks for your reply. Is the NT55 brighter (than KSM141) for the higher register or throughout the piano range? Does that "brighter" make it sound more pronounced (in a good way), or harsh (in a bad way)?

Deleted 141eef3 27th March 2020 07:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pianisticchef (Post 14615999)
Thanks for your reply. Is the NT55 brighter (than KSM141) for the higher register or throughout the piano range? Does that "brighter" make it sound more pronounced (in a good way), or harsh (in a bad way)?

The NT55 is undoubtedly "brighter" than the KSM141 in the higher register, at least in omni mode.

Whether that is "in a good way" will depend very much on your instrument, acoustic environment, and mic placement, among other things.

To put it another way, both microphones are similar enough in design and quality that if you had a pair of each, you would likely find you could achieve similar results based on factors like placement -- e.g. the KSM141 somewhat closer, the NT55 a bit higher and more distant (just speaking hypothetically).

Didier's suggestion about the Line Audio mics is also a good one.

DaveyJones 27th March 2020 08:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dingenus (Post 14615833)
This sound very nice. Wich other mics did you use for this recording?


Thanks!

It's Gefell M221s as Omni spaced pair. Schoeps MK4 ORTF pair. Thurresson CM402 as flanks. Schoeps MK4 pair on wind. Warm Audio WA87 on horns and on DBass.

Orchestra manager asked for the lowest possible microphone profile, this was the compromise we came to. I'm happy with the results though!

ithinknot 27th March 2020 08:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pianisticchef (Post 14615999)
Thanks for your reply. Is the NT55 brighter (than KSM141) for the higher register or throughout the piano range? Does that "brighter" make it sound more pronounced (in a good way), or harsh (in a bad way)?

Obviously, the frequency response is what it is regardless of 'musical' register, so while an extremely bright mic would be most noticeably grating in the right hand, it would also be bringing out the upper partials of the left... so the answer is Either Good or Bad, Depending on Placement.

Frankly, in this price range any of these are capable of good results. I would second the recommendation for Line Audio CM3 (and OM1). For domestic/small space use, their smooth and neutral character would be particularly welcome. Without serious acoustic treatment, your room will be the ultimate limitation on quality in any case.

Focusrite Scarlett is solid. Get one good stand (K&M) and respectably non-budget cables - these will both save various frustrations - and a stereo bar for setting up ORTF, NOS etc. Also, shockmounts. Rycote INV-7 for Rode or Shure, or the optional ones suggested alongside the (significantly shorter) Line Audios if you go down that route.

hbphotoav 27th March 2020 09:25 PM

If there is a way to order both, and return the pair you don't prefer, a several-session trial would likely lead to YOUR best choice. Otherwise, opinions replace data and experience. In my case, I was able to compare the Rode NT4 (cardioid capsules) to a Sennheiser MKH8040 pair, a pair of AT4041, and my older Sony C55FET pair. The Senny pair was my choice, though I still have the Sony, AT and Rode products (which each have their uses).

Unless you have a trusted "guru" close, who can speak in to your situation and share samples, testing mics on your own sources and through your own chain(s) is the only truly definitive path. Rich Mays, "Sonare" to the Old Timers here, was mine... He suggested the MKH (which he used, and from which I heard samples) for a series of similar large choral events I was doing for several years...

My opinion of preference of the KSM141s in the situation you presented was based on my usual situation of short setup/strike times, and having omni/card capability readily at hand "on the fly" from a mic clearly a solid "good" choice. As usual, you pays your money, and takes your chances... both of which (in your original presentation) are "good".

As usual... this is one old guy's opinion, and worth every farthing paid! Cheers, and post up some files!

HB

pianisticchef 28th March 2020 01:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by didier.brest (Post 14615511)
The NT55 is the same mic like the NT5 with two additional switches for HP filter and pad, which you don't need for classical piano recording. The SDCs from Schoeps, DPA, Neumann (and some other ones), often used for piano recording don't have such switches.

The price for a stereo set of NT55 is about 580 $ from Thomann (including shipping to US). A stereo set of NT5 plus a pair of omni capsules NT45-O (included in the NT55 stereo set but not in the NT5 stereo set) is about 120 $ less.
Comparing NT55 and KSM 141 is a bit unfair because a stereo set of KSM 141 is 300 $ more than a NT55 stereo set and near twice the price of a stereo set of NT5 and a pair of NT45-0.

Instead of a NT5 stereo set and a pair of NT45-0, I would rather consider, for about the same price, a pair of Line Audio CM4 and a pair of Line Audio OM1. The CM4 replaces the CM3, which I have compared with the NT5 on piano here and here.

Nice CM3 vs. CM4 samples on piano from gearslutz member hendriks here.

Note also that small size and dark finish of CM4 and OM1 are better suited to video.

Thanks. They were such nice microphone tests for comparison. Although I wish there were a test comparing CM4, NT55, and KSM141, I am leaning towards getting a pair of CM4+OM1.

pianisticchef 28th March 2020 02:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hbphotoav (Post 14616507)
If there is a way to order both, and return the pair you don't prefer, a several-session trial would likely lead to YOUR best choice. Otherwise, opinions replace data and experience. In my case, I was able to compare the Rode NT4 (cardioid capsules) to a Sennheiser MKH8040 pair, a pair of AT4041, and my older Sony C55FET pair. The Senny pair was my choice, though I still have the Sony, AT and Rode products (which each have their uses).

Unless you have a trusted "guru" close, who can speak in to your situation and share samples, testing mics on your own sources and through your own chain(s) is the only truly definitive path. Rich Mays, "Sonare" to the Old Timers here, was mine... He suggested the MKH (which he used, and from which I heard samples) for a series of similar large choral events I was doing for several years...

My opinion of preference of the KSM141s in the situation you presented was based on my usual situation of short setup/strike times, and having omni/card capability readily at hand "on the fly" from a mic clearly a solid "good" choice. As usual, you pays your money, and takes your chances... both of which (in your original presentation) are "good".

As usual... this is one old guy's opinion, and worth every farthing paid! Cheers, and post up some files!

HB

You are absolutely right. I wish I knew such a person close-by. When I shopped for stereo system some 10 years ago, I went back-and-forth for more than 20 times between the stores and my place to bring different speakers, amplifiers, DACs, and cables home to compare the sound. However, shopping online is a different story... (as no nearby store carries recording gears.)

studer58 28th March 2020 04:32 AM

Without Rode ever saying much about their NT-45 O Omni capsule's intended uses (this is the one you can screw onto the NT5, NT6 and NT55 bodies, to replace the cardioid capsule)....if you check out the frequency response plot you'll see a pronounced 'brightness bump' engineered in at around 8-12k, of about 6-8dB from memory.

This puts it in the same camp as the Neumann KM183 and similar caps from Schoeps, designed to be used in the diffuse field, rather than the near field. Simply put, it is designed to 'put back' some of the HF detail that would be lost to a mic used further back in a hall, where air friction comes into play to reduce this part of the frequency spectrum.

So, if used outside of this performance parameter, that is...relatively up close, the mic could give a sense of being brighter than reality (or not, depending on your listening taste)

A way around this is to turn the mic 90* so it's not facing the source on axis, as this can attenuate the HF quite nicely. Or else use a flat response near field Omni instead, like the Line Audio OM1

pianisticchef 28th March 2020 04:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ithinknot (Post 14616432)
Obviously, the frequency response is what it is regardless of 'musical' register, so while an extremely bright mic would be most noticeably grating in the right hand, it would also be bringing out the upper partials of the left... so the answer is Either Good or Bad, Depending on Placement.

Frankly, in this price range any of these are capable of good results. I would second the recommendation for Line Audio CM3 (and OM1). For domestic/small space use, their smooth and neutral character would be particularly welcome. Without serious acoustic treatment, your room will be the ultimate limitation on quality in any case.

Focusrite Scarlett is solid. Get one good stand (K&M) and respectably non-budget cables - these will both save various frustrations - and a stereo bar for setting up ORTF, NOS etc. Also, shockmounts. Rycote INV-7 for Rode or Shure, or the optional ones suggested alongside the (significantly shorter) Line Audios if you go down that route.

I see. Thanks.

CM4/OM1 does not seem fit Rycote INV-7, right?

Besides Focusrite Scarlett, how do you like Zoom Livetrak L-8? Any other interface product I should consider?

pianisticchef 28th March 2020 05:14 AM

Thanks for your inputs.

Have you tried both Shure KSM141 and Line Audio CM4/OM1 before? (The price of a pair of CM4+OM1 is pretty close to a pair of KSM141 on ebay.)

A gentle bump around 7500Hz on KSM141's frequency response plot, while CM4/OM1 seems flatter. For classical piano, is the flatter the better?

James Lehmann 28th March 2020 09:54 AM

Reading through your general requirements, my sense is that if you got yourself a pair of Line Audio CM4s you would end up using them 90% of the time.

They're wonderfully neutral and a bit wider than a conventional cardioid - there's a reason so many of us here have a pair for classical recording, not to mention the very affordable cost.

I would suggest adding a good stereo bar to your shopping list so you can set up your CM4 rig quickly and repeatably.

edva 28th March 2020 01:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pianisticchef (Post 14617201)
Thanks for your inputs.

Have you tried both Shure KSM141 and Line Audio CM4/OM1 before? (The price of a pair of CM4+OM1 is pretty close to a pair of KSM141 on ebay.)

A gentle bump around 7500Hz on KSM141's frequency response plot, while CM4/OM1 seems flatter. For classical piano, is the flatter the better?

I have no experience with any Line Audio products.
But I have mic'd many grand pianos with KSM141 (and other mics), and the 141's do an excellent job, not just in my opinion, but also almost unanimously in the opinions of the pianists and clients involved.
There are "better" mics of course, if the budget allows.
And, beyond just the mics, many other factors come into play which have a tremendous effect on the resulting recording. Player, instrument, room, positioning, etc. etc.

As to frequency response plots, while they are useful, they do not convey the complete story of the sound of a mic, just one aspect of it. Many mics with similar response plots sound very differently from each other.

Good luck in your quest.

hbphotoav 28th March 2020 06:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pianisticchef (Post 14617022)
You are absolutely right. I wish I knew such a person close-by. When I shopped for stereo system some 10 years ago, I went back-and-forth for more than 20 times between the stores and my place to bring different speakers, amplifiers, DACs, and cables home to compare the sound. However, shopping online is a different story... (as no nearby store carries recording gears.)

Several companies I've used... Full Compass for NT4, BSW (Broadcast Supply Worldwide) for MKH8040, Sweetwater Sound for DPA, Shure, Sennheiser, K&M, and other products... will allow for return of products you do not like or cannot use. Relying solely on opinions will get you only so far... and can lead to "analysis paralysis". Any of the mics we've discussed can be effectively used in a situation like yours. You will find, if you test them all in your situation, that you PREFER some and not others. Only you can make that call. So... make the call, order a pair (or two) and an interface, and get some first-hand experience and knowledge.

One old guy's opinion, of course... cooge

HB

didier.brest 28th March 2020 10:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hbphotoav (Post 14618133)
Full Compass for NT4, BSW (Broadcast Supply Worldwide) for MKH8040, Sweetwater Sound for DPA, Shure, Sennheiser, K&M, and other products... will allow for return of products you do not like or cannot use.

Do they sell these returned products as new ones (same price, no return mention) or as returned products at reduced prices (like B stock products at Thomann) ?

hbphotoav 29th March 2020 01:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by didier.brest (Post 14618685)
Do they sell these returned products as new ones (same price, no return mention) or as returned products at reduced prices (like B stock products at Thomann) ?

That I do not know... not sure it makes a difference to the end user. A call to a Sweetwater sales rep could be informative for those who do care. I would guess that the advice would be to clients in USA for the entities I mentioned, regardless.

I do not work for Sweetwater, but I do have a sales rep there. Asking the question at the time of ordering would be... wise.

pianisticchef 1st April 2020 04:44 AM

Thanks for your reply.

Neither Sweetwater nor B&H carries Line Audio CM4/OM1 (otherwise I could buy both CM4/OM1 and KSM141 to compare and then return one of them), but I will give Sweetwater a call anyway. (I called B&H couple weeks ago before starting this thread, but they didn't seem to have experience in classical piano recording.)

Now my struggling is whether to raise my budget for a better audio interface with a better pre-amp? Some reviews of Focusrite Scarlett make me hesitate...

I assume an audio interface + mixing software in computer work the same as a mixer, right? Any cons and pros?

edva 1st April 2020 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pianisticchef (Post 14625740)
I assume an audio interface + mixing software in computer work the same as a mixer, right? Any cons and pros?

Yes and no. The tactile experience of using a physical mixer is difficult to replicate, especially on a modest budget.
However, if you have never used a real mixer (although small ones are very easy to learn), AND you are very comfortable mousing around in software, then in such a case you may be more at ease working without a mixer.
What might work well for you would be a small mixer which provides audio interface capabilities. There are several on the market.
here is just one example among many: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Z4KG73J...osi&th=1&psc=1
Good luck.

hbphotoav 1st April 2020 05:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pianisticchef (Post 14625740)
Thanks for your reply.

Neither Sweetwater nor B&H carries Line Audio CM4/OM1 (otherwise I could buy both CM4/OM1 and KSM141 to compare and then return one of them), but I will give Sweetwater a call anyway. (I called B&H couple weeks ago before starting this thread, but they didn't seem to have experience in classical piano recording.)

Now my struggling is whether to raise my budget for a better audio interface with a better pre-amp? Some reviews of Focusrite Scarlett make me hesitate...

I assume an audio interface + mixing software in computer work the same as a mixer, right? Any cons and pros?

The important thing is to weigh choices, and decide, order, and then to learn the craft on the tools you have in hand. I recorded and mixed my first church choral project (as a "serious hobbyist") in 1979 on a Teac reel machine, with Primo onmidirectional mics, through a Peavey PA mixer. It was far from "perfect", but was good enough to get a second project two years later... my first multitrack project... adding stereo orchestra to stereo choir/organ tracks recorded a week earlier, and mixing. My current project (the second of three solo piano CDs for a local Steinway Artist) was recorded to a Sound Devices MixPre 6 and is being edited "ITB" in Logic Pro X, and mastered by a good friend in the biz. It sounds way better, on every level.

My bottom line advice for you would be to get the FocusRite that has the I/O you think you'll need and a pair of CM4 and/or OM2 (I truly wish I'd had that option on my first project... the Sony C55FET cardioids I bought for the second go'round in '81 were $600... that was three weeks' "day job" pay back then... and I still have them, and occasionally use them).

Don't scrimp on support (stands, headphones, cables, nearfield monitors)... that stuff will be around for a long time. Buy well, buy once. If you can't get a nice recording on the above, it's not the nuances. When you can, the nuances will begin to matter.

One old guy's opinion, and worth every penny paid.

Go forth, and record. And... stay in touch.

HB

Deleted 141eef3 1st April 2020 09:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pianisticchef (Post 14625740)
Neither Sweetwater nor B&H carries Line Audio CM4/OM1

Line Audio mics, while made in Sweden, are distributed worldwide by Jean-Pol "JP" Gerard whose company, No Hype Audio, is based in Belgium, if memory serves. He is very responsive and helpful, and will certainly be able to answer questions. I think probably everyone here who uses the Line Audio mics (myself included) has had a good experience dealing with him.

www.nohypeaudio.com