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Singer playing piano: fig 8 or supercard?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Singer playing piano: fig 8 or supercard?

Session In a church, not studio. Recording session, not live. Singer is a tenor. This is a particular combination I have had only one shot at before; put a ribbon on the singer (null aimed at hammers) and a Decca tail pair on the piano. Was OK - no back lobe on supercard be better? I have an RE15 I was planning to use, then started wondering if the ribbon would be better. Can't remember if I flipped phase on tail pair to be in phase with 8's back lobe. If you've used this combo, what did you do?

Your experiences?

The music will be Jewish liturgical music; so sort of between pop song and classical song style.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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Yannick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
In my experience fig8 as you describe. The null of a fig8 is the widest, and a grand piano is big, so…

I successfully recorded piano and spoken word, which is much softer than singing, so you might get away with another mic, if the voice is powerful enough.

Why only a tail pair and no real main pickup from the correct side of the piano ?
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
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There are some of us who would say that a tail pair IS the correct side of a piano pick up.

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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🎧 15 years
I’m sorry, but I studied the instrument for about 25 years, recorded maybe one hundred piano cds with not the slightest pianists, ranging from 1745 pianoforte to modern concert grands and everything in between, and I NEVER used a tail pair as main mic.

I can safely vouch for the fact that a piano, whichever century it was built, was nog designed to sound correct in that direction.

The “decca” method some adhere to was augmented by a tail pair, and surely not exclusively that. Unless they must be those awful recordings I could never force myself listening to.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 5 years
i'd use all cardioids (not hyper, super or wide cardioid), those inside the piano facing away from the singer: nothing beats rear attenuation...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 1 week ago at 04:46 PM.. Reason: wording
Old 1 week ago
  #6
So far, one vote each for supercard and 8 - hopefully more will weigh in, thanks.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #7
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
So far, one vote each for supercard and 8 - hopefully more will weigh in, thanks.
Less likely if those are the only two choices.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
More, in the sense of folks who have recorded singer playing piano a number of times and especially if they've tried both patterns; what they thought of the result. Not more in the sense of more polar patterns - one wouldn't put an omni on the singer in this situation (!?)
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Yannick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Just listen to the vocal mic in solo and limit the amount of piano bleed, paying attention to the quality of the bleed as well. Keep in mind the eq and compression the vocal might take during mix. Make sure to check the main mics as well, they should have a clear lack of vocal.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
More, in the sense of folks who have recorded singer playing piano a number of times and especially if they've tried both patterns; what they thought of the result. Not more in the sense of more polar patterns - one wouldn't put an omni on the singer in this situation (!?)
I don't like a hyper/super/narrow cardioid on a singing piano player because it's so easy to hear them moving around. Acceptable for a show, usually, but not in a recording.

I wouldn't use a fig. 8 because turning the singer up would mean turning the piano up, too.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
RE15 has far less off axis coloration than most directional mics. The singer is a Cantor; very much NOT a flailing pop singer.

This will be a straight to 2-track session; very much classical-style, so EQ and compression will not be involved.

I was really hoping to hear from people with actual experiences/results of recording singers at the piano. Was especially curious how much piano would picked up by fig 8 if it's null was aimed at the hammers. There won't be a lot of time for trying out both, so was hoping to hear from someone who's tried this.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
This will be a straight to 2-track session; very much classical-style, so EQ and compression will not be involved.

I was really hoping to hear from people with actual experiences/results of recording singers at the piano. Was especially curious how much piano would picked up by fig 8 if it's null was aimed at the keys. There won't be a lot of time for trying out both, so was hoping to hear from someone who's tried this.
why do you assume we haven't been doing this? is it because we come to different conclusions/don't align with what you suggested?

anyway, if there isn't any processing involved (which imo is pointless) then you might as well use omnis, fig8's and whatnot and embrace bleed!

i hope you've got at least a delay to align piano and vocal mics though; not that this necessarily yields better results but it's certainly worth a try... - good luck!
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #13
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick ➡️
I’m sorry, but I studied the instrument for about 25 years, recorded maybe one hundred piano cds with not the slightest pianists, ranging from 1745 pianoforte to modern concert grands and everything in between, and I NEVER used a tail pair as main mic.

I can safely vouch for the fact that a piano, whichever century it was built, was nog designed to sound correct in that direction.
Never liked the tail end sound either. Maybe it gained in popularity in the early digital days to numb the HF nasties from early A/D. The harmonic richness that comes out the front of the piano and not out the tail cannot be ignored.

Last edited by David Spearritt; 1 week ago at 11:38 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
I think you're over-theorizing yourself straight to hell, personally. And I highly doubt you're going to find anyone on GS who thought, "now there's two road-to-ruin ideas, but I'm going to try them anyway." You'll either get people who have actually done this stuff using the tried and true, or you'll get posts from people who have never done anything.

Just put up two LDCs on the piano and a cardioid whatever on the vocal, make it red, git 'er done.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
I must say I don't understand the mildly hostile responses here, to a very simple question: Have you tried both patterns in this situation, and what did you like/not like about each? Where was I theorizing myself to death? Maybe I didn't state my original question clearly enough.

I most definitely didn't want a flame war about the Decca tail pair - I'm sure that's been debated extensively on other threads already. My original post was only about the vocal mic, not how i should go about making this recording. This will be primarily a soprano/piano session of which I've made dozens. The only wrinkle is that on a few pieces, the pianist will also be singing. Since he will be further from the mains that the soprano, he'll need to be brought 'closer' with a bit of spot. As I mentioned, this is only the second time I've mic'd a pianist who was singing, so wasn't sure which pattern would be capable of less bleed from the piano - in theory, a case could be made for both (as has already been done). So was hoping for a bit of consensus from actual use.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
This will be primarily a soprano/piano session of which I've made dozens. The only wrinkle is that on a few pieces, the pianist will also be singing. Since he will be further from the mains that the soprano, he'll need to be brought 'closer' with a bit of spot.
That's entirely different from the scenario outlined in your first post. I'll bow out now. Best of luck.

Last edited by Brent Hahn; 1 week ago at 07:29 AM..
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
[. . .] hoping for a bit of consensus from actual use.
I mostly disfavor dynamic mics - including most ribbons. My AEA A440 is an exquisite exception. But the piano is too big and there is too much bleed over the vocal. I would not be satisfied with any phase cancellation scheme.

For the vocal, I prefer my Heiserman H47Tube in cardioid - still significant bleed from the piano; but a nicer bleed, balance, and a great tone. Seeing as you likely don’t have something similar, I would drop back to my Sennheiser 441 - not too terribly far from your RE15 when viewed from a distant star. . .but I wouldn’t like it. Do you have access to a deeper mic locker? A friend to borrow from?

BTW, I thought you got good advice here from people who really know their stuff. Maybe take a deep breath and reconsider their comments.


Best wishes on your gig - sounds like fun!

Ray H.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
So more votes for card - thanks all for your input.

Apologies if I came off ungrateful, but consider this:
12 responses and only 4 actual opinions on the original question which is right there in the thread title.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Yannick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Go for the card if you want really close mic, with a pop filter, otherwise there just is not enough distance between the piano and the singer.

Go for the fig8 if you want max separation, hang it slightly above and in front of the singer, with the null (which is wider than a hypercard), aiming towards the strings. Precise aiming to the vocalist and the null to the piano is material !

As I wrote, I have succesfully recorded spoken word and Steinway D, with considerable separation.

Use the hypercard for anything in between.
With the card you can probably get the same amount of separation, if not more, but you will have to mic the singer at a couple of inches instead of 40-50 cm.

Anyway, just try it, we cannot possibly know the voice of the pianist, the hall and the piano, nor your mic skills …
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Thanks for that - I'd prefer not mic real close, so the 8 may be the way to go. I expect this mic to be very low in the mix, so any piano bleed into it will be way down.

The RE15 I mentioned is not a hypercardioid, it's a supercardioid; and it's rear lobe is very small - almost between card and supercard. I was considering it because unlike the majority of directional mics, it's off-axis response is very flat, so any piano leaking into it would be very uncolored. But, of course bleed into the back of an 8 would be even less so.

Thanks again for weighing in.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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🎧 10 years
MKH 30/30 pair on the vocalist
Adjust distance to balance Vox to Piano.....
Old 1 week ago
  #22
I'm sure they'd be lovely, but pockets not that deep; and gig is paying peanuts. ; - )
Old 1 week ago
  #23
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I would not use a fig 8 for that application. Nor would I use a dynamic mic for any classical application other than occasional percussion spots.
Set up a main pair 6-10 ft out from the curve of the piano, and spot the vocal with a nice sdc - I usually use a mk4 on females, and km184 on males.
Old 1 week ago
  #24
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You seem to have made up your mind somewhat and are you looking for folks here to TU your choice? Probably not a good place to look for that here.

I vote for any good cardioid. The RE15 is not a "good" (super)cardioid but if that's all you have. . . .

Schoeps Mk4, Sennheiser MKH40, U87, AKG 414, Gefell m930 or UM70S, other LDC Neumann. The list is endless.

No need for a Supercardioid. Not really great up close for singers (IMO) and there is that nasty rear lobe pointed right at the innards of the piano you are trying to attenuate.

Oh, and I have recorded some flailing classical voices (and we haven't heard your Cantor so we can't judge yet) and some top shelf rock vocalists if that helps the conversation.

D.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yannick ➡️

The “decca” method some adhere to was augmented by a tail pair, and surely not exclusively that.
This is true but I have some experience with mic'ing a piano in a bunch of different ways and Decca tail sounds really good in some situations. Maybe not this one however.

D.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
Haven't made up my mind about anything - I was just explaining that the RE15 is very unique in how flat it's off axis response is.

Very interesting - so far the vote is almost 50/50 for a fig 8 in this situation.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
But, of course bleed into the back of an 8 would be even less so.
I expect with your experience you do understand that the back of a figure 8 mic is exactly as sensitive as the front. The null is at 90 degrees in all directions. If the front of the figure 8 mic is pointed at the singer’s mouth, where is the back pointed in your setup?
Old 1 week ago
  #28
The only thing that would make sense is to have it a bit above the singer, pointing down, with the 90 degree null aimed at the area around the hammers, as already described by Yannick.

Which gets back to my original question: which has more bleed from the piano - a card with it's back to the piano, or a fig8 positioned as described?
Old 1 week ago
  #29
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🎧 10 years
Lid up, lid down, short stick ? The main problem with any of the 'lowered lid' scenarios is the resultant honky, quacky piano sound....but maybe that's secondary to the vocal anyway ?

If you're miking under the lid/lid down... and you like that sound (or can make it realistic) this might give you the bias in favour of voice over piano ?

You might also try putting a cardioid mic above the lid (at whatever height) aimed at their mouth, using the lid as a baffle to attenuate the piano.

Either way there's going to be leakage (likely more one way than the other) so you might as well embrace it....maybe an 8" spaced pair of omnis or fig 8's at the music stand frame and rely on the voice proximity to predominate (the hammers don't generate the piano string sound anyway....argue that one if you will )

Here's a sample video, clearly not mimed or filmed to playback...and not even worried about drum leakage (the lid's down though): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B8_xkuGbPhY

Last edited by studer58; 1 week ago at 07:37 AM..
Old 1 week ago
  #30
I expect the lid to be fully open, as the classically-trained soprano who is the main focus of the recording (the pianist will only be joining her in a few of the pcs) is used to that. Plus, the music being recorded was originally written for orch accompaniment, so a large sound from the piano will be wanted.

Whether card or fig 8, a placement somewhat behind the lid, as you suggest, would also keep more of the soprano out of the pianist's mic.
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