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Need advice: Omnis for richer piano sound in resonant church?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Need advice: Omnis for richer piano sound in resonant church?

Hi,

I am recording a weekly concert series in a resonant church. It's all solo piano and the instrument is a beautifully colorful and rich (although bright) Grotrian-Steinweg concert grand. It sounds wonderful in the space, but so far the recordings have sounded clinical, brittle and sound unlike the qualities of the instrument and the space.

My setup is as follows:

-2 MBHO 603 small diaphragm condensers with KA 200 cardioid capsules in ORTF about 6 feet high and four feet back in the curve of the piano. Walking around the instrument, that was a sweet spot.
-Recorded into a MixPre 6m

Perhaps I can experiment and optimize the placement (I'm open to ideas), but in your esteemed opinions would I be better off looking for a pair of omnis? If so, what are your recommendations? My budget would be around a thousand for a pair. Thanks!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Perhaps your mics aren't "hearing" enough of the room.

Maybe omnis in a Jecklin Disk or omnis in Decca Tail configuration might take some of the brittleness out of your sound.

D.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
A pair of sE8 (with omni caps) or Line Audio OM-1 or Rode NT5 (with NT45-O omni capsules) will all be contenders in your price range. Decca Tail placement, or indeed anywhere in an arc from that location to where you're currently using your ORTF pair should give a more convincing picture of the piano in its space....in a more flattering and pleasing way than ORTF.

However, you maybe haven't experimented sufficiently with placement thus far....try moving further back from the piano to see if it retains sufficient detail while pulling in more blend with the space's acoustic.

Last edited by studer58; 2 weeks ago at 05:06 AM..
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #4
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
before you swap mics, try going much closer: put them inside the piano in an a/b setting, about a feet from the hammers, a few inches to a feet above the strings - here are two pics from an amplified situation/broadcast from a church: two schoeps mk21's though plus a tlm170 on low strings (not pictured) further down the steinway d...
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Last edited by deedeeyeah; 2 weeks ago at 04:36 PM.. Reason: info added
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Is this church situated on the Equator ?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Addict
 
Only omni mains will reproduce a piano accurately. I would never use cardioids as the only mics on solo piano - only if omnis can't work because of troublesome acoustics. Piano requires mics that are flat to the lowest frequencies at any distance; only omnis can get you there.

The Decca tail position usually prevents brittleness in the sound.

If the room is a bit over-reflective, APEs on the omnis can help.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
I'll second moving the mics more towards the tail, and possibly up higher. I have the MBHO 603/200s and those are solid mics.

If you can't get the sound you're looking for with cardiods (rather likely) the next step for me would be the KA100 linear omni capsules- that will keep your budget, and get you a very usable omni. I've switched them for Schoeps mk2s on a session with no problems at all (as flanks on a baroque orchestra. not within the same piece)
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #8
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
in a room with an overly long reverberation, it is advantageous to change the relationship between direct sound, early reflections and room sound by a) using microphones with a higher directivity and b) positioning them closer to the sound source. and c) the low-frequency sound component changes due to the proximity effect which counteracts the too bright sound image (to some extent).

by contrast, positioning a pair of spaced omnis towards the tail will dampen the hf but in a large room (as in this case) won't help keeping ambient sound/reverb under control; and compared to a higher or closer mic position, one also risks a rather dull sound with a poor stereo image.

if it's only about hf attenuation, using a filter will do the trick!

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 2 weeks ago at 10:46 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
Here for the gear
 
Thank you all for the input. I will try each of these out. I am a fan of the Decca sound (particularly the 1970s-80s Lupu recordings) so I am eager to try the tail pair with my current mics (and the Line Audio OM1s which I just ordered in order to experiment). Maybe I'll upload some samples to get your prospective. Studer, I found an old post in which you used the OM1s as tail pair. Sounds great and I think it may be very effective in this situation with the issues at hand.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattG1987 ➡️
Thank you all for the input. I will try each of these out. I am a fan of the Decca sound (particularly the 1970s-80s Lupu recordings) so I am eager to try the tail pair with my current mics (and the Line Audio OM1s which I just ordered in order to experiment). Maybe I'll upload some samples to get your prospective. Studer, I found an old post in which you used the OM1s as tail pair. Sounds great and I think it may be very effective in this situation with the issues at hand.
If you don't already have it 'the Decca Book' mentioned and praised much in another thread in the Remote Possibilities forum here, by John Dunkerley et al, is an essential purchase a along with your new mics...even if all you record is piano !
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
As much as I am a fan of omnis... try taking your existing microphone pair to a rehearsal and pulling them back progressively and listening to the sound as you pull them back.
--scott
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #12
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
If you don't already have it 'the Decca Book' mentioned and praised much in another thread in the Remote Possibilities forum here, by John Dunkerley et al, is an essential purchase a along with your new mics...even if all you record is piano !
I have it! An amazing book.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattG1987 ➡️
I have it! An amazing book.
....cardioid mics don't rate very highly at all there, in relation to piano.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
The difference between omnis and cardioids with grand pianos is huge, only omnis reproduce it correctly timbrically speaking. Wether the direct/reverberant ratio is optimal or not is another matter.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Poll: How many people would spot a piano with 4015 as readily as omnis? I tried them last week and thought they were pretty great. Though I did put a 170 on the bass strings too.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Gotta say, 4015s are on my "hot list". I really like the Schoeps Mk21s on a lot of things. The DPAs? I'd love a good listen.

I even like subcards as main pair in (actually) a lot of situations.

I would happily trade a pair of matched 4011 for a pair of 4015s. Any takers?

Also would jump on a pair of AK43 heads for my KM100 amps.

D.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #17
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
....cardioid mics don't rate very highly at all there, in relation to piano.
A lot of this is because when Decca was working up those methods, there really weren't any good cardioid microphones. The methods in the book were entirely developed by trial and error using the equipment that was available at the time. As such, the book is very useful, but we have a much wider variety of available microphones today and the book should not be taken as absolute gospel and a directory of perfect methods.
--scott
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Addict
 
KM84 was not a good cardioid microphone? What was it's failing? Had much less tip up at the top than most, and unusually even response from all angles, which is what made it so useful as an orchestral spot.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #19
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
KM84 was not a good cardioid microphone? What was it's failing? Had much less tip up at the top than most, and unusually even response from all angles, which is what made it so useful as an orchestral spot.
the best thing about the km-84 (beside its size) was its relatively flat frequency response but in terms of sensitivity, output, self noise, max. spl, it wasn't a winner.

over here, we tried avoiding them unless we ran out of other mics or a tv producer insisted on minimal visual footprint; otherwise, we almost exclusively used tube ldc's for everything and anything until the late 80's/early 90's, a practice which was in stark contrast to most privately owned (small) studios for many of which a pair of km-84's embodied all their pride and were by far the most expensive microphones in their modest collection.


___


kinda funny that these days so many folks seem to rave about approaches, techniques and gear from days past...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 2 weeks ago at 11:40 AM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I’d spot mic the piano closer - what dee dee suggested. Then add your Omni room mics.

The “body” of the sound is available closer.

There’s no “right way” to mic a piano, I’ve been doing it for years and have had great results with many odd combos of mics and placements. Two things I’ve discovered over the years is what I refer to as “utility” mic placements - usually either under the piano (towards the tail and away from the pedals) or miking one of the holes - these mics always sound neutral and solid and can be mixed in nicely with the main mics. SDC for the hole and LDC for under the piano.

Another trick is a boundary (or two) mic taped to the inside of the lid - I’ve never tried that one, but I’ve seen it recommended.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #21
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
Another trick is a boundary (or two) mic taped to the inside of the lid - I’ve never tried that one, but I’ve seen it recommended.
a word of caution: i've seen the lacquer coming off the lid when removing the tape/mics...

...which resulted in an exhausting, lengthy and costly legal dispute between the venue which owned the grand piano, the promoter, me as the guest tech, the band's touring tech who suggested to use this approach and who taped the mics to the lid, and all of our insurance companies (plus me getting banned from working in this venue for years to come)!

as an 'investigation' found out, the lacquer was obviously damaged on a previous 'event' and this was in the 90's, so in the days of still mostly analog lights which were heating up the lid and meltingtglueing the bad tape to the lid.

(the piano was a steinway d, the band was jan garbarek's touring band, the pianist was rainer brüninghaus to whom i omitted to mention the unhappy story though - not sure the band's touring tech ever did: maybe so and i could imagine that this had upset the artist; at least the next time around, there was another tech?!)


___


anyway, i've been using directional mics inside the piano for pianists from all genre, from mccoy tyner to alfred brendel: you want to tweak signals whether its for amplified situations in jazz or unamplified situations in classical music but for me, the benefits by far outweight the shortcomings - i admit that i mostly add a third mic (and some more mics, depending on situation) with a steep lpf for lfe.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Gear Addict
 
I trick I learned long ago, was removing the actual mic unit from the metal PZM plate, and mounting that with painter's tape. The greatly reduced weight requires less tape and less-sticky tape. Never had one come loose, or damage a lid's finish.

I've long since switched to a DIY version of the Earthworks PM40 system for any time mics inside the piano are called for (jazz, folk, ethnic - never classical). Have never had a desire for mics on the lid since. Even sounds great with the lid closed.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #23
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
KM84 was not a good cardioid microphone? What was it's failing? Had much less tip up at the top than most, and unusually even response from all angles, which is what made it so useful as an orchestral spot.
The KM84 didn't come out until 1966 and took some time after that to actually get popular.
--scott
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #24
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
The KM84 didn't come out until 1966 and took some time after that to actually get popular.
--scott
Right, but before that the directionals Decca was employing were KM64, KM56, M49, hardly slouches by modern standards!
Old 1 week ago
  #25
Gear Addict
 
I just found it interesting that Decca kept using the 84 (for spots) long after newer models came out.

As technically knowledgeable as the Decca engineers were, it would surprise me they would use it for orchestral spots if it had limited SPL ability. All the other 'shortcomings' mentioned would be irrelevant for spot use.
Old 1 week ago
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
PuebloAudio's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
For classical piano, alone, I have never been content with cardioids. Their phase shifts from 400Hz and below leave the lower half of the keyboard unresolved and adrift to my ears. Quality omni’s are fully resolved down to the “basement” and render a richer, more full-bodied instrument.

My mic of choice is the 4003. Many would report that those mics sound clinical. They would be tangentially correct. These are 130V, high voltage mics which require a special power supply. The stock power supply+preamp combo unit is actually the hindering, clinical sounding component. The mics themselves are gorgeous, I designed and built bespoke preamps for these mics and they now can rival even M50’s. For solo piano, the 4003 can be used at “classical distances” and also work fantastically up-close with the help of APIs.

When the acoustic is overly noisy or reverberant, even for close omnis, my next choice are 4038 ribbons. Being more directional than cardiods, readers might remark there would be even more phase shift than with cardioids. Yes. Even so, the confluence of the 4038’s transfer characteristics transduce a quality that somehow sounds like “piano music for piano lovers”. Blumlein or phase array techniques in this instance.

Last edited by PuebloAudio; 1 week ago at 10:34 PM.. Reason: Grammar
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #27
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
I just found it interesting that Decca kept using the 84 (for spots) long after newer models came out.

As technically knowledgeable as the Decca engineers were, it would surprise me they would use it for orchestral spots if it had limited SPL ability. All the other 'shortcomings' mentioned would be irrelevant for spot use.
self-noise imo has always been relevant (and even more so in the days of tape)...

...but from reading the new decca bible, i acknowledge that they didn't ever use that many spots anyhow so they may not have bothered much and/or put mostly flat fr and typical off-axis behaviour of sdc's above noise.
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