Concert Advice - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 29th, 2011, 09:32 PM   #16
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,359
Re: Concert Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
I can imagine using H4N for the piano and using the board's feed from the singer's dynamic mic.
That actually sounds like a reasonable starting point. And letting the performer and SM listen to playback will guide the final "tweaks" on everything. Good playback speakers will be important.

The H4n mics should get a realistic image of the piano. Start with the recorder up on a stand, high enough to look down into the piano when the lid is partially open. (Again, you want to be at the curved side of the piano; start perhaps 5' or 6' away. The piano and lid are designed so sound will project out from that side... that's the side that always faces the audience.) Depending on the style of music, the artists might want it miced closer or farther away... let them guide you.

If you can get a feed from the singer's usual mic, that's also a good starting point, because it will get you the same vocal quality that the singer and SM are accustomed to. Hopefully it is a reasonable quality mic. Some singers are very picky and spend big bucks; others just use an SM58... keep your fingers crossed on this issue.

(Again, if by "table mic" you mean a desk stand, don't try putting that on the piano unless it has the world's greatest suspension, or it will pick up all sorts of thumps, vibrations, etc.)

Sounds as if you actually have a reasonable starting point, so give it a shot and see if you can make everyone happy!
Greg Miller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 29th, 2011, 11:28 PM   #17
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Re: Concert Advice

Can't argue with anything you've said in the last two posts. You're undoubtedly correct and I still have a lot to learn.
__________________
"It can only be attributable to human error... This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 29th, 2011, 11:38 PM   #18
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 1,555
Re: Concert Advice

The table mic was a mistake, I was just listing the different types of mics I own.
Pete Cofrancesco is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 29th, 2011, 11:40 PM   #19
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,359
Re: Concert Advice

Adam, I thought about this before, and was going to try to include it, but didn't want to muddy the waters. (Uh oh, there's another aquatic analogy.) ;)

I wonder if photographers and audiographers think differently. I was quite interested in still photography as a hobby, from about age 12 to 32, so I have a small bit of hobby-level experience in that field. That does not at all make me a real photographer.

Most photographers are constrained to a medium which is displayed flat. (I will try to avoid talking about "dimensions" here because that might lead to more philosophical confusion.) When you take a photo, you see each object through a single lens, so each object loses its depth and essentially becomes a plane. When you compose the photo, you actually compose a number of planes stacked in front of one another. You're concerned with depth primarily as regards depth of field. But even if you shoot wide open, with very shallow depth of field, the result gets translated into more or less sharp parts of a plane image.

Stereophonic sound changed the audio world from a flat one to one with depth, starting over 50 years ago. So I think -- and listen -- in terms of three-dimensional sound. I suspect many "sound people" do the same, although with some variations. (Dialog recordists and editors are thinking of a single depthless track. Qualities like presence and reverberation can impart a sense of distance but that's not the same as depth.)

Anyway, I may be all wet (oh no, more aquatic analogies) but this idea occurred to me when you said that a piano was heard as a single source. You were overlooking the concept of depth. Do you think that might be related to the fact that your medium usually resolves itself into images that are in a single plane?

(By the way, your analogy reminded me of a comment I used to make about one of my former employers. I often said, "The only difference between this place and the Titanic, is that the Titanic had a band.")

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts, and Carry On!
Greg Miller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 29th, 2011, 11:50 PM   #20
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Re: Concert Advice

That's actually a really great analogy and analysis. Could well be coloring our differing perceptions. My father-in-law is actually a composer/conductor who owns a sound studio and we've had lengthy discussions about the nature of sound and how it differs from pictures.

None of this helps Pete, of course, but it is pretty interesting.
__________________
"It can only be attributable to human error... This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2011, 01:33 AM   #21
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,290
Re: Concert Advice

You might also check with the venue's technical director/guy, I recorded a concert a few weeks ago and the house had some beautiful cardiod mics hanging from the ceiling. I just plugged my tascam in to the wall XLR jacks and got great sound. If you go that route, find out if the mics are powered, if they are, then you of course can turn off your 48v. But, nonetheless, on the day of the actual recording, MAKE SURE the power is on! That's what happened to me, the technical director forgot to turn the juice on. If I hadn't caught that, I would have been completely screwed.

For me, and I think for you, the best advice in this thread is to pick a set up and let the manager and performer sign off on the sound sample. From that point on, you're covered. Just do it exactly like you did in the rehearsal.
Brian Luce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2011, 01:55 AM   #22
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,290
Re: Concert Advice

I can't speak for Adam, but I don't think too many of us that toil in creating one type of visual image or another, think of it as working in 2-D space. It's the opposite for me, one of my primary considerations in creating a frame is the illusion of 3 dimensions.

Btw, some great info in this thread. Thanks!
Brian Luce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2011, 04:23 AM   #23
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,207
Re: Concert Advice

Let's face it - anyone (except maybe a trained opera singer) trying to be heard over a Beethoven sonata on a 9 foot concert grand is in big trouble no matter where the mic is placed.

On the other hand if the piece is designed to be heard with narration, then the piano will almost certainly "get out of the way" of the narration, ie, the balance between voice and piano will have been thought out ahead of time. And the odds are pretty good that the performer will turn toward the audience while speaking instead of just facing the piano and shouting into the air.

If you record the piano in stereo (which I think you should) then I think it's important that the speaker/singer be pretty much centered which would mean that the stereo pair would have to be aimed more across the piano toward the speaker/singer. There will be piano bleed into the speaker mic and speaker bleed into the piano mic so if you're going to pan the speaker's mic center, then you won't want the speaker bleed into the piano mic stereo image to be much off center.

Honestly speaking, I think for optimum results you should think about recording piano and narrator separately and mixing. If it's a live performance, it will be a compromise whatever you do so be flexible and have a clear idea in your head about whether the voice or the piano is the main subject, and act accordingly.

And good luck

Edit - just occurred to me to add that if you back further away from the piano it will minimize the stereo spread - ie the whole piano will be roughly in the center of the stereo image so much less of a worry re the centering of the performer's mic. For example, if you get 10 or 12 feet away the speaker bleed won't seem all that much off to the left, and the piano would still be easily heard. Maybe not optimal, but could well work out for you.

Last edited by Jim Andrada; April 30th, 2011 at 04:54 AM.
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2011, 05:42 AM   #24
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Re: Concert Advice

Sound on Sound magazine's website has several articles on piano micing in their archives that are a good resource.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2011, 06:08 AM   #25
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,125
Re: Concert Advice

Most of my work is in a theatrical situation, on stage, with an audience. While if I was recording a piano recital, I'd probably go with the pair of mics 5 or 6 feet away (or I'd actually use a single stereo mic that I rather like), there are two problems. However, there are problems when the pianist talks or worse, sings.

Questions. You mention an audience, is there a PA involved, or is the venue small, compact and there's no PA requirement? The snag is that piano's are loud. Especially on half or full stick, and the pianist with any form of omni miking will have considerable piano in it! If the style of music dictates you want an ambient sound, then you have a quandry. You need distance, but distance means lack of clarity when somebody is singing against the piano. A sensible alternative would be to mic the piano with a couple of condensers, and put another on a boom stand for him to sing into. I'd also have a lav on him for when he gets up and wanders. Record the lot and then sort it in the studio. Any attempt to 'tie him down' wouldn't work with the artistes I work for.

The other thing of course is the visual impact impact of mics all over the place. Mounting them at 5 feet away or inside the lid means floor stand and they look grim. It's actually quite possible to mount microphones inside the piano - some have convenient places to stick a small cast base and if it sits on a lump of foam, I've had pretty good results. Rolling of the very LF end helps with the thuds from the pedals.

One thing you could try, and this only works on some pianos (Yamaha C3) being a good example, is to mount the microphone underneath the sound board. It;s easy to do, pass the cable over the wooden strut, bend the microphone back up, around a foot below the board, and tape the mic and cables together, so they support themselves. I use a hypercardioid, and it works amazingly well, and nobody can even see it underneath. This is completely against all the advice you ever see. I didn't invent it, I was recording a German concert pianist, giving a demonstration on Schubert. Yamaha provided the piano, and I started to mic it up. No No says the pianist, I show you how. As I was a lowly recordist and I'd already heard this man rip into somebody else, I decided to do exactly what he said. It was great, and everyone was very happy. However - I tried it on other brands and it produced horrible boxy recordings. It works on the C3 and larger Yamahas. I have no idea why.

Another alternative technique you can use when you have to use the mics inside the piano, close in for visual reasons is to mount large diaphragms pointing UP at the lid. This too works rather well. If you want a more 'acoustic' sound, careful application of artificial reverb can be quite effective.
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2011, 11:11 AM   #26
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,207
Re: Concert Advice

Thanks Paul

You've said well what I was fumbling around thinking about - thank you!

Yes - distance can be your friend - it can also be your enemy - and both at the same time.

One thing I've tried is one or two boundary mic's stuck on the underside of the lid. It can work well when the lid is open, but to my ears less well when the lid is closed (or almost closed.) I have a DPA mic stuck almost permanently under the lid of my wife's Bechstein grand. I've also tried them on the metal frame with somewhat mixed results. Here's the funny part - the boundary mic under the lid sounds OK for jazz or more modern classical, but too crisp for classical classical. I think you get too much of the attack for it to sound great for Mozart or Beethoven or Brahms etc, but for more modern percussive stuff it is fine. But then again, for Bach it can be OK - after all he really wrote for harpsichord or cembalo, etc which have a more inherently "twangy/stringy/attack-ey" sound.

Even with the lid closed or nearly closed, though, if there is a string player involved I've had bleed into the under-lid mic's. Mostly I just use the DPA for a little balancing and rely on the external stereo pair.

(I've also had some success with a mic under the soundboard - and it was my wife's Yamaha grand come to think of it. Not a C3, just a G3, but a rather nice one.)

Damn - every individual piano sounds so different that it's hard to generalize. To say nothing of the fact that each pianist likes to stretch or compress the tuning to suit themselves. My wife is always yelling at the tuners that she wants her pianos tuned to A = 442 Hz, not any wimpy old standard American A = 440 Hz

Too much rambling!

I guess what I really wanted to say is that I think you have to decide if you want to record piano with voice, (or violin or whatever) vs recording voice (or violin or whatever) with piano, vs voice/whatever and piano ensemble. In other words, is the voice the main instrument or is the piano the main instrument or are they sort of equal.

I think from what has been said that if this is modern piano with voice narrative as part of the music, then I'd start from the position that it's an ensemble and I'd start by backing away from the piano further which a) lets everything blend together more, and b) sacrifices both voice and piano to emphasize the ensemble-ness of the whole thing, and c) narrows the stereo image of piano/singer so the stereo image is more about the feeling of the space than about the instrument(s) themselves.

By the way, I think Schoeps has some clips of different recording setups for piano on their website - but again this is all about piano mic'ing, not ensemble.

And we haven't even talked much yet about the effect of the venue on the whole thing.
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2011, 03:47 PM   #27
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,359
Re: Concert Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Luce View Post
I can't speak for Adam, but I don't think too many of us that toil in creating one type of visual image or another, think of it as working in 2-D space. It's the opposite for me, one of my primary considerations in creating a frame is the illusion of 3 dimensions
I don't disagree with that. But the key word there is "illusion." You can't really capture depth, in a reproducable way, with just one lens/camera... at least not from a physics/optics definition. Of course good photographers are good at re-creating the [i]illusion[/u] of depth by using composition, lighting/shadow, depth of field, etc. But someone looking at the end result (be it a paper print, video image, or projection on a screen) will see exactly the same thing whether they look at it with one eye or with two.

Contrast that to stereophonic audio recording, which really can capture the depth and spaciousness of the performing/recording space. A good stereo recording will sound drastically different if you listen with one ear (compared to two) or with the playback system in mono mode (both channels combined) compared to normal stereo playback.

If I look at a photo of a piano, with a singer standing in front of it, and the pianist partly hidden behind the piano, I really see a plane image of the pianist, partly obscured by the plane image of the piano, which is partly obscured by a plane image of the singer. I can't actually see any depth to the singer, piano, or pianist, although a good photographer might re-create the illusion of depth in such a way that, when I look at the flat composite image, my brain "sees" depth to it.

That's a bit different from using a good pair of mics, correctly, to capture a realistic sounding ambience of the performance in some given space. (Of course when playback is in a second room (the performance venue being the first room), over a set of speakers that produce their own idiosyncracies in the sound, maybe the audio recordist is also creating an illusion.)

I'm not suggesting that one way of thinking is better than the other. Perhaps one way is better when thinking about images, perhaps one way is better when thinking about sound. I simply thought it might explain why someone who works mostly with images would initially think of a piano as being just one point source of sound, rather than thinking about all the various aspects of that sound reaching our ears with different time/phase relationships.

After reading the many good suggestions in this thread, it's clear that there are as many ways to record a piano as there are to photograph one. The only common conclusion I can draw, which I feel strongly about, is that the piano should be recorded in stereo... it's too big an instrument, with too big a sound (especially including the sound of the room) to sound right in mono.
Greg Miller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2011, 09:53 PM   #28
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,207
Re: Concert Advice

Well, a bit OT Greg, but you're on to the reason why I hate a stereo mic mounted on camera - as the camera pans the stereo image moves, which might accurately represent how it sounds when you're embedded in the real scene, but will sound just plain bad when you perceive the scene on a small "canvas" (even a 60 inch TV is small relative to the room you see around it, after all) which is fixed in a larger context, which in turn is giving you a lot of visual cues that won't match the audio cues from the recording.
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2nd, 2011, 01:04 AM   #29
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 190
Re: Concert Advice

Short answer to your question...

1. Make sure you have a dedicated microphone for the pianist's vocals. A simple dynamic mic will do.
2. Record the piano. Since the pianist is singing, I assume this is more of a pop aesthetic. In which case, try putting some mics close to or inside the piano.
3. Mix. Three channels is all you need...

YouTube - Chris Merritt - Tiny Bird, Live at Buchanan Hall

YouTube - Chris Merritt - Virginia, Live at Buchanan Hall 8/15/09
Christian Brown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2nd, 2011, 01:40 PM   #30
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Arcata, Ca
Posts: 750
Re: Concert Advice

I just want to throw out there a +1 on NOT recording music on 2 different recorders. PHASE is an issue when blending 2 MUSICAL recordings together. And that is because of the variants of the crystals or whatever they use for a clock. Even with all settings the same, the drift will cause things to sound odd. Not so much if it's just dialogue. I'm starting to think that the OP may just not have the gear needed to do this.

Whatever you do, try it out long before the show on another day. Listen to what you get back at home so there are no surprises.
__________________
My Work: http://www.youtube.com/ChadWork1
Sony FS5 :: Panasonic GH4 :: Sony PMW-EX1 :: FCPx :: AT4053b :: Rode NTG-3,
Chad Johnson is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:52 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network