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Old June 9th, 2016, 12:00 AM   #16
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

OK, as many threads do, the story unfolds, I should have picked up more on "recital". So this is ALL children playing for parents? Is one of the kids yours? At first I had my audio hat on and thought you may be recording this for your church group or a paid gig but did not pick up it is entirely kids. Sorry. You are getting far better audio advise from others than I can offer about recording a piano.

So, I am going to make a comment about lighting. I am not sure where I recently read it, but it was a very good reminder for someone like me that has done this for a while. The jist of the article was that for old hands like me we were trained to over power the ambient light we could not control with our own blasters we could control. With the two cameras you have I would think about "mixing your light" with the ambient light to achieve the subtle effect you desire and not bother the performers.

Sorry, I have not been much use to you in this thread.

Kind Regards,

Steve
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Old June 9th, 2016, 12:55 AM   #17
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

Steven! Youíre okay! What youíve helped with is perfectly alright and very appreciated. Yes, there are some kids but the older ones are taller than many of the adults and very mature. More mature than some adults one sees on the evening news. Actually, at least a couple of the older ones perform for money so technically that makes them professionals even though theyíre in high school or college.

As a disclaimer, none of the kids are mine and I donít know anyone who belongs to the church. I do play an instrument though. Started out as a teen with a guitar and proceeded to run my left finger tips though a Skill saw so that ended my ďJohnny Be GoodĒ performing career. (Construction work can be dangerous) After they healed and got some feeling back several years later I went to the piano. Moving around the country made it difficult to take it along and several years ago I took up the accordion. Iíve got a number of friends, who play instruments or do vocals, some are professionals, and they like to have videos of themselves. Sometimes thereís money and sometimes there isnít, but there is always good will. This particular shoot isnít for money directly but there are other rewards. Plus, this is a waypoint along a path toward bigger and better related gigs. Each one is a new learning experience. The advice and input of everyone here is valued and welcome.

I was reading Jim Andradeís post before yours about having the lid raised and not doing close miking. Thatís very interesting and Iíll have to check it out. I know a nice grand in a home, potentially a similar room to the one Jim has so weíll see how it goes. Everything Iíve ever read about miking and recording a piano has opinions all over the map. Unfortunately, Iím not the best source of what sounds good anymore so I do what I can.

With regard to lighting, Iíve heard that one before too, and I appreciate the comment about trying to not bother the performers. I donít like bright light either and for me most light is bright. Your comment is well taken and welcome.

-= John =-
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Old June 9th, 2016, 11:43 AM   #18
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

How to record a real piano. Might be a place to start learning. Piano is perhaps the single most difficult instrument to record well.
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Old June 9th, 2016, 12:57 PM   #19
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

Recording a piano in a recital with an audience is probably the most tricky thing any newcomer to audio recording can do. As mentioned - there are plenty of forum topic on this - but the best ones are on audio forums, NOT video ones.

I have fingers in many pies and one of my regular collaborators is a classical pianist and we produce specialist audio CDs.

NONE of my video mics ever see any use recoding pianos. They are great for what they do, but not for pianos. To be honest, they do a reasonable job - but you can do much better. Even more oddly, so much depends on the venue. Until you hear it, you cannot decide on your most appropriate technique. The audience present a problem. Many of the best techniques to let the piano shine will pick up too much audience - especially if they're a bit non-recording friendly, so your first task is to decide if you use a stereo technique, and record with the acoustics of the venue assisting the pianos rich sound, or if you close mic the piano, and capture the clarity but not the acoustic. If I had to pick two mics from my collection to take that would do both roles pretty well, it would be my AKG414s. You have all the patterns and mounting possibilities and then you pick the right one once you are there. I'd absolutely not record it on the camera. Few are really that good at it. Separate recorder and sync after. Many mic techniques will also intrude into the picture.

I'd strongly suggest finding a person who is experienced to do it for you - it really is a job on it's own, and not something you can manage while peering into a viewfinder.

What's been suggested will work - but it won't sound like any commercial CD of a piano recital. In fact - if you have lots of kids playing - poor recording technique can make them sound even worse!
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Old June 9th, 2016, 04:45 PM   #20
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
poor recording technique can make them sound even worse!
This is so true! I play in a community orchestra that has players of a wide variety of ages and skill levels. Sometimes a parent records us with a small recorder placed in the middle of a fifth or sixth row pew. Our intonation isn't perfect to begin with, but add in weird short reflections and phasing and those small tuning errors turn into warbling mud. Still, it's good to hear our tempo and where the piece does and doesn't work as we rehearse it. I hold my tongue on their recording techniques. ;)

And that reminds me - make sure that the piano is well and recently tuned. Each key strikes three or so strings, so any note can be off in three different directions! Poor tuning coupled with poor recording can make even good players sound bad.
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Old June 9th, 2016, 08:39 PM   #21
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

A piano has strings? Is there six or twelve of them? It must hurt if the lid falls on your hands! ;-) ;-) :-)

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Old June 10th, 2016, 08:03 AM   #22
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

Yes, nothing worse than a out-of-tune piano (or other instrument for that matter) a no-win situation for everyone. Get a pro piano tuner in there for sure.
FWIW- prior to sound for picture, I was an NYC music recording engineer and eventually became chef engineer in a studio owned by two siblings, (Rave and Bill Tesar) a jazz pianist and a drummer. The studio also had a 1948 Steinway and a vintage1960s B3 w/Leslie,
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Old June 10th, 2016, 12:36 PM   #23
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

Had a post ready to go yesterday then hit Submit and it disappeared. This one will be shorter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
Recording a piano in a recital with an audience is probably the most tricky thing any newcomer to audio recording can do.
Thatís what Iíve been reading everywhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
If I had to pick two mics from my collection to take that would do both roles pretty well, it would be my AKG414s. You have all the patterns and mounting possibilities and then you pick the right one once you are there. I'd absolutely not record it on the camera. Few are really that good at it. Separate recorder and sync after. Many mic techniques will also intrude into the picture.
For now weíll go with the ďreasonable jobĒ but single ME-64 and record via the low-noise JuicedLink pre to the cam. The ones I wanted to capture have agreed to a separate take at a home. Looking ahead, though, there are others who would like videos with their instruments and they include a harp, cello, several accordionists, and a vocalist, all solo shots.

Taking your AKG414 suggestion and doing a search reveals they are very flexible mics. None of these people are expecting professional recordings like what youíre doing so managing expectations will be easy as this will be the first time for all of them.

Because Iíve seen the prices for a matched pair of 414s (which isnít going to happen), one thought is to pick up a second ME-64 for now ~350, or Ö get ONE 414. If I go the single ME-64 now and everybody likes their recordings and business picks up, then I can see about a pair of 414s. Question: for these other instruments and vocal (all solo), is this something the 414 would be for? As for recording a piano it seems that the mic recommendations (and positions) are all over the place. When the time comes Iíll probably repost this question as a separate thread.

As for the venue and acoustic or close mic the piano options, this will be for later as more research and reading is needed.

ďIíd strongly suggest finding a person who is experienced to do it for youĒ: I know someone who might work so weíll see.

Iíve been needing a field recorder for a long time but the models change faster than I can make a decision. Last year the one I was closing on was the Tascam DR-100mkII but I havenít looked lately.
P.S. Lost my post again but this time I saved it first :-)
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Old June 10th, 2016, 12:44 PM   #24
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Nantz View Post
Question: for these other instruments and vocal (all solo), is this something the 414 would be for?
In a word, yes. I have a matched pair of 414s. They are very versatile. As an experiment, I used them recently as a main pair for a choral performance in NOS configuration and set to "wide cardioid." The result was glorious. At another recent concert, I used a single 414 set to cardioid to separately record a ukelele and an acoustic guitar for a small folk music group. The strummed instruments sounded wonderful; the house sound guy at the concert gushed at their sound.
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Old June 10th, 2016, 04:23 PM   #25
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

My pair of 414s are not matched - but despite that, I'm very happy.

The one thing I have noticed is that while you can often get away with little issues in the video side of the business, every damn client is an audio expert. Like it or not, everyone is bombarded with audio and people might not know quality, but they do notice sound that is 'different'. They probably can't even explain it, but they do have limits.

If you start to record live natural acoustic instruments, you'll soon realise that it's a very specific skill that relies on history, memory, science and a touch of luck. Pianos can be tough - they all sound different and you cannot just follow a set procedure - it always needs tweaking after you listen.
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Old June 10th, 2016, 11:29 PM   #26
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

Thanks guys! Yíall have been a great help. Just spent the evening going thorugh some calibration scenarios with the cam and the pre using my upright piano and my wife for talking and itís a good thing I did. Trying to minimize how much kit to take I would have forgotten the little pigtail that goes between the JuicedLink pre and the cam. Whew! Dodged that bullet.

Tomorrow is the big day and itíll be an early start. Lots of road construction and baseball game traffic to contend with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Reid View Post
At another recent concert, I used a single 414 set to cardioid to separately record a ukelele and an acoustic guitar for a small folk music group. The strummed instruments sounded wonderful; the house sound guy at the concert gushed at their sound.
Thatís music to my ears! (Ha, ha)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
My pair of 414s are not matched - but despite that, I'm very happy.

The one thing I have noticed is that while you can often get away with little issues in the video side of the business, every damn client is an audio expert. Like it or not, everyone is bombarded with audio and people might not know quality, but they do notice sound that is 'different'. They probably can't even explain it, but they do have limits.

If you start to record live natural acoustic instruments, you'll soon realise that it's a very specific skill that relies on history, memory, science and a touch of luck. Pianos can be tough - they all sound different and you cannot just follow a set procedure - it always needs tweaking after you listen.
They donít say audio is 2/3rds of video for nothing.
One accoustic guitar player site Iíve been to have a lot to say about miking.

For info, this afternoon I was on eBay just to see what was there and itís amazing how many ďMatched PairĒ are listed. And yet, on the AKG web site they say how they go through a lot of mikes to find matched pairs. HmmmÖ. The AKG site also has a page warning about counterfeits. What ever happened to the days when you could trust a dealer to have the real thing?

Anyway, read where one guy bought a gold and a silver kit in a deal where you buy one, get one at half price. Guess silver is with the various settings and the gold is considered for vocals?

Thanks again everybody.
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Old June 11th, 2016, 02:53 AM   #27
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

I haven't seen a counterfeit 414 for quite a while now - they're too expensive to make as copies/counterfeits - so no volume sales. As they are expensive to buy - many people like me bought one, then saved up for the other one. A matched pair of any mics is ideal, but just economically painful!
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Old June 12th, 2016, 01:44 AM   #28
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

Paul,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
I haven't seen a counterfeit 414 for quite a while now - they're too expensive to make as copies/counterfeits - so no volume sales. …. A matched pair of any mics is ideal, but just economically painful!
Good to hear that. For my work given the price difference I don’t think I need ‘matched’ either.

A little update (the rest of the story)
Sometimes things don’t go quite as planned and today was one of those. Kind of a mixed bag. Got word they changed the recital venue to a different church but no problem there, just plug the address into the navigation device then hit Enter then Go.

Swung by Glazier’s (camera shop) in downtown Seattle as they were having a Photofest PhotoFest 2016 at their new store with lots of manufacturers reps. I had planned on spending a little bit of time there and it was interesting. The Tascam rep had a lot of interesting recorders on display and I’ve been wanting one for quite some time so this was a good opportunity to see what they had to offer. I’m not an impulse buyer and tend to throughly check everything out, especially for things like ‘gotchas’, I hate spending money on something where you ‘have to deal with it’ or it doesn’t do everything you want, or it has difficult work arounds.

Today was different. I really didn’t want to string any cable across the floor and also didn’t have any dry run to check the recording levels. But wouldn’t you know it, the stuff was on SALE. Hmmm… Wound up examining the DR-44WL because (1) it looked really good, (2) 4 channel recorder and one could set two channels up as a safety, (3) the XLR inputs were really useful as they would also accept 1/4” phono jack and 3.5mm mini via a phono jack adapter. How nifty is that? Really nice level tracking compared to the rinky-dink one on the cam, and more features that I haven’t figured out yet. Oh, and bluetooth. I can operate it with my iPhone! No need to string a cable across the floor. I was sold. Downloaded the Tascam app from the Apple App Store and with the sales rep Joel Grubbs we set up the safety tracks and I was ready to go. Talk about an impulse buy.

Off to the church venue and they didn’t open up until slightly before 4 and everyone started going in. The piano was at floor level instead on a stage like the other place so that was good; however, it was right in front of the first row of pews, only a few feet away. Adding insult to injury, they adjusted the keyboard so there wasn’t a good place to set the tripod up and get a good angle shot and there was virtually no way to use the B-cam. I talked to those we were going to shoot about the problems and we agreed to forget it this time and go with the plan of doing separate shoots later.

The good news is the recorder will up my game for future shoots so that’s a real plus (if there’s no gotchas!). In the end, we had a very pleasant evening with one of the families and beat the Mariner’s baseball traffic home (they were at the top of the 9th when we left).

This DR-44 seems like a nifty recorder. Can’t say I exactly enjoy the wheel joystick, though, but we’ll see.

So that’s my report and there you have it.

Last edited by John Nantz; June 12th, 2016 at 01:50 AM. Reason: Edit: downloaded the Tascam app
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Old June 12th, 2016, 06:06 AM   #29
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

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A piano has strings?...
A school group I know of received a used piano, free and clear. They couldn't use it though, because there were no strings attached.

On the bright side, if these recordings are for parents of typical young students almost anything you do will be better than the handi-cam from the fifth row using the internal mic.
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Old June 12th, 2016, 09:33 AM   #30
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Re: Piano audio - raising the bar

Out of curiosity I checked with my Chinese mic suppliers - and they tell me that the C3000 series is available, but they cannot source me a 414 - so, looks like beware of any C3000's going cheap on ebay. Apparently I can have them at $130 if I like.
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