Home Training & Advice Studio Services About CMT   Recording Secrets For The Small Studio

The 'Recording Secrets' Library Of Microphone Positions:
Acoustic Grand Piano

The following audio examples were recorded with pianist Jon Whitten using the seven-foot Yamaha grand piano in the Colin Hill Recital Room at Cambridge's Hills Road Sixth Form College. The microphones used were Rode NT55 small-diaphragm condenser mics, kindly loaned by UK distributor Source Distribution, which were preamplified via the mic preamps of a Tascam DM3200 digital mixer and recorded digitally without any signal processing. Many thanks to the college's Director of Music, Jonathan Sanders, for the use of the recital room and its adjoining control room, and also to Dan Jeffries and Tom Adams for their assistance with the sessions.


Fund new CMT resources via Patreon!

MULTIMIC SETUP 1

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones with omnidirectional capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Horizontal Dispersion: These mics were all placed in the same horizontal plane so you can hear how the sound changes as you move the miking position around the piano.


(For a higher-resolution image, click here.)

Mic Closed Half Open Open Off Polar
Pattern
Distance Position/Angle
A WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
Omni 1m Behind player, slightly to the treble side, 1.7m from floor
B WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
In front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 1.7m from the floor
C WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
In front of the piano, 30 degrees anticlockwise from mic 'B', 1.7m from the floor
D WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
In front of the piano, 60 degrees anticlockwise from mic 'B', 1.7m from the floor
E WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
At the foot of the piano, 90 degrees anticlockwise from mic 'B', 1.7m from the floor
F WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
Directly behind the instrument's lid, 1.7m from floor


MULTIMIC SETUP 2

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones with omnidirectional capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously

  • Vertical Dispersion: These mics were all placed in the same vertical plane in front of the piano at an equal miking distance, so you can hear how the sound changes as you adjust the miking angle.
Mic Polar
Pattern
Distance Position/Angle
A WAV/MP3
Omni 1m In front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 85cm from the floor
B WAV/MP3
In front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 1.15m from the floor
C WAV/MP3
In front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 1.55m from the floor
D WAV/MP3
In front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 1.95m from the floor
E WAV/MP3
In front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 2.35m from the floor
F WAV/MP3
In front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, 2.80m from the floor


MULTIMIC SETUP 3

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones with omnidirectional capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Distance Tests: Here the six microphones were placed at different distances from the instruments, using the most promising-sounding miking angle from Multimic Setup 2. This demonstrates how changing the miking distance affects the dry/wet ratio and overall tone.


(For a higher-resolution image, click here.)

Mic Polar
Pattern
Distance Position/Angle
A WAV/MP3
Omni 1.40m In front of the instrument, directly on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid
B WAV/MP3
1.85m
C WAV/MP3
2.20m
D WAV/MP3
2.50m
E WAV/MP3
2.85m
F WAV/MP3
3.25m


MULTIMIC SETUP 4

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones, four with omnidirectional capsules and two with cardioid capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Spaced Stereo Pairs: For these examples three different spaced stereo pairs were set up at the most promising-sounding microphone position from Multimic Setup 3. Note that the central mic you can see in the picture is a Shure KSM141, so I not included it for the purposes of this comparison.)


(For a higher-resolution image, click here.)

Mic Polar
Pattern
Distance Position/Angle
A WAV/MP3
Omni pair 2.20m Spaced stereo pair (spacing 40cm) in front of the instrument, centred on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid
B WAV/MP3
Spaced stereo pair (spacing 100cm) in front of the instrument, centred on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid
C WAV/MP3
Cardioid pair


MULTIMIC SETUP 5

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones, four with cardioid capsules and two with omnidirectional capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Stereo Techniques Comparison: For these examples three different stereo pairs were set up at the most promising-sounding microphone position from Multimic Setup 3: a coincident pair, a near-coincident pair, and a spaced pair.


(For a higher-resolution image, click here.)

Mic Polar
Pattern
Distance Position/Angle
A WAV/MP3
Cardioid pair 2.20m XY stereo pair (mutual angle 110 degrees) in front of the instrument, centred on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid
B WAV/MP3
ORTF stereo pair (mutual angle 110 degrees, spacing 17cm) in front of the instrument, centred on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid
C WAV/MP3
Omni pair Spaced stereo pair (spacing 100cm) in front of the instrument, centred on the line of the hammers, slightly below the line of the open lid


MULTIMIC SETUP 6

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones, four with omnidirectional capsules and two with cardioid capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Close-miking Outside The Piano: The four omni mics were set up across the front of the piano in close-miking positions just outside the casing, along with a crossed coincident pair of cardioids. In addition, I've also mixed the four omni mics to two stereo pairs (with the mic signals panned hard left and right) so you can hear how those sound.


(For a higher-resolution image, click here.)

Mic Polar
Pattern
Distance Position/Angle
A WAV/MP3
Omni 30cm outside case 30cm above the edge of the case, close to the foot of the piano
B WAV/MP3
30cm above the edge of the case, 30cm from mic 'A', 60cm from mic 'D'
C WAV/MP3
30cm above the edge of the case, 30cm from mic 'D', 60cm from mic 'A'
D WAV/MP3
30cm above the edge of the case, close to the line of the hammers
A+D WAV/MP3
Omni pair Spaced stereo pair (spacing 90cm) 30cm above the edge of the case
B+C WAV/MP3
Spaced stereo pair (spacing 30cm) 30cm above the edge of the case
E WAV/MP3
Cardioid pair XY stereo pair (mutual angle 90 degrees) 30cm above the edge of the case between mics 'B' and 'C'


MULTIMIC SETUP 7

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones with omnidirectional capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Centre-line Sweep Inside The Piano: Here the six mics are set up to demonstrate how the sound inside the piano changes as you move your mic from just behind the music stand towards the foot of the instrument.


(For a higher-resolution image, click here.)

Mic Polar
Pattern
Distance Position/Angle
A WAV/MP3
Omni 30cm above strings 20cm behind music stand on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings
B WAV/MP3
45cm behind music stand on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings
C WAV/MP3
70cm behind music stand on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings
D WAV/MP3
95cm behind music stand on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings
E WAV/MP3
120cm behind music stand on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings
F WAV/MP3
20cm from the foot of the piano on the instrument's centre line, pointing downwards towards the strings


MULTIMIC SETUP 8

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones, four with omnidirectional capsules and two with cardioid capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously for five different recording passes:

  1. with the piano lid open and the mics 15cm from the strings;
  2. with the piano lid open and the mics 30cm from the strings (as shown in the photo below);
  3. with the piano lid off and the mics 30cm from the strings;
  4. with the piano lid off and the mics 60cm from the strings;
  5. and with the piano lid open, the mics 30cm from the strings, and the omni mic capsules swapped for cardioid capsules.
  • Spaced Stereo Miking Inside The Piano: Here the six mics are set up in three different professionally-used setups, two spaced omni pairs and a near-coincident pair of cardioids. Note how the sound of each changes with different miking heights and lid configurations.


(For a higher-resolution image, click here.)

Mic Lid Open Lid Off Polar Pattern Distance Position/Angle
A WAV/MP3
Omni pair 15cm above strings Spaced stereo pair (spacing 40cm, mutual angle 45 degrees) 20cm behind music stand, pointing downwards towards strings
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
30cm above strings
WAV/MP3
60cm above strings
WAV/MP3
Cardioid pair 30cm above strings
B WAV/MP3
Omni pair 15cm above strings Spaced stereo pair (spacing 80cm), one mic over the high-register strings, one mic over the low-register strings, both mics pointing downwards
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
30cm above strings
WAV/MP3
60cm above strings
WAV/MP3
Cardioid pair 30cm above strings
C WAV/MP3
15cm above strings Near-coincident stereo pair (spacing 25cm) over the centre of the piano, with the mics angled towards the upper and lower strings respectively
WAV/MP3
WAV/MP3
30cm above strings
WAV/MP3
60cm above strings


MULTIMIC SETUP 9

This microphone setup used six Rode NT55 microphones with cardioid capsules. The piano was recorded by all mics simultaneously.

  • Coincident Stereo Miking Inside The Piano: For these files, three pairs of cardioid mics were set up in different professionally-used setups. Note how the sound differs from the spaced microphone configurations in Multimic Setup 8. (The two additional mics visible in the picture are an AKGC 414B-XLS and a Shure KSM141, so I've not included those in these comparisons.)


(For a higher-resolution image, click here.)

Mic Polar Pattern Distance Position/Angle
A WAV/MP3
Cardioid pair 30cm above strings XY stereo pair (mutual angle 90 degrees) 20cm behind music stand, pointing downwards towards the strings
B WAV/MP3
XY stereo pair (mutual angle 90 degrees) over the centre of the piano where the strings cross over, pointing downwards towards the strings
C WAV/MP3
XY stereo pair (mutual angle 90 degrees) over the sound-holes in the curve of the piano, pointing downwards toward the centre of the piano


FURTHER READING

Sign up for the monthly Small-studio Secrets News mail to get info on my latest free recording and mixing resources!

Support my video work via Patreon!

Spotted a broken link? Need more audio examples or other resources? Get in touch!

The Cambridge-MT site is hosted by Indigo Technologies & BigScoots